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Budget trekking options in Sahara/Atlas

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Sheffield, United...
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Budget trekking options in Sahara/Atlas

I have three weeks in Morocco, 21 Dec to 11 Jan. I plan the first two days in Ville Nouvelle, then a few days photographing Casablanca, Rabat, Meknes, Volubilis and Fez (or maybe in reverse order), then back to Marrakech for the New Year.

That leaves about ten days to go walkabout. I shall be travelling solo, and on public transport.

I would like feedback on the following:

Mt Toubkal is off the list, as I don't have mountain boots, just very good trekking footwear. However, I'd like to get out to Ouarzazate, and from there take some day walking treks out to the Atlas - is that reasonable?

I would also like to explore the Sahara - don't mind a camel or 4x4 ride, but would like to do a day's walking, at least. Is this possible?

I rather fancy getting to both Erb Chebbia and/or Erb Chigaga - if that means spending less time up north then I'm happy to skip C'blanca et al.

My two main interests are photography and trekking, but I don't want to do boutique accommodation (I favour hostels), but realise this means taking sleeping bag if staying out in the desert - that said, I prefer to travel light (so overnights in hostels/hotels are preferable to tents, unless cheap s/bags are an option).

Finally, I don't mind hookin up with other strong walkers to hire a guide for the day - if that is an option? I will look at sourcing a good guide from Ouarzazate, & maybe further south, but would like to hook up with other walkers.

All replies gratefully received, especially from Tim C (whose postings I've enjoyed so far [off topic, there's a BM R850R for sale if you know of buyers!])

Shukran/barakalaufik

FHW

Stockholm, Sweden
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1. Re: Budget trekking options in Sahara/Atlas

About trekking in Atlas I don't know much. But about trekking to the desert, you need at least one week or more, if you want to go both to Erg Chebbi and Erg Chigaga. Best is if you can rent a car and do it self of course.

You can go from Ouarzazate via Boumalne - Tinerhir (Dades and Todra Gorge) to Erg Chebbi. Then from Rissani against Alnif - Agdz and Zagora. Then to M'Hamid but from there you need to take the trip by 4x4 to come to Erg Chigaga, because it is about 2 hours drive by car. And impossible to do it with normal car. And then back to Marrakech via Agdz - Ouarzazate. But as I said, you need at least one week if not more.

Sheffield, United...
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2. Re: Budget trekking options in Sahara/Atlas

La bes, Khamlia

Your reply is helpful (and I've read some of your previous posts, which are all very useful and full of good information) - shukran.

Erg Chicaga seems less touristy than Erg Chebbi via Merzouga, so Erc Chicaga will be higher on my list.

I have heard of people getting very harassed by quite aggressive touts at Rissani, and that makes me a little nervous - I do not drive, so I may take an organised trip or hire a good local guide (the trouble seems to be when travellers leave the bus to take taxis from Rissani...).

I like to travel on trains and buses with locals, as again the money goes back to into the system, and it is a very good way of talking with local people - you Marocs are very friendly, yes?

I would prefer to hire a local guide or join a group locally, and put some money into the local communities, rather than book with a UK company who will take a cut of the money.

And I agree with you that at least a week to ten days would be spent to do both, ensha'llah.

m'a ssalama, my friend

FHW

Stockholm, Sweden
Destination Expert
for Morocco
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3. Re: Budget trekking options in Sahara/Atlas

First I must correct you, I am not moroccan, I am from Sweden, Swedish and live in Sweden too. I only travel very often to Morocco since year 2000. And now I have very good friends there too

You have good idea to travel with locals, Moroccan people are very friendly, even in Rissani actually :). It is shame that there are some touts and it needs some tourist police there, but ... I think touts are every where, even in Erg Chigaga. You need to be careful and try to see, who want to have only your money and who want to be your friend. It shows, if you are looking properly.

If you are interesting of local community or how I say, find some associations. But if you want to go with local group, be careful with choice, some promise much and result is bad.

You can go by bus, it is good budget alternative. Check www.oncf.ma and www.ctm.ma, there you find everything you need to know. And you meet locals too, probably more than if you go by organized tour. There you have other tourists but not so many locals.

And count with at least one week for you trip and not have hurry, enjoy it also.

Edited: 18 December 2012, 21:56
Stockholm, Sweden
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4. Re: Budget trekking options in Sahara/Atlas

P.S. and thanks for your appreciation of my advices, etc.

Edited: 18 December 2012, 22:13
5. Re: Budget trekking options in Sahara/Atlas

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