School Trek - Edge of Sahara
Morocco, School Expeditions, 8 days - from £595 (land only) - from €715 (land only) - from $980 (land only)
Morocco spans from the Atlantic Ocean, to mountainous areas, to the Sahara (desert). Morocco is a Northern African country, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and the annexed Western Sahara. A large part of Morocco is mountainous with the Rif Mountains located in the north of the country and the Atlas Mountains, located mainly in the center and the south of the country. The Atlas provide Morocco with a rocky, 500 kilometre-long (300 miles) spine and, at the same time, add considerable geographical variety. With peaks rising to over 4000 metres (13000ft.), the several ranges that comprise the Atlas are home to a wealth of excellent trekking routes. These mountains are also home to the Berber people, a fascinating race, of uncertain ancestory who have herded sheep and horses in the high valleys of the Atlas for many centuries. In the rainshadow of the Atlas Mountains, towards the south and east, the landscape becomes increasingly dry. Here, there are several subsidiary ranges, on the very edge of the great Sahara Desert. The Jebel Sahro is one such range, with peaks of 2500 metres (8000ft.).
The time in Morocco is GMT + 0 hours.
The national language of Morocco is Arabic but French is taught universally throughout the country and is the primary language of commerce and business. A rudimentary knowledge of French will certainly assist your communication with most Moroccans. English is not widely spoken though it is becoming more popular particularly with young people. We do recommend that you take a pocket phrase and learn some basics such as common greetings.
With a huge coastline and great geographical variety, Morocco has many distinct local climates. Marrakech is very hot during the summer months, with maximum daytime temperatures of around 40º C (95º F). Once in the high valleys of the Atlas, we can expect cooler conditions, with daytime maxima of around 25º C (77º F) and pleasantly cool evenings. At night, the temperatures in the high valleys are unlikely to fall below 5º C (41º F). During the summer months the Atlas region receives little rainfall. However, the winters can bring considerable amounts of snow to the mountain areas and many high passes will be blocked until early spring. The early and later summer months are arguably the best times to trek in Morocco's Atlas Mountains. The best time of year to visit the Jebel Sahro region is during the winter months, from December to March, when the daytime temperatures will be around 20 to 25º C (68º - 77º F), falling to around 5º C (41º F) at night.
The unit of currency in Morocco is the Dhiram. For up to date exchange rates visit: www.xe.com
It is not possible to obtain or exchange Moroccan currency (Dirham) outside the country. You can withdraw money in local currency from ATM's in Marrakech or your travel money can be carried in the form of cash or travellers cheques. (Sterling and US dollars are easily exchanged, but note that it can be difficult to exchange travellers cheques at banks in Morocco, and commission payments are often very high). Credit cards can be used to purchase goods and it is a good idea to carry one in case of emergencies.
No visa is required for travel to Morocco by nationals of the UK and most EU countries, the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Please note that your passport must be valid for at least six months. Other nationalities should contact the Morocco embassy in their home country.
You should attend your own doctor and dentist for a check-up. Your doctor will have access to the most up to date information on the required vaccinations for the country you are visiting. In general we recommend vaccinations against the following: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, & Hepatitis ‘A'. Malaria prophylaxis is not recommended for this trip. Yellow Fever vaccination is not required. A very good online resource is the NHS travel website at www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk
Additional Sources of Information
Lonely Planet Guide - Morocco
Rough Guide to Morocco
Trekking in the Moroccan Atlas. Richard Knight.
The Atlas Mountains. Karl Smith. Cicerone Press.
A Year in Marrakesh. Peter Mayne
Desert Divers. Sven Lindqvist
Toubkal & Marrakech. 1:
Carte Du Maroc. 1:100,000 Series. A good map series.