What kind of footwear is suitable?
You will need comfortable walking boots with ankle support, and something lighter for the evenings.
David Richardson - Sales
Are water purification tablets necessary?
The EU recently banned the use of iodine tablets, therefore these will no longer be provided on trek. We advise you buy your own purification tablets in the UK (Biox Aqua drops are good) and take them with you. Bottled water can be purchased throughout most parts of the trip, yet please note recycling is not fully established in a lot of areas.
Danuta Janik - Morocco Operations
Atlas Panorama articles
Staff member Ian Langford travelled on this trip and you can read his article to get a personal viewpoint of the holiday.
What are the facilities like at the Gite?
The gite, although in a stunning location, is in a very remote area and as such, facilites are slightly more limited than you may find in a normal hotel. The term 'gite' in Morocco denotes simple rural accommodation, like a refuge or hostel, as opposed to the superior French definition. The rooms are dormitory style with mattresses placed directly on the floor and are often mixed sex so you will be sharing with other people from your group. Although blankets are provided, you should bring your own sleeping bag.
Thanks to electricity being linked to Tijhza Valley in 2004, the gite now has lighting and European two pin plug sockets for recharging camera batteries etc. There are four flush toilets and two Asian-style toilets, hot and cold showers plus a washroom with basic washing facilities. There is likely to be more than one group staying at the gite at any one time, but there is plenty of room. Although the facilities may be basic, the welcome is warm!
Breakfast will generally be porridge, bread, jam, coffee/fruit juice, while the evening meal will be a tasty local stew with vegetables (known as a tagine). You can buy chocolate bars/snacks, soft drinks etc at the Gite as well - all reasonably priced!You are allowed one hot shower each day, and if you require additional showers, you pay for these (approx £1).You do need to take a sleeping bag but there are extra blankets available at the Gite if you are cold. Thick mattresses are provided and you sleep on these on the floor "Moroccan style"!
Ian Langford - Sales
What are the temperatures likely to be trekking in the Atlas mountains?
Expect it to be hot during the day with strong sun, mid to high 20s is the norm. However, there can be a cool breeze and you will need extra layers when you stop. As ever in the mountains be prepared for quick, unpredictable changes in the weather and have appropriate clothing for this. At night temperatures can drop to zero.
David Richardson - Sales
Should I take any gifts for local Moroccan children?
You may take out some gifts if you like, but do not give money - ideally take crayons, pens, writing paper etc which they can use in school.
Ian Langford - Sales
Can I hire a sleeping bag locally in Morocco?
Unfortunately our local supplier does not have a reliable source through which he can secure sleeping bags so you will need to have this in advance of travelling. If you don't want to buy one, bags can be hired through TrekHireUK (www.trekhireuk.com).
Danuta Janik - Customer Operations
Tips from staff who have done the Atlas Panorama
I just changed my money at the airport when I arrived, and then I think topped up at an ATM towards the end in Marrakech, which was quite easy. It will depend on what the leader/ group choose to do but you'll either change into Dirhams at the airport, or the following morning (since you usually arrive in quite late) somewhere close to the hote. Sometimes they also stop on the way out of the city, but you'll definitely get it done quite quickly. You can use debit cards (let your bank know in advance) but I wouldn't rely on them 100%, just in case.
I would take one fleece or jacket (how heavy depends on the time of year you're going) with layers underneath, then you can add as you like if it gets cold. So you normally take a selection of long and short sleeve tops, and just stick a few on top of each other if it feels chilly. Light, breathable layers is always the way to go, and means you don't have to pack any big heavy items.
Do I need to cover up?
As long as you don't have bare shoulders, you'll be fine. So a t-shirt is ok, but not a strappy top. This applies to when walking as well. Shorts are fine, as long as they are down to your knees. The villagers, while still traditional, are used to seeing tourists in the area and won't be too shocked. Marrakech is a lot more relaxed and, while you still need to be aware of local culture, it wouldn't be as conservative as the mountains.
What can I take for the project?
You can get a list of what would be useful here.
While Marrakech stays hot pretty much all year round, it does get cooler in the mountains. It will always really depend on local conditions at the time of year you're there but it might be low teens at night during summer maybe, even single figures if it's a cold snap. Winter departures will be down to single figures at night usually. You won't really be out anywhere at night (maybe the veranda at the gite) so you don't need to pack for those temperatures primarily. You should be comfortable in a 3 season bag.
Normally you take a packed lunch out from the gite, and you have dinner there as well. The other days you will probably eat out with the group in Marrakech, and also have a lunch on the road driving to Marrakech.
I'm afraid there is no beer at the gite, and it was a pretty dry week apart from the start and end in Marrakech.
Ian Langford - Sales
Is Marrakech easy to get around?
You will find taxis everywhere but the only way to travel around the city and soak up the atmosphere is to jump in a Calesh! If there’s one thing, you do make sure you enjoy a horse drawn carriage ride around the old walled city or medina. Your hotel can arrange for a caleche to collect you pick one up from the ‘taxi rank’ at the entrance to the Djemma el Fna or main square.
Ben Roseveare - Marketing Director
Anything I shouldn't miss in Marrakech?
Marrakech is truly a taste of Morocco at it's best. Grab a seat in the huge main square, the Djemma el Fna, and watch the world go by while sipping some mint tea. It's been a place of entertainment for locals for hundreds of years and is packed with everything from food stalls to snake charmers! The Majorelle and Menara gardens are also well worth a visit, and offer some peace in the middle of this hectic city.
At night, anyone looking for somewhere to chill out in the heart of the medina should try the Café Arabe, which has some of the best modern Moroccan food around, as well as great views from their rooftop terrace!
Kim Christie - Customer Operations
What is Moroccan food like?
Moroccan cuisine is very diverse, with many influeneces due to the interaction of Morocco with the outside world for centuries. The cuisine of Morocco is a mix of Berber, Moorish, Mediterranean and Arab influences. The main Moroccan dish most people are familiar with is couscous, usually eaten with beef or lamb. Chicken is also very common and the importance of seafood is increasing, especially on the coast. Vegetarians won't have any problems either, although choice can be more limited in remote locations.
The common and tasty tajine is everywhere, a mouth watering stew with meat and vegetables. Green tea with mint is the drink of choice, and you can pick up bocadillos (sandwiches) from street stalls everywhere - you won't go hungry!
Olly Leicester - Sales
What is the best way to take money to Morocco?
The Moroccan currency is the Dirham and cannot be imported or exported, as it is a 'closed' currency. We suggest you take your personal spending money in good condition notes, either in £, Euros or US$. Local costs - it depends! - £2-4 per day to cover postcards, small souvenirs, soft drinks etc; £15 a day for food is fine (if it's not included).
Danuta Janik - Morocco Operations
What kind of clothing is best in a Muslim country?
You are visiting a predominantly Muslim country, therefore you should dress modestly at all times when visiting cultural sites, and there may also be times when you are asked to 'cover up'. During your trip the tour leader will always advise you on appropriate dress for each day's activities.
If you are asked to 'cover up', you'll need to cover your shoulders, arms and legs. We recommend packing lightweight trousers or a long skirt, and a long sleeved shirt. Women may also be required to cover their hair with a scarf if entering a mosque or religious quarters.
Jim Eite - Product Manager
Will Ramadan affect my trip?
Please note that the holy month of Ramadan will take place during specific dates each year, the actual dates will be listed in the respective Trip Notes. This is a time when followers of Islam do not eat or drink between sunrise and sunset. This can sometimes affect the opening hours of certain tourist sites. However we will ensure that that the itinerary is affected as little as possible if you travel during this period. Food and drink is available to tourists during the day.
Brendan Phelan - Customer Operations
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