No, it’s not all about the desert! We are heading to Morocco to run and explore one of the most dramatically beautiful landscapes that the kingdom has to offer: the High Atlas mountains.
On a clear day these snow-capped peaks can be seen from Marrakech, but you’ve got to get in (and on!) them to truly experience the grandeur. Get ready to run the quiet dirt roads & single track trails that wind through the foothills and across hidden valleys, race local kids as you pass through remote Berber villages (warning: you’ll probably lose), soak your legs in icy snowmelt rivers and immerse yourself in the local culture.
Replenish yourself with incredibly fresh, traditional food at each and every meal, and recover each evening at beautiful family-run guesthouses featuring crisp mountain air, sweeping views from the rooftop terraces and that legendary Moroccan hospitality.
If the idea of getting off the tourist track and exploring a fascinating culture with a group of like-minded runners makes you want to lace up your shoes, then this is the adventure for you.
Please note that all listed run distances can be shortened if desired, and that itinerary is subject to minor adjustments due to weather, logistical considerations, etc.
ARRIVAL IN MARRAKECH
Arrive in Marrakech, where we will pick you up at the airport and take you to our beautiful riad (traditional courtyard house). That evening you will get your first taste of Moroccan tagine as we dine on the rooftop, relax, and unwind. Those who manage to hold off the jet lag can experience the Djemaa El-fna and the surrounding souks: sample local treats, bargain for scarves, charm a cobra, jump into a drum circle or simply wander around and take it all in!
Running: no organized run
INTO THE FOOTHILLS…
Depart from Marrakech by 4×4 vehicles towards the High Atlas Mountains, which begin rising before us less than an hour from the city. We will have our running shoes on so we can hit the ground running through the foothills of the Atlas, getting our first taste of the local culture. During your run you can expect winding country roads, beautiful orchards and terraced hillsides, adobe houses, inquisitive local kids, and goats running amok. After a picnic lunch we’ll get back into the vehicles, heading towards a tranquil guesthouse tucked into a stunning mountain valley, that we’ll call home for the next 3 nights. You’ll be welcomed with the warm hospitality typical of mountain Berber culture and free to spend the evening soaking in the mountain views and settling into a delicious family-style dinner.
Running: Up to 14 miles, road/dirt road
OURIKA VALLEY: A VIEW FROM ABOVE
After a big breakfast we will drive far into the upper Ourika Valley to an area scarcely visited by tourists. From a road pass nestled high amongst the mountains we will start our run into the farthest reaches of this beautiful valley, taking in breathtaking views and catching glimpses of daily village life that are never seen from the highways. Lunch will be prepared by our crew and waiting at the end of the run, aching limbs can be soaked in the bracing alpine waters of the Ourika river and then, if we haven’t worn you out yet, you can opt for active recovery with a short hike to nearby waterfalls and a short tour of a traditional Berber household. Afterwards we head back to our guesthouse for a mountain sunset, an evening feast, and some chill time.
Running: up to 9 miles, dirt road
INTO THE WOODS!
By now we will be better acclimated to the altitude, so it’s time to tackle some single track and some more elevation gain. Starting right from our hotel we will run a loop through stunning pine forests, cruise past remote villages, and enjoy some stellar single-track on trails seldom visited by tourists. At the mountain top finish line of the run enjoy a restorative picnic lunch packed with fresh fruit, salads, grilled meats, fresh bread and copious amounts of sweet Berber tea. Then, make the most of the final evening at our secluded valley refuge; tomorrow we move locations!
Running: Up to 9 miles, single track, dirt road
THE HIDDEN VALLEY
Today we head for the town of Imlil with views of terraced valleys, apple orchards, flowing creeks and the highest mountain in northern Africa, Jebel Toubkal (13,670ft). Our run begins in a neighboring valley, following a quiet dirt road that takes us along a gorgeous river valley with non-stop views of the surrounding snow-capped peaks and plenty of high-fives from local kids. This run is always one of the favorites! Post-run there will be time to explore Imlil, an outdoor adventure hub from which many mountaineering and trekking expeditions launch.
Running: Up to 10 miles, pavement and dirt road
THE GRAND FINALE
Fell in love with Imlil? Good, because you get to stay a bit longer… and earn your way to the best views yet! We’ll begin from our riad, warming up with a bit of pavement before hitting a rolling dirt road that winds above the valley and below the highest peaks in North Africa, eventually culminating with a challenging single track climb climb to a pass with a big reward at the top - 360 degree views and fresh orange juice! Cruise back down to finish back at the hotel with plenty of time to relax and recover on the sunny rooftop terrace before our final dinner together.
Running: Up to 12 miles, pavement, dirt road & technical mountain single track
Wake up to a tasty breakfast and get packed up before departing for Marrakech. We’ll arrive with plenty of time to board flights home, or to connect to further travel.
Running: no organized run
PRICING & DETAILS
Sunday, October 20 through Saturday, October 26, 2019
All levels welcome! Daily run maximums are listed on the itinerary and there are no minimums nor time restrictions. Trail running experience is not required, though some off-road preparation is encouraged for the best experience.
A $600 deposit secures your spot, and the total cost depends upon signup date:
Standard Pricing (through July 20): $2450
Late Pricing (after July 20): $2550
Private Room Upgrade: $400 - gives you a single room all six nights
Early Arrival package: $205/$310 (single/double) - Arrive a day early for extra time to sleep off the jet lag and explore Marrakech! Includes private airport pickup, accommodation and dinner upon arrival, then breakfast and a medina city tour with a professional guide the following morning.
Balances due by July 20, 2019. Please refer to the FAQs for our cancellation & refund policy.
Pre-trip guidance + communication
Transfers to/from airport
Transportation: Well-maintained 4×4 vehicles, fuel and professional drivers
Six nights in comfortable, unique three and four-star accommodation (double occupancy)
Guided, organized runs
Experienced Moroccan logistics team (guides, drivers, chefs)
Experienced Rogue Expeditions run guides & trip leaders
All meals + snacks from dinner on Day 1 until breakfast on Day 7
All drinking water + coffee/tea/juice with breakfast
Rogue Expeditions shirt & buff
COST DOES NOT INCLUDE
Alcohol or beverages other than water (though coffee, tea and juice are included with breakfasts)
Personal purchases/souvenirs or extra activities
There will be a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 16 runners. Spots are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, so early deposits are recommended!
Participants will need a passport with at least 6 months of validity left. No visas or vaccinations are required for US citizens in Morocco, though you may want to consider some standard vaccinations if you are a first-time traveler. Please keep in mind that Morocco is a developing country – though we will be comfortable and well taken care of, an adventurous and flexible attitude is a must!
You may arrive at any time on October 20, though midday arrivals are strongly encouraged. Departure flights from Marrakech must be scheduled no earlier than 12 noon on October 26.
Please note that travel insurance is strongly recommended. Although we hope you never need it, we've seen enough to know that it can be a lifesaver in the event of a medical emergency, flight delays that cause you to miss the start of the trip, lost baggage or cancellation on your part (broke your leg two weeks before departure? Insurance could cover the entire cost of your trip!).
You can find those here.
Allison Macsas at firstname.lastname@example.org