Date: 28 October – 4 November 2022

Distance: ~136 miles

Location: Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Ride Morocco, the latest event in the Ride East Africa series which is temporarily relocating to North Africa in 2022, will take you on an unforgettable 5-day, guided and fully-supported journey through the stunning Atlas Mountain range to raise funds for African Promise and other educational charities in East Africa.

This epic biking adventure will explore a range of Morocco’s fantastic trails, including remote paths and dirt roads from Marrakech to the Tichka Pass, the highest in the High Atlas, before descending along the Draa Valley to the fringes of the Sahara Desert through vast valleys, and into remote Berber villages, ultimately reaching the desert mountain range of Jbel Saghro, the gateway to the Sahara Desert.

The route passes through numerous traditional villages, including the ancient kasbah of Ait Benhaddou, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with plenty of mint tea stops to experience first-hand the legendary hospitality that has risen up from these remote desert outposts. Following a route of palm oases that hide the occasional refreshing pool for a dip, cycle alongside ruined villages and kasbahs which, in the early morning and late afternoon, are bathed in a sublime desert light, before arriving at the fringe of the Sahara Desert and taking a break from the bikes and kasbah hotels and instead opting for camels and a night under the stars in a Berber desert tent, surrounded by pre-Saharan dunes.

This is the ultimate trip for those who are looking for a mountain-biking adventure paired with memorable cultural experiences!

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£1,400

Cost (exc flights and personal expenses)

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£1,200

Suggested fundraising

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Cycle

Type of event

See what it’s all about…

Frequently asked questions

Ride East Africa is an annual cycling challenge hosted by John Douglas and his team at the UK charity, Charity Links, to raise funds for small educational charities working in East Africa.

Previous rides have taken place in Rwanda and Tanzania and, most recently, in Kenya in 2019 with Ride the Rift, the first time that African Promise was a beneficiary partner charity.

The series is expected to return to East Africa in 2023 for Ride Uganda.

 

 www.charitylinks.org.uk

 

RideMorocco is being organised in partnership with Saddle Skedaddale, the world’s leading independent cycling holiday specialist.

 www.skedaddle.com

Day 1 (Friday 28 October) – Arrival (no riding)

Arrival at Marrakech Airport and transfer to hotel accommodation in the centre of Marrakech, followed by get-together dinner and trip briefing, and time to size up the bikes for those who are renting, or for those who have brought their own, to re-assemble them.

Day 2 (Saturday 29 October) – Telouet to Tamdaght (approx. 26 miles cycling)

After an early breakfast, hop in Land Cruisers for a scenic three-hour drive up the Tichka Pass, one of North Africa’s highest paved roads, to the ruined kasbah of Telouet: a crumbling fortress of the Glaoui clan set in a remote valley overlooking mud villages and fertile gardens.

The ride starts from here with a 10km ride at appoximately 1,800m before a rough desent to the start of a newly surfaced country lane which winds its way 32km through fantastic scenery to Tamdaght, set in a palm oasis near Ait Benhaddou, arriving well before sundown for some great photo opportunities from the terrace of tonight’s accommodation: a converted kasbah hotel.

Day 3 (Sunday 30 October) – Tamdaght to Sirwa Mountains (approx. 24 miles cycling)

An early start for a post-breakfast tour of the ksour or castle of Ait Benhaddou, followed by another 2-hour transfer by road to the one-horse town of Agouimthe for the start of a two-day ride through the remote Jebel Sirwa region.

Today’s ride is on a quiet and undulating country lane heading westwards into the heart of the Northern Sirwa (a bridge between the volcanic southern Sirwa and the High Atlas mountains) which ends with a signifcant climb of several kilometres on a dramatic and challenging off-road route up onto a vast plateau where camp will be pitched for the night surrounded by panoramic views to the dramatic peaks of the High Atlas to the north and the dark tabletop peaks of the Sirwa range to the south.

Day 4 (Monday 31 October) – Sirwa Mountains to Ouarzazate (approx. 46 miles cycling)

A long and challenging day exploring the wild and remote Jebel Sirwa.

Beginning on the plateau and passing nomads with their flocks of sheep, goats, and horses, before descending along a dry riverbed through the Beber village of Ait Kalaa, and then an undulating route beyond on a combination of quiet country roads and some connecting dirt tracks through a landscape of wild mountains, punctuated by occasional villages all of a very traditional nature.

The day ends with an hour’s drive across strikingly desolate landscapes to our comfortable hotel/converted kasbah overlooking the town’s of Ouarzazate palm groves, with the option to enjoy a hammam, a typical Moroccan steam bath, and a massage to relax those tired muscles.

Day 5 (Tuesday 1 November) – Ouarzazate to Agdz (approx. 16 miles)

After a short transfer to Zagora, the day’s ride begins with an easy but thrilling 8km descent on a piste which joins the valley of the River Draa, Morocco’s longest river. Following this the ride is varied and not too taxing with several short climbs and descents following the upper reaches of the river valley. Some of the villages along the way are remarkable with their abandoned and disintegrating kasbahs. Our overnight stop is around the town of Agdz where, depending on the size of the group, we will either stay in a beautifully-renovated kasbah just south of Agdz or a French-run auberge in the palmery

Day 6 (Wednesday 2 November) – Agdz to Sahara Camp (approx. 24 miles)

A mixed day of expedition by bike and by 4×4 exploring the Draa Valley – one giant oasis of date palms, fruit trees, and vegetables grown by local families – en route towards the gateway to one of the true wonders of the world: the mighty Sahara Desert, and our desert camp set up in the sand dunes – a star gazer’s dream with a campfire, good food, and a great place to reflect on an epic journey!

Day 7 (Thursday 3 November) – Transfer to Marrakech (no riding)

A day-long transfer back to Marakkech arriving in time to explore the main square – the Djemaa el Fna – to witness one of the world’s most animated night-time spectacles: its transformation into a giant open-air restaurant with men in white coats serving anything from sheep’s head stew to snails in hot sauce, and entertainment from snake charmers, story tellers, acrobats and dancers .

Day 8 (Friday 4 November) – Departure (no riding)

Transfer to Marakkech airport for return flight home.

Although much of the riding is non-technical, good bike handling skills will be required in order to cope with loose stones and sand, and for riding in a terrain which is very different from what many people will be used to. There will be plenty of challenging climbs and fun descents which all levels of riders will enjoy. From time to time, there will be some short optional singletrack sections with varying levels of technicality. A good level of fitness is required to cope with some very mountainous terrain, with ascents up to 600m/2000ft in height gain and 10km/6miles in length.

While non-technical, the routes reward riders with good bike handling and reasonable off-road fitness.

The ride has been graded as a 3-4 on a scale from 1 (easy) to 5 (challenging).

Grade 3 – For the leisure cyclist with a good level of physical fitness. May include some steeper, cheeky climbs and possibly sections of varying terrain (eg. forest tracks, gravel paths etc). Distances generally between 20-45 miles / 32-72 kms per day.

Grade 4 – For those who cycle frequently. Will include some long and / or steep climbs, often over varying terrain (some sections may see you cycling over uneven, unpaved or loose ground). Distances between 30 to 50 miles per day / 48 to 80 kms per day.

The cost per person on a twin-share basis is £1,400.

This includes: airport transfers, all accommodation and meals*, breakfasts, 24-hour in-country support, bike and helmet hire

It does not include flights (circa £200), travel insurance or entry visas which you will be required to arrange independently, or personal expenses including alcoholic beverages and activities other than those on the itinerary, or tips for guides/drivers/hotel staff.

Accommodation will be in a selection of 3* hotels, guesthouses and riads. For the first night camping you will be in good quality two-man tents, the second night is at a permanent camp in the desert in camel hair nomad-style tents.

A variety of different styles of accommodation have been chosen with the emphasis sometimes on comfort, sometimes on character, sometimes necessity, where there are no other options given the remote locations.

The main purpose of this trip is ultimately to raise funds for African Promise and Charity Links’ other partner charities.

The cost of the trip does not include a donation so it is suggested that each participant aims to contribute at least £1,200 towards the fundraising total.

This can either be by asking family and friends for donations or by making a personal donation or by a combination of the two.

As a participant representing African Promise, 50% of what you raise/donate will be directly forwarded to African Promise with the remaining 50% contributing to a central pot which will be split amongst all beneficiary charities.

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Inspired to take on the challenge..?

If you would like to join this trip or would like any further information please get in touch either with us or with John Douglas at Charity Links directly here or by email to info@charitylinks.org.uk

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