SSAFA Sahara Trek: Your Questions Answered

Everything you need to know about this once-in-a-lifetime trip

Taking place from 21 until 26 November 2019, this exciting fundraising event is being arranged exclusively for supporters of SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity.

The funds you raise will provide a substantial donation to SSAFA and also cover the cost of your international travel arrangements. Click on the links below to find out more about the trip.

Who can take part in the SSAFA Sahara Trek?
You must be aged 18 or above to participate on this trek unaccompanied. There is no upper age limit. If you are fit, healthy and determined, open to adventure and adaptable to unexpected changes, this is the challenge event for you!

How tough is it?
The trek is moderately challenging for someone of a good fitness level. The terrain is generally flat; sand dunes represent the biggest variation in gradient. Howwever, the heat poses a specific challenge, as temperatures can reach 38°C. Therefore you are advised to be of a good fitness level before departure to ensure a full and fast recovery each day from your exertions.

Who accompanies us?
You will be accompanied by professional English-speaking Berber guides who have an excellent knowledge of local culture and hiking in the region. The guides are trained in First Aid and will support you throughout your journey. You will also be accompanied by a team of support staff including cooks, camel handlers and a Different Travel Company UK tour manager.

What is the terrain like?
It’s not just sand! There is plenty to see; you will trek through a mixture of hard, flat sundried plains, ancient (now arid) river beds, wide sandy dune fields and hard rocky outcrops.

What is the climate like?
Temperatures tend to range from 25°C to 35°C during the day, and drop to around 0°C at night.The climate will be dry and there may be some strong winds. Rain, although very rare, is not impossible. Please note: the temperatures and conditions above are historically accurate for the time of year however climate change can impact the seasons so you may experience uncharacteristic conditions during the trip which are out of our control. Should this happen, the guide will assess the situation and make decisions to ensure the enjoyment and safety of the group.

How do we get to the desert?
To travel between Marrakech and the desert requires long drives (approx. nine hours including breaks) along winding mountain roads which offer stunning views of the surrounding snow-capped peaks and lush valleys. If you suffer from motion sickness you are advised to bring your usual anti-nausea medication with you. Regular stops are taken.

What is the daily routine?
Each day’s trek will vary in duration but on average you will trek for five to eight hours per day, covering approximately 15-20km. You will have a long break at lunchtime when you will spend a few hours relaxing through the heat of the day in the desert environment.

Where will we sleep?
During the trek you will sleep in tents (two to a tent), or, if the weather is good, you can sleep outside under the stars (recommended!). You need to bring a sleeping bag but sleeping mats and tents are provided.

What about bathroom facilities?
Toilet facilities consist of a small toilet ‘tent’ covering a hole in the ground. There are no showers or bathing facilities so you must ensure you bring a pack of baby wipes (ideally biodegradable).

What is the food like?
Meals are cooked by your trek chef who will prepare hearty, delicious Moroccan meals that will keep your energy levels high for each day's trek. Breakfast and lunch will be taken alfresco, and evening meals will be taken in a mess tent at camp. Plates, mugs, cutlery and other equipment are provided for you.

How should I train in preparation for the trek?
If you do not already regularly exercise it is crucial that you start training before departure to ensure your best chance of enjoyment on the trip. The best training is walking long distances over hilly terrain while wearing the boots and carrying the backpack you will use in the desert. Other exercises to complement this and increase your overall fitness and health include running, cycling, gym workouts and boot camps. You can download a number of free apps tol help you train and track your progress, including MyFitnessPal, MapMyWalk, C25K. If you attempt to complete the trek without training it will make each day more difficult than necessary and will hinder your experience and the experience of your teammates. 

A medical form must be completed by everyone upon registering, and any pre-existing conditions, medications used and other medical issues must be noted and (if relevant) signed by your GP.

How much does the trip cost?
There is a £195 registration fee payable at time of booking; you are also asked to fundraise a target amount of at least £1,800 for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity.

How will I acheieve the fundraising target?
You will have full support of the SSAFA fundraising team so that you can reach your target. They will provide more ideas and information when you sign up.

What is included in the trip?
Return flights from London (inc. current taxes and fuel surcharges), transfers and transport in Morocco, accommodation in three star hotels (two nights), tents and sleeping mats on trek (three nights), all meals as specified, local guides, support staff, camels and camel handlers on trek, plus a Different Travel UK tour manager.

Trip cost does not include personal expenses (e.g. drinks, souvenirs etc.), any vaccinations required, travel insurance, tips (around £20-30pp) or personal trekking kit.

Click here to download a comprehensive information pack, including the full itinerary, kit list and more.