Bushcraft and Survival Courses in Morocco
Since I was young I have a growing interest in wild plants and herbs, stuff that grows in hedgerows and woodlands, on mountainsides and riverbanks. My children often used to say to me "Mum what are you looking at?" but would happily taste the tea or soup or salad, whatever I cooked up with my foraged goodies.
My curiosity brought me into contact in 2016 with an English gentleman now living in southern Spain who runs rewilding and bushcraft courses from his location. Through many conversations, meetings and reconnaissance we are now offering courses in Morocco, primarily in a desert location and also later in the High Atlas Mountains. I am very excited to be able to facilitate these amazing courses in bush craft, survival skills, rewilding and reconnecting. Neil Hill is an anthropologist, wildlife biologist and wilderness instructor who founded Rewilding Bushcraft to share his passion of the natural world with people.
Bushcraft and Survival Expedition to the Sahara Desert
Duration 8 Days / 7 Nights 2020 Dates to be confirmed and details may change.
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 - Tamegroute - Sahara - Zagora - Ouarzazate - Marrakech
Starting at Marrakech, we traverse the High Atlas on spectacular roads and then drop south along the mighty Draa 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 desert lodge, where you will become immersed in the unique landscapes and rich culture as this adventure unfolds.
Day 1: Marrakech Arrival
Arrival at Marrakech Menara Airport. Here you will be met and transferred to your accommodation in a beautiful Riad located in the old medina of Marrakech. Dinner will be taken together in the Riad where our journey together really begins.
Day 2: Marrakech - High Atlas - Agdz - Tamnougalt - Zagora - Sahara Desert
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 and there will be stops on the way.
Just after the sun sets we will arrive at M´hamid el Ghizlane and the beautiful lodge, 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 the lodge 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.
Day 3: Breakfast taken at the 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.
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.
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 the lodge for an evening meal and afterwards listen to traditional Gnawa Sufi music under the desert stars around a campfire. We may have dinner at the campfire.
Day 4: Breakfast is taken at the lodge
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 a compass (including making our own compass), the sun and the patterns of the dunes
Lunch cooked over a fire
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 the lodge 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 is taken at the 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 the Sacred Oasis
We will embark on an off-road tour to an Oasis for lunch, after this special meal, we will take a journey across the fearsome stony Reg into the dunes themselves.
Returning to the lodge 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: Today will be spent undertaking your desert survival strategy
Breakfast is taken at the lodge.
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.
Cooked over the fire along with a demonstration on how to make delicious traditional sand bread.
Complete the challenge and now you will be fully-fledged desert survival experts.
Day 7: Following in the footsteps of the ancients
Today we will venture out with Idir a local guide and expert of the history and archaeology of the region. On the way, we will visit his organic garden, and gather the provisions for the picnic lunch we will make. There is an option depending on the group size to have lunch at Idir´s house, which is always a memorable occasion. Crossing the empty Draa 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 here is strewn with artefacts from the Stone Age onwards; including arrowheads, 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 watchtower, at its feet lay 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 the lodge for a last meal in the desert, time to pack and reflect on the week.
Expect to have many emotions during this week, allow yourself to process them and accept them. The desert can have a profound effect and can change your life and how you perceive it.
Day 8: Return to Marrakech
Depart early for Ouarzazate and back over the High Atlas to Marrakech. Once again there will be an opportunity for stops en route to eat etc.
There are flights out of Marrakech that evening, but should you wish to stay on we can arrange additional days for you with accommodation.
Price per person €
First night dinner plus bed and breakfast at the Riad in the Medina of Marrakech.
Transport from Marrakech to the lodge and back.
All food and accommodation at the lodge.
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. Everything that we do has a direct impact on our environment, our ethos is to make that impact a positive and sustainable one wherever we go.
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. We would expect to be back in Marrakech by 17.00 which allows for flights after 19.00.
Information about the courses.
Groups will be no more than 14 people.
The price will be inclusive of transport to and from the Sahara, accommodation with breakfast, lunch and dinner on the course, 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. Motion sickness and travel sickness medication should you require it. 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 25% 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, once you leave Marrakech you will need Dirhams. These can be exchanged at the airport and in Marrakech on the first day... preferably at Hotel Ali in the Medina for the best rate. Please also note that once out of Marrakech, there are very few ATM´s that will accept cards from banks outside Morocco, so do not rely on getting money with your card... make sure you have sufficient cash before we depart from Marrakech.
Please inform us in plenty of time of any dietary requirements, allergies or particular dislikes. All the meals are prepared fresh daily and we can cater to vegetarians… just let us know.
We reserve the right to alter the program should the weather be unfavourable. Flexibility is key.
There will be a WhatsApp group made once all participnts are signed up.
Other Links: www.rewildingbushcraft.com