Sat 10 Feb - Sat 17 Feb 2018

OVERVIEW

What to expect

ITINERARY

What you will do

COSTS

Ways to pay

INFORMATION

All you need to know

Everything you need to know

This page provides you with a variety of information about the challenge that you might find useful.

Level of Difficulty

Money

Visa

Vaccinations

Flights

Insurance

Group Size

Leadership

Climate

Terrain

Luggage allowance and valuables

Should I take gifts or clothes for the locals?

Responsible Tourism

Typical day

Accommodation

Food & Drink

Clothing and equipment

Toilets

Phone and WiFi

Safety

Training

Training weekends

Level of Difficulty

The Sahara Desert Trek is graded as challenging. During your Sahara Desert Trek you will be:

  • Trekking between 17-20km per day.
  • Trekking a total distance of 100 kms over 6 days.
  • Suffering exhausting temperatures during the day and freezing at night.
  • Punishing your feet over hard, rocky terrain and hot sand.
  • Camping each night with very basic facilities.

Money

Currency: The national currency is the Dirham, which is divided into 100 centimes. For up to date currency exchange, go to www.xe.com.

The Dirham is officially designated as a closed currency meaning it can only be traded within Morocco; however, Dirhams are being sold and bought in travel agencies and at major airports in several countries (notably the UK).

Cash: There are ATMs available at the airport near to the hotel in Marrakech. This is the best source of obtaining currency whilst you are in Morocco.

Credit cards: Widely accepted in the larger urban centres, although a 5% charge is often charged.

Spending money: You will not need a large amount of money during this trip, as most expenses are included. Keep in mind that, other than at the start and end of the trip, you will be trekking in the desert and away from any foreign exchanges or banks. We therefore recommend that you carry a small amount of cash in small denominations. A credit card should be carried in case of emergencies. Please note that you can only obtain Dirham’s in Morocco, you must not export them after the challenge.

Tips: Tipping is discretionary. However, we recommend GBP£30 per person at the end of the event, which you should give to the tour leader who will then divide it among all of the support team.

Visa

For UK passport holders a full passport is required but no visa. You must have at least six months to run on your passport from the end of the challenge. Ensure your passport is stamped on arrival. Non UK passport holders should consult their nearest Moroccan embassy regarding visa requirements.

Vaccinations

For up to date vaccinations information please visit the NHS website ‘Fit for Travel’ at: http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/home.aspx. Although the Charity Challenge team are travel professionals, they are not medical experts and we would encourage you to visit your GP or travel nurse to discuss vaccination requirements. Your GP may ask questions about the specific locations that you are visiting in Cuba and as such it may be useful to take a copy of your itinerary with you.

Flights

You will be flying from London to Ouarzazate via Casablanca and returning to London. The flight will take approx. 4 hrs, although you will change planes and have a few hours at Casablanca airport.  Your flight tickets will be handed to you at the airport on the day of departure. Exact times will be confirmed closer to departure. If you choose to book your own flights you must confirm with the Charity Challenge office before paying otherwise you may be liable for your included group flights (please contact flights@charitychallenge.com for further assistance).

Insurance

It is a condition of booking that you have a suitable travel insurance policy whilst participating on the challenge. We have a special policy which covers among other things, medical (emergency, evacuation and repatriation) arrangements, cancellation and curtailment of the challenge, and more specifically for the adventurous activities undertaken on this challenge. If you have your own travel insurance policy, you must ensure that it provides at least the same level of cover as our recommended policy, including protecting the charity in the event of your cancellation 56 days or less prior to departure. If you choose not to purchase our recommended policy when you book we will send you a disclaimer which you should complete and return.

For more general travel insurance questions, please refer to our main FAQs page.

Group Size

The group is intended to be between 16 – 30 people because of the wilderness environment in which this expedition takes place. We will be able to run this challenge for 10 to 15 people by charging a small group supplement of £30, which will be added to your final balance invoice (self funders) or charged to your charity (minimum sponsorship or flexi).

Leadership

We employ a number of first aid qualified expedition leaders, all of whom speak English. They will ultimately be responsible for the running of the itinerary and the safety of your group. The itinerary is there as a guide and may change for a variety of reasons – unusual weather patterns, the strength of the group, and so on. While we will do our very best to keep to the set itinerary, we cannot be held responsible for any last minute changes that may occur. In all such circumstances, your expedition leader will have the final say.

Climate

Early mornings will immediately warm up as soon as the sun rises and the days will be warm and hot depending on the season. As soon as the sun sets, the temperature drops radically. In March and April, highs will be around approximately 25 - 35C, with lows of 2-7C. November and December is hotter at 28-35C, with lows of 2-7C.

Terrain

The terrain is incredibly varied, with some days being hard, rocky and flat, with others taking on rolling sand dunes, which can be very hot and very hard going.

Luggage allowance and valuables

As no formal clothes are needed whilst trekking, luggage should be kept to the absolute minimum – details of what to pack are provided in your Kit List. Your rucksack / soft bag (suitcases are not appropriate) must not exceed 20kgs in weight. On your outward journey, please wear your hiking boots, and carry a spare change of clothing in your hand luggage. Please ensure you take your sleeping bag and basic trekking & toiletry items on the plane as hand luggage.

While we will do everything to provide adequate safety for the group and security for your possessions, the general rule is that if you don’t need it, don’t bring it. This includes jewellery, necklaces, rings and even watches. Your passport and money should be kept on you at all times.

Should I take gifts or clothes for the locals?

We advise against giving small gifts directly to children as it can encourage begging. However, if you have any small items (pens, toys) or clothing that you would like to donate, your challenge leader will collect it from you at the end of the challenge and make sure that it is distributed where it is needed most. Please do not give out sweets throughout your challenge. Depending on the exact route you take, there may be an opportunity to visit a school, and they are normally in need of pens, pencils and school books.

Responsible Tourism

At Charity Challenge we are committed to sustainable and responsible tourism, and work closely with bodies such as the International Porter Protection Group and Climate Care to ensure that our challenges benefit the local environments and communities in which they take place. We ensure that all rubbish is disposed of responsibly, and following local guidelines on cultural and environmental protection and respect, we aim to limit our impact on the natural environment. In addition to taking these practical steps to ensure that our challenges are sustainable, we also make a contribution each year to a number of local community projects, so as to give something back directly to the communities that we visit. Since 2000 we have donated almost £200,000 to such projects, supporting a range of initiatives, including schooling for children in Africa, shelter for street children in Brazil, and Orang-utan conservation in Indonesia. We recommend that any gifts brought over for children are given to the UK challenge leader and distributed where needed by them and our local Ground Agent. If you wish to do more, you should consider buying drinks, postcards and souvenirs from the local vendors. For many, it is their sole source of income. For more information, please visit our Responsible Tourism pages, where you will be able to view a list of the projects that we currently support.

Typical day

You will be woken early each morning at approx. 6:30am, and given a basic but hearty breakfast. After breakfast you will pack up with the help of all the tour leaders and begin the first trek of the day for about 3 hours. A long and early lunch will be taken to avoid trekking during the hottest part of the day. We set off to walk again for another 3 hours (approx.) and then we establish camp late afternoon for dinner and a well-deserved rest.

Accommodation

You will sleep in shared Bedouin tents (with 4-6 people), which will be supplied to you. At the very beginning and the end of the trek, you will be staying in a hotel in order to relax and recover this is in Ouarzazate. If you are travelling with a friend or partner who you wish to share with, please let Charity Challenge know in advance.

Food & Drink

Each morning you will be provided with a very filling breakfast of hot sweet Moroccan coffee, hot chocolate and bread and cheeses. Lunch will be a packed lunch, while dinner will vary between Western and Moroccan fare. Food will always be ample and will provide heaps of energy. Please let Charity Challenge know prior to departure if you have any specific dietary requirements or allergies.

Clothing and equipment

Good quality, durable kit could mean the difference between a fantastic challenge experience and an uncomfortable one. For this challenge, waterproof, well-worn in boots will be indispensable, particularly coupled with some really good quality walking socks. You don’t need a clean pair every day, but enough to make sure you have dry socks each morning. The benefits of a comfortable day sack cannot be underestimated, so make sure that you train with this. Other essentials are high quality gore-tex waterproof and windproof jackets and trousers, and technical/wicking t-shirts rather than cotton shirts. Walking poles are also recommended, as a preventative as well as for anyone with any pre-existing leg injuries or niggles. A full kit list for this challenge can be found here and once you book you will have access to kit discounts with our partners The Outdoor Shop, Outdoorhire and Cotswold Outdoor.

Toilets

There will be a toilet tent and water supplied for washing (and possibly showering). Please keep in mind that water is life in the desert & should therefore be preserved.

Phone and WiFi

You will have a good phone and WIFI reception while at Ouazarzate. On trekking days, there will be some phone signal at some points.

Safety

Charity Challenge considers the safety of all of its participants and staff to be a top priority, and as such we have set up one of the most advanced and thorough safety management systems in the industry. In a nutshell, Our Challenge Safe brand formalises our ethos when it comes to safety, and brings together the procedures and risk management strategies that we use to audit all aspects of our challenges, from vehicles to accommodation to the activity itself. Your welfare is paramount!
In terms of your Sahara Desert Challenge, there are a couple of important points that you should be aware of:

  • Trekking in the heat of Morocco is a major challenge in itself so make sure you are well hydrated throughout..
  • Blisters are very common during this challenge due to the heat of the terrain and the rocks underfoot. Compeed blister plasters and zinc oxide tape are essential.
  • There is a big amount of flies around during the trekking days. Our local team will make sure that all the food and utensils will be covered and away from them.

Training

A good level of fitness is definitely required. Anyone who leads a fairly active and moderately healthy lifestyle should be able to complete the challenge, as long as they train regularly over a period of at least three months leading up to it. Don’t forget that the temperature and climate will be different from the UK, and that you will be exercising constantly for a number of days.

In your Charity Challenge account you will find more comprehensive Fitness Training Notes. You can also look to join one of our training weekends.

Training weekends

We offer superb training weekends across various locations in the UK, from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon. These training weekends not only help you become physically prepared for the challenge, but our experienced instructors and leaders will talk you through your clothing and equipment, camp craft, health and wellbeing, trekking skills (walking on different terrain/at altitude/at night/using walking poles), teamwork on expedition and many more themes designed to make you get the most out of your challenge. The weekends are great ways for you to get out into the mountains of the UK, while also meeting other Charity Challengers and sharing your experiences. To read more about our training weekends, including dates and prices, check out our dedicated page.

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We hold an Air Travel Organiser's Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is 6546. Many of the flight-inclusive challenges on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. This ATOL protection only covers challenges that include flights booked by Charity Challenge and that originate in the UK. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLcertificate

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