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Morocco - Souks & High Atlas
31st October 2019 - 14th November 2019 (15 days)
This tour takes in the Anti-Atlas and High-Atlas Mountains with stunning climbs and long descents, all with fabulous moonscape views. The mountains differ from European mountain ranges such as the Alps and Pyrenees with long distances between towns. Although the climbs are long, the gradients are usually constant with the roads winding around the contours at 4-6% thanks to the fantastic French surveyors who built them. The highest point of the tour is the Tizi-n-Test pass. At 2,100m and a climb of 30km it is a challenging but steady climb. The amount of climbing appears a lot but it is not as hard as it appears. Not all days are hilly and there are a surprising number of flat kilometres which make for easier riding. The routes and roads are quiet with wonderfully welcoming people and stunning traditional hotels. The tour will provide unforgettable experiences.
- Holiday Type Guided
- Tour Manager Greg Woodford
- Grade Challenging
- Booking Status Fully Booked
- Accommodation Hotel & Guesthouse
- Board Basis Half Board
- Travel Arrangements Land Only
- Road / Off Road Road
- Holiday Style Moving-on
- Vehicle Support Full Vehicle Support
- Holiday Ref 03283
Thursday 31st October
Meet at Agadir Airport and transfer to our hotel in Taroudant. Bike build, quick exploration of the local area. Stay 1 night.
Friday 1st November
Cycle to Igherm, a frontier type town, over several high passes. Stay in the only hotel in town, basic but functional. 85km (1,950m total ascent). Stay 1 night.
Saturday 2nd November
Cycle to Tafraoute over stunning high passes and barren Anti-Atlas scenery. Stay in the oasis area of the Ameln Valley at a beautiful hotel looking onto the lions head rock. 95km (1,900m total ascent). Stay 2 nights.
Sunday 3rd November
Optional circular ride taking in the Anti-Atlas scenery and gorges. 50-70km.
Monday 4th November
Cycle to Tizourgane. A long climb to start the day then a stunning ride down the valley to the fabulous accommodation at the Tizourgane Kasbah. 40km (1,095m total ascent). Stay 1 night.
Tuesday 5th November
Cycle to Taroudant. The day begins on stunning mountain roads and ends with a long flat ride across arid plains into Taroudant. 115km approx (1,156m total ascent). Stay 2 nights.
Wednesday 6th November
A fantastic rest day in the ancient walled town of Taroudant with large indoor souks, fruit markets, the old tannery and many interconnected alleyways.
Thursday 7th November
Early morning mini-bus transfer of 50km from Taroudant to our starting point. Cycle over the Tizi- n-Test pass. With a steady gradient over a distance of 30km and summiting at 2,100m, this twisting ascent is our biggest challenge. Lunch at the top and a long descent on the other side. Visit the beautiful Tin Mal Mosque. Hotel in Ouirgane. 115km (total ascent 2,500m). Stay 1 night.
Friday 8th November
Cycle to Marrakesh via the beautiful lake at Lalla Takerkoust. Our hotel is 8km south of the city. 65km (995m total ascent). Stay 2 nights.
Saturday 9th November
Rest day with self-guided visit to the sights, sounds and madness of Marrakesh. A shuttle into the town can be arranged.
Sunday 10th November
Cycle to Amizmiz (partly re-tracing our route) with lunch at Lalla Takerkoust lake. 50km (190m total ascent). Stay 1 night.
Monday 11th November
Cycle to Im-in-Tanoute. A frantic hive of activity awaits us in this market town, and our hotel on the edge of town is very clean and functional. 75km (500m total ascent). Stay 1 night.
Tuesday 12th November
Travel by mini bus approx 60km. The cycling starts near Bigoudline with a long, twisting 12% climb. Stunning views. Stay at the Cascades Hotel, a wonderfully atmospheric hotel from a bygone era. 39km (1,120m total ascent). Stay 1 night.
Wednesday 13th November
Cycle to Agadir through the Valley du Paradis and finish by exploring the wonderful sandy sea front of Agadir. Bike pack up. 57km (total ascent 605m and 1,634m descent). Stay 1 night.
Thursday 14th November
Morning transfer to Agadir Airport where the tour ends.
Accommodation & Meals
Accommodation will generally be in 3-star hotels with many having pools and stunning indoor garden areas. Double and twin rooms will be the standard with some singles available for a supplement. In some smaller hotels three or four to a room might be necessary. Anyone requesting a single room should indicate if they will accept occasional sharing. However, we are restricted in accommodation choice in a couple of locations and will have to stay in the only hotels available. These will be basic but functional. All breakfasts and evening meals are included, either at the hotel or in a restaurant nearby. Lunches, rest stop snacks and water are provided on cycling days.
There will be an excellent and highly knowledgeable local guide driving a support mini bus who will also be moving our luggage from hotel to hotel and supporting the group where needed.
Passports, Visa & Health
EU citizens must hold a passport that is still valid for at least six months at the end of the tour. Holders of non-EU passports are advised to check whether they require a visa.
There are no compulsory health-related requirements for EU residents although it is strongly recommended that you are vaccinated against hepatitis A, typhoid, and polio and that your tetanus protection has not expired. You should contact your doctor at least 3 months prior to travel to obtain these vaccinations and the latest advice for travellers.
Although this is Morocco, and outside of the EU, it is recommended that you bring your EU health card with you.
Our Booking Conditions stipulate that, for holidays outside the UK, travel Insurance is mandatory. Details of the level of cover needed and other conditions you should check are stated in the Booking Conditions. CTC Cycling Holidays & Tours Ltd cannot accept responsibility for any costs that may be incurred due to insufficient insurance cover.
The price of £1,380 is based on a minimum number of 10 people taking part in the holiday and is calculated at a rate of 1.12 Euros to £1 sterling (based on exchange rates published on www.x-rates.com on 14 September 2018; please note Booking Conditions, clause 3). If there are insufficient bookings by 22nd August 2019, we will contact you and return all monies paid, although in certain circumstances the holiday may still run at below minimum numbers but at the same price.
- Return transfer from Agadir airport to the hotel (provided you can arrive and depart at the recommended time)
- 14 nights hotel, sharing room, half-board
- Lunch, rest stop snacks and water on cycling days
- Full vehicle support
- CTC Cycling Holidays & Tours costs
Price Does Not Include
- Return transport to Agadir
- Return transfer from Agadir airport outside of the recommended time
- Drinks with evening meals
- Other refreshments during the day
- Entry fees at any attractions
- Any other personal expenses
- Travel Insurance
- Single occupancy supplement (£340, subject to availability)
A deposit of £500 per person is payable upon booking, with the final balance of £880 per person to be paid ten weeks prior to departure, by 22nd August 2019.
Should you be forced to cancel your booking for any reason you must notify us in writing. Cancellation charges are as follows:
Written notice received:
Before 22nd August 2019
From 22nd August 2019 through to departure
100% (£1,380) plus any supplement
The Area Covered By The Holiday
The Anti-Atlas and High-Atlas Mountains are a major part of the tour. They differ from European mountain ranges such as the Alps and Pyrenees with long distances between towns. The gradients are usually constant with the roads winding around the contours at 4-6% thanks to the fantastic French surveyors who built them. The highest point of the tour is the Tizi-n-Test pass. With a steady gradient over a distance of 30km and summiting at 2,100m, this twisting ascent is our biggest challenge. Not all days are hilly and there are a surprising number of flat kilometres which make for easier riding, but there are a couple of steeper climbs on the last two days.
Rides & Rest Days
Most of the roads used are tarmac and in good condition but sections can be badly damaged and potholed. Many of the main roads have a narrow lane of tarmac, with broken edges and wide run-off strips of gravel and sand. The majority of the climbs are long but gradual and you should have low enough gears to manage. There is always the opportunity to use the mini bus should you feel the need for a rest or just want to bypass a section of hills. The longer days also feature large downhill sections. There are some shorter days to allow for sightseeing and two rest days, one in the wonderful walled town of Taroudant and one in vibrant Marrakesh.
The rides will be supported by two Tour Managers, riding at a pace of approximately 20kmph on the flat, a lot slower on the hills. The daily distances and total ascents are indicated in the itinerary, but the potentially high temperatures make some sections of this tour challenging. However, due to our fantastic local guide, mini bus support and great accommodation, this tour should be accessible to anyone who tours regularly. It also comes at the end of the year when most riders have a good level of fitness which will allow you, and the group as a whole, to enjoy the riding. We expect this to be a tour full of exceptional experiences and one that will last long in your memory.
Accommodation & Meals
If you know that you are a noisy or restless sleeper, we ask you to request and pay the supplement for a single room. This should be stated on the Booking Form. In the event of an odd number of individual participants expecting to share with another of their sex, one person might sometimes be accommodated in a single room at no extra charge.
One of the key areas where Morocco is different to any other country is the food with Tagine being the national dish. Moroccan food is generally very good with lots of salad and bread added to each meal. The Moroccan people will often bend over backwards to see that their guests eat well. Vegetarians and vegans will be well catered for.
Most of the water is drinkable from the taps in larger hotels but we recommend that you buy water if you have any doubt. Our guide will carry sufficient drinkable water in the support vehicle when we are riding.
Our local guide will supply a mid-day picnic lunch with rest stop snacks and water on cycling days.
Participants will be expected to make their way to and from Agadir, but you should not make any travel arrangements until you have been informed that you have a place and that the tour is definitely running. Collection is at Agadir airport on the morning of Thursday 31 October for transfer to the hotel in Taroudant, where our tour begins. There are no travel arrangements included in this tour before or after that date and time. It is very important that you note that neither your Tour Manager nor CTC Holidays & Tours are responsible for you in any way until the appointed time at the designated meeting point. Should you fail to arrive at the appointed time for whatever reason, we will not be responsible for any additional expenses you may incur in order to meet up with the tour group. Before finalising travel arrangements to meet the tour, you should ensure that you have read and understood our booking conditions. Should this tour not attract sufficient bookings to reach the minimum operating size, we may cancel the tour at any time up to 10 weeks before departure. It is therefore recommended that you book fully flexible and refundable transport and accommodation, or wait until you have been told the tour will go ahead, as in the event of the tour being cancelled, we will not be responsible for any losses incurred.
The maximum number of participants will be 14 excluding the Tour Managers.
Weather & Clothing
Morocco temperatures are very variable with November temperatures likely to be 15C-25C but the evenings can be cool, remember we are in the mountains. Bring clothing suitable for both hot and cold weather, rainproofs may be necessary in the mountains. it is important to fit in with cultural sensitivities so please try and keep lycra to a minimum. Clothing able to cover up in towns will also be appropriate too.
Out of politeness we would ask that both men and women carry shorts and maybe a long sleeved shirt to quickly pull on over the top of lycra cycling shorts or close fitting tops when entering villages, cafes or shops. There is no need for women to wear any form of head scarf.
Cycles & Equipment
A strong road bike, touring cycle or hybrid is suitable as the roads are generally in good condition but puncture proof tyres with tread are recommended. You should ensure your bike is well maintained, paying particular attention to wheels, tyres and brakes. A low bottom gear (e.g. small chainring the same size or smaller than the largest cog on your rear wheel) is recommended for the long climbs. If you are unsure about gears, please talk to the Tour Manager.
Unless you ride a 26” mountain bike that is 20 years old, bike parts, cables and spare tyres are very very hard to find. 700C tyres are almost impossible to find outside of major cities like Agadir and Marrakesh so please bring a spare. Our support vehicle will never be too far away so there is always the option to keep spares there for emergencies.
As it is late in the year lights are recommended but might not prove essential. Each participant is expected to carry what they need during the day, but otherwise your luggage will be transferred for you to the next hotel.
Maps & Guides
You should carry a map in case you become separated from the group. Three that cover our area with different levels of detail and often different spellings of places are:
The Oxford Alpine Club Anti-Atlas map
National Geographic Morocco Adventure map
Marco Polo Morocco
Route instructions and GPX tracks will be sent out three weeks before the tour starts.
Travel Insurance & Advice
In addition to travel insurance, it is advised that EU nationals should carry a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) This enables you to take advantage of emergency medical services free or at a discount under a reciprocal provision that exists between EU member states. Your travel insurer may refuse to meet the extra costs of medical treatment if you do not carry this Card. In spite of Morocco being outside the EU this is generally recommended.
Before booking you should check the Foreign Office ‘Travel Advice by Country’ at www.fco.gov.uk or on 0845 850 2829.
Morocco’s position at the top edge of Africa, with trading routes crossing it in all directions, has made it a vibrant and colourful place with a mixture of Western and African influences creating a unique culture. It is very moderate politically and safe, the people are warm and welcoming. The barren emptiness of the Atlas mountain ranges are a stark contrast to the madness of the grand souks of Marrakesh with its overpowering sights, sounds and smells. It is an intoxicating country that needs to be visit more than once.
All towns have Pharmacies but even simple drugs like Paracetamol are expensive so please bring the medication you require from the UK.
Most of the locals speak Arabic, Berber or French but many are now speaking English and sign language is always enjoyed by them if you are stuck for directions.