Join a local Berber family on a nomadic expedition through Morocco's Atlas Mountains

Each year, thousands of people migrate into the High Atlas Mountains to escape the heat of the lower valleys. Following 4,000-year-old routes and guided by the seasons, these families are part of the nomadic Ait Atta tribes of southeast Morocco. In 2017, we’ll be joining one such family on a special walking expedition through the mountains. Sleeping in moving campsites and partaking in daily chores – like animal herding and traditional bread making – you’ll meet locals in tiny Berber villages and breathe enough fresh air to last you a lifetime. This is a rare opportunity to form real connections with people from another part of the world, and experience an authentic, ancient and well-preserved way of life likely very different to your own.


Start
Marrakech, Morocco
Finish
Marrakech, Morocco
Country
Morocco
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
XMSM
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • In this one-of-a-kind experience, become part of the biannual migration of nomadic Ait Atta tribes people, a tradition that has taken place through the Atlas Mountains of Morocco for over 4,000 years

  • Spend the week with a Berber family, getting to know them personally. You can even ask them to teach you some basic Arabic so you can communicate like a local!

  • Get involved in life on the road, learning how to organise a camp every evening (and pack it up each morning)

  • Experience ancient nomadic culture and participate in daily chores such as milking goats, tending animal herds and learning to bake bread in the traditional way

  • Enjoy delicious, freshly prepared Moroccan food at your camp each day

  • Wander the vibrant souqs, embracing the sights, sounds and smells of Marrakech on a guided walking tour, then dine on tagine in the lively Djemaa el-Fna square

Is this trip right for you?

  • While we’ve put a lot of research and work into creating this trip, it’s a new adventure for Intrepid, and sometimes things don’t go exactly to plan. When we head to new destinations, we usually find there are more pleasant surprises in store than unpleasant ones, but either way, it’s important to be open and flexible. This is expedition travel after all!

  • As this is an active expedition, the physical demands are higher than on other trips (you’ll be walking on average 4-5 hours a day). That being said, the walk itself isn’t particularly challenging. While the path is rocky and you’ll be crossing some dry riverbeds, there are no mountains or passes to cross (so altitude sickness shouldn’t be a problem), and we take regular breaks along the way for tea and lunch. Still, we recommend that you have a decent level of fitness, and that you bring comfortable clothes, socks and supportive walking shoes. Please see the trip notes for more information about what to bring.

  • On days 2-6 of the trip, your accommodation will be in moving campsites. While you’ll be sharing facilities with the rest of the group, you will have your own tent for sleeping (please do not forget to bring your own sleeping bag). Conditions are basic, of course, but this is all part of experiencing nomadic Berber life on the road.

  • Please note that you’ll be required to help with setting and packing up the campsites each night and morning, as well as doing some basic chores. None of it will be physically demanding, and you’re sure to learn a lot more about nomadic life by getting involved.

  • At times, days 2-6 on the road may feel repetitive, and possibilities to spend time away from the group may be limited. Take this chance to interact with and learn from the nomads around you. When else in life will you have a chance to do this?

  • Even though we plan for this trip to depart at a good time of year weather-wise, we may encounter unexpected heat waves during the day. Please be mentally (and physically) prepared for this possibility, and understand that it’s normal. Rain and wind storms are also possible; in these cases, nomads don’t move as conditions can be dangerous. Trust your leader and Berber family – they have a lot of experience dealing with the elements.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2017. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2018 - 31 December 2018

Welcome to Marrakech, Morocco! Your expedition begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. If you arrive early, perhaps get your bearings of the city with a walk around town.

Marrakech is a feast for the senses. Explore the Medina and the seemingly endless mosaic of souqs, each devoted to a separate trade – pottery, woodwork, copper, leather, carpets and spices. You might also like to visit the famous Koutoubia Mosque or check out the lesser-known tropical gardens of the French painter Jacques Majorelle (now owned by Yves Saint Laurent).

Please note that itinerary described in this document is for March departure. September departure runs in reverse order on days 2 – 6 due to a different direction in which Berbers are migrating.

Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time for the meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today will be an early start. Travelling by private vehicle, head into the Skoura region of the Atlas Mountains. About 2,500 kilometres (1,600 miles) long, the mountain range extends through Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Cross over the Tizi N Tichka pass, one of the highest in North Africa. Upon arrival, there’s a one-hour walk to the first nomadic camp in Imassen, where you’ll meet your Berber family and discuss the next four days. After helping prepare and pack the equipment for the trek, sit down to a delicious dinner with the family and get to know each other.
Accommodation
  • Nomadic camp (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Rise early this morning for breakfast. After packing up the campsite equipment (don’t worry – you’ll be shown how), head off towards Bouyeghd. The walk should take around 4-5 hours. Once there, sit down for a picnic lunch before continuing onto your camp at the base of Azefgue Mountain. While there is a nearby spring, water availability will depend on how much rain and snow has fallen that year. Help the family set up camp for the evening, before sitting down together again for dinner.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Hopefully by now you’re getting used to rising early! This morning, the family will teach you how to prepare and bake bread in the traditional nomadic way. Gender roles differ between tribes and families, but generally women look after the campsite, bring water and do the cooking, while men herd the sheep and go to the weekly markets for produce exchange.

After breakfast, pack up and head on towards Imi N Taghia, passing through Laasker gorge along the way. You’ll be walking for around 4.5 hours in total. Once you’ve enjoyed lunch, help set up the tents and campsite for the evening in Imi n Taghia, and lend a hand in dinner preparation.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Rise early again to bake bread with the family, before packing up and walking towards Aklim. Today’s trek takes around 4-5 hours. You’ll pass through traditional Berber villages on the way, giving you a great chance to practice any local phrases you’ve learnt. After lunch, help set up camp for the evening and sit down to relax before dinner.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
You’re probably getting pretty good at that bread baking by now! After packing up the campsite and eating breakfast, depart Aklim and make your way to Valley Ait Hmad, passing through more Berber villages en route (a 4-5 hour walk in total). Eat a picnic lunch and pitch the tents at your campsite. Tonight is the last night you’ll spend with your Berber family – hopefully you’ve got to know them pretty well by now. With your leader and group, we suggest you draw on the traditional cooking methods you’ve learnt over the past few days and prepare a final thank you meal for the family.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today, the walking component of your adventure comes to an end. After bidding farewell to your new Berber friends, you’ll be transported back to Marrakech in a private vehicle with the rest of the group. On arrival, join the thronging crowds for dinner at the famous public square – Jemaa el Fna. Every night the square comes alive with musicians, story-tellers, fire-eaters and hundreds of small outdoor restaurants. Hotel accommodation is included for the night.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Your Moroccan Expedition comes to an end after breakfast today. As there are no activities planned, you are free to depart the accommodation at any time.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

7 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 6 dinners

Transport

Walking, Private minibus

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nights), Nomadic camp (5 nights)

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. Please note that itinerary described in this document is for March departure. September departure runs in reverse order on days 2 – 6 due to a different direction in which Berbers are migrating.
2. Please note that on most of the days you will be camping in remote areas of Morocco. Tents and sleeping mats are provided, but you are required to bring your own sleeping bag.
3. Single supplement including single tent is available upon request.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

Reviews

Our Expedition Morocco – Walking with Berber Nomads trips score an average of 5 out of 5 based on 12 reviews in the last year.

Expedition Morocco – Walking with Berber Nomads, September 2017

Ryan Bolton

Expedition Morocco – Walking with Berber Nomads, September 2017

Marcia Robinson