MoroccoFood and lodging
Morocco food and lodging
During our trips to Morocco we stay in a range of different locations, which vary to some extent in what facilities they offer. We give the following examples in order to help illustrate what to expect.
Marrakech - City Riad
In Marrakech we generally stay in one of a few city riads that we use. The exact one may vary depending on the group size and composition. Riads are a traditional style of building in the old part of Marrakech. The rooms are usually arranged around, and open out onto, an open central courtyard and the exterior of the building either directly abuts other buildings or is generally very closed with few windows. There is very often a roof terrace for relaxing on and viewing the famous city roofscape and backdrop of the Atlas Mountains. We will generally stay in twin rooms with sprung or foam mattress beds with all bedding provided. Virtually all the time, rooms will be ensuite with a wester-style toilet, bathroom and shower. Breakfast is usually provided at the riad but our evening meals are likely to be taken at a nearby restaurant.
Imlil - Berber Guesthouse
Once in the mountains, our first night is usually spent in a small guesthouse run by a local Berber family, almost everyone who looks after us will be part of the extended family of out host. The guesthouse is fairly basic and slightly eccentric, but clean, very welcoming and an authentic experience of life among a local family. We will stay in twin or even triple rooms depending on our group size. In some cases the single beds may be fairly narrow and low to the ground. Bedding is provided in the form of sheets and woollen blankets, but these may not match! All of the rooms are ensuite, with a shower and western-style toilet, although one does not have a sink so you wash your hands under the shower head. Hot water can be limited here, especially if we have a larger group. Therefore it is courteous not to take too long in the shower. It can be cold at night up in Imlil, even in the summer, so you will need to make sure that you have some warm layers to wear in the evenings as there is no central heating here. All our meals in Imlil are freshly prepared by the family at the guesthouse. If the sun is out we will often eat on the roof terrace with great views over the valley and with overhanging cherry trees providing tasty snacks in early summer.
Other Village Guesthouses
Locally owned and run guesthouses in the villages off the main tourist trails will be basic but welcoming and authentic. Most will have showers and western-style toilets but some may be squat-type. Rooms will usually be twin or even triple rooms depending on our group size. In some cases the single beds may be fairly narrow and low to the ground. Bedding is provided in the form of sheets and woollen blankets. It can be cold at night, even in the summer, so you will need to make sure that you have some warm layers to wear in the evenings as there is no central heating. Food will be prepared by our own expedition cook in the guesthouse kitchen and served in the dining area of the guesthouse.
Kasbah du Toubkal
In Imlil there is a very impressive and luxurious hotel inside a re-constructed Kasbah (castle) on a promontory above the village. It has been tastefully decorated to give a local feel whilst offering comfort and facilities of around four star quality. We can arrange upgrades for individuals or groups who would like to stay at the Kasbah, though it does often become fully booked many months in advance so we can't guarantee places. If you would like to discuss this option as part of your itinerary then do get in contact.
Mountain Refuge - Tamsoult Refuge
One of the refuges we stay at on the summer programme is called Tamsoult. The refuge stands at the lower end of a series of terraced fields which are bright green in summer. It was recently fitted-out so it is in good condition and fairly luxurious for a mountain refuge. It is a large building of three stories at the downhill side. The lower floor houses a communual dining and relaxation area and the kitchen in which our cook will prepare our food. The middle floor, where the front door is, has an area for sitting and relaxing, a few dormitory rooms and the showers and toilets. Upstairs are more rooms, a toilet and a roof terrace. The rooms here are nearly all dormitory-style with large double bunk beds. Therefore you may end up sleeping next to another member of the group in a double bunk, so bring earplugs in case of snore-rs. This just depends on how full the refuge is and which rooms are available, we are generally able to have seperate rooms for male and female members of the group, however, for small teams we may all be in one room. There is one triple room which we may be able to reserve upon request for a suppliment. Food at the refuge is prepared by our own cook in the communual kitchen.
Mountain Refuge - Nelter Refuge
Another mountain hut we use is called the Nelter Refuge. It's location right at the foot of Mt Toubkal means it is popular and sometimes busy. Accommodation at the refuge is basic but functional. The rooms are all dormitory-style with large sleeping platforms extending right across the room on two levels, containing a line of individual foam mattresses. This means that you may be sleeping between two other people, usually from our group but possibly from another if it is busy. Which spaces we have available will depend on how busy the refuge is and how big our group is, but generally we will occupy a whole level in one room.
In some instabces we will book the annexe building and if we are a bigger group we may be the only one in there. The sleeping arrangements are the same here but the toilets are all squat-type and there is no shower. We can however use the facilities in the main Nelter refuge or in the adjacent Mouflon Refuge for a small fee. All our food here is prepared by our own cook and eaten in the communual dining areas.
The Nelter Refuge in Winter - The refuge buildings in general are not heated and can be quite cold. As we are in a valley running North-South between steep peaks, this means that the direct sunlight arrives in the valley quite late in the morning and disappears again quite early. It is a good idea to put on warm base-layer leggings and top as soon as we get there, while you are still warm from the trek, along with other layers on top. There is a shower/toilet area downstairs that can be rather cold, a common dining area on the ground floor that is moderately cold and a common room on the ground floor that has a log burner in the corner and can be very warm. The sleeping rooms are upstairs on the first floor, and can be moderately cold. To get a good night's sleep most people will need a sleeping bag that has a comfort rating down to say -5degC. Though if you tend to get cold at night then a warmer rating or a silk/fleece liner can be a good idea. Your big boots will stay at the entrance hallway in big racks so it is good to have either, some trainers or some big, thick socks + flipflops/crocs or some down booties to walk around the hut in. Unfortunately hut slippers are not supplied like they are in the Alps.
Mountain Refuge - Camping
In the summer we usually camp at the refuges. We will generally be in 2-3-man dome tents arranged on flat platforms at or near the refuges. Sleeping in the tents can be a great experience and in some ways more relaxing than in the refuges if they are busy. It can get a little cold in the tents, even in summer, so it is worth having a good sleeping bag and bed-roll/carrymat. We will use the toilets and cooking/eating facilities at the refuge and our own cook will prepare our meals.
As a general rule the food we eat in Morocco will be dominated by fresh salads, vegetables and either couscous or pasta, followed by fresh seasonal fruits and accompanied by small semi-flat breads, hot, sweet tea made using fresh mint leaves. The food is all freshly prepared and is very healthy and nutritious.
It is often worth bringing a small supply of your own favourite high-energy snacks to eat during the trek if you find your energy levels dipping. Things such as jelly babies and energy bars/gels can be useful backup in this case. As can dried fruits and nuts.
Breakfast is usually Moroccan in style with semi-flat bread, jams, honey and butter washed down with sweet, black mint tea and/or coffee. We will also sometimes have fried or boiled eggs.
Most days on the trek we will stop for around 30-40 minutes and have a good lunch. Our cook and muleteers will go on ahead of us and set up 'camp' to make our lunch. This may be at a local house of guesthouse or even just in a suitably attractive spot on the trail. The exact time of the meal depends on our speed covering the ground to the position previously agreed with our cook and muleteers. Therefore, if we are a slower group it may be 2pm before we stop. Lunch is usually sweet mint-tea with bread and a huge platter of finely chopped salad such as tomato, pepper and onion along with sweetcorn, olives, sardines, beans and preserved meats. We will often have delicious local oranges aswell.
Some days on the trek may involve taking luch at locations to which the mules cannot reach. On these days we will carry a simple packed lunch. This usually consists of bread, sardines, cheese and fruit.
Dinner does vary but a typical meal would be soup and bread followed by a chicken or vegetable tagine and couscous, rice or pasta. We often also have seasonal fruit for desert such as oranges, watermelon or cantaloupe.
If you have any medical or religious dietary requirements then please do make sure that you give us details on your application and booking.