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Desert to Coast Crossing (The Long Ride)

Overview

When you think of Morocco, most will likely conjure imagines of the expansive Sahara desert, the rugged Atlas Mountains or perhaps even extensive sparkling coastlines (both Atlantic and Mediterranean). Recently, these distinct landscapes have become playgrounds for tourists and locals alike, really…

Highlights

  • Spend a full month in the saddle
  • See the Sahara, Atlas Mountains and coast in one trip
  • Ride up to 55km a day
  • Sleeping out with your horse
  • Camping under the Moroccan sky

Essential Facts

  • 1 itinerary available
  • Max 10 riders per group
  • Average of 6 - 11 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 90 kg / 198 lbs / 14 stone 2 lbs

Description

When you think of Morocco, most will likely conjure imagines of the expansive Sahara desert, the rugged Atlas Mountains or perhaps even extensive sparkling coastlines (both Atlantic and Mediterranean). Recently, these distinct landscapes have become playgrounds for tourists and locals alike, really anyone who enjoys active and outdoor pursuits. Surfing, cycling, climbing, trail running and horseback riding allow individuals to take full advantage of these diverse natural topography.

The challenge of conquering all three of these has been a goal for our Sahara desert trail team for several years now. Passion for the country and horses has led to the creation of the Long Ride; an epic month long crossing of southern Morocco from the Sahara desert in the east to the Atlantic coast in the west. Beginning in Ouarzazate - the "doorway" to the desert - the trail route winds its way across the Anti Atlas before traversing the flatlands of Souss-Massa and eventually arriving at the beaches of Agadir on the Atlantic coast. A difficult and demanding route requiring long hours in the saddle and an incredible stamina from both horse and rider. Every morning and afternoon will bring a new challenge as you move from one region and landscape to the next, negotiating any obstacle or barrier in your way. Marvel at your horses' bravery, sureness of foot and his great fitness as you cover miles and miles of rural Morocco each day. By night, you will camp out under the Moroccan sky, savouring camp cooked traditional meals, with your horses resting peacefully close-by.

This epic trail takes place just once each year, between January and February. It is not a challenge to be taken lightly and as such should only be considered by those who have a great level of personal fitness as well as extensive experience of trail riding too. You must be independent and able to meet your horses' needs as well as your own when required to. A good sense of humour and being content spending several days at a time sleeping in basic camps is also recommended!

For the right person, this is the trip of a lifetime and an adventure like very few others!

Horses & Riding

Tack

English style endurance/trail saddles. Saddle bags are provided. You must be able to saddle your own horse.

Horses

Barb and Arab-barb

Riding

There is 1 itinerary:

  • Atlas to Atlantic Rally (East to West) is a trail ride

Ages

Experienced and active child riders can be accepted on this trail if accompanied by an experienced and competent adult. Please use your discretion and bear in mind that this is a very long and tough trail. Anyone unable to keep up with the group or not meeting the demands of the trail may have to travel in the support vehicle instead.

Health

Good health and a high level of fitness are required for this very demanding trail. If you have severe allergies, heart or respiratory problems or other physical limitations then please consult your doctor before considering this ride. Riding days are long and many will include several hours of walking. You must, therefore, be able to dismount and walk beside your horse when needed.

Weight

90 kg / 198 lbs / 14 stone 2 lbs

Food & Accommodation

Food

There will be a cook as part of your support team and they will be responsible for preparing all meals whilst you are in camps. Lunches will generally be a pre-prepared cold picnic, whilst in the evening and for breakfast you will have cooked hot meals. Dishes will feature traditional Moroccan cuisine which is usually healthy, hearty and delicious.

Filtered water will be provided for drinking. We recommend taking your own drinking bottle to avoid single-use plastic bottles. You can also take water purifying tablets or a small travel filter to clean water from the many streams you will pass. Other drinks can be provided and will need to be paid for locally.

Accommodation

The first and last nights of the ride will be spent in 3* quality hotels in Ouarzazate and Agadir. There will be approx. 6 nights (either side of the 3 rest days) where you will stay in Maison d'hotes (guesthouses) along the route, with shared rooms and access to hot showers and washing facilities! The rest of the nights will be spent in mobile camps which you will set up along the way.

Camps are simple and designed to be easily assembled and dismantled at the beginning and end of each day. Camps are basic with tents and mattresses provided as well as buckets of water for washing. You will need to help dismantle camp in the morning but tents will be set up for you in the evenings as you will often arrive to camp quite late in the day. You will need to bring your own sleeping bag.

Itineraries

Atlas to Atlantic Rally (East to West) Basic / Tented accommodation.

Other Activities

Due to the nature of this ride, the focus is on the riding experience and so there are no non-riding options offered. Each day is full and affords a true challenge for even the fittest and most experienced equestrian.

Travel

Guests should plan to arrive to Ouarzazate airport on the first day of the trail. A transfer from the airport to a hotel in the city is included for this day. Arrivals to other airports is possible but private transfers from these will incur an additional cost.

The trail will finish with a hotel night in Agadir. Transfers to the airport of Agadir are not included on departure day, but can be organised at additional cost.

Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1 - Saturday 23rd January:

Riding: No riding.

Guests should plan to fly into Ouarzazate airport during this day. You will be met at the airport and transferred to a 3* quality hotel in the city (transfer included). This evening, you will be able to enjoy a first dinner and ride orientation with your fellow guests and guides. A chance to ask any last minute questions you might have about the ride and ensure you are suitably prepared too!

Day 2 - Sunday 24th January:

Riding: 3 - 4 hours

Following breakfast at the hotel this morning, you will load up the vehicles and begin your long transfer to the start point for the trail. You will have a brief lunch before being paired with your mount for this epic ride and setting off for your first afternoon's ride. In the early evening you will arrive into your first camp and will settle the horses before locating your tent and enjoying your first camp cooked dinner.

Days 3 to 28 - 25th January - 19th February:

Riding: 6 - 11 hours

Over the next few weeks you will follow the trail heading from east to west across Morocco. You will first be heading south to ride along the Draa Valley and the northern edge of the Sahara Desert, before heading turning west and crossing the Anti Atlas mountains and eventually arriving at the coast near Agadir. Days will vary in length and terrain, with most days seeing you cover between 30-45km and riding for approx. 10 hours. The longest day will be roughly 55km and may take closer to 11 hours and 30 minutes. The pace of riding will be varied, but there will be some days when you will need to do some long stretches of walking, both on the horse and off - sturdy boots with a good sole are recommended, as is a seat saver/sheepskin cover for your saddle!

Each night you will stay in simple mobile tented camps which will be set up for you, with dinners cooked by your chef and support crew. The camps will include a central "mess" tent for eating, as well as toilet and washing tent. Each morning you will help to pack up camp before preparing yourself and your horse ready for the next day of riding. The support crew will meet you at the lunch stops with a prepared picnic and an opportunity to adjust layers if you need or want to. At this time of year, the nights can be cold and the mornings chilly. However, the temperatures will soon rise once the sun comes up and you will likely be riding in t-shirts by midday.

There will be 3 scheduled rest days during the trip (one at the end of each full week) which will allow riders a break from the saddle and the chance to have a proper shower - which will be very welcome after a week of bucket washing. During the rest days you will able accommodated in local guesthouses in shared rooms. The rest day is free for you to do as you wish, but a visit the a hammam is certainly recommended! Lunches are to your own account these days.

Day 29 - 20th February:

Riding: 3 - 4 hours

Breaking camp early today, you will begin your final morning ride to arrive at the coast near Agadir. A great opportunity to enjoy the beach with your horses and the sound of the wild Atlantic waves.

On reaching to the Atlantic coast, there is a 50/50 chance that you will arrive in the middle of a sandstorm, so a good pair of sunglasses and face covering (such as a buff or scarf) are recommended too.

Finally, you will be transferred to a hotel in Agadir where you will spend the night. Lunch and dinner to your own account today.

Day 30 - 21st February:

Riding: No riding.

Departure from Agadir (airport transfers not included).

Accommodation

First and last nights of the ride will be spent in 3* quality hotels in Ouarzazate and Agadir. There will be approx. 6 nights (either side of the 3 rest days) where you will stay in Maison d'hotes (guesthouses) along the route, with access to hot showers. The rest of the nights will be spent in mobile camps which you will set up along the way.

Experience Experienced

You should be a very fit and competent rider to take part in this trail. Many days will entail long hours of riding, as well as walking over very difficult terrain.

Minimum group size 2
Maximum group size 10
Departure windows

Nov. 14, 2021 - Dec. 19, 2021

Jan. 23, 2022 - Feb. 20, 2022

Pricing

2021/2022
2 pax in a group; sharing
£7885 $10895 €9360
2021/2022
3 pax in the group; sharing
£6165 $8520 €7320
2021/2022
4 pax in the group; sharing
£5355 $7405 €6360
2021/2022
5 pax in the group; sharing
£4950 $6845 €5880
2021/2022
6 pax in the group; sharing
£4245 $5865 €5040
2021/2022
7 pax in the group; sharing
£4140 $5725 €4920
2021/2022
8+ pax in the group; sharing
£4040 $5585 €4800
Included 29 nights accommodation (some in hotels/guesthouses and some in tented camps), full board meals (except lunches on non-riding days), drinking water, tents and mattresses for camping, horse and equipment, as well as experienced bilingual guides and support crew throughout. Arrival transfers from Ouarzazate airport to the first night's hotel are also included.
Not included Transfers to Agadir airport on departure, transfer from/to other airports, lunches on rest days, drinks (other than filtered water), sleeping bags, tips and any other personal expenses.
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.