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Camels in the Sahara Desert in front of sand dunes at sunset

Step by Step in the Sahara Desert 2022

Challenge level: 3 out of 5

When can I go?

22 October - 30 October 2022 On Sale
Duration 9 days

What does it cost?

Registration fee (payable today) Info $299
Remaining amount
Total commitment Info

Step by Step in the Sahara Desert 2022

Lose yourself in the silent sands, hidden oases and unspoiled stars of the Sahara Desert on this once-in-a-lifetime women-only adventure.

Our mighty challenge takes us from the movie-scene city of Ouarzazate across rocky expanses, past palm-lined oases and tamarisks into the heart of the Sahara.

Guided by our team of friendly local Berbers and their handsome camels, we’ll tackle tough climbs through seas of golden dunes and to the top of Erg Zaher.

By day, we’ll wake early to trek in the morning’s cool, but there’s still no escaping the Sahara’s arid heat and soft sand. However, we’ll reap the rewards watching the Erg Chagaga dunes glow in the sunset and spotting shooting stars in the stunning night sky.

Gaining insight into the Berber culture as we go, we’ll learn to adapt to the desert and conquer a loop that brings us right back to Ouarzazate.

We end our adventure in the mind-blowing Marrakech, free to explore its maze of souks, spices and snake charmers, before a spectacular celebration dinner in a luxurious hotel.

 

COVID-19 - keeping you safe
As we hope you know, the health and safety of our participants is always - and has always been - our highest priority.

Our team of experts here at DC has created a brilliant 14-step initiative, to minimise the risk of coronavirus and maximise your safety. Please click here to see our ground-breaking plan and rest assured that you're safe booking with us.

Worried about fundraising? Don’t be…

This trek is an Open Challenge – this means you have the option to self fund your participation and there is no minimum fundraising requirement. You are, of course, more than welcome to commit to a minimum sponsorship target instead and fundraise for a charity, hospice or animal sanctuary of your choice; but it's completely up to you.

Your itinerary

Day 1
London - Marrakech - Ouarzazate

We start our challenge with a flight from London to Marrakech, where our friendly local challenge leader and driver greet us upon arrival.

We then enjoy a stunning transfer southward through the plains of Haouz. Our drive gives us the perfect introduction to Morocco. A world apart from rainy England, we pass through vast, arid expanses, dotted with date palms. We may spot a few camels, but we’ll be sure to see more in the days ahead.

Following the Tizi-n-test pass through the famous Atlas Mountains, we’re in for extraordinary panoramas as we reach over 3,000m, before descending through small villages selling pottery and locally found fossils.

Finally, we arrive at our accommodation nestled in the “film capital” of Ouarzazate. Featured in scenes of an enormous range of famous shows and movies, you may recognise the landscape from Gladiator, Game of Thrones, Ali Baba and even The Hills Have Eyes!

We end the day with a delicious welcome dinner of Moroccan cuisine and a briefing from our challenge leader.

Day 2
Ouarzazate – M’Hamid – Ras Nkhel | approx. 6-7km/ 3 hours walking

After a fresh Moroccan breakfast at our accommodation, we have an easy morning transferring to our starting point. We head down through the Draa Valley, whose winding ribbon of river gives life to a forest of palms, a beautiful contrast to the arid mountains towering above them.

Continuing past the awesome ruined Kasbah, camouflaged with the sandy mountainous backdrop, we pull up at the small village of M’Hamid south of Zagora.

We tuck into some lunch and take in the town’s humble buildings, which match the shade of the sand they stand on, as if trying to hide. Then, we’re on our feet to discover more of this striking landscape, trekking through the peaceful palm grove of M’Hamid and into the Sahara Desert.

Our short (approx. 6-7km) hike takes us across hamada, a flat, rocky desert terrain that makes for easy walking and a small stretch of sandy ground. Along the way, we’re treated to stunning views of tamarisk oases and reach our first night’s camp at Ras Nkhel in time for dinner.

Now prepare for your first night in the desert, with the option to sleep in tents or underneath an unspoiled sky of stars.

Day 3
Ras Nkhel – Marabout of Sidi Naji | approx. 16km

Waking to breakfast with a serene view of infinite desert, our friendly team of Berber cameleers and handsome camels lead us south, deeper into the Sahara.

We trek through a range of terrains today, from joyously flat hamada to small rocky hills to the golden sand dunes we all think of when we hear the word Sahara. A forest of tamarisk bushes breaks up our route, standing short but strong amidst the dry landscape.

After a packed lunch, we follow a pathway through the dunes to the Marabout of Said Naji, the shrine of a holy man, surrounded by the almost invisible remains of an ancient city.

We find our camp nearby and spend another night in the unparalleled peace of the desert.

Day 4
Marabout of Sidi Naji – Erg Zaher Great Dunes | approx. 20km/6 hours

We head West after breakfast and cross a plateau of hard earth. Then, we enter a stunning sea of sand dunes, murder for our calf muscles but heaven for the eyes.

Walking amidst waves of gold, we can see the larger dunes of Erg Zaher and the still larger Erg Chigaga, the longest sand sea in Morocco. However, you’ll be pleased to know that we won’t embark on that 40m extravaganza!

Instead, we tackle Erg Zaher, which is tough enough. Our climb leaves us sweating and all too happy to reach the top.

We reap the reward of our ascent watching the sun set over the mighty Erg Chigaga, before descending to our camp at the foot of the dune for dinner and a well-deserved rest.

Day 5
Erg Zaher – Bougharn | approx. 15-16km/5-6 hours

Fuel up at breakfast, as a full day of walking lies ahead of us. Although we’re descending, the ultra-dry sand underfoot proves a challenge with no path to follow.

Luckily, our Berber guides and their camels know the desert like the backs of their hands and hooves and lead us the best way through the sandy expanse.

We hike up and down small dunes, before following some dry wadi, cracked sand, resilient tamarisks sprouting from the cracks.

At last, we reach our camp near the beautiful Bougharn Dunes and enjoy another sunset, watching the sand around us glow.

Day 6
Bougharn – Oued Naam | approx. 18-20km/5-6 hours

After the sandy feats we’ve conquered, our trek eases as we leave the dunes for a rockier landscape, with the familiar feel of hard hamada beneath our boots.

Still more exciting for our fatigued state at this point in the challenge, we find shaded oases for our breaks and shelter from the sun.

Our route grows drier and signals that our camp lies near. Thus, we tackle our last stretch and make the most of our final night by the dry river of Oued Naam, camping under the Sahara’s unmatched ceiling of stars.

Day 7
Oued Naam – Ouarzazate |approx. 13-14km/4 hours

Rise and shine to our last day in the Sahara!

We have a shorter walk today as we make our way to the edge of the desert. Palms and oases lie along our route, seeming positively luscious after our week in one of the driest parts of our planet.

Finally, we reach our finish line back in Ouarzazate and check into our hotel for an afternoon free to relax. You may also want to explore this famous town, feeling as triumphant as an Oscar-winning film-star.

Day 8
Ouarzazate – Marrakech

After breakfast at our hotel, we rest our legs this morning on a drive back to the party for the senses that is Marrakech. Once we’ve checked into our hotel, you’re free to explore the city, which will no doubt come as quite an alarm after the Sahara.

Bursting with energy, Marrakech centres itself around its bustling souks. These are made of a maze of stalls, selling all manner of things, from spices and olives to dried fruits and dates, to freshly squeezed orange juice, to hand-carved wooden souvenirs, lavish jewellery and of course, stacks of Moroccan carpets.

You’re also likely to spot a snake charmer or two, bewitching a serpent with music from a wooden flute.

To give you maximum flexibility, your lunch is not included, so please arrange this yourself and try out one of the many local food establishments.

We reunite this evening for a fantastic celebration dinner and toast our success at having smashed a phenomenal challenge.

Day 9
Marrakech - UK

We’ve reached the end of our challenge. After breakfast, we transfer to the airport in Marrakech and catch our daytime flight back to London. This is where we say our goodbyes and make our own way home.

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Funding options

Self Funded

Pay your registration fee and your challenge costs yourself.

$1,800

Pay the balance

  • Pay a non-refundable registration fee of £299, which is used to administer the challenge and secure your seats with the airline.
  • Pay the challenge costs of £1,200 yourself 12 weeks before your challenge starts.
  • The challenge costs cover flights plus air tax and fuel surcharge, food, accommodation, transfers, porters, guides and medical support, including two doctors.
  • Choose to fundraise as much as you can for the charity, hospice or animal sanctuary of your choice or make a personal donation.
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Sponsorship

Pay your registration fee and raise the minimum target for your chosen charity.

$3,600

Minimum sponsorship target

  • Pay a non-refundable registration fee of £299 when you book, which is used to administrate the challenge and secure your seats with the airline.
  • Fundraise the minimum sponsorship target of £2,400 for a charity or animal sanctuary of your choice at least 12 weeks before your challenge.
  • Providing you have raised the funds, the charity you are supporting will pay the challenge costs of £1,200 on your behalf.
  • The challenge costs cover your flights plus airport taxes and fuel surcharge, food, accommodation, transfers, guides, porters and medical support, including two doctors.
  • Please note that not all charities are happy to commit to the minimum sponsorship option. If you choose this option, we contact the charity you want to support on your behalf. If they are not happy with the minimum sponsorship option, we’ll let you know as soon as possible.
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FAQs
Step by Step in the Sahara Desert 2022

As we hope you know, the health and safety of our participants is always - and has always been - our highest priority.

Our team of experts here at Dream Challenges has created a brilliant 14-step initiative, to minimise the risk of coronavirus and maximise your safety. Please click here to see our ground-breaking plan and rest assured that you're safe booking with us.

With even the government unsure how exactly the coronavirus situation will eventuate, we can't make any guarantees; but we can promise you that we will always put your health and security first and will always be just and flexible in any decisions we have to make, regarding postponements and transfers.

 

Absolutely! As part of our amazing 14-step initiative to minimise the risk of coronavirus and maximise your safety on all our challenges we're delighted to have found a fantastic travel insurance policy, which covers you for COVID-19.

You can see the insurance policy here or click here to check out the full 14 actions we're taking to keep you safe.

We fully support gender and sexual equality and the majority of our open challenges welcome all genders.

However, we've found that some women feel more confident taking on challenges in female company.

Step by Step gives women from all walks of life the platform, atmosphere and the opportunity to come together and conquer a mighty feat for charity.

These women-only challenges also have an incredible camaraderie and you're likely to make friendships that will last a lifetime.

This challenge is not designed for Olympic athletes – it is designed for people looking for an amazing goal to train and get fit for. A number of the people who will take part in this challenge will have a low level of fitness level when they sign up.

This amazing women-only adventure is the perfect motivation to get fit, improve your own mental and physical health and well-being and support the cause closest to your heart.

We strongly recommend you train for the trek as we'll be tackling some tough terrain in the Sahara Desert with dry sand and tall dunes to tackle. The fitter you are, the more you'll enjoy it.

Once you register for the challenge, we'll send you a realistic training plan. This builds up gradually over time so you'll be ready and raring to go by the time we depart for Morocco.

Please don't be! The majority of people will sign up on their own and our Dream Challenges are renowned for the amazing camaraderie and life long friendships made as our groups take on these incredible feats together.

Once you've signed up for the challenge, we'll send you a link to a private Facebook group for everyone registered for Step by Step in the Sahara Desert 2022.

Please feel free to use this space to swap questions, advice and updates with your fellow trekkers on your training and fundraising.

You may also want to reach out to the other participants in this group to see if there's anyone in your local area you can meet up to train and fundraise with.

Absolutely not! One of the amazing things about the challenge is that women of all ages will come together to do something very special.

Everyone who is at least 18 years old by the challenge date is more than welcome to join this awesome Step by Step challenge.

Your registration fee of £299 per person is used to administer the challenge and secure your seats with the airline.

Your challenge costs of £1,200 (ie. 50% of the fundraising target if you choose the sponsorship option) cover:

  • Your flights, including airport taxes and the fuel surcharge
  • Meals throughout the challenge, except for your lunch on Day 8
  • Accommodation*
  • Entree fees where applicable
  • All transfers in Morocco
  • A team of porters and first-aid and COVID-19-trained challenge guides and Dream Challenges staff
  • Full support from the Dream Challenges office in the lead up to and during your challenge
  • Medical support, including two doctors, who will accompany us throughout the challenge and call all participants for a COVID-19-symptom check prior to departure
  • Your Step by Step in the Sahara Desert 2022 medal and t-shirt
  • Extra protocols taken to protect you from COVID-19 - please see our ground-breaking 14-step action plan here.

*Accommodation is included on a twin-sharing basis. If you would rather pay for a single supplement and have a room/tent to yourself, we can arrange this for you for an additional cost of £140.

Please email us at events@dream-challenges.com if you would like to do this at least fourteen weeks before the challenge starts.

In addition to paying your registration fee (£299) and either self funding your challenge costs or fundraising the minimum sponsorship target, you will need to budget for your:

  • Personal travel insurance
  • Gratuities
  • Personal expenses
  • Your lunch on Day 8
  • Tourist visa for Morocco
  • You may also choose to pay £140 for a single supplement at our accommodation

You will of course need a pair of walking boots and you'll also need to bring your own sleeping bag (medium weight).

We will supply you with a comprehensive list of everything you will need to take on the challenge well before your departure date.

On the trekking days, we'll be spending the nights camping in the desert.

You can choose to sleep in the tents we provide or most of our challengers choose to sleep under the stars.

On our nights spent in Ouarzazate and Marrakech, (Days 1, 7 & 8), we'll be sleeping in comfortable hotels.

*We organise our accommodation on a twin-sharing basis, which is included in the challenge cost.

However, if you would rather pay for a single supplement (£140 per person, NOT included in your challenge cost) and have a room/tent to yourself, please get in touch and we can arrange this for you.

Certainly! If you wish to extend your stay in Morocco, please let us know at least fourteen weeks before the challenge start date and we can arrange this for you.

The best way to get in touch is to email us at events@dream-challenges.com, or you can call us on 01590 646410 during office hours (9am - 5pm Monday - Friday).

There will be around 30-40 participants in our group for Step by Step in the Sahara Desert 2022. You'll no doubt make a bunch of awesome new friends!

You will need to take out your own personal travel insurance covering health, accident, loss and repatriation.

Dream Challenges has a policy that provides appropriate cover for this type of activity and also covers you for COVID-19.

We will send you the details once you have registered. You can however take out your own insurance providing it covers you for a charity trek in Morocco.

You will be required to obtain a tourist visa for entry into Morocco, we will send you all the relevant information and forms to do this before the challenge.

The Dream Challenges team are here to help you achieve your challenge and we'll support you all the way.

We are on hand from the minute you sign up to answer any questions that you may have about your training or the challenge itself.

Once you have registered, we will send you a realistic training programme to help you get fit for the event. The programme builds up gradually as the challenge gets closer.

We also have fantastic challenge guides, a group of porters and two doctors accompanying us throughout the challenge.

As we're not medically trained, we're afraid we can't offer you advice on this. We recommend you contact your GP or your local travel clinic, who will have the latest travel health advice.

We also recommend you visit the NHS Fit for Travel website here, to keep up to date with current travel health news and advice on staying healthy abroad.

NHS Fit for Travel website: https://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/home

Certainly. Our accommodation is included in your challenge cost on a twin-sharing basis.

However if you would prefer to have a room/tent to yourself and pay for a single supplement, we'll be happy to arrange this for you at an additional cost of £140. Please note, this is NOT included in your challenge cost).

If you would like a single supplement, please get in touch by emailing us at events@dream-challenges.com or call us on 01590 646410 (Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm).

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