I'm booked on the Peaks and Valleys of the Atlas trek starting on the 4th of September and thought it might be a good idea to get to know fellow travellers before we arrive at the airport.
I'm booked on this trip too. This will be my second time as I have already done it in June 2009. However on that occasion we had a spell of unseasonal wintry weather, and although we made two attempts on Mt. Toubkal we had to turn back on both days due to the heavy snow! I was very disappointed in not reaching the highest point in North Africa. Hopefully this trip will be more successful.
Good to hear from another fellow traveller. This will be my first time, daunting but thoroughly looking foward to it! Snow in June.. blimey, that is unseasonably wintry!
I'm from Newport in South Wales.. where do you hail from?
I'm also booked on this trip. Bit daunted by the camping - haven't done more than three nights before. The walking looks lovely though and if Mike is doing it again I'm convincing myself it can't be that bad :)
By the way, has anyone looked at reviews for Royal Air Maroc? Looks like our adventures will be starting as soon as we get to Gatwick hahaha.
Helen, I hail from Reading, unfortunately a long way from any mountains but I shall be heading of to Snowdonia this bank holiday weekend :-).
Trish, Nice to see that the numbers on this group are beginning to build up. After I booked I asked Exodus how many had booked on this trip and they told me I was the only one, and yet this trip was already 'Guaranteed'! The camping in Morocco is basic but that's what this type of holiday is all about. At least there's a very nice hotel in Marrakech on the last two nights to look forwards to.
I try to avoid air travel on environmental grounds so will be making my way to Morocco by train through France and Spain. That will add a couple of days to each end of my holiday, and I get to see some other countries on the way.
Hi Trish, good to hear from another person booked on this trek! Yeah, I've heard some adventures about Royal Air Maroc too! I did look at buying flights through another carrier mainly to see if they were cheaper but alas they're not. I was hoping to get a flight from Cardiff (I'm from Newport), but it's not a destination they do. I'm really looking foward to the whole camping experience, I've done 6 days before so that's not too bad!
Ooh Mike, I'm heading up to Snowdonia for a week at over the 2nd May bank holiday. Little bit of mountain practice, even though the peaks in North Africa are 4 times the height. :) I think I booked this trip a few minutes after it went 'live' so to speak.. the nice guy from cutsomers services seemed to think I was poised over the 'book now' button!
Are you both travelling alone or with company on the trek? I'm on my own, hence this thread to get to know people. :)
I'm travelling alone Helen,
Not sure I'll get any mountain trekking in before we leave but i'm relatively fit so should be okay (altitude sickness allowing). I was up in the highlands sailing and trekking last year, although that was nearly a year ago! and I've done the Inca trail, although this trip appears to be graded higher than that.... I'm not sure what could be harder than all those stairs, but I'm gonna find out :) A 40 mile walk (over 2 days) along the Thames Path in February got the legs moving again, although not even a hill in sight hehehe.
I enquired about this trip a few months ago and it was guaranteed then with only 1 on it. They said they always guarantee a few of the trips but they're sure it will fill up and so am I. When I booked they said there were three, not sure if I was the third or there is another but we'll have a great time whatever!
Helen and Trish, I'm travelling alone too. In my experience, usually about half of the people on trekking holidays with Exodus (and Explore) travel alone.
Helen, if you are spending a whole week in Snowdonia you should be able to get lotssss of practice in! Even if the mountains in Morocco are higher, you won't (for the most part!) need to climb more in a day than you would do in North Wales. I had three good days' walking there (perfect weather!) this last weekend, and will be off to Scotland next month for more practice.
Trish, I too did the Inca Trail a few years ago, a six-day high altitude version (up to 4700m.). For me the main difficulties were the effects of being at high altitude. On my Morocco trip in 2009 the hardest two days were a long traverse across chunky scree, which proved very hard on the ankles (imagine walking over piles of randomly strewn bricks), and the long slog up to Toubkal 'base camp'.
Mike, that's good to know that regarding Snowdonia v's Atlas! How did you find the effects of high in the Atlas mountains?
I'm jealous of the treks that the both of you have done. Even though I'm a keen walker in the UK, I've never done anything abroad and for this length of time. I decided that the time had come for a personal challenge once I turned 30 and after seeing the pictures of my friend doing the trek last year I decided why not, nothing's holding me back but myself! :)Trish, I think the trip notes suggested a minimun of a 3 season sleeping bag. So I'm going to go with that and then wrap up warm in some thermals!
Helen, I don't recall any effects of altitude other than having very vivid dreams (whereas normally I hardly dream at all). We only go above 3000m on four or five days and only after we have had plenty of time to acclimatize. You are very unlikely to notice any effects below 3000m. At 4000m, if you have acclimatized, the worst you will experience will be some shortness of breath and finding the going harder than you would at a lower altitude.
Trish, I use a Vango microfiber 3/4 season sleeping bag which was more than warm enough. The Trip Notes advise you to bring a 3 season sleeping bag. I also use a sleeping bag liner, and though this is mainly in order to keep the sleeping bag clean without having to wash it, it probably makes it a little warmer. I would go for a 3 season sleeping bag and if you do get cold put on an extra layer of clothing. Blacks are OK, but I think Cotswolds have a much wider choice (there is one in Piccadilly). Another outdoor shop I like is Ellis Brigham in Covent Garden.
Thanks for the advice and reassurance regarding altitude sickness etc, Mike.
I've been looking at Vango sleeping bags.. they seem to have the best reviews. What are your opinions on something like this one http://www.outdoorkit.co.uk/product.php?product_id=195. I'm trying to balance quality/suitability with price, since I'm only on a meager library person wage!
I remember reading somewhere that some people found a pillow helpful - I'm definitely getting a blow up! and a liner as well probably. Thanks Mike for the suggestions and Helen for doing the online research! I didn't have a problem with the altitude either Helen, but it can be a bit hit and miss. Most articles give the same advice - time to acclimatise, lots of water and go slowly. Works for me as more time to admire the view :)
Did either of you see the Fiona Bruce programme walking in Iceland the other day. I'm definitely going there! So much to see, so little time...... hahaha.
I'm off for a walk in the country tomorrow. Only 11 miles and no hills but still, i'll be putting the boots on. Hope the weather holds out as my companion says she's not going if it's raining and if I go by myself I'll get lost - yes, even with a map!
Helen, I'm not an expert but that sleeping bag appears OK and the price is very good - I paid £72 (after 20% off) for mine in 1999. You needn't be concerned about its weight though, at least as far as this trip is concerned, as your sleeping bag will be carried by the mule train.
Trish, although I like to have something to rest my head on I don't bother with a pillow as such, but just use some clothes rolled up in a towel or stuffed in a bag.
I caught just a small part of the Iceland programme - it definitely looks worth a visit. Unfortunately I am beginning to run out of years to visit all the countries in the world that look worth visiting!!!
I've ended up ordering that Vango sleeping bag, so that's one thing crossed off my list. Going to go and have a look at some daysacks this afternoon. The one that I'm using at the moment is 25L and is suitable for this country, but not practical for more mountainous regions. I'm vying towards 35L daysacks and I think I've got it narrowed down to a choice of 3. Also I've my eye on a decent waterproof jacket that's lightweight, so I'll see how that fits too.
Mike, how big is the kit bag that exodus gives you for the trek? Also, with regards to money.. I know the dirham is a closed currency so how best to exchange/carry money? Are travellers cheques accepted over in Morroco? Or is it best to take money out in sterling/euros at the airport from an ATM and then change it into dirhams there and then?Trish, when I've camped in the past I've also rolled some clothes up in a towel to use as a pillow, on some occasions I've taken an old pillow cover and rolled some clothes up in that.
I also caught the Iceland programme, it's definitely on my list of countries to visit too. I'd love to tie it in with seeing the Northern Lights if possible. It's one of my goals in life to witness it.
Helen, I have a hardly-used 32L daysack going spare which I was about to offer on my local Freegle website. If you'd like me to send you details of it email me at email@example.com. The Exodus kit bag is very large; I prefer to use my own holdall which is half the size. Mind you, I do like to use a large rucksack and tend to carry considerably more stuff on my back than most trekkers. The more you put in your kit bag the less you have to carry yourself, so if you are not a light traveller the Exodus kit bag may be right for you. As for dirhams, I bought mine using cash (sterling) at the ferry terminal in Tangier (after coming across from Spain by boat); I think everyone else bought theirs at the airport. I never saw anyone use a travellers cheque. I'm sure there is advice in the Trip Notes on what money to bring. Whilst you are out in the mountains there are not so many opportunities for spending money, and you will spend most of it at the start and end of the trek when you are in Marrakech.
I knew I should check this on a regular basis, since I ended up buying a daysack over the weekend. Thanks for the kind offer Mike, but it looks like I'll have to decline it.. doh! Ended up getting a Lowe Alpine Airzone 35 daysack in the end. Thanks also for the advice regarding dirhams as well, I'll wait until I'm in the airport before changing it. Mike, I know you're travelling through France/Spain to get to Morocco, but do you have any advice on what's best to transport luggage/gear over with? I'm thinking a canvas trolley bag or just something more lightweight than a standard suitcase.
I'm looking forward to this weekend, going up to Snowdonia for a week (I'm staying just outside of Dolegellau).. let's hope the windy calms down a bit!
I don't check in for a few days and Helen's all ready to go lol. I'm slacking, I haven't actually bought anything yet and - disaster - I have go on a diet as all my walking trousers are a bit tight! Okay, maybe that's overshare... Mike, having done this trip before, do you think it's worth taking some walking poles? I don't usually use them, and in fact don't even own any, but I know my Steady Eddie (the stick I bought for the Inca trail) was most welcome for some parts. I'm a little confused about the kit bag. I thought they sent that to us before the trip and we used it to pack everything, as everything will be with us all the time. I'd better check that.....
Helen, have a fab time in Snowdonia. Are you going to test your sleeping bag?
I'm so excited, nearly the end of May, September will be here before we know it!!!
P.S. If I haven't said so already, thanks both for all of your input so far. It's all extremely helpful.
Been back from my North Wales trip now for about a week and already missing it.. September can't come soon enough! Mike, I stayed in a holiday cottage in the little village of Llanelltyd a few miles outside of Dolegellau. From our cottage we faced Cadair Idris, it was a lovely view. I stayed up there with my folks who are both keen walkers (especially my dad). We were very lucky with the weather it didn't rain once, although it was quite cloudy for most of the week. However, the last few days we had unbroken sunshine so that was lovely. Managed to walk everyday, lots of lovely climbing up steep things, and averaged about 11 miles a day.. so not too shabby! Me and my dad did Snowdon on the Thursday. Started at the Rhyd Ddu train station and couldn't see more than a few metres ahead of us. It started to clear once we started scrambling and all the way to the summit one side of Snowdon was bathed in sunshine and the other shrouded in murk! We ended up coming down the Crib Coch route which my dad later informed me was the most technical route up and down and where you're most likely to die! Think we managed a 12 mile walk up, down and around Snowdon.
Can't believe it's only 12 weeks till Morocco! :D
Hi Helen and Trish, Only just over eight weeks to go now! I will have to start sorting out my train tickets this week. I phoned Exodus today and was told that there are now five booked on our trip, with one other person holding a place (but not yet paid a deposit to secure it). This is still a much smaller group size than I've experienced on most of my previous Exodus/Explore trips, but I expect there will be some late bookers in the coming weeks.
Helen, I had never heard of the Rhyd Ddu path up Snowdon and there I was thinking I knew them all! It must have been a bad day if visibility was only a few metres down near the railway station. Well done for doing Crib Goch! I have done it about three times but would still feel a little nervous about going over it again. According to the Trip Notes there is some scrambling on Ouanakrim (one of the peaks we climb in Morocco) but I can't say what it is like. We missed out on that peak in 2009 to allow us to make a second attempt on Toubkal (after being driven back by bad weather on our first attempt). With all that walking you did you should have no problem coping with the High Atlas. Though on re-reading the Trip Notes I see that there are three days on which we ascend between 1400m and 1500m. That's three hard days!!!
Hi Helen, Mike
As you might summize from the subject, I still haven't got my sleeping bag, or my walking poles, or my sandals..... I think Sandals need to be bought soon so I can walk them in. Have just discovered I need no vaccinations - hooray! Have been on a couple of day walks but no major stuff. Will just have to grin and bear the painful thighs as we go up, up, up and the knees on the way down, down, down (note to self - pack painkillers!). I did a trip a couple of years ago (not with exodus) where there were only five of us. It was absolutely fine. Was very excited when looking for this thread that there was only July and August before us (obvious I know)...
I agree with Mike, that sandals don't really need to be broken in, just that there suitable for stony riverbeds.Can't believe that it's nearly 7 weeks to go, time really has flown by, starting to get very excited now! I've pretty much got most of my kit, just things like spare socks/laces and toiletries to get now I think. I ended up getting my vaccinations a few weeks ago, mainly since I was well overdue to have a tetanus booster.. so figured I might as well get the other ones mentioned in the trip notes since in Wales they're free.
Mike, Crib Coch completely wore me out and scared me a little at the same time! It was weird looking up from the bottom of it thinking I can't believe I've just climbed up and over that! I'm pretty much doing walks/hikes every other weekend, luckily I'm spoiled for choice here in Wales.. Brecon Beacons, Black Mountains etc. Last weekend I ended up doing one called the Brecon Horseshoe trek, 15 miles in the heat with 4 summits (including Pen-y-Fan) and a lot of ridge walking. Also, I'm pretty much down the gym 3 days a week, so I'm thinking I'm just about ready for Morocco.. although I say that now, I'm sure the North African heat will get to me quite soon!
Mike, do you think waterproof trousers will be needed? Got somewhere at home, but I'm thinking possibly don't need them.
Helen, You must be the most organized trekker I have ever come across! I only started looking at what vaccination boosters I needed a few days ago. Re waterproof trousers, by which I take you to mean overtrousers, I would definitely bring them. You may well not need them, but if we do get any cold/wet/windy weather at high altitude, which is a distinct possibility, you will very much regret not bringing them. You will need gloves too, preferably also waterproof.
Heh, I'll take that as a compliment! :)
I have to say I've thoroughly enjoyed shopping for kit. Most of the walks/treks I do are just one day ones and then reside to a nice comfy place to stay. I've camped many times before (although not for a few years), but nothing like wild camping.. can't wait to do this!
Yeah, they're overtrousers.. think I've had them for a long long time, so I'll definitely pack them then. Didn't think about waterproof gloves, will have a look for some real soon.. seen some SealSkinz ones on eBay, might put a bid in for them.
How are you getting down to Marrakesh, Mike? What are your plans?
Helen, as for being (dis-)organized, I usually leave my packing till the night before I go on holiday and end up getting only two or three hours sleep! Re waterproof gloves, as it happens mine are SealSkinz - they looked quite good when I bought them but I ripped the lining not long afterwards - you have to be very careful taking them off (as per the instructions). Another thing you will need is water purification tablets. Exodus recommend Biox Aqua - I bought the Lifesystems equivalent at Millets (they are both Chlorine Dioxide). How am I getting to Marrakesh? Eurostar to Paris (Friday, early afternoon). Four hours in Paris, which will allow me to get some food and walk at a leisurely pace to Gare d'Austerlitz to catch the overnight 'Train Hotel' to Madrid. I couldn't get a berth in a sleeper compartment (they were sold out) so I will have to make do with a reclining seat. I will have six hours in Madrid on Saturday, then catch an afternoon train to Algeciras (the Spanish port near Gibraltar). After staying a night in Algeciras I will catch the ferry to Tangier on Sunday morning. I have recently discovered that Tangier has a new ferry port which is 42km from the town, so I will have to get a bus or taxi to Tangier. Then a eight and a half hour train journey from Tangier to Marrakesh. I am hoping to catch a train which will get me to Marrakesh (after changing in Casablanca) at 20:05 on Sunday evening. The next one will get me to Marrakesh at 22:05. As a last resort, if I miss that one, I will have to get the overnight train which means I won't meet up with you till Monday morning. By then I will be exhausted and in need of a holiday!!!
Heh, blimey that's a trek and a bit before you get to the actual trek!
My packing is always left until the night before, if not the morning before! Although I do like to make sure I've got everything accounted for well in advance. My kit/equiptment is making itself at home in a nice little pile in my living room.. I have no idea where it's all going to go when I come back from Morocco! (One of the hazards of being in a small apartment is a lack of storage space!)
Ooh, thanks for the advice about the SealSkinz gloves.. I'll make sure to remember that. I've bought the Biox Aqua purification tablets off ebay, again (there's a pattern forming here!), since it was the same price as the 2 Lifesystems tablets.
I contacted Exodus this week and they've confirmed that there are now 6 of us on the trek (4 females/2 males) with 2 other people on 'option to pay'. So not sure if this means that they've paid their deposit and not the full balance or if they've just reserved a place without any payment so far. Exodus have also confirmed that we are able to leave belongings at the hotel, so that's good and hopefully we should have our kit bags 3 weeks before departure.
Must admit, it still hasn't sun in that I'm going trekking yet.. even though it's only 46 days (and 11 hours) away.. like an excited child I have a countdown clock on my computer! This'll be my first proper trek outside of the UK and also my first trek lasting more than a day. :)
Hi Guys - Yes I've finally done it. Went to the Cotswold shop in Piccadilly Mike and got a sleeping bag. It's a Mountain Hard Wear synthetic one which I'm told is made specially for women and has more insulation in women's places, ie the shoulders and hips (apparently) and the feet (definitely!). I also got a cotton/polyester lining and some sandals. So, I think that's the necessaries (apart from purification tabs), everything else is a nice to have.. I got 10% off the bag and liner and 20% off the sandals so can't complain. Only 5 weeks to go but Mike it must be 4 for you because it's going to take you about a week to get there lol.
Hello Everyone, I'm Gavin and will be joining you along on this trip. I haven't really done any trekking like this before but plenty of walking around the UK and northern Europe. I was going to do this trek in early June but after the snow Mike was on about I'm glad I put it off for a little while. I live down near Portsmouth which is unfortunately about as far from proper hills or mountains as you can get in the UK. Last time in the hills was Snowdonia around Easter time - seems like everyone was there.
I have a nice pile of stuff forming on my bedroom floor but still have a few things to get. The main thing was getting some new boots after my old ones started to fall apart. They seem to be nicely walked in now.
See you all in 3 weeks.
Hi Helen/Trish/Gavin and anyone else on this trip who may be reading this,
Just a few days to go now. I will be starting my two-day journey on Friday morning, and will probably arrive in Marrakesh shortly before you as I see that the group flight is not due to reach Marrakech till 23:35.
Gavin, the snow I experienced in June 2009 was pretty unusual. I don't think you will have reduced your chances of meeting with snow by delaying your trip to September. Just make sure you are prepared for all extremes of weather, both hot and cold. I got very unwell with heatstroke during the last two days of my 2009 trip when we were back in Marrakech, due to walking about too much during the hottest hours of the day. Mind you that was in June, September temparatures will no doubt be less extreme.
Looking forwards to meeting you all. Have a good flight, and see you in Marrakech!
I'm looking forwards to meeting you all in the flesh.
See you all in Marrakesh on Sunday!!!
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