PDF generated: 18 November 2010
Winter Toubkal Trip code: WT HERE
Main Description This trip is an adventurous and strenuous winter climb to the highest peak of Northern Africa. Winter is indeed a challenging time to climb in these mountains but the rewards are crisp skies and spectacular views. With three nights at Neltner base camp there is plenty of time to acclimatise and practice using your crampons and ice axe under the instruction of your Group Leader before attempting the Toubkal summit (4167m). Weather permitting, you can also summit the sister peak of Ouanoukrim (4088m). With demanding walking, stunning mountain scenery and the added challenge of winter weather conditions this is a really exciting trek. It's not for the fainthearted but suitable for experienced trekkers seeking a challenge.
Adventure Level This trip is graded strenuous due to winter conditions. Previous trekking experience is critical and experience of winter walking with crampons is helpful but not essential, due to the terrain and potential weather conditions. You should have a good level of fitness. Mules/porters will carry main luggage.
Top Tips Don't try to change money in the street in Morocco - it is illegal. Moroccan meals can consist of up to five courses! If you eat a little of each, you may just have enough appetite left to find some room for dessert which is well worth saving some space for! Just in case your main luggage goes missing en route, It's a good idea to wear your walking boots on the plane. Everything else is replaceable but a pair of comfortable, well worn-in boots are not. Keep warm in Neltner by crafting a makeshift hot water bottle by filling your aluminium water bottle with hot water and covering it with a sock! Also, put the clothes that you are going to wear the next day in your sleeping bag for about 10 minutes before you get up. SOME INTERESTING READING: Lords of the Atlas - Gavin Maxwell The Sheltering Sky - Paul Bowles A Year in Marrakech - Peter Mayne Hideous Kinky - Esther Freud A Hedonist's Guide to Marrakech - Paul Sullivan
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LANGUAGE: Arabic is the official language but most people also speak French so it is a great chance to practice. You'll probably know enough French phrases from school to get by but if you don't know any Arabic, here are some common phrases to get you started: Hello (literally Peace) -Salaam No -La Yes -Aiwa Please -Min fadhlek Goodbye -Bisslema Thank you -Shukran God willing -Insh 'Allah
Responsible Travel We offset the carbon emissions associated with the in-country travel on all of our trips by supporting a solar stove and clean energy project in Madagascar. However, it is your flight that will have the largest environmental impact on your holiday. We offer you the opportunity to offset your carbon dioxide emissions with a donation to our solar stove and clean energy project in South Africa. The project is run by the non-profit organisation Blue Ventures Carbon Offset and validated by the Tourism Industry Carbon Offset Service (TICOS) as delivering measurable carbon reduction and wider sustainable development benefits for local people. We strongly encourage you to donate to our project, so if you would like to offset the carbon emissions generated by your flight, please contact us. Offsets start from as little as ÂŁ4. Since the increase in popularity of bottled water, many countries are experiencing a problem of litter especially where adequate recycling is not available. Please could you try, where possible, to use purification tablets or filters for water or buy bigger bottles of water between group members and decant into your individual water bottles. Working closely with our local agent we do our best to support and encourage local schools and projects in all the areas of Morocco that you visit. We strongly discourage people from giving directly to children in the street as it encourages begging. We prefer to support local well-run organizations and projects which are of greater long term benefit to many more people. If you would like to donate any gifts of pens, pencils or other learning materials your Group Leader will ensure that these are passed on to a suitable and worthy cause. All items will be gratefully received however small. Subject to local constraints, you may be able to visit a school yourself and meet some of the children, if this is of interest to you please discuss the opportunities that may be available to you with your Group Leader - we often find it can be one of the most memorable moments of your trip.
Clothing and Footwear Please note: Morocco is a Muslim country, so tight, skimpy clothing should be avoided out of respect for local customs, especially in the smaller, more remote villages. Loose knee-length shorts are acceptable but women especially should avoid tight, low-cut T-shirts and shoulders should be covered. When trekking you should cover up when passing through villages. Below is a suggestion of what you might find useful to take on this trip. It is not an exhaustive packing list. If you need further advice, please call us or consult your nearest specialist outdoor clothing and equipment store.
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Waterproof jacket and trousers Warm mid-layer (fleece or wool) Warm jacket and trousers - a down/duvet jacket is preferred Gaiters Strong mountain trekking boots (well broken-in) and suitable for crampons Trainers/sandals for relaxing Sun-hat Woollen hat, gloves and scarf. Face protection such as a balaclava is also useful Thermal underwear
Equipment Sleeping bag (3/4-season) Walking poles - not crucial but can add walking comfort Ice axe & crampons (can be hired in UK but limited availability in Morocco) - see below Mountaineering helmet - recommended but not compulsory Waterbottle (thermos bottle also recommended) Head-torch Sunglasses/ski glasses (protection against wind and snow), high-factor sunscreen and lipsalve Personal First Aid kit Small towel Wet wipes Toilet paper and lighter (available locally) Bin-bag (to line your rucksack) We recommend you take travel detergent so you can wash clothes as you choose
Baggage For your comfort we recommend you travel as light as possible; many airlines impose a maximum weight limit of 20kg - we advise you to take 10kg as you will be on the move a good deal! For domestic flights using light aircraft the usual weight limit is 15 kg. One main piece (a soft bag or rucksack, not a hard suitcase). A daypack (25-30 litres), large enough to carry what you need for the day including camera, water, etc.
Winter Trekking in the Atlas TREKKING ABILITY: This trek is designed to be an introduction to winter trekking and requires the use of crampons and possibly ice-axes. It is not essential that you have previous experience of using this equipment or winter trekking although it certainly will help. This said, it is vital that you are an experienced trekker with the confidence that you will be able to quickly get the hang of using the equipment. Due to the winter aspect we have graded the trip as strenuous and you should have a good level of fitness. WALKING CONDITIONS: Most of the walking is along mule trails although these may be obscured. Some sections on Toubkal and Ouanoukrim can be steep and rough involving scrambling. The amount of snow can vary but you should be prepared for moderately angled snow slopes which can be exposed. Where necessary your leader will use a guide rope to assist and may cut footholds. We take as much care as possible to minimise the safety risks on this trip; however you should be aware that winter walking can be dangerous and it is impossible to remove the risks entirely. LEADERS & GUIDES: You will be accompanied on this trip by an experienced and qualified mountain guide. We have purposefully kept the maximum group size to 10 people and a second leader will be provided for
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groups above five trekkers so as to ensure a high guide to client ratio. The leaders will train you on the basics of winter trekking. Not only does this provide a better service it also ensures a much higher degree of safety. The leader is there to ensure your enjoyment and your safety and we ask that you obey his wishes and decisions. A TYPICAL DAY: Since the Berbers normally rise early (with the sun) you too will follow nature's hours. Plenty of rest-stops during the day help to even out any difference in pace between faster and slower members of your group. Our routes can be challenging, but are not intended as endurance tests - the objective is to relax and enjoy the mountains. PORTERAGE: Main baggage is carried by pack-mule or porters where snow levels prevent mule access. All you have to carry during the day is a daypack, with daytime essentials such as water bottle, camera, wetweather gear, extra layers etc. FOOD: Your meals are prepared by a local cook using fresh local produce as well as non-perishable goods purchased beforehand. These generally consist of fresh salads with perhaps sardines or eggs or even a hot dish for lunch and traditional cooked dishes (tagine, couscous etc) in the evening. The meals are often simple and may be repeated several times during the trek. Meat will be served only where fresh supplies can be guaranteed. Bottled water can be purchased locally at some places although we recommend you take purification tablets and refill your water bottles.
Is this trek suitable for you? Please look through the below questions and if you answer 'no' to any of the altitude questions, or 'yes' to the Walking question, then please consider whether you are fit enough to do this trek. Altitude: Have you previously walked at altitudes above 3000m? If yes: Did you encounter any problems with the altitude? What was the maximum altitude gain in one day? How many days did you spend above 3000m? What was the maximum altitude you reached? If no: What walking have you done in the past six months? Have you done any specific training for this trek? Have you done sufficient training to be able to cover an equivalent trekking route at sea level (this should be in terms of distance)? Walking: Have you previously encountered any physical (not altitude) problems trekking? NB: Although it is our intention to operate the itinerary as printed in the brochure and detailed below, it may be necessary to make some changes as a result of alterations to flight schedules, climatic conditions, limitations of infrastructure or other operational factors. As a consequence, the order or location of overnight stops may vary from those outlined. Included meals are indicated in the daily itinerary i.e. BLD = Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. The decision to partake in any activity not listed as an optional activity is entirely at your own discretion and risk. If you do have any complaint about or problem with, any such optional activity your claim should be directed to the activity provider and not to The Adventure Company. This dossier describes the itinerary including our group flights from London. If you are making other flight arrangements, please
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refer to your Confirmation Invoice and Joining Instructions for details of the start of the trip and when to rendezvous with your Group Leader. Please remember - international flights and trip dates do occasionally change, so you should always try to purchase flexible tickets.
Itinerary (With Flights) 2010 Itinerary
Day 1 Fly to Marrakech After your flight, you transfer to your first night's accommodation and check in. Even today, the name Marrakech conjures up images of scenes from the Arabian Nights with its busy souks (markets) and twisting alleyways. This remarkable city, dating from the 11th century, never fails to satisfy the curiosity of adventurous travellers. It has everything, from the graceful architecture of the Koutoubia Minaret which dominates the skyline, to the throbbing atmosphere of a medieval fair in the great open square, the Djemaa el-Fna, at the heart of the medina. Hotel - 1 night The hotel is located just outside the city walls around the old Medina. It is about a 25 minute walk to the main square Djemaa el Fna but close to local shops and restaurants
Day 2 Aremd; Marakech city tour & Aremd orientation walk This morning you wake early to an unfamiliar sound - the muezzins calling the faithful to prayer in the various city mosques; your first contact with Islam. After breakfast you start with a walking tour of the historic centre with a local guide. This takes in the main sights but the most exciting part is when you enter the sprawling souk. Here individual trades and crafts are concentrated together in a single street or area, so all the shoemakers are next to each other, as are the jewellers, the potters, the weavers, etc. This is the best place in Morocco to sharpen your bargaining skills, and you may be tempted by the extraordinary variety of merchandise on display. Later you leave Marrakech and drive across the plains towards Tahanaoute, an ancient marketplace on the edge of the mountains. The landscape changes as the plains gradually give way to mountains, with the impressive snow-covered peaks of the High Atlas looming in front of you. Following the road right to its end you arrive in the village of Imlil (1790 metres above sea level). From here it is about a 45-minute walk to your mountain base, a typical Berber house in the village of Aremd with views up the valley towards Toubkal.Gite d'étape - 1 night (BLD) A gite d'étape consists of a village house with simple single sex dormitory rooms each with space for approximately 4-8 people. Each room is generally furnished in traditional Berber style with a mattress on the floor. The eating roomis also furnished in the traditional Berber style. Communal facilities usually consist of a couple of showers and toilets. Gites are generally found in villages on walking routes. Showers (sometimes hot ones!) may be available in gites but these will be offered at an additional cost of around 70p to £1.
Day 3 Trek to Neltner (3207m); base camp This morning you will meet the mule handlers and the mules. All baggage and provisions are carried by mule the multi-purpose all-terrain vehicles of the mountains. Used to plough fields, carry loads from valley to valley (often up incredibly steep and narrow tracks), turn threshing machines and even act as taxis, ferrying people between the villages, they are an indispensable part of Berber life in the mountains. Even these incredible animals have their limits and if snow conditions prevent them from going further, porters will be used. After all the luggage has been loaded on to the mules you will start your climb up to the Neltner refuge. From Aremd, the trail leads past orchards up the floodplain of the Mizane Valley climbing steeply as it zigzags up the
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mountainside. Along the way you reach Sidi Chamarouch (2310m), a place of pilgrimage for Moroccans who come to the tomb of the local marabout (Muslim holy man). You can only see the shrine from across the gorge, as it's forbidden for non-Muslims to cross the bridge to the other side. Beyond here the trail climbs steeply through a series of switchbacks, traversing the flank of the valley high above the river. At some point you may well hit the snowline where it will be time for you to don your crampons, before arriving at the Toubkal base camp at Neltner (3207m). Once you are settled in you will receive a briefing on winter walking and an introduction on how to use your crampons and ice axe as well as basic snow survival skills. Today involves approximately five hours walking. Your cook will prepare all meals for the group whilst at the refuge. Refuge - 3 nights (BLD) The refuge at Neltner is a stone building operated by the French Alpine Club. Accommodation for up to 80 people is provided in communal dormitories. The refuge can get very cold, so make sure that you come prepared with a 3/4 season sleeping bag. There are toilets and showers as well as a lounge room with a small fireplace. There is a charge for showers (expect long queues) and the refuge normally also charges a small fee of about 50p per night for communal firewood.
Day 4 Ouanoukrim (4088m); Acclimatisation walks; ascent of Ounakrim Today offers you the chance to summit Toubkal's sister peak of Ouanoukrim; the main aim of this being to get you completely comfortable with all your equipment. Sitting at over 4000 metres the views from the top will give awesome vistas across to Toubkal and the other snow-capped peaks. You'll start off gently along the valley before starting to ascend. There are several possible routes to the summit and your leader will choose the one most suitable for the conditions and the group's ability. Approximately 6-7 hours walk. (BLD)
Day 5 Ascent of Toubkal(4167 m); return to Neltner Early this morning you set off for North Africa's highest peak, Jebel Toubkal (4167m) - the goal of many mountain walkers who visit the High Atlas. There is a steep final climb that may involve some scrambling, but the effort is rewarded by superb views from the summit of the Atlas range. On a clear day it's even possible to make out the hazy outline of the Atlantic coast to the west, and the sands of the Sahara Desert to the east. After resting on the summit, you make your way back to Neltner. Approximately eight hours walk (five hours ascent). (BLD)
Day 6 Return to Aremd (1880m) This morning you will have your last foray into the snowy heights around you. Most likely you'll head up above Neltner to the tight gorge of the Tizi Ouanoums Pass. Whilst not a peak, the pass offers the opportunity to look down the southern side of the mountain to the glacial Lac D'Ifni, shimmering emerald green below. Retracing your steps you'll return to Neltner for lunch. In the afternoon you'll descend back down the valley to Aremd for your last night in the mountains. Those not wanting to do the morning walk can wait at the refuge for the group's return. Approximately 7-8 hours walk (three hours if only descending from Neltner). Gite - 1 night (BLD) Although the walks described here are the itinerary we plan to follow, depending on the weather conditions and the group's ability, your leader may choose to rearrange the order of the hikes or substitute alternatives.
Day 7 Marrakech A short walk of about 30 minutes leads to Imlil where you will meet your driver and vehicle to transfer back to Marrakech (1 Â˝ hours drive). After the rugged Toubkal climb you will enjoy seeing the lush green walnut trees,
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terraced fields and colourful dress of children in the mountain villages. On descending from the mountains you cross the plain to enter the imperial city of Marrakech whose old town is surrounded by a cordon of protective ramparts. The afternoon is free to explore the souks or enjoy a revitalising hammam (steam bath). Hotel - 1 night (B)
Day 8 Fly Home The trip ends for Land Only clients. Those on group flights transfer to the airport and fly home. (B)
Tipping For better or worse, tipping is an accepted part of everyday life, and - although it is always at your discretion you will be expected to tip to reward service. Your Group Leader will be able to give you an indication of when and how much is appropriate, but you can also use the following as a guideline: Local guide (day / half day excursion): 10-15 MAD per person Driver: 8 MAD per person per day Muleteers: 8 MAD per person per day Cook: 8 MAD per person per day Porters / hotel staff: 5-10 MAD per piece of luggage This can vary, but please calculate on the basis of £25-30 per person (including children) for this trip. Also, if you wish to tip your Group Leader (in recognition of their contribution towards your overall enjoyment of the holiday) a suggested guideline would be approximately £1 to £2 per person, per day.
Ramadan Please note that during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, sites and museums throughout Morocco are subject to reduced opening hours and there may be some limitations as to the provision of services. The impact on our trips is usually minimal and indeed this can be an interesting time to visit as the streets are usually lively during the late evenings. The month culminates in the celebration of Eid al Fitr, when families eat together in celebration. Although Ramadan is always the same date on the Islamic calendar, the date on the Gregorian calendar varies from year to year as the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar and the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar. The approximate dates of Ramadan in 2011 are 1st August to 30th August. In 2012, the dates are 20th July to 18th August.
Currency - Morocco Moroccan dirham. Sterling (except Scottish & NI notes) or US dollars (clean, untorn notes) can be changed with equal ease. Automatic teller machines are available in major towns. NB: It is prohibited to import or export dirhams and they cannot be used in Duty Free. There are approximately 13 dirhams to one British pound (as at August 2010).
Local Costs - Morocco Average costs are given for guidance only, and may vary widely according to location and type of establishment. Coffee/tea 8-15 MAD Soft drink 10-20 MAD Medium beer 20-40 MAD Bottle of wine 80-220 MAD Bottle of water 8-20 MAD
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Local snack lunch 60-100 MAD 3-course dinner* 80-220 MAD *reasonable mid-range tourist class restaurant.
Visas & Permits - Morocco Holders of UK & IRL passports do not require a visa. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the end date of the trip. Other EU nationals should contact us for information. Nationals of all other countries should contact their local embassy or consulate. Information can also be found onwww.travcour.com. This information is given in good faith, but may be subject to change without warning. Please note that, where appropriate, obtaining a valid visa is ultimately your responsibility. Please consult a visa agency or the consular authorities 46 weeks before departure for the most up-to-date information.
About Islam Islam's roots lie in 7th century Arabia where a poor merchant named Mohammed heard the revelations. These visions provided him with the faith that 'there was no God but Allah', and that 'Mohammed was the prophet of God'. Armed only with this, he managed to unify countless tribes and conquer the whole of the Middle East through his and successive khalifa's campaigns. Islam arrived in Morocco at the end of the 7th century and immediately found a firm base on which to grow. The indigenous Berbers were easily converted, though much of their cultural identity remains even today. A Muslim is one who submits to Allah. Islam means submission. A good Muslim will follow the five Pillars of Islam:1) To profess that there is no God but Allah and that Mohammed is the prophet of God.2) To pray five times each day.3) To give zakat (alms) to the poor.4) To observe Ramadan, a period of fasting from sunrise to sunset lasting for 1 month.5 ) To make the Haj, a pilgrimage to Mecca, at least once in a lifetime. Islam is more than a religion to Muslims, it is a way of life - and in the west we find it very difficult to appreciate this. Certainly Islam provides a strong bond for the community, and gives people faith when there is hardship, but more than this it gives many people happiness for its own sake. Far from being a frightening religion, full of fanatics, it embraces everyone - farmers, bureaucrats, schoolteachers, housewives, craftsmen and labourers alike. The Koran says a woman should cover her head, a fashion introduced (prior to Islam's foundation) by rich, Greek women. When visiting Islamic countries we should avoid unintentional offence and observe local sensibilities by covering legs, and wearing long-sleeved shirts and blouses. Finally, the vast majority of Muslims are a friendly and incredibly hospitable people, and we would do well to remember their greeting 'salaam', meaning peace.
The Berbers of Morocco In the east, Morocco is known as 'al-Maghreb' meaning 'the land of the setting sun' and this name is plainly of Arabic origin. However, the region had been settled by the Berbers, not the Arabs, long before the 7th century, when Islamic hordes swept across North Africa. The real origins of the Berbers has been lost in the mists of time, but today they can still be found all over the 'Barbary Coast' and in the villages of the lofty Atlas mountains. They are a strongly traditional people - retaining a unique culture and their own language. Coming under increasing pressure to become part of mainstream Moroccan society, their assimilation is slowly but surely taking place, and the number of Berbers who remain untouched by the Islamic world is shrinking. There are isolated pockets however where Berber life goes on almost unchanged from that of centuries ago, and it is our aim to explore a few of these areas. We can roughly divide these people into three main linguistic groups: the Rifs, the Amazigh and the Chleuh.
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These languages have survived thus far because the Berbers generally live in isolated mountain villages or other remote regions, where communication remains difficult, and today it is mainly through storytellers and heddaoua (wandering minstrels) as well as at weddings or festivals, that these indigenous languages survive.
Vaccinations - Morocco The following are recommended: Hepatitis A Polio Typhoid Tetanus For detailed information and advice concerning vaccinations go to:www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk.Vaccination requirements change periodically so we advise that you check with your nearest specialist travel clinic 4-6 weeks before departure to get up-to-date information. A specialist travel clinic should also be able to advise regarding any special vaccination requirements for your children. The Adventure Company,Cross & Pillory House,Cross & Pillory Lane, Alton Hampshire, GU34 1HL
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