MOROCCO WALKING HOLIDAYS TRAVEL ADVICE

What to wear
Mike McHugo, owner of our supplier Kasbah du Toubkal, has advice on what to wear and the Moroccan climate:

What to wear

“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.”
What to expect from the weather

What to expect from the weather

“Many people don’t realise that Morocco is a cold country with a hot sun, particularly in the high seasons of spring and autumn. So, people forget that even if they are getting good weather, once the sun goes down Morocco can be cold even in Marrakech and the south, never mind in the mountains. Marrakech can even have a frost in winter, for example. The other thing to remember is that during the extremely hot weather in summer, the mountains here are cool and pleasant. In July and August, we can be 14°C cooler than Marrakech, therefore only 30°C degrees here. Whereas in Marrakech it can be up to 44°C at that time, which can be pretty unpleasant.”
The benefits

The benefits of choosing a guided trek in the High Atlas

"The High Atlas unlike many mountain ranges in Europe or North America have a buoyant and thriving population working in agriculture and so a guide can give a huge insight into the culture of the region. And because he will know many of the people in the area he will ensure a warm welcome in the villages and finding the route through the villages is probably the hardest bit as opposed to navigating in the wildscape of the high mountains."
Walking tips
Simon Clifford is from our leading supplier of Morocco holidays, Exodus, and has advice on what to pack, where to walk and what to do besides…

Walking tips

“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 is 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.”
other activities

Tips on other activities

“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!”
What to take

What to take into the mountains

“Try and get small denominations of dirhams; local people struggle to change large notes. Wet wipes and hand gel are really useful as it’s hot and dusty and you do get dirty, just wandering around.”
water consumption

Advice on water consumption

“Locals drink the tap water, but we don’t recommend it for tourists, so a huge number of plastic bottles are thrown away. Avoid this by using water purification tablets. Alternatively, in the city you will find poor people who want to take the bottle, so do give your bottles to them, as they can sell them for recycling. That way you’re helping the environment and the locals. Many people complain about hot water in hotels, or lack of. That’s because it’s often solar heated by the hotel. So avoid long showers.”
Shopping

Shopping advice

“Leather goods in Morocco are particularly good, but never buy them on the outer stalls of the souq, go as deep as you can – they’ll be at least half the price. I picked up a good size leather luggage bag for £30. You’ll also find shops within the souq where they’re actually making the bags, which is even better and fun to watch for a while.”

HEALTH & SAFETY WALKING IN MOROCCO

HEALTH

There are no required vaccinations for travel to Morocco and the Atlas Mountains, but always check the NHS site Fit for Travel for more details. It’s a good idea to travel with a basic medical kit, including Imodium for stomach upsets, antiseptic cream 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 so you won’t realise how dehydrated you are becoming. Bring a hydration backpack, 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 (Acute Mountain Sickness) can be an issue, with nausea and headaches 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 the 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 sprained ankle, and you might need to be rescued. Take out comprehensive travel insurance that includes any activities you may be planning on doing, as well as emergency evacuation. Trekking without a guide is not recommended. Join a guided group holiday or book a tailor made trip with a guide included. The summit plateau of Mount Toubkal can be very windy and the blend of cold and wind means extreme wind chill, so you will need flexible clothing that can deal with the wind if you’re heading up here. Sudden gusts can also blow you off balance, too, so ice axes and crampons are necessary to keep you safe. Get up to date information about any potential security risks from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) before travelling. In the event of an emergency, dial 150 for an ambulance and 190 for police. Walking and trekking is extremely popular in the Atlas Mountains, and unqualified guides will tout for work in popular trekking spots such as Imlil. Be sure you travel with a responsible trekking company who can guarantee that guides are experienced and any climbing and camping equipment meets high safety standards. Ask about safety procedures and knowledge of first aid, too, and if there is a good guide to trekker ratio. Petty crime, such as bag snatching and pick pocketing, occurs in big cities, so don’t carry large amounts of cash on you and avoid wearing conspicuous jewellery. Scams, like substituting inferior goods for those that were actually bought, are common, so be vigilant when shopping.

Our top Morocco walking Holiday

Luxury trekking holiday in the Atlas Mountains

Luxury trekking holiday in the Atlas Mountains

Stay at the Kasbah du Toubkal and trek in style

From €957 6 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailor made at a time to suit you and can be adapted to suit your interests, budget and requirements as necessary
Helpdesk
Hello. If you'd like to chat about Morocco walking or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

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 Morocco walking holidays tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday – and the space inside your daypack.
Respect the rich culture of the Berber people and enjoy the freshness of being in the High Atlas mountains.
– Ulf Karmeback
“You only need one warm jacket! I took that plus a fleece... Cut down on clutter! Take a good torch. A walking pole is a must for the scree on Mount Toubkal. ” – Jan Gardner

“For the Mount Toubkal climb, I would say GET FIT. Do lots of climbing practice – both ascents and descents – and practice with a day pack on your back. Also bring a camera that can take good photos, the scenery is stunning.” – Pam Harris

“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!!” – Otto Pereira

“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 it hard to change large notes.” – Amanda Dudman

“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.” – Nicola Webb
Take a good pair of boots and a big appetite (the size of the meals is amazing).
– Colin Ingram
Written by Joanna Simmons
Photo credits: [Page banner: Andres Fongen] [Walking tips – Tijhza: wonker] [Tips on other activities: Ninara] [What to take into the mountains: cytech from Tokyo, Japan ] [Advice on water consumption: Ana P. Bosque] [Shopping advice: Tomasz Dunn] [or: Pâmela Souza] [What to wear: David Rosen] [The weather: Jacques Bodin] [Guided trek: Jacques Bodin] [Health & safety: Jacques Bodin] [Review intro: Jacques Bodin] [Review 1 - Ulf Karmeback: David Rosen] [Review 2 - Colin Ingram: Michael Camilleri]
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