Morocco 2017 – final travel and admin notes

This is a semi-secret page for Morocco 2017 delegates. You will only find it via the link we have emailed (and via the discrete link on the course webpage in the right-hand panel under Did you know?) It does not aim to repeat the information on the course webpage or in the pre-course downloads (on the webpage).

Updates to this page
Two new sections were added 3rd Sept. – Local Currency and Water Purification. See below.

To help the expedition get off to a great start, please read the information mentioned above then read this page in good time.

Kit and footwear
Remember the kit list is in the WMT Morocco 2017 pre-course Dossier v1 Break in new shoes before arriving. New boots = blisters. Please bring a donation of children’s winter clothing.

Teaching team update
We’re delighted that Dr Charlotte Verney will join us bringing the teaching team to full strength – 5 (a 1 to 6 instructor/delegate ratio); 3 medics and 2 expedition professionals. Read their bios WMT Morocco 2017 Teaching Team v2.

Participation Declaration
Be sure to fully complete the WMT overseas course participant declaration 2017 v1 BEFORE you arrive so you are not faffing* on the internet during the course introduction trying to find your insurer’s emergency contact number, policy number, embassy details etc. No form = no participation. Please hand in the form to us in the conference room Sunday morning. Action point: download the form now.

(*for the benefit of our many non-UK delegates: Faffing definition – v. wasting time, being inefficient and disorganised. Faffer – n. one who faffs!)

Airport pickups on Saturday 23rd September 2017
Please see this PDF WMT Morocco Transfers 23rd Sept 2017 for your name and pick up details. There are 3 colour coded groups and pick up times. The drivers are only briefed to meet the last flight listed for each colour group (which may not be your flight).

WMT staff all arrive late so are not on the first two transfers. Delegate Sophie Boles (+447721767180) has kindly agreed to be transport monitor for the GREEN team whose vehicles are meeting flight DY4527 arriving 1310. Lunch at the Kasbah is not included.

Likewise, delegate Sarah Chitty (+447789960680) has kindly agreed to be transport monitor for the RED team whose vehicles are meeting flight BA2666 arriving 1850. The Kasbah will hold a late supper back for this group.

WMT’s Barry Roberts (+447967032930) will supervise the BLACK team whose vehicles are meeting flight EZY8897 arriving 2120. No supper!

Please give the transport monitors your utmost cooperation. If you’re on a flight earlier than your meeting time and decide to visit Marrakech and are late returning to the airport, like Easyjet, we won’t wait.

Action point: check that your details are correct. Here are helpful do’s and don’ts:

– When you enter the arrivals hall, find your transport monitor BEFORE doing anything else (they will be amongst the taxi drivers holding signs for passengers).
– You must take the transfer offered please.
– Contact me (Barry Roberts +447967032930) AND your transfer monitor ASAP if your flight is disrupted by call or text only. If you don’t get a response, assume your message has not been received.
– Turn on your phone when you arrive.
– Only make contact on Saturday if there is a problem (no need to confirm you’ve arrived as planned). No news is good news!
– Use email for general queries.

– Don’t randomly decide you’d rather take a different transfer, make your own way to Imlil (and arrive when we’re not expected) or get into a non-WMT taxi going to the Kasbah with honeymooners! It’s all happened before and it creates real problems trying to account for missing people.
– Don’t send me last minute messages by Whatsapp, via Facebook or carrier pigeon. I won’t see them.
– Don’t contact the Kasbah directly.

Local currency (added 3rd Sept. ’17)
You can change money at the airport or make debit card cash withdrawals in Marrakesh (cash points are close to our hotel). The Kasbah can normally change small amounts of hard currency for you (Stirling, euro or dollars). You will only need local cash (dirhams) for small purchases on the trail (chocolate bars and sodas). You will struggle to spend more than £20 (nearly the same in Euros!) outside of Marrakesh unless buying souvinirs. Local souvenir merchants will accept hard currency (but not credit cards). It’s not possible (or legal) to obtain Moroccan dirhams outside of Morocco. The current rate (Sept. ’17) is approx. 12 dirhams to £1.

Water purification (added 3rd Sept. ’17)
No doubt you are all thinking about personal water purification on the trail. Cokes, tea etc is available to buy up to the refuge (but not above this and between the summit of Toubkal), as is bottled water. We’re increasingly discouraging the purchase of bottled water – too much plastic waste (Coke bottles get recycled). We don’t advise drinking any wild water without treating it. We will have a generous supply of chlorine tablets for your use; however they do not kill some organisms for several hours such as cryptosporidium so you can’t instantly drink wild water. So, we suggest using a combination of filtration and chemical treatment. For personal use we recommend using Kataydyn’s BeFree 0.6L water filter bottle with a 0.2 micron fibre microfilter which screens out bacteria and protazoan cysts like cypto but not viruses such as hep A which can be killed off by half a chlorine tab – (we think the risk of hep A is low on the mountain, especially on the small streams and above the refuge). It’s a soft, pliable bottle so very packable and the filter is good for 1000 litres. WMT has an account with the UK importer so can supply the BeFree for just £30 (35 euro) – the RRP is £43. Please let use know soonest if you’d like one so we can be sure to order enough (and you pay in-country). NB. I also carry a 500cl plastic coke bottle (indestructible) with my BeFree giving me 1.1L of fluid storage (collect water in the Coke bottle and decant it into the BeFree when you need to filter it).

Morocco immigration
British nationals do not need a visa to enter Morocco. Check if you need one if you’re not British. On arrival, passing through immigration is a slow affair. You’ll need a pen and the following destination address:
Kasbah du Toubkal
State the purpose of your visit is TREKKING.

General conduct in-country, safety and security
At all times, especially after a few beers, be mindful you are in an Islamic country that does not enjoy the same rights and personal freedoms you are accustomed to. Behave sensibly, follow and respect local laws (e.g. carrying a bible in Arabic is illegal!) and be sensitive to local customs and sensitivities especially with regard to alcohol, immodest dress (especially if female) and public displays of affection. See the FCO’s* advice about Local Laws & Customs.

We share all our accommodation venues with other paying guests; we are a group of 35 and should aim for this not to be a cause of irritation or complaint. By its very nature, group travel requires patience and conformance to the group plan. Aim to be organised, informed and prepared and therefore a good team player. This is a professional development event; we will have fun and adventure together but WMT definitely does not treat this trip as a holiday and nor should delegates.

The FCO warns that Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Morocco. You should be vigilant at all times. There’s considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. Read more about Safety and security in Morocco.
(*FCO – UK Foreign Commonwealth Office)

In short, keep a low profile.

On arrival in Imlil
The journey from the airport to Imlil takes about 1.5 hours. Local muleteers will meet you and take your luggage to the Kasbah. It is a 15 min walk up a steep unlit path. Sensible shoes and torches advised. Go directly to the Kasbah first please; you can explore Imlil later. At the Kasbah, our lovely colleagues will welcome you and show you to your dormitories. Keep your possessions tidy and only take one bed space – they will all be used. WMT staff arrive late so we won’t see you until breakfast. Go easy on the wifi – it’ll crash if everyone is data hungry! Generally the Kasbah goes quiet around 10pm. Dorms are for sleeping – not chatting. If you snore, pack extra ear plugs for your room mates!

Tipping is very much a part of – and expected – within the service industry and culture in Morocco. WMT does not tip on your behalf – we believe that tipping should be a personal choice. However we know that most delegates will want to tip so we will solicit your contributions at the appropriate time to tip the Kasbah staff and the mountain refuge staff who you will see work very hard to keep us fed and watered. We suggest 50 dirhams or more per person per venue (so bring 50Dh on the trek). At the final meal together at the hotel in Marrakesh (which WMT pays for), we suggest a tip of 10-20 dirhams per person.

5% fee levy donated to the local community fund
There is a 5% levy on fees paid to the Kasbah which goes to the local community fund (that provides the ambulance for example). WMT pays this on your behalf.

Optional pre-reading Reasonable Plans history of the Kasbah du Toubkal

Course commencement on Sunday
Please meet in the conference room at 9am promptly. Dress casually. We aim to go walking after lunch and you will be given time to get ready for this.

We look forward to working with you!
Thanks for reading.
Safe travels.

Barry Roberts
Expedition Leader