Level : Difficult
Expedition to Sahara
Have you ever dreamed about setting off into the desert? The deserts consist of countless sand dunes, resembling a sea where instead of water and salty splashes there are sand and sand storms, the source of the sirocco. Among this immense ocean caravans of camels travel from one source of water to another.
For the citizens of south Morocco, the Berbers, this is no dream; this is their life, a measured and calm existence, obeying the law of the desert. We invite you to join our expedition to the Sahara and take off for a trip to Africa!
Over the course of the expedition our professional instructor will demonstrate to you the basic survival skills demanded in this desert. In addition to participating in the expedition you will also undergo real survival training in a desert.
Sahara expedition program, Morocco
We will arrive in Casablanca, the largest city in Morocco; from there we transfer to Fes. In the evening we will observe a huge market in the cultural and historical centre of Morocco’s capital, where we can taste a great variety of dishes of Arabic cuisine.
Spending the night in Fes, early in the morning we set out to the east. We will have to pass though snowy Atlas Mountains that rise 4000 meters above sea level. While climbing down the mountains you will notice the climate change; as the green meadows of the west are now left behind and the great Sahara Desert opens before us! On the way we will increasingly encounter barely noticeable clay villages built along rare rivulets and oases surrounded by date palm thickets. By the evening we will get to the Berber village, Merzouga. Here in a small hotel we will pass the night and prepare ourselves for our exodus to the sands.
In the morning we will get acquainted with our guides, members of the indigenous population of the Sahara desert, the Berbers. After packing only the most necessary equipment, we will try to ascend the highest dune in the area, and learn how high temperatures and blazing sunshine influence a human body. This is priceless experience for people who will spend time in a desert or other hot environment. Closer to the evening when the temperature goes down we will hit the road. Putting our equipment on camels we will take off for our first journey across the endless sands. At sunset we will stop for the first overnight stay, set up a camp and will enjoy tajin which is national Moroccan food. After this we will start learning and training, because the endless starry sky will open before us- this is the most reliable map for a traveler in a desert.
Let the trip begin! We will be surrounded by sand dunes all day long and have to walk slowly to avoid wasting precious water and only in the mornings and evenings.
When the sun is at its zenith our goal is to be in the shade as much as possible. The scenery of Merzuga is one of the most picturesque in the Moroccan Sahara where the height of the Erg Shebi dunes can reach several hundred meters.
Leaving these magic dunes behind, we now cross rocky canyons and black well-travelled valleys. We will get used to our camels, just as they become used to their riders. In the afternoon we will stop at an old well that has cold, fresh water 10 meters below the surface. Despite the acrid environment, at a depth of 5-10 meters under the stony debris there are underground rivers that come to the surface and flood the area every 50-70 years. At night we will set up camp in the middle of a huge valley surrounded by rocks that have been burnt by the sun for hundreds and hundreds of years. Our camels will forage for bushes while we enjoy olives, cakes, stewed mutton and green tea in a traditional desert meal.
We travel through a black well-traveled valley, surmounting a small pass to find ourselves in another narrow valley whose borders are pitted with thousand-year old mines which still mine without modern technology; here everything is literally extracted by hand. Walking by a caravan road we learn to identify traces of life unnoticeable at first sight but are numerous even in the seemingly lifeless desert. Following the footprints left in the sand we can find lizards, snakes and small rodents that found shelter from the broiling sun.
Moving forward across the stony plateau towards a rocky elevation we will see evidence of how powerful time and the relentless sun can be. Many of the stones under our feet will crumble to dust once we touch them. We will also encounter rare burs and half-dead bushes which will serve as our main source of fuel for cooking food and maintaining our fire at night when the temperature might reach zero degrees. Our camel’s manure is another source of combustible fuel for the fire.
By now our bodies will have finally become accustomed to the heat. The scorching sun will become a regular part of our environment and the sounds of desert will be more than just background noise to us. Due to constancy of the wind we can use it to tell time, to the point of knowing exactly how many hours passed from sunrise and are left until sunset. In the desert, where celestial bodies are sometimes the only elements of the landscape that change, telling time is a very important and useful skill.
Moving across the plateau we will get to rocky paths that were once beds of rivers which flowed there thousands of years ago.
It seems as though water is forever gone from this place, but this is not so. Every shaded trench here can provide an access to a supply of underground water. After a short dig, dirty mud will appear which can be filtered and is then good enough to drink.
In the evening we will get to a Bedouin camp decorated with wool carpets, for dinner we will have stewed meat with dates.
The endless starry sky will be our shelter, where we can easily find the Big Dipper, Orion and the North Star.
Moving along the Algerian boarder, we will walk further west seeing the remains of mountain ranges which look more like stone ghosts. After this we will find sandy plains covered with dunes; on the horizon we will see a rare Berber village, several of which can be found in the desert along the shores of various rivers such as the Ueds River, whose currents flowed under ground thousands of years ago.
It is possible to spend a night in the desert comfortably because the sand cools during the night, though in the afternoon the temperature of the sand can reach up to 90°C! All you have to do is dig your feet into the sand and you will immediately feel its warmth. In the afternoon we can experience the opposite, by burying our feet in sand we can reach a refreshingly cool layer right away. This is exactly the same way a majority of desert wildlife behaves, taking shelter from the heat by burying themselves in a cold layer of sand and leaving it only at night.
Getting to the outskirts of Zagora (a small Moroccan settlement), even about 25 kilometers away from this desert tourist Mecca we can sense the closeness of civilization.
Bikes and jeeps of European travelers longing to subjugate the desert will appear here and there on the horizon. It’s not unusual to come across a desert hotel standing alone in the middle of an empty plateau.
We will set up the last camp en route. This is our farewell to the night sky. A festive dinner at a common table made of carpets right on the sand. Before we return to civilization we will have a chance to refresh our knowledge by practicing the skills we acquired during the last days of the trip and enjoy the clear and starry sky that we usually don’t notice while in the city.
Riding our camels we will return to the world of machines and daily routine. In the afternoon in contrast to having passed sandy dunes rising hundreds of meters high our group will enter the flourishing town of Zagora which was just a small Berber village not so long ago. Here we will check into a small hotel and can finally have the shower we have been dreaming of for such a long time!
Early in the morning we will leave for Marrakesh. When we reach the desert’s outskirts we will have a chance to visit the ancient ruins of Ati-Ben-Khaddu. Now the clay remains of this city-fortress remind us of the Tuaregian civilization who built it thousands of years ago and then left it for no discernable reason. Ati-Ben-Khaddu is also included in the UNESCO world heritage list. In the evening having passed the Atlas Mountains we will go to Marrakesh where we can rest at the hotel.
This entire day will be devoted to this city, as we tour Marrakesh, we will visit its numerous markets full of souvenirs and various Arabic food, wander narrow city streets meandering within medieval quarters, at times hampered by dead ends where there is no way out except for retracing our steps and backtracking a ways. Marrakesh is an amalgamation of Arabic and European cultures, a mixture of desert and mountain; this is a unique world of colors and scents!
At night we will take off to Casablanca from which we will fly back to Russia. Depending on a flight we will have a couple of hours to visit Africa’s tallest mosque of Khasan II built on embankment in downtown.
Duration: 11 days+ 2 days for travel + 2 day excursion program
Location: Merzuga-Zagora, Morocco
Visa: visa is not needed for EU and US citizenes
Vaccination: no vaccination is needed
Closest dates: April 20 – May 5, 2012
Instructors: an instructor (instructor-interpreter) of the Wolfin Survival School + Berber guide
Group size: up to 10 people
Meals: National Berber cuisine
7 or more people-2100 EUR each
5 to 7 people- 2200 EUR each
3 to 5 people- 2400 EUR each
Transfer from Casablanca-Fes; Fes-Merzuga; Zagora-Marrakesh; Marrakesh- Casablanca;
-Accommodation at hotels in Fes, Marrakesh, Merzuga and Zagora
- Camel rental
- Guide and cook services
The price does not include
- Ticket flight to Casablanca and back, other services not included in the above list
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call us at +7 495 643 3474 or at +7 916 176 5430