Morocco vacations, Atlas Panorama

“Enjoy four days walking in the High Atlas Mountains where you'll become part of a typical Berber village and sample simple pleasures prior to living it up in Marrakech.”

Highlights

Marrakech | Jardin Majorelle | Djemma el Fna | Menara Gardens | cross the Tizi'n'Tichka | 4 days walking in the High Atlas Mountains | Ouarikt Gorge | Animiter | Tizi'n'Ourghsan | Mt n'Oughlagal | Jebel Anghomar and Jebel Tamda | plenty of free time to explore Marrakech at leisure

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22 Dec 2019
US $879
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16 Feb 2020
US $849
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Our top tip:
This is a hiking vacation and comfortable walking boots are required as well as plenty of layers to counteract colder mountain temperatures. Also, bring a pack of cards or travel games to play at the gite.
Trip type:
Small group. Average group size 12. Minimum age 16.
Activity level:
Moderate. Four solid walks with shorter or longer options.
Accomm:
4 nights basic gite, 3 nights en-suite hotel with swimming pool.
Included:
Accommodation, transport, listed activities, tour leader throughout.
Meals:
All breks, 3 lunches, 4 dinners.
Solos:
Single rooms available at a surcharge in hotel only.
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Morocco vacations, Atlas Panorama

Carbon reduction

Your vacation will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this vacation and how to reduce them.

Environment

Activity:
Few vacations have as little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as a trekking trip. Erosion on and adjacent to popular paths is a growing problem in certain places and therefore our trip leaders encourage clients to stick to advised routes in order to minimise this. Even though this is a short trip, it still offers some good opportunities to benefit the local community. By including Berber villages on our route, using local gites for accommodation, using markets and local mule transport, we have a positive impact on the local economy. Particularly as we stay in Tighza, which is remote and still recovering from damages, our presence is really appreciated. Many clients like to leave behind items such as reading and writing materials and winter clothes which are taken in and re-distributed by a local association.

Water:
Water is a really important issue with walking trips and whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital that we have a system for providing clean water without causing lots of waste with plastic bottles. Lack of recycling is already a massive problem in Morocco so we suggest that instead of repeatedly buying bottled water, guests should re-fill a singular bottle. Since the EU banned the use of iodine tablets, we are no longer able to provide these on trek. The recommended alternative of Biox Aqua drops is not available in Morocco, therefore we also advise you buy your own purification tablets in the UK and take them with you.

UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

Community

Accommodation and Meals:
We will spend three nights in a hotel, and four nights very simple, rural accommodation in Tijhza village. Our local operators prefer to select accommodation which is locally owned in order to support smaller businesses and their employees. This ensures that most income generated is reinvested into the area and the community. Where meals are supplied, seasonal, fresh food is used wherever possible. Food in the village is bought from the market of Telouat, which is supplied predominantly by local producers and farmers. The main Moroccan dishes most people are familiar with are couscous, meat and vegetable tajines, fish chermoula and bocadillos, which are available from street stalls almost everywhere.

Campaigning for Change:
In conjunction with Baraka Community Partnerships, we have sponsored the development of Tijhza for many years with a variety of projects. These include supplying a pipeline system and water tower to the village and a toilet block for the school. Thanks to our volunteer groups, Tijhza now also has electricity and an annual medical clinic, which has had a hugely positive effect on the welfare of the village. More recently, we have achieved our aim of building a Hammam to alleviate some of the hygiene issues in the area and to provide a sustainable source income for many inhabitants. Unfortunately, devastating storms struck in November 2014, leaving much of the village severely damaged. We were able to raise emergency funding to provide supplies and to re-build many of the homes affected.

Local Craft and Culture:
At the beginning and end of the trip, there is free time in Marrakech to explore the wide variety of sites and activities in this major city. Clients are advised to head to the souks for souvenirs, take a ride in a traditional Caliche, or to visit the world renowned Marjorelle gardens. These tranquil gardens are decorated throughout in indigo blue and there is a small and charming museum of Islamic art in the grounds. In the evening, the Djemma el Fna central square comes alive with musicians, snake charmers, traveling acrobats and food stalls. This is the perfect opportunity to interact with local people, purchase locally produced handicrafts and to support small street vendors by trying authentic food. There will be other chances to do so on the trip at local markets, which are awash with bright images, animated characters and the smells and sounds of food being made and sold.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

10 Reviews of Morocco vacations, Atlas Panorama

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In depth story review

“I felt like a child that had found a secret placeÖ I found it hard to believe I was just a four-hour flight from the UK.”
“It was probably the day that we hiked around Mt n'Oughlagal, which gave us just amazing views across the mountains and valley.”

Reviewed on 25 Apr 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Lots of big memories, especially the hiking. But I will particularly remember the cosy family run riad that was our accommodation in the village of Tijhza
(population 300). Fantastic food, authentic style and wonderful hospitality.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Definitely try the village hamam.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


The Tijhza locals told us that responsible tourism was an increasingly important and locally controlled element of this mostly subsistence economy

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Wonderful. I would do it again in a flash.

Reviewed on 16 Apr 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Waking to snow, walking in snow, seeing the beautiful effect of snow in the valley.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Do not assume you will be in summer clothes.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, particularly the use of local labour

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?



Reviewed on 20 Nov 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Trekking in the Atlas Mountains was the highlight but it was all fantastic.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Don't expect amazing cuisine - it is generally wholesome but you have to go to the more upmarket restaurants for really tasty food.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes. We had a local our guide who was a longstanding employee of the tour operator. He was very knowledgeable. I felt like we were benefiting the local people rather than exploiting them.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent from start to finish.

Reviewed on 17 Aug 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Sitting on a terrace high above the square in Marrakesh listening to the calls for prayer.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


You only need one warm jacket! I took that plus a fleece...cut down on clutter! Take a good torch. A walking pole is a must for the scree on Mt Toubkal.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


The tour supported the locals by employing them as guides, cooks and accommodation providers. They were fantastic. The tips they received would benefit them and their families.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


It was excellent from start to finish! Really well organised. Food fantastic....healthy and fresh. I really don't know how they did it!

Reviewed on 01 Jan 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


trekking in the mountains, particularly the 10 hour hike to the lake

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Although the trip is graded moderate and the hiking isn't overly strenuous, the days walking can be quite long so be prepared - this IS a hiking vacation.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes - the benefits (economically) were shared out across the community and local villages with different families involved in different ways.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Great - just what I needed.

Reviewed on 22 Nov 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The longest (third) walk up to a lake in the mountains through freshly fallen snow. As we descended from the lake the sun came out so we had our lunch break in the sun with just our t-shirts on.
The first night we had exceptionally clear skies - I've never seen anywhere near as many stars. Beautiful!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


The gite (hostel) is neither heated nor air conditioned. Take plenty of warm layers if you are planning to go in winter. If you feel the cold easily a light down jacket will keep you snug and warm in the gite.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Our tour guide was not from the village we stayed at but other staff (the fantastic! chef) were. Most members of our group used water purification tablets/drops thereby cutting down on plastic bottles. Nothing except for organic waste got left behind at lunch places or on the trek; this did not have to be encouraged or followed up on though as all group members took care to take their rubbish to the village.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Absolutely great - see above - except for the hotel in Marrakech which really didn't cut it. Loud club music was audible well into the small hours, the bathrooms had been sloppily cleaned (cockroach!) and we had to change rooms after the first night because there was so much smell coming up the sewage that it woke us up at night.

Reviewed on 26 Oct 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Marrakech will live in the memory a long time: the souk, the smell of the spices, La Koutoubia, the palaces, and most of all the central square at night when it's taken over by all the cafes, performers, musicians etc. The peace and tranquility up in the mountains will also stay with me.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Take your waterproofs: we had rain every day in the mountains, and though it was just a quick shower on most days we had prolonged rain on our long trip up to the lake. It was also cold that day, so take plenty of layers too. Take entertainment for the evening: we were lucky in that the group all got on well and we ended up playing long card games every evening, which our guide Hassan even joined in with.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes definitely: just outside the gite is the latest new building to benefit from tourist contributions - the hammam or steam bath. We were reliably informed that the locals make all the decisions when it comes to allocating where the money goes, and I got the sense that they were genuinely grateful that we were visiting their village and making a difference. Some of the group had read previous reviews of this trip and knew to take pens and paper for the schoolchildren, and again they were very pleased to receive these from us.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Very good - a good combination of a 'full-on' city like Marrakech and the much more contemplative environment of the quiet mountains. The contrast between the two is huge.

Reviewed on 14 May 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


I went on the special volunteer departure of the usual walking vacation, which meant three days of volunteering in Tijhza instead of hiking. This was my first trip as a solo traveler and it really took me out of my comfort zone but I had nothing to worry about as Andy (Tour Leader) was great and all the other travelers were lovely and looked after me. The most memorable part of the week was the hamman in Marrakech, mostly because it involved being thoroughly scrubbed by a rather large woman whilst lying naked on a tiled floor in a dark steamy room down one of the back alleys of Marrakech Ė it was so far removed from my normal life!

On the volunteering side of things, the best part is knowing how much we achieved in three days Ė we painted three classrooms in the local school, the tour operator paid for windows to be fitted to two of the school classrooms (which we painted), we planted 220 trees with the forestry commission, painted a house in the village, one of the other travelers helped advise the villagers on bee keeping, four of the group ran a health clinic (apparently saw over 100 patients) at the school and gave out toothbrushes showing the children how to clean their teeth, Matt (the tour operatorís building expert) fixed loads of water pipes leading to the water tank the tour operator had funded and I bought a carpet which was part of the village community enterprise scheme! Oh and thatís not to mention the mountain of clothes, toys and lightbulbs we took over there too!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Do it! I never expected it to be so much fun or so rewarding. As this was the volunteer departure everyone was there to make a difference. Itís inspiring to see so many people who really care. Pack lots of old clothes and leave as much as you can behind for the villagers Ė they really appreciate it. Donít worry about the food, its amazing! I keep dreaming about lamb tagine! It was hot and sunny when I went so take a hat and drink lots of water if youíre prone to heat stroke like me! Take clothes that cover your shoulders and knees Ė it is a Muslim country so you donít want to offend. Donít be afraid of Marrakech Ė it is mental and busy, full of scooters, bikes, donkeys, noise, smells and people trying to sell you stuff but just take a deep breath and dive in! Finally, take a bikini as riad Bledna has a pool in the beautiful garden!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Definitely! The accommodation was locally owned, the food was all local, the mint tea came straight from the fields (whole mint leaves in the tea pot, not packaged stuff), we had local drivers and a local guide (in addition to the English tour leader) and the plastic water bottles were given to the villagers to reuse. We visited local restaurants, a womanís cooperate selling organic creams from argan oil, the spice shop in Marrakech and the souks. This trip was all about the people. Itís sad to see litter in these beautiful mountains; we were planning to do a litter pick but we ran out of time but I know its next on the operatorís agenda to address.

For me, the community benefits were highlighted by one woman Andy took me to see. Fatima had a tooth infection which spread into a large abscess on the side of her face. Her husband left her because of the growth, leaving her to bring up her daughter on her own. The tour operator paid for Fatima to have the surgery to remove the abscess. One of the previous volunteer groups painted and tiled Fatimaís kitchen and she now has a loom and is starting to make carpets and jewellery to sell to tourists. This isnít about token efforts to be Ďgreení or Ďsustainableí, this is about real, life changing benefits.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Amazing, brilliant, inspiringÖ I can really see why itís so hard not to go back! In a time when so many of us have charity donations whizzing out of our bank accounts by direct debit to some far off land where we never know who benefits, itís so good to actually be able to say Ďthis is what we achievedí. This trip goes beyond good intentions, you can see real, tangible benefits and it leaves you feeling proud that you were apart of it. Fantastic!


Reviewed on 20 Oct 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Walking in the Atlas Mountains, our group bonded well and the support from our guide was brilliant! The scenery is amazing and I would love to go again!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


You need to be reasonably fit, as the longer walks can be tiring, but the pace is well managed and judged by the guide. Do not be put off by the time suggested for the walks, there are plenty of stops for resting and to have a drink or a snack! Enjoy

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, as we stayed in the Gite which helps with providing jobs for the villagers and enables them to integrate with tourists. We also bought all our water and drinks in the village and ate locally sourced vegetables etc. We walked on tracks that already existed which ensured minimal impact on the environment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Brilliant! One of the most enjoyable trips Iíve been on, mainly due to the group of people I shared the experience with, good organisation and this being an excellent tour company!

Reviewed on 08 Feb 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Seeing the Atlas Mountains - the geology and environment are so different to what we've seen before.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Trip notes are outdated - this is what we found (Nov 09): The gite provides a pillow, blanket, thin quilt and sheet. You need a Northern Europe 2-pin plug adaptor.
You need cash to take up to the mountains with you - apart from the lunch and tea stops on the way there and back, you need cash for tips for village staff and for bottled water plus Kit-Kats, biscuits, toilet paper etc. The tracks and paths in the mountains are very dusty. This swirls around when disturbed by walkers/mules or the wind, and it's nearly always windy. So a scarf is useful to cover your face. The gite provided a range of veggie alternatives.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, the vacation provided a cash boost to a largely cashless, self-sufficient society, so villagers can pay for water, children's education and other expenses without having to sell livestock (which are their equivalent of cash in the bank). The operatorís projects have also provided an impetus for locals to initiate their own improvements. But there was the inevitable impact of our visit. The village has no good way of collecting/disposing of their own rubbish, let alone the visitors. The rubbish is eventually burned (including plastic that produces toxic smoke) but much blows away first.

We were uneasy about buying the bottled water offered (because of the impact of the waste, and the carbon footprint of its production and transport to the village) and would have preferred to pay for and treat refills of our own bottles from the spring water supply (villagers also have to pay for this water). Also uneasy about the use of this precious spring water to provide showers and flushing toilets. The waste went into the ground, so a way of using shower water to flush loos, and some sort of cess pit would be better - or compost toilets? Loo paper goes in a basket to be burned later - not pleasant for the person with this job - perhaps we should be encouraged/taught to adopt the alternative to paper?

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent - even though we do not like cities very much, Marrakech was OK for a few days and provided a good contrast to the mountains and villages.

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