Morocco holiday, High Atlas peaks and valleys

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Date
Price
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30 Apr 2017
£ 879
including UK flights
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04 Jun 2017
£ 879
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Available
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18 Jun 2017
£ 879
including UK flights
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27 Aug 2017
£ 899
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10 Sep 2017
£ 879
including UK flights
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17 Sep 2017
£ 879
including UK flights
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Holiday type

Small group holiday

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Morocco holiday, High Atlas peaks and valleys

Environment

Activity:
Few holidays have as little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as a trekking trip. Erosion on and adjacent to popular paths is a growing problem in certain places and therefore our trip leaders encourage clients to stick to advised routes in order to minimise this. The trip also offers some good opportunities to benefit the local community. Passing through Berber villages up in the High Atlas Mountains, staying in local gites, using markets and local mule transport has a positive impact on the local economy.

Water:
Water is a really important issue with walking trips and whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital that we have a system for providing clean water without causing lots of waste with plastic bottles. Lack of recycling is already a massive problem in Morocco so we suggest that instead of repeatedly buying bottled water, guests should re-fill a singular bottle. Since the EU banned the use of iodine tablets, we are no longer able to provide these on trek. The recommended alternative of Biox Aqua drops is not available in Morocco, therefore we also advise you buy your own purification tablets in the UK and take them with you.

UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

Community

Accommodation and Meals:
We will spend 8 nights semi-participatory wild camping, 3 nights in a gite and 3 nights in a hotel. Our local operators generally prefer to select accommodation which is locally owned in order to support smaller businesses and their employees. This ensures that most income generated is reinvested into the area and the community. By spending the majority of the trip camping, we also reduce our carbon footprint and effect on the environment. Where meals are supplied, seasonal, fresh food is used wherever possible. Most vegetables come from the region of Sous; meat is locally supplied by butchers and fruits can be found at markets or farms in the countryside. The main Moroccan dishes most people are familiar with are couscous, meat and vegetable tajines, fish chermoula and bocadillos, which are available from street stalls almost everywhere.

Local Craft and Culture:
On the last day, there is free time in Marrakech to explore the wide variety of sites and activities in this major city. Clients are advised to head to the souks for souvenirs, take a ride in a traditional Caliche, or to visit the world renowned Marjorelle gardens. These tranquil gardens are decorated throughout in indigo blue and there is a small and charming museum of Islamic art in the grounds. In the evening, the Djemma el Fna central square comes alive with musicians, snake charmers, travelling acrobats and food stalls. This is the perfect opportunity to interact with local people, purchase locally produced handicrafts and to support small street vendors by trying authentic food. There will be other chances to do so on the trip at local markets, which are awash with bright images, animated characters and the smells and sounds of food being made and sold.

Campaigning for Change:
In conjunction with Baraka Community Partnerships, we have sponsored the development of a small village called Tijhza for many years with a variety of projects. These include supplying a pipeline system and water tower to the village and a toilet block for the school. Thanks to our volunteer groups, Tijhza now also has electricity and an annual medical clinic, which has had a hugely positive effect on the welfare of the village. More recently, we have achieved our aim of building a Hammam to alleviate some of the hygiene issues in the area and to provide a sustainable source income for many inhabitants. Unfortunately, devastating storms struck in November2014, leaving much of the village severely damaged. We were able to raise emergency funding to provide supplies and to re-build many of the homes affected.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

Reviews of Morocco holiday, High Atlas peaks and valleys

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 18 Aug 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


All scenery was superb, summit days being special and rewarding. But the memorable part will be the excellency of our guide Mohammed and his team, and the contact with the Berber way of life.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Make sure you're in the best possible shape. Some days can be way tougher than one might imagine. And follow the example of the locals: always smile!!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was absolutely worth doing it, although it's not an easy one... The quality of the people in the group, and of the guide and his team will make all the difference.

Reviewed on 09 Sep 2006 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The walking through the villages and contact with Barber people. The scenery was also fantastic.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Ensure that you have wet wipes as there are not always streams to wash in every day.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, except at Toubkal where there are very severe effects on the environment which spoils the end of the holiday slightly.

Reviewed on 18 Sep 2005 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Climbing up to Mount Toubkal, the highest point in North Africa at 9.30am as the sun rose and having spectacular views for miles of the plains of Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains in all directions.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be fit before you come; take the minimum clothes (don't over pack); take walking poles; take the fact you will be in a Muslim country seriously and no vests/skimpy tee-shirts and shorts for women; bring a book(s) to read; try and get as much loose change (coins) in dirhams as you can as in remote places they find in hard to change large notes.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, definitely. We saw at the Toubkal Refuge how some groups just left their litter and mess and there is not enough being done here in particular to stop the negative impact on the environment. We took everything with us, leaving no rubbish etc behind. All the staff were locally employed which was excellent, and all food sourced locally by the cook and muleteers when necessary.

4. Any other comments?


It was a unique and great holiday and I give it ****

Reviewed on 18 Sep 2005 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Reaching the summit of Jbel Toubkal and seeing Morocco stretching out below us.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be prepared to eat like royalty and to learn some minimal Berber/Arabic in order to reciprocate the generous and courteous welcome offered by local people. Also be prepared (whatever your walking pace) to compromise and to work as a group member - helping each other out and finding ways round any challenging moments.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


I believe it benefited local people as we were guided and supported by local guides/workers. It appeared that they were aware of the environment and careful with rubbish although I did not see this myself. It would have been even better if our guide had openly talked about what efforts we/our group could make along the way to minimise negative environmental impact.

4. Any other comments?


Thanks I really enjoyed myself.

Reviewed on 04 Sep 2005 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Most memorable part of the holiday was getting to the summit of Mt. Toubkal. Very rewarding!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Don't fly British Airways!!!! They lost my wife's bag with all her climbing equipment so had to buy her trainers etc. before leaving Marrakech! She got the blisters to prove it! One more tip - Be prepared for a VERY long summit day - After reaching the summit and getting back to the Toubkal refuge you still have another 3-4 hour walk back down the mountain... All in all you are walking for around nine and a half hours... Not a problem for us but we were rather knackered that evening!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Definitely benefited the local people but as with tourism anywhere in the world negative factors have crept in but nothing to put people off. I am talking about people selling drinks/souvenirs along the way and the associated litter that goes with it. I did expect it to be a little more remote than it was...

4. Any other comments?


Great trip! I wouldn't say reborn, that happened a while ago on a similar trip in Tanzania and that is why we did another trip like that one but there were people on the trip that were doing something like this for the first and would defiantly say that they are converted!

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