Bushcraft and Survival Expedition to the Sahara Desert

Duration 7 Days / 6 Nights

This will be a once in a lifetime experience for many people, a unique opportunity to venture into one of the most beautiful and least spoilt wildernesses on earth. You will be guided on this adventure by one of Europe's top wildlife and survival experts as well as local desert Berber nomads.

Marrakech - High Atlas - Draa Valley - Sahara - Tamagroute - Zagora - Ouarzazate - Marrakech

Summary

Starting at Marrakech, we traverse the High Atlas on spectacular roads and then drop south along the mighty Drâa Valley with its ancient Kasbahs. Following this road as it winds through ancient villages, gorges and then on down through the great date palm oases, we arrive at M'Hamid el Ghizlane, where all roads south end at the edge of the magnificent Sahara Desert.

This is where we will be based at the beautiful Dar Sidi Bounou lodge, where you will become immersed in the unique landscapes and rich culture as this adventure begins.

The Program

Day 1: Marrakech Arrival

Arrival at Marrakech Menara Airport. Here you will be met and transferred to your accommodation in the beautiful and traditional Riad located in the atmospheric and timeless Medina. A guided Medina tour can be arranged with the rest of the day free to explore. Dinner will be taken together in the Riad where our journey together really begins.

Day 2: Marrakech - High Atlas - Agdz - Tamnougalt -Zagora - Dar Sidi Bounou

Departing after a relaxed breakfast for the High Atlas Mountains and the Draa Valley. We will travel south along the old caravan route to the Sahara Desert where the next few days will be spent. En route we will pass through many traditional Berber villages, there will be plenty of opportunity to stop, rest, eat and visit local handicraft shops.

Just after the sun sets we will arrive at M'hamid el Ghizlane and the beautiful Dar Sidi Bounou, which will be our desert accommodation and main location for the course. Here we will have dinner and orientation, including an introduction to deserts and their ecology.

The accommodation choices at Dar Sidi Bounou are all beautiful and you can choose from rooms in the lodge, traditionally made n'walla huts or Berber nomad tents in the adjacent dunes. During your stay we will invite you to participate in our renewable eco-building programme as we use our spent water bottles to create a beautiful earth wall in the garden.

Day 3: Breakfast taken at Dar Sidi Bounou lodge

After a traditional breakfast including homemade Berber flatbreads we prepare to travel by camels over the dunes to where we will make our basecamp for the course. Everything we require will be packed onto the Dromedaries and we will ride them across the dunes.

Morning Session

Learning how to construct a traditional Berber nomad tent to provide both shade and comfort for our basecamp. Like many traditional people the Berber do not merely survive in these harsh environments rather they thrive in them. So we will not only make something functional, we will be crafting a truly beautiful space too.

Lunch cooked over a fire in the dunes

Afternoon Session

Now we have our base camp assembled we will begin to learn the basics of desert survival

•How to pack for desert travel, personal rucksacks and 4x4's

•Setting priorities for desert survival

•How to light a fire using both modern survival tools and materials found in nature

Trek on foot back to Dar Sidi Bounou lodge for an evening meal and afterwards listen to traditional Gnawa Sufi music under the desert stars around a campfire.

Day 4: Breakfast taken at Dar Sidi Bounou lodge

Morning Session

After breakfast we will trek back to our basecamp. Please note that these treks will include following trails of desert animals, identifying them, learning how to move comfortably over the sands and collecting useful items for our basecamp.

•We will learn edible, poisonous and medicinal plants in the first session.

•This will be followed by learning how to source water and conserve it.

•We will investigate how to navigate in the desert using compass (including making our own compass), the sun and the patterns of the dunes.

Lunch cooked over a fire

Afternoon Session

•Learn various signalling strategies to attract attention in an emergency

•We will introduce you to the likely medical emergencies you will encounter in the desert and what to do about them, this will include a section on how to prepare a desert first aid kit.

•Introducing full desert survival strategies to deal with various scenarios.

Return to Dar Sidi Bounou for the evening meal. Afterwards we will relax around the campfire and listen to Idir, a Berber storyteller, who will regale us with desert tales and fables.

Day 5: Breakfast taken at Dar Sidi Bounou lodge

Full day in the desert with 4x4

After breakfast we will be picked up with 4x4's for a trip into the deep desert and to visit the giant barchan dunes of Chegaga.

Nowadays 4x4 are one of the principle survival tools for venturing into the desert. Today we will learn how to drive in the desert, what to do if you get stuck or lost, what to pack and what to do in an emergency. You will be taught off road desert driving techniques and then will practise a variety of scenarios.

Lunch at Tin Hinan luxury desert camp

After this special lunch we will embark on an off road tour to an Oasis and then a journey across the fearsome stony Reg into the dunes themselves.

Returning to Dar Sidi Bounou for the evening meal. After this we will set out for a midnight walk across the dunes to see if we can spot the amazing desert nocturnal wildlife of Fennec Fox, Golden Jackal, Spotted Hyena and the many smaller mammals like Jerboa and Gerbil.

Day 6: Breakfast taken at Dar Sidi Bounou lodge

We will split this day into two sections. The morning will be spent undertaking your desert survival strategy and the afternoon will be a trek across the desert through an area strewn with ancient archaeology, fossils and semi-precious stones to an atmospheric ancient Berber watch tower.

Morning Session:

This is where we bring together all that you have learnt on the course. You will be presented with a survival challenge. You will need to devise and then enact your own strategy to complete the task.

Lunch: Cooked over the fire along with a demonstration on how to make delicious traditional sand bread.

Afternoon Session:

Fortified with lunch we will venture out with Idir a local guide and expert of the history and archaeology of the region. Crossing the empty Drâa River will enter the vastness of the stony Hamada desert around Sidi Boushak. Here we have the opportunity to hunt for the remains of our ancestors. The ground is strewn with artefacts from the Stone Age onwards; including arrow heads, semi-precious beads, pottery and fossils. We then crest more dunes to where we arrive at the mysterious and ghostly remains of an ancient Berber watch tower, at its feet the strewn bones of a long forgotten graveyard. Here we will watch the sunset in its magnificence before we trek back under the desert stars.

We return to Dar Sidi Bounou for a last meal in the desert followed by live music from local musicians.

Day 7:

Depart for Ouarzazate and back over the High Atlas to Marrakech. Once again there will be opportunity for stops en route to eat and purchase local handicrafts.

There are planes out of Marrakech that evening, but should you wish to stay on we can arrange additional days for you with accommodation.


Price per person €900

Price Includes:

•First night dinner plus bed and breakfast at the Riad in the Medina of Marrakech.

•Air conditioned minibus transport from Marrakech to Dar Sidi Bounou and back.

•All food and accommodation at Dar Sidi Bounou.

•The desert survival course

Please note that a percentage of your payment will go towards our local and community projects in the Sahara and High Atlas.

Not included:

•Flights

•Personal Insurance.

•Lunch and drinks on the minibus journey.

•Tips for drivers and staff.

•Airport transfers to the Medina are €15 per car.

•Luggage porters from the Medina gates to the riad are €3 per handcart each way.

•If your flights are in the evening of the return to Marrakech, then the minibus can drop you off at the airport, otherwise if you would like to stay in the Medina that night please let us know.

Information about the courses

•Groups will be no more than 10 people.

•The price will be inclusive of transfers, accommodation with breakfast, lunch and dinner, all activities included in the program and guides where required.

•Please make sure you bring sufficient medication should you require it as some of these locations are too far from cities to obtain these items. This also applies to items of a personal nature.

•A list of necessary and suggested items to bring will be emailed once you have reserved your place.

•A €199 non-refundable deposit will be required to secure your place and you will be emailed with confirmation of your reservation. This is to reserve accommodation and transport.

•We reserve the right to reschedule a tour if the minimum of 6 participants is not reached by the given date. Deposits will be taken once that minimum of 6 is reached. If the minimum of 6 is not reached, you will be invited to reserve a place for the next available dates, or if you have a private group and would like a specific date, please contact us.

•Euros and Dollars are accepted as well as local currency for payments. Some places accept Euros in the cities, but in the villages you will need Dirhams. These can be exchanged at the airport and in Marrakech on the first day.

•Please inform us in plenty of time of any dietary requirements, allergies or particular dislikes.

•We reserve the right to alter the program should the weather be unfavourable.

•Please join the Facebook Events Page where questions can be answered in a group environment and useful info will be posted.