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travel Information


Walking in the famous mountain ranges of the world is both exciting and rewarding. The fresh air and stunning views are invigorating, and by getting away from the crowds you can enjoy a region's open spaces and natural attractions to the full. Some routes give you a pure walking experience, far from habitation and people, where the aim is to reach a particular peak or complete a circuit of a specific massif. Others follow old trading trails linking local villages, and the cultural interaction along the way is as important as the walking itself. Whichever approach you enjoy, our walks and treks are designed so you can appreciate the views and insights that only walking through an area can provide.

We offer general advice about aspects of equipment, safety and altitude, and also describe how our walking holidays operate. More detailed information about your particular trip can be found in the Trip Notes. If you have any questions about any aspects of your forthcoming holiday, please contact us

What is included and not included on your trek :


Include


- Transport  : Arrival, departure and transfers
- Accomodation  : Hotel or Riad,Gites
- Food : All meals during trek (depends on your trip programme)
- Camp equipment : Standard tent (double), additional charge for single tent ( 30 € ), eating tent, kitchen tent, toilet tent, mattresses and utensils.
- Guide : An official, English and French speaker
- Cook : Very experienced, respect for hygiene
- Muleteers/ Camel drivers : Smily and very helpful

Not Included


- Flight  
- Insurance   
- Food : Meals in cities (depends on your tour programme)
- Drinks : Soft drink, water
- Shower or Hammam  
- Tip  

PAYMENT


- The payment to be paid directly to the guide at the start of your tour.


Equipment to bring


Having the right clothing and equipment can contribute significantly to your comfort and enjoyment while walking, and can help minimise potential incidents, although it is no guarantee of safety. The comprehensive list below shows what items you might want to consider for your trip; what you actually need will be dictated by the conditions and terrain.


- Daysac - 25 to 35 litre capacity, for day-to-day items - Small first aid kit, including an adequate supply of any medication you are taking
- Kitbag - soft and waterproof, not a rigid suitcase - Whistle
- Waterproof jacket and trousers - Compass
- Boots, broken in, with good ankle support - Head Torch
- Clothes suitable for layering, rather than bulky items - Survival bag or space blanket
- Sun-cream and sunglasses - Snacks/rations
- Broad-brimmed hat - Trekking poles, rubber-tipped, with spare ferules
- Walking trousers or shorts (not jeans) - Sleeping bag and liner
- Gloves - waterproof and/or windproof, depending on your destination - Water bottle, metal rather than plastic, 1litre capacity
- Warm hat - Sleeping mat
- Socks - thin inner ones and thicker outer ones - Biodegradable soap and shampoo
- Gaiters - Travel towel


Insurance


Please make sure that you have adequate insurance cover for your tour.


Walking as a group


The ultimate aim of any walk or trek is enjoyment and safety, but walking in a group can be very different from walking on your own, or with a couple of friends. To avoid any doubt we should point out that, for the safety of everyone concerned, all walking is done as a group. We provide information to help choose which trip is right for you, but it's almost inevitable that in any group there will be differences in levels of fitness and pace of walking, so the group may spread out but will always stop and regroup. 

On trips with a Group Leader and a local mountain guide it may be possible to split the group to accommodate different paces, but we cannot allow individuals to separate from the group. This means that the pace of the slowest walker ultimately dictates the overall pace. 

No-one wants to be at the back and feel they're holding up everyone else. We quite often receive enquiries from people who have doubts about whether they will be able to keep up. Rest assured it's not a race, we're there to enjoy ourselves, we look after slower walkers and rotate the back marker. 

Briefing
You'll be given a briefing on your day's walk before setting out. A good scale map of the area may not always be available, but there is generally a reference copy. If not, your Group Leader will talk you through the walk and the key objectives. It's in your interest to pay attention to this so youfully understand the route, the conditions you'll encounter and how the day is likely to unfold. 

How far do we walk?
Distance is to some extent less relevant than terrain and altitude; it's generally best to describe a walk in terms of time. Walking 6 miles over difficult mountain terrain at over 4000m altitude will generally take a lot longer than walking the same distance over even terrain at lower altitude. However, the duration of any walk will also be affected by factors such as the weather and the walking speed of members of the group. In a full day of walking you may cover anything between eight and 15 miles. 

How fit do I need to be?
Fitness is important. Nearly everyone worries whether they'll be fit enough and no-one wants to think of themselves holding back the rest of the group. Note: a trek is no place to get fit, and whatever you can do to boost your fitness before departure will stand you in good stead. This means taking regular aerobic exercise prior to departure. We suggest you take several long walks over two or three consecutive days, in a mountain region near you. Going to the gym and taking the stairs rather than the lift, and riding a bike to work, will also help. The fitter you are, the more you are likely to get out of the experience. 

Pace

 No two walkers go at the same speed, and we appreciate that it's difficult to walk at a pace that is not your own. Where possible, i.e. if the visibility is good, the route is unambiguous, and there are enough support staff, everyone may be able to walk at their own pace and spread out a little - as long as visual contact is not lost. However, there will always be regular stops to allow people to regroup. In poor weather conditions, on difficult terrain, or when there is only a single leader, it is essential that the group stays very close together for safety's sake. 

Back marker

 If the Group Leader has no support staff, it will be necessary to appoint a back marker for the safety of the group. This generally falls to experienced walkers who volunteer.

Rest stops
Tiredness can lead to errors of judgement or even accidents, so adequate rest stops are crucial to completing any walk enjoyably. We generally plan on the basis of several stops during a day's walking. Those who have the greatest need of rest are those at the rear of the group, so please be patient and considerate when they arrive.

Am I too old?
Age is, in itself, no barrier to enjoying a walking holiday. Experience often counts for more than age alone, but enthusiasm and stamina are both essential factors. Older walkers should select a trek which matches their level of ability and fitness (though this applies to younger walkers too!).

Walking at high altitude


At altitudes above 3500m the relative lack of oxygen can cause certain medical conditions. The speed with which they develop, and the severity of the symptoms, vary widely, as does the altitude at which they occur.

Over 50% of travellers feel a bit unwell if they travel from sea level to 3500m or higher. The most common complaints are headaches, fatigue, and breathlessness, unusually strong heartbeat, appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, difficulty sleeping and irregular breathing while asleep. These symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) usually develop during the first 36 hours at altitude, rather than immediately. The higher you go and the more rapidly you ascend, the more likely you are to suffer.

Despite the alarming name, the unpleasant effects usually disappear within a couple of days, particularly if you don't go any higher. Once acclimatised you can go higher gradually, though the symptoms may recur at any time.

Unfortunately it's impossible to predict who is likely to be affected by AMS. Reasonably healthy people of any age can travel rapidly to 3500m, though many will develop AMS after arrival. Being physically fit and/or a non-smoker is no guarantee of resistance. Strenuous exercise only makes AMS worse, so it's wise to avoid undue exertion until acclimatised.

Once above 3500m any further ascent should be made gradually, but once acclimatised you should feel well (although you will still experience breathlessness). 

Although the symptoms of AMS can be unpleasant, the condition usually gets better of its own accord. If you have severe symptoms it's important not to go higher and, if you don't recover within a few days (or if the symptoms become steadily worse), you should descend to a lower altitude. If you have any concerns at all about how you are feeling, you should talk to your Group Leader straight away.

In the unusual event that you notice, or suspect, any of these symptoms in yourself or another member of your group, you should advise your Group Leader or guide as a matter of urgency.

Summary
AMS is a common and minor, though debilitating, problem of high altitude. On rare occasions itleads to two more serious conditions which need to be treated as medical emergencies. The simple adage of gaining height slowly, and descending promptly if you become ill, is the best way to avoid problems. 

Treatment of Mild AMS 
Rest, relaxation, (possibly descent) Aspirin, paracetamol, ibuprofen Drugs for nausea & vomiting 

Treatment of Severe AMS 
Immediate descent, evacuation, oxygen

What to do in an Emergency

Emergency Checklist

  • Stop. Stay calm
  • Last known position
  • Stay put and wait
  • Whistle, shout
  • Stay visible
  • Keep warm
  • Think shelter
  • Ration food and water

 

- As soon as you realise you have become separated from the rest of the group, or are lost, stop and review the situation. Stay calm. If more than one person becomes separated from the main group, stay together rather than splitting up and compounding the problem. 

- Work out when the last time was you knew exactly where you were, or were in contact with the group. If this wasn't long ago, they cannot be far away. 

- If you are 100% certain that you can retrace your steps to the path, or to the last place you saw the group, do so and remain there. If not, stay where you are and wait to be found. The worst thing you can do is to go off in an unknown area looking for the others. If separated at dusk or at night, stay where you are. Attempting to retrace your route in darkness is difficult. Keep watch and use a torch to attract attention - but ration its use so you don't run the battery down. 

- Use a whistle, or shout, at regular intervals to give your location, then listen for a reply. The international distress signal is 6 short blasts followed by a minute's silence. 

- It may be useful to go higher so you can see the lie of the land and make yourself more visible. If you decide to do this, don't go too far as you may stray from the obvious search area. It's generally considered safer to go down - but this may limit visibility. 

- If it is cold and you are in an exposed location, put on all your clothing in order to keep warm and dry. If you have a sleeping bag and are with someone, consider sharing a bag to keep warm. Do not let yourself get cold. 

- Look for shelter, or even build one, to keep you warm and dry. If this shelter is not beside the path, leave some indication of where you are by building a cairn of stones or marking the place in some other way. 

- Assess the situation with regard to food and water so you can decide how to ration it. 

Responsible Travel

Our Commitment to the Environment
We have pledged to maintain certain standards on our adventures - please help us by supporting these ideals.

Campsite:
Someone else will use your campsite; leave it as you would like to find it (or even cleaner).

Waste:
Try to carry out ALL waste. However, if this is not possible burn dry paper and packaging in a safe place. Bury other paper and biodegradable material including food. Carry any nonbiodegradable waste out to a proper disposal site. Remove anyone else's litter you come across.

Deforestation:
Don't make open fires, and discourage others from doing so on your behalf. Where it is necessary, use minimal firewood. If possible, use kerosene or gas, or fuel-efficient wood stoves.

Plant life:
Leave plants to flourish in their natural environment; don't take cuttings, seeds or roots.

Water supplies:
Keep local water clean, don't use pollutants e.g. detergents in streams and springs. If there are no toilet facilities, bury all human waste at least 30m from a water source.

Holy places:
Preserve what you have come to see and never touch or remove religious objects. Respect the beliefs and traditions of others.

Local customs:
Always respect local people and their ways. This will earn you their respect. Allow them to change you, but don't try to change them!

People:
Take time to try and establish contact with local people and learn about them.

Photography:
Respect people's privacy, ask permission and use restraint.

Begging:
Don't give money to children as this will encourage begging. We offer many ways to make donations to local projects.

Dress:
Loose, lightweight clothes are preferable to tightfitting, revealing clothes.

For reference, the length of time it takes litter to decay

 

  • paper 2-5 months
  • orange peel 6 months
  • milk cartons 5 years
  • cigarette filters 10-12 years
  • plastic bags 10-20 years
  • leather shoes 25-40 years
  • nylon cloth 30-40 years
  • plastic containers 50-80 years
  • aluminium 90-100 years
  • styrofoam - never!