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Sat 23 Jun - Sat 30 Jun 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

What are the bikes like?

Climate

Terrain

Luggage allowance and valuables

Responsible Tourism

Typical day

Accommodation

Food & Drink

Clothing and equipment

Toilets

Phone and WiFi

Safety

Emergencies

Training

Training Weekends

Level of Difficulty

The High Atlas Mountain Bike Challenge is graded as tough, and as such it is suitable for participants who have previously done some long distance cycling but who want to get out of their comfort zone, and challenge themselves to a higher level. A good level of training is strongly advised to take part in this challenge.
During your Atlas Mountain Bike challenge you will be:

  • Cycling through the Mid-High Atlas mountain range.
  • Cycling mainly off road on dirt tracks. There are sections that are on tarmac and some that are on single track roads.  
  • Taking on many tough, solid ascents on poor quality roads. You will also enjoy the hard downhills!
  • Cycling up to an altitude of 2600 meters, through remote areas.
  • Cycling for up to 68 km per day.      

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.

Currency regulations: 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). The import and export of the currency is tolerated up to a limit of 1000DH. Currency purchased during a visit to Morocco should be converted back before departing the country, with the exception of the 1000Dh level.

ATMs: 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: Although you should bring one in case of emergencies, we do not recommend you rely on a credit card in the rural area of your challenge.

How much to bring: You will not need a large amount of money during this trip as most expenses are covered. However, approximately £200 is recommended for gifts, souvenirs, alcohol & tipping. Euros and US$ can all be exchanged on arrival (GBP are much harder to change).

Tipping: Tipping is personal and at your sole discretion. You should only tip if you feel that you have received good service. We recommend approx. £5/US$8 per person per challenge day and this should be given to the challenge leader at the end of the challenge who will distribute it evenly among 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 vaccination information please check the NHS travel website Fit for Travel at: http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations.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.

Flights

You will be flying from London to Marrakech and returning via the same route. The flight will take approx. 3 1/2 hrs. Your flight tickets will be issued to you at the airport. 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

Each group is intended to be a minimum of 16 people in order to run and a maximum of approximately 30 people due to the wilderness environment in which the challenge takes place. We will be able to run this challenge for 10 to 15 people by charging a small group supplement of £50 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 challenge leaders, all of whom speak fluent English. They will be ultimately responsible for the running of the itinerary and the safety of your group.

What are the bikes like?

The mountain bikes that we use are some of the best available in Morocco, although you should not expect them to be as high-spec as some that are now available in the UK. Sizes range from 15 - 21” and come equipped with off-road tyres and multi-use pedals. Some (but not all) have disc brakes and all come with bells and water holders. It is not possible to fit your own pedals, but you may bring your own saddle if you wish. We have plenty of spares and our helpful mechanics are on hand at all times to help with repairs or adjustments.

Climate

Early mornings will immediately warm as soon as the sun rises, and the days will be hot and bright. As soon as the sun sets, the temperature drops radically and is often well below zero degrees. It is good practice to always pack for all weathers, but in general your challenge should be hot and dry, with cold evenings.

Terrain

The trip starts on a well maintained dirt track in the mountains before it gets slightly narrow on the second day with mainly uphill sections. Occasionally single tracks are involved with even stony sections for some kilometers . However there is a big mixture of tarmac road on good dirt road on others, with one iconic day of cycling on a flat single trail through the valley of Ait Bougumez in the middle of the fields.

Luggage allowance and valuables

Try to keep luggage to an absolute minimum – details of what to pack are provided in your kit list. Your rucksack/holdall (suitcases are not appropriate) must not exceed the maximum weight limit of the airline you are flying with (usually 20kg, however do check this with the airline or contact our flights team if in doubt). Each day when you begin to ride, your personal kit will be transported to the next hotel. You will only need to have a handle bar bag or bum bag with you during the day and you will be able to access your day pack at rest stops.

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.

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 wake early (around sunrise), in time for a hearty breakfast. Cycling days will last between 4-8 hours, including breaks and snacks. You will have a leisurely, longer break for lunch around noon (picnic or cooked lunches will be provided). You will arrive at your accommodation each day before sunset. Most of the challenge takes place on dirt roads, with the occasional tarmac road.

Accommodation

During the challenge you will be staying mainly in tents and village houses, with shared toilets/shower facilities. You will be in a centrally located hotel in Marrakech. Please let Charity Challenge know if you are travelling with a friend or relative who you wish to share with, if not you will be roomed with someone of the same sex.

If you are travelling with a friend or partner who you wish to share with please ensure that you note this where appropriate when booking or email challenges@charitychallenge.com.

Food & Drink

You will be served a variety of Moroccan food. All meals are healthy and nourishing. Lunches will be either in the form of light snacks suitable for biking, or picnics. There will be plenty of food to satisfy hungry appetites, but please let Charity Challenge know if you have any specific dietary requirements.

NB. You will only be expected to carry water & any essentials you would carry on a day ride – our support team will take care of the rest of your luggage.

Clothing and equipment

Good quality, durable kit could mean the difference between a fantastic challenge experience and an uncomfortable one. For your cycle challenge, padded cycling shorts and comfortable footwear are essential, and helmets are compulsory throughout. Training with your cycling shorts is definitely advised! You can bring equipment like clip-in pedals or a gel seat, if desired, in order to adapt your bike in country, and we would also recommend technical/wicking t-shirts rather than cotton shirts. 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

During the challenge you will be staying mainly in tents and village houses, with shared toilets/shower facilities. You will be in a centrally located hotel in Marrakech with western style toilets.

Phone and WiFi

WIFI and mobile phone reception will be available at the hotel in Marrakech. After leaving Marrakech, the mobile phone and WIFI signal will be limited.

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 High Atlas Mountain Bike Challenge, there are a couple of important points that you should be aware of:

  • You will be going to high altitude. The maximum altitude reached during this challenge will be 2600 meters.
  • The Mid-High Atlas Mountains could be very challenging in terms of terrain and remoteness. The camping facilities are very basic. You will spend one night in a local house.
  • You will take on some steep descents on tough terrain, which will require a lot of concentration
  • The local team are very good at trying to accommodate different di.etary requirements. However, a vegan and gluten free diet will be difficult to cater for. If you have any dietary requirements, please let us know and we will try our best to accommodate your request. Please make sure you bring some extra snacks and products that you are used to eating.

Emergencies

Full back-up support (by 4WD vehicles) will be close by and can be brought in should there be an emergency, or if you need to stop for any reason. The challenge is not run as a race and there is always a large discrepancy in people’s cycling abilities. There will be a staff member at the back of the group at all times to ensure that no one is left behind and can take things at your own pace.

Training

Training and fitness is definitely required. It is important that you work specifically on your stamina, leg and joint strength, core and balance in order to get as much out of the challenge as possible. You will be cycling everyday on varied terrain so get out on your bike as often as you can! You need to be able to sustain around 7-8 hours of cycling for 5 continuous days, so if you can then replicating this over a weekend would be fantastic training. 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 here.

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ATOL protected

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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