Atlas to Sahara

Get ready for some time travel in Morocco

14 RUNNERS WANTED!

We are going Off-the-grid, no place for hot water showers  or wifi.

14 runners and 3 expedition leaders will become Berbers for a week, crossing the Atlas mountains from north to south.

Warning: Definitely not to be confused with a “vacation” or a “tour”, don’t expect 21st-century comfort, we are going to remote places were people live like centuries ago, if this still sound good, you might be one of us.

WHAT IS THIS ABOUT?

For 6 days starting from the Northern side of the Atlas Mountains we’ll cross the Tizi’n’Timit pass towards the remote heart of the Atlas, following deep canyon south towards the Sahara desert. On Day 5 we will be transferred to a place close to the Merzouga Dunes where we’ll spend the next two days running South through the Sahara Desert towards the Algerian border (no we won’t cross it). When we say we are going remote we say are talking about time travel.

  • EVENT TYPE

    Expedition

  • DURATION

    8 days – 8 nights

  • RUNNING DAYS

    6 DAYS

  • PRICE

    1370 EUR

  • DATES

    Mar 16 -23, 2019 | Nov 2-9, 2019

  • TOTAL DISTANCE

    140km approx.

Crossing the Atlas Mountains

North to South towards the Sahara Desert

Expedition Itinerary

6 to 5 hours of running per day

Day 1*

Going East instead of South

10km (1000↑|2200↓)

* First running day, the day before we will all sleep in a nice hotel in Marrakesh

Tourist buses departure South from Marrakesh, we’ll drive East for about 3 hours towards Abdu Oukioud house in Azilal where his family is going to receive us in their house and prepare a typical Berber lunch.

Then we’ll keep going two hours more to our running starting point. Our destination is a place known, for a very good reason, as the Happy People Valley.

Day 2

Snow in Morocco?

30km (1900↑|3400↓)

High into the Atlas

Hussein, our last night host, will prepare us the best Moroccan breakfast we could imagine. Once a week happens to be the local market where all the nomads go to sell their products, if lucky enough that is happening that specific day, we will visit it.

Today we will be facing one of the biggest challenges of this adventure, the ascension to the Tizi’n’Timit  pass 2901 m high, we might or might not face some sections with snow.
After getting to the top we will descend towards a valley that first looks desert but will turn into an Oasis away from everything.

Day 3

Through the Berber Villages and into the canyon

23km (900↑|1100↓)

What the hell is all this people doing here in the middle of nowhere? That question will come into your mind when we start running in the morning by this extremely remote valley. Well, they’ve been living this way for hundreds and hundreds of years, free, independent from the outside world, so getting to know them, running their paths and accepting their hospitality is the highlight of this whole thing, a privilege.

In the middle of the day, we’ll find ourselves into a river, running and getting into a dramatic deep canyon. We won’t be swimming but depending on the level of the river it could get too technical or even dangerous, in that case, we can also have the option of taking a different path.

We’ll spend the night at our friend Ali place, in the middle of high cliffs by the river. Please don’t ask if there’s going to be cell signal or hot water.

Day 4

Making it out of the Atlas

20km (1900↑|3400↓)

Our day will take us out from the canyon and back to fields and bigger villages. Close to the end, we’ll be climbing to the top of a mountain to see the views of the beautiful Berber Villages.

We will sleep in Hussein’s place. Nice little warm hotel in the middle of the village. Free evening to all of you to explore the village or just rest into your room. Be ready for the dinner.

Day 5

First day in the Sahara

10 km (1100↑|1150↓)

In the previous 4 days, we’ve crossed the whole Atlas mountain from North to South and now you will be noticing that somehow everything is starting to look desertic, this is because we’ll be getting close to our two desert run days.

Today we will have a drive around 4.30 hours plus differents stops we make as for lunchtime. These hours will take us to an undetermined place in the Sahara where we will have to find our way running to our camp in the middle of the Merzouga Dunes.
Today we will have 10 explosive and intesive kms to be run on the desert and dunes. You may think now this is too short, but believe us, 10 kms in the desert are not short!

Day 6

We go full Sahara Mode

24 km (350↑|350↓)

When you open your eyes in the morning, you’ll find yourself surrounded by 200m height dunes, and we’ll ask you to follow us running South towards the Algerian border, crossing the whole Merzouga Dunes area to get to see stuff that is unreachable for most people visiting this specific zone.

After a good lunch, the adventure arrives now in his end.
———————————————————

Time now to get on the bus and drive all this way back to Marrakesh. As it is a long long drive, we will stop for overnight approximately half of the way, in Aït Benhaddou. If you’ve seen Gladiator or Ben-Hur movies that place will look familiar.

Day 7

Back to Marrakesh

We’ll keep driving back Marrakesh city, where the hotel we stay on the first day wait for us again. We are sure a good hot water shower will be much appreciated for all of you. As we can not define the exactly hour we will be back, we recommend to all runners start flying back home next day.

The Staff

Morocco team is a family

To make this event possible we will have three extremely experienced running guides including Pablo Rodríguez and Abdu Oukioud (Wanderlust Magazine Best Guide in the World Award top 10 finalist) and two people supporting us driving a 4 wheel drive car plus several other with the mules, carrying the luggage and the food to assist us in different points through the route.

  • Pablo Rodriguez
    Pablo RodriguezRunning Guide

    Also know as the mountain goat, is a former professional triathlete who has turned his passion for running into his job, in 2011 we founded Running Costa Brava and later Run The World Adventures in an effort to take running back to it’s origins, as he would say turn it back into a mean of transportation.

  • Abdu Oukioud
    Abdu OukioudRunning Guide

    Abdu got he’s entry in Mountain Guides school by winning the Toubkal Marathon years ago, since then, he’s been leading expeditions in every corner of Morocco. A former professional athlete himself is by far the most qualified person to follow in our Moroccan adventures. On October 2018 he has been nominated 1 of the 3 best guides in the world from Wanderlust Magazine.

  • Ali Ait Hakkou
    Ali Ait HakkouSupport Specialits and guide

    Ali is not only a Mountain Guide but also an expert in the N’Goun Valley where he was born. He’ll be supporting us during our adventures in Morocco.

    • Cristina Moret
      Cristina MoretBookings

      Cristina is the brain behind the scenes, she’s the one making sure we got a place to sleep and meal to eat after our runs.
      She also assists the group or runs as another guide. From the very beginning you show interest for any of our running adventures, she will personally be the one talking with you by email, arranging your dates, answering all your questions and preparing your adventure until the day you arrive.

      FAQ

      More questions?

       

      What’s Included in the price?

      The cost includes all accommodation, all transfers (not from the airport to hotel or hotel airport), experienced leaders along the route with local support crew and a driver.
      Some of the meals are included, others are not. Those included are when we are located remote into the mountains: day 2, 3, 4, 5 and dinner at the Sahara on the 6.

      What’s Excluded?

      It does not include personal travel insurance, tips for the guides  (which are optional). It also does not include any entrance fees to any optional sites or attractions.
      We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.

      What kind of food will I get?

      Please do not expect as much variety as you would have access to at home – we will be in remote areas and among people of different culture who may not understand your requirements, however, they are willing to help. If you know there are plenty of food you cannot eat, you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply.
      Moroccan food is delicious, with a big variety of vegetables and meat.
      We encourage you to bring your own energetic bars If you are used to them while running or feel you would need them.
      Travelling to others countries with a completely different type of food may give you some lingering GI (tummy) symptoms, be prepared for that.

      Can I bring as much luggage as I want?

      No. Luggage is limited to 1 soft rucksack per person.
      Unfortunately, we can not allow any trolley or hard suitcase (please, don’t ask us to make an exception). Space is very limited for each of us.
      You should also bring a very small backpack to carry your items for one day because that particular day the car won’t be able to access the place where we will overnight but a donkey will!
      We will not ask you to carry your rucksack while running.

      What’s the accommodation like?

      IMPORTANT! Watch this before you join this trip

      Be aware some days we will be pretty isolated, so we don’t really have an option to choose which accommodation we prefer because there’s only one. A hotel in Marrakesh, yes, but from then on, a kind of hostels/houses where they have a room prepared to welcome guests. As they are so little, we don’t have the option for single rooms, we will be sharing up to 5 or 6 sometimes. Everybody in his / her own bed.

      I’m a single runner, is there an up-charge since I’m alone and don’t want to be sharing room?

      Unfortunately, as said before, we can not offer single rooms. All rooms are shared and in consequence, we do not have any extra charge for singles.

       

      The adventure

       

       What type of terrain can I expect?

      The first two days we will be running mainly by mule trails, which are not very technical if you are used to running in trails, there are some areas also were will be running cross country without any trail to follow but the terrain is open, on the third day we’ll be getting into the N’Goun Canyon, which means, yes,  river crossings a hundred times, the good news is the river is somehow pretty runnable, for those who had run with us in Costa Rica, my friends the N’Goun river is a piece of cake, and for those that haven’t, check the video. The last two days are desert time, trust me there is no way you can get hurt in the dunes.

      What about security?

      Although you can expect not to have mobile signal during the whole trip, Abdu and Pablo will. Cristina will be also able to reach them in case somebody from your family needs to contact you urgently. The 4×4 car will also help us in case of need. One of the reasons we only work with locals guides is precisely that, these guys know the area as their home place, every little village, neighbours and all points where a doctor or a hospital can be found.

      Are the guides with us 24 hours a day?

      We consider guides and clients 50/50, that’s why guides will be running with you all the way, eating on the same table and sleeping in the same houses. Every day, once you arrive at the destination, you have then free time to discover the place, take a nap or do whatever you want. Experience says most of you will end just sitting on the floor and resting with the guides while drinking hot tea. Of course, Pablo and Abdu will be there, available anytime to help you with any issue you might have.

      Which kind of clothing & equipment do I need?

      You should bring both warm and fresh clothes, we’ll be starting from 2.000 m elevation, getting at one point to almost 3.000 meters and descending to 730 m the last two days, during each day you’ll experience moments where you are going to feel hot or cold, technical clothing easy to put on and take off will be useful.
      There are going to be some sections on day 3 and 4 where we are going to be running in wet shoes. Your favourite trainers might not be your favourite WET trainers. Have a waterproof case for your phone and other water sensitive things.
      As we cross very remote places in the mountains where very very few no locals have access, we do care about our running clothes. These people it’s not used to occidental running gear and we do not want to offend them, it’s just a matter of respect to their culture. With that said, running with no T-shirt or with just top is not allowed. Try to avoid tank t-shirts if possible. Shorts should be on your knee, not shorter. We should all use common sense here and try to avoid a cultural shock between us and them, nothing else.

       

      Bodycare

      Everyone should take lots of blister plasters and a first aid kit with antiseptic cream, scissors, dressings for your own cures at the “hotels”.
      Nappy cream is very important or Sudocrem as it’s known in the UK for chafing/skin irritation. We do provide a first aid kit to each runner. A detail first aid kit will be provided to you.

      Energetic food and others

      Everyone should be responsible for its own energetic food.
      Bring as much energetic food like energy bars. Pack electrolyte tablets which are very good and easy to use. Don’t forget salt tablets at all.
      Protein recovery powder to have at the end of each day helps a lot with recovery.
      Bottled water will be provided every day.

      What’s the weather like?

      The temperature will variate a lot, hot in the desert, cold in the mountains.

      Is there a minimum fitness level required in order to join the adventure?

      Training for the challenge is all part of the preparation and require commitment. We expect all participants to train hard in advance.
      Again and again, we remind you this is not a race.
      The guides will be running with you, but for safety reasons, we all should try to be in the same group. If not, then sometimes we will need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that will let you discover a beautiful country as very, very, very! few people have.

      Do we start the adventure on day 1?

      No, on day 1 participants arrive in Marrakesh and check-in in the hotel. We have scheduled a briefing about 6 pm where you will get to know Pablo and the rest of the guides. After it we will have dinner all together. Next morning we will depart super early in the morning to the starting point (5 hours drive, stopping for lunch in Abdu’s family house on the way). Once arrive we will start our running adventure.

      If I decide to arrive before and stay longer after the adventure, can you book the hotel for me in Marrakesh?

      Yes, no problem for that.

       

      Tipping

      We encourage you to tip your guides if you feel you have received excellent service and have had an enjoyable trip. A typical gratuity usually around 2% of your trip price per guide, depending on your level of satisfaction. e.g. $1500 trip = $30 per guide.

      The Country

      The currency

      The official currency in Morocco is Dirham.
      We recommend you to have cash in dirhams for your little shopping in the villages. Try to exchange them at the airport, that’s the easiest way.
      Dollars are not accepted.

      Passport & Visa

      A valid passport is essential; it should be valid for at least six months after return to avoid any problem.
      Some countries require a visa to enter Marrakesh. Please check it out!

      Vaccinations

      We only need you to have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years. Other protections, against Polio, Hepatitis A and Typhoid and Malaria are not prevalent in the region, it’s your decision if you want to take any other vaccine.

      Photos

      Only a few, we don’t want to ruin the surprise

      Videos

      A small bit of what this is

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