Atlas Mountains travel advice


TIPS FROM OUR FRIENDS IN MOROCCO

Walking tips


Simon Clifford, from our leading supplier of Atlas Mountains holidays, Exodus: “Climbing Mount Toubkal is quite challenging and we wouldn’t recommend it to first time climbers, or people not used to walking. A really nice introduction to walking in the Atlas Mountains to stay in the remote village of Tijhza for a week, staying in a basic gite, and taking day walks up into the mountains each day.”

Tips on activities


Mike McHugo, owner of Kasbah du Toubkal: “I just love going off the beaten track in the mountains here. I go almost anywhere in the mountains along minor roads. Increasingly, a lot of the secondary roads are being tarmacked now and they were only accessible by 4X4 in the past, but now you can see the same places and cover greater distances on a bike. So, you can easily go cycling from the Kasbah and hire mountain bikes in Imlil for about €20”
Simon Clifford from our leading supplier of Atlas Mountains holidays, Exodus: “Make sure you visit a traditional hammam. There are lots of tourist friendly ones, but they’re more like western spas. If you’re not lying on the floor, you’re not in a traditional hammam!”

Cultural advice


Mike McHugo, owner of Kasbah du Toubkal: “Even for a day excursion it is worth coming to the High Atlas and people are absolutely astonished when they walk up the Imlil Pass, just an hour and a half from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech’s central square. We do ask people to remember that dress codes do differ in the mountains from Marrakech. In Marrakech it’s not unusual to see women in shorts, skirts above the knee, and scant or see-through tops. While it’s still not appropriate in Marrakech it’s much more shocking for people in villages — many of whose homes and front doors you’ll be walking past on a hike.”

Supporting
local people


Mike McHugo, owner of Kasbah du Toubkal: “If people are looking for one way to make a difference when travelling in the Atlas Mountains, they are already doing so by staying with us, as they automatically pay a percent levy levy to the village association. The other best way to make a difference is to make a donation to Education for All, which gives opportunities for girls to be educated beyond primary education in rural areas of the High Atlas Mountains.”

Shopping advice


And we love this random tip from Andrew Appleyard, also from the excellent Exodus: “Word of warning don’t buy a large tagine cooking pot - they don’t fit in any conventional European cooker!”

Health and safety in the Atlas Mountains


Travel safely in Morocco

Health


There are no required vaccinations for travel to Morocco and the Atlas Mountains, but always check NHS site Fit for Travel for more details. Always travel with a basic medical kit, including Imodium for stomach upsets, and blister plasters! Bring your own prescription medicines along with a copy of your prescription. If travelling on a small group tour they will of course have first aid supplies, but it is always wise to have a few of your own too.

The biggest health warning is to drink a lot of water. Sometimes it feels cooler in the mountains and so you won’t realise how dehydrated you are becoming. Bring a hydration backback, such as CamelBak and, if you do get dehydrated the 1 tsp salt/8 tsp sugar/1 litre of water ratio combo works a treat. Or carry rehydration sachets with you.

Altitude sickness can be an issue, with nausea kicking in around the 2,800m mark for many people. Be aware of it, and always tell your guide how you are feeling. And most importantly, take time to acclimatise. Ask your tour operator about time built into an itinerary for that purpose.

Be careful when it comes to stroking dogs and cats; rabies exists here.

Be wary of swimming in fresh water lakes or streams, as there is a parasitic infection known as schistosomiasis (bilharzia) in Morocco. For further information see NHS Fit for Travel website.

Unfortunately, bed bugs and fleas can be an issue when hiking in the mountains, so do check your body – and your bed – for signs. For more information on how to double check, take a deep breath and then look here.

Safety


A responsible walker is an insured walker. Accidents do happen, even if they are just a badly sprained ankle, and you might need to be rescued. So make sure you are properly insured.

In the event of an emergency, dial 15 for an ambulance, and 19 for police. And if you are hiking or biking alone in the mountains always tell someone the route you plan to take, and when you plan to get to where you are going, or back to where you started.

The outdoor activity market is growing rapidly in the Atlas Mountains, with climbing, rafting, kayaking and canyoning becoming very popular. Ensure that you travel with a responsible tour operator who can guarantee that all equipment and guiding meets high international safety standards. Wear a helmet when necessary and ensure there are buoyancy aids for water activities. Don’t be afraid to ask about the operator’s safety procedures and knowledge of first aid, and if there is a good instructor to traveller ratio.

Morocco has a poor road safety record, so drive carefully in the mountains and don’t take any unnecessary risks.
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If you'd like to chat about the Atlas Mountains or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
Rosy & team.
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Atlas Mountains travel advice


TIPS FROM OUR TRAVELLERS

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Atlas Mountains travel advice that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday.
“Take clothes for all occasions! A sun hat is essential but also warmer clothes and a good raincoat, as once out of the city and at altitude, the weather was more varied.” – Rosie Welch

“For camping in the Anti-Atlas, my sleep system was absolutely the best thing. I had my very expensive Exped down sleep mat, my down sleeping bag and a thermal liner. I was so comfy and had such a good night’s sleep.” – Linda Sankey (read a full interview with Linda about her trip to the Anti Atlas Mountains here)

“Don't forget the suncream – the mountain sun can be deceptive! (And cream the back of your hands – everyone I met missed that trick). You do need a guide for at least some of the walks because the mule tracks aren't always obvious and the maps aren't detailed enough to help. They can be booked at the guesthouse though - so see how you feel when you get there. Definitely have two or three days up here. I felt sorry for the day trippers to Imlil from Marrakech who were missing out on so much because of time and tour constraints.” – Martin Stott

“Don't leave it too late for November bookings if you want to enjoy autumn colours in the Atlas. We were just in time but probably late October/early November is best.” – Evin Dilber

“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.” – Amanda Dudman

"The Kasbah du Toubkal is the most wonderful experience. It’s a stiff 15 minute walk from the car park to get there if you are fit and healthy, although I do it on a donkey. And if I were to walk it, it would take me a lot more than 15 mins! There is a path, but it is done in such a brilliantly environmentally friendly way, you can’t really see it. So it is rugged and it is quite steep. The food is beautifully prepared, but it isn’t fancy cuisine. But true Berber cuisine which has been done to its best. The hospitality is true Berber hospitality. And truly wonderful." - Sallie Grayson from our People and Places, who has visited the Kasbah du Toubkal several times.
Photo credits: [Trekking tips: wonker] [Hammam advice: Andy Wright] [Help desk banner: Alexander Cahlenstein] [Review 1 - Irene Mitchell: babeltravel] [Review 2 - Greig Fitzpatrick: Julia Maudlin]
Written by Catherine Mack
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