Marathon of the Sands | Adventures in Morocco

Marathon of the Sands | Adventures in Morocco with SMS-Frankfurt

MARATHON OF THE SANDS: 35 COUNTRIES REPRESENTED AT THE STARTING LINE
Each year, some 700 people from all walks of life and from 35 countries, speaking more than 20 different languages and, and from all religious dominations, participate to the Marathon of the Sands.

These men and women aged between 16 and 71, amateurs and experienced sportspeople alike, come to experience the intensity of the race, reputedly the toughest in the world, and valued such as team spirit. The Marathon of the sands is a footrace in the Moroccan Sahara covering a distance of approximately 240 km; the road covers dunes, stony plateaus, slopes, dried-out, river beds (oued), palm groves and small mountains.

MARATHON OF THE SANDS BY SMS FRANKFURT TEAM SPIRIT, FRIENDSHIP AND SPORT
Marathon of the sands by SMS Frankfurt is “The road of the heart”.

The magic of this special Marathon of the sands will be the result of mixing different ingredients together, a clever blend of spectacular scenery, a high level of services, the hospitality of a warm nation and the unlimited support of our partners.

Ouarzazate – Centre of the South
Ouarzazate is by all standards a different city from most Moroccan cities.

The kasbah of Tifoultoute, and the kasbah of Taourirt are very famous all over Morocco.

The Kasbahs
Despite being slightly scorned by certain traveller’s guide books, the Kasbah of Ouarzazate stands out as an exquisite example of how to take care of one’s heritage with style. The entrance is clearly a bit on the clean and proper side, as if it was prepared for a foreign film take – something that happens quite a lot actually. Among the better spots for making movies would be near the beautiful Palace of Glaoui on the highest point.

Zagora
The city was considered in past as a stopover on Tombouctou’s road, crossed in 52 days by Camels.

Of its rocky hook, this city commands the valley of Draa. Almoravides had built there in the XI-th century a fortress to watch transsahariennes tracks.

Zagora is a very important stage for discovering the back country and the dunes of sand. In fact the first dunes are only at 26 km from the city.

But the great adventure it is the road between Ouarzazate and Zagora: the valley of Draa.

On the road and from Agdz’s village until Zagora, the landscape is a true continuous and narrow Oasis.

The valley is a magnificent garden where fig trees and pomegranate trees mix and where the palm tree dominates.

During the road, houses succeed one another in the form of Ksours, they are collective domestic houses and the architecture of which is typical in the region.

DAY 1: WELCOME TO OUARZAZATE

At the Airport:
Arrival of the participants at Casablanca airport

Flight to Ouarzazate.

Arrival at Ouarzazate airport.

Passport control and customs formalities.

Luggages:
Guests take their luggage from the luggage claim.

Luggage’s to be checked by the guests and loaded by the porters to the bus.

At the exit:
Welcome of the guests by our staff & qualified English or German speaking guides. Transfer of the guests by Landrovers to the hotel.

At the hotel:
Arrival at the hotel.

In the reception area, welcome Moroccan tea.

Check-in procedure: a hospitality desk will be set up in a reserved area especially for the group. The keys will be displayed in alphabetical order and prepared on the desk before group’s arrival.

During the welcome drink, the porters will dispatch the luggages in front of the rooms.

Settling in the rooms.

Cold dinner to be served in the rooms in case of late arrival or dinner at the restaurant of the hotel in case of afternoon arrival

DAY 2: MARATHON OF THE SANDS… Start up
05H00 Buffet breakfast at the hotel

Check-out from the hotel.

Transfer to Zagora by bus

Arrival to Zagora and briefing by the organisation Staff for the Marathon’s rules.

Handing road books, maps with different location of checkpoints, the allocation of water for the day and a small first aid kit.

Departure to the Oasis Ben Driss final check point and place for light lunch.

Participants will be assisted by 4×4 cars of assistance and ambulance with medical staff during the race.

The participants should follow their road book and tags to get to the Nomad camp for the diner and night

The first night bivouac will be on the same spirit of the Marathon: very simple camp in harmony with the area where located.

Camp will be settled in U shape with a restaurant tent

Huge camp fire in the heart of the camp

Lighting in the camp by lanterns

Sanitarian area and showers with hot water

A local folkloric band will make a little and light show for this first night

Medical assistance can be provided.

The Marathon technical details (check point, itinerary, and distances to run by day and maps of the area) will be provided later with a technical book of the Marathon.

During the site inspection, we will develop our concept and give more details about the way we’re going to organize the whole race

DAY 3: MARATHON OF THE SANDS… continues
07H00 Berber breakfasts at the camp

Handing road books for the second day, maps with different location of checkpoints, the allocation of water for the day

Participants will have a briefing on the morning after breakfast. Tthis step will take place largely on the sand.

Participants will have packed lunches to be served in a mandatory checkpoint.

Participants will be assisted by 4×4 cars of assistance and ambulance with medical staff during the race.

We plan to set at 45km before arriving to Mhamid. Location for dinner and sleeping in a Kasbah.

Arrival at the camp site.

DAY 4: MARATHON OF THE SAND… The final
07H00 Berber breakfasts at the Kasbah

Handing road books for the third day, maps with different location of checkpoints, the allocation of water for the day.

Participants will have a briefing on the morning after breakfast.

Participants will have packed lunches to be served in a mandatory checkpoint.

Participants will be assisted by 4×4 cars of assistance and ambulance with medical staff during the race.

At the end of this day participants will arrive to the final check point – A nomad camp – by the dunes of ERG LIHOUDI

A high level camp will be settled for the group as following:

At the entrance of the camp:

Company banner

Welcome by folkloric troops

Traditional welcome to include: Milk, mint tea, almonds and dates.

Guest checks into their tents.

“In the middle of the dunes, the camp site in exclusive use for the group…”

Camp arrangement

Area:                   Dunes of Erg Lihoudi

Carpeting:           entire camp to be covered with berber carpets

Sleeping tents:     Berber tents for 02 persons / tent

Set up:                 with mattress, pillows, sheets, blankets all tents to be numbered

Showers:             separate showers and toilets

Sanitary               toilet paper, soap, towels, hot and cold water

Cleaning:             ladies available for checking and cleaning throughout the stay

Restaurant tent: one large tent

Tables:                tables of 08 persons each

Chairs:                low Berber chairs

Table cloths:        Moroccan napes

Waiters:               in blue Gandoura

Upgraded arrangement to include:

Huge camp fire in the heart of the camp

Lighting in the camp by lanterns

Lighting of the dunes by torches

Time at leisure for settling and relaxation

19h00 Open-bar with cocktail snakes

Duration:  starting from 30 minutes

20h00 Group meets for dinner in the Restaurant Tent.

Menu:  Moroccan menu

Harira (Moroccan soup) with dates Half roasted lamb (½ Mechoui)

Couscous with chicken and vegetables

Fruit basket

Moroccan pastries

Drinks:

½ Moroccan wines

½ mineral water

Tea or coffee

Entertainment during the flow of the evening

Two ladies for henna painting. Natural Tattoo

Traditional bread making

Blue men with camels for promenade in the dunes

Show to be organized as follows

During dinner: the sound’s of the Gnaouas, Morocco’s famous musicians from the south whose ancestral instruments and rhythms will transport you back centuries.

At the end of the dinner,  folkloric troops  coming from different regions of Morocco

Play and invite people to dance.

Overnight under deluxe tents

The tents

Are all 4 seasons and do well in any climates from high rainfall tropical climates to dry desert environments, offering a unique alternative of nomad basic styles, 5 stars elegance and the romance of living under tents.

You will find in each tent the following: Twin beds, luggage rack, bins, bedside tables, Linen 100° cotton, bathrobes and sleepers, welcome gifts (soap, cream, and shampoo and shower gel all from natural base of Argan)

DAY 5: Back to Marrakech, city of contrast…
08h00 Breakfast at the camp

09h00 Departure to Marrakech via Tiz’n Tichka Cole on 4WD cars

12h30 Arrival to Ouarzazate for lunch in front of the Kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou and a short visit of the Kasbah

After lunch continuing to Marrakech

Marrakech – Pearl of the south
Marrakech is not only a fantastic city, it is also a symbol of the Morocco that once was, and which still survives here. The streets of the old and pink city have been too narrow to allow the introduction of cars and tourists searching for the “real” Morocco have turned the medieval structures of Marrakech into good business. The hordes of tourists that come here all through the year have still not managed to change its character. Actually their high number contributes in a positive way to preserve one of the greatest monuments of the Morocco that once was.

And the people of Marrakech love their city even more, and Moroccans all Over the country would not let down an opportunity of visiting it. The most worthwhile tourist traps are collected inside a rather small zone, starting in the north with the souks, continuing through the town square of Jemâa l-Fna with its crowd of storytellers, musicians and the Koutoubia mosque which is visible from practically anywhere in Marrakech.

Arrival at the selected hotel

Welcome drink with Moroccan pastries in a reception area

During the welcome drink, delivery of the keys to the guests.

Luggage’s to be dispatched by the hotel porters to the rooms.

Settling in the rooms

Diner and overnight at the hotel

DAY 6: SERENITY ESCAPADE…
This day is dedicated to the relaxation

After tree days of Marathon and in order too bring our participants to the animated way of life of the red city, we propose a free morning by the pool of the hotel.

Lunch at one of the hotels restaurants

The afternoon can be animated by a serenity escapade

Option 1: Les Bains de Marrakech
www.lesbainsdemarrakech.com

Les Bains de Marrakech (Marrakech baths & spa) are located in the old town of Marrakech (medina). Pamper yourself in the intimate, relaxing surroundings of this elegantly decorated spa, housed in a lovely riad next to the 12th-century city walls at the gates of the Medina, in the southern Kasbah quarter.

Optional Massage & Hammam session can be arranged at the great Les Bains de Marrakech

You have just to bring your swimming suits; all the rest is provided on site (Towels, dressing gowns, slippers, shower Gel and shampoo).

Option 2 : Les Jardins de la Koutoubia
Les “Jardins de la Koutoubia” is in the heart of the medina with its thousand and one perfumes and colours of Marrakech, right next to the legendary Jemâa El Fna square.

Les “Jardins de la Koutoubia” has chosen for its SPA to work with Clarins.

The SPA enjoys an elegant atmosphere and offers 7 treatment and massage rooms, 1 spa bath therapy, 05 individuals hammam, 01 indoor swimming pool and at the end 01 relaxation room with hot herbal drinks

Free time before diner

20h00 Transfer for Dinner in a trendy restaurant with belly dancers – JAD MAHAL

The Jad Mahal is a trendy and modern restaurant. It’s a fine fusion between the Western and North African decor and cuisine.

During diner you will enjoy traditional Moroccan entertainment with choreography of belly dancers and after diner possibility to extend the evening with DJ on site and a live band also.

Back to the hotel by coach

Overnight at the hotel

DAY 7:  MARRAKECH IMPERIAL CITY
The visit to the city begins outside the majestic Koutoubia mosque, followed by a visit to Bahia Palace and the Ben Youssef Medersa.

Koutoubia mosque: First built in 1147, but demolished since it was not correctly aligned with Mecca, the “mosque of the booksellers”, was finished in its present shape in 1199. It has ever since been the landmark of Marrakech, rising up from the low houses and markets around.

Its style is Almohad’s, but has a good deal of simple Andalusian elements added to it. The minaret rises 77 metres above the ground, while the mosque is sizeable by itself. While it has a strict appearance in red stone today, it is believed that it originally was covered with plaster.

There have been plans of renovating the Koutoubia into this style.

Bahia Palace: As the black slave Abu Ahmed raised to power and wealth towards the end of the 19th century, he had the Bahia palace built by bringing in craftsmen from Fez

The structures tell a lot about the taste of the nouveau-riche of its time, and can appear vulgar to modern tastes

It was intended to become the greatest palace of its time, but it is really dominated by hasty planning as well as uninspired detail work

This doesn’t make the palace less worth visiting; it is a monument of its time, and served even as the residence of the French resident general, Lyautey.

Ben Youssef Medersa was one of the biggest theological colleges in North Africa and may have accommodated around 900 students. One of its most well known teachers was Mohammed al-Ifrani (1670-1745).

Its 130 student dormitory cells come together around a patio abundantly engraved in cedar, marble and stucco. The carvings contain no illustration of humans or animals as mandatory by Islam, and consist completely of words and geometric patterns.

12h30 lunch at the restaurant AL BARAKA

La Baraka is an old and authentic Ryad, situated in the heart of the most famous Djama El Fna square, designed to follow the tradition and knowledge of the Moroccan art.  The Baraka is well reputed for the excellent quality of traditional Moroccan menus.

After lunch discovering:
The magic of Marrakech souks

The Souks of Marrakech is a labyrinth where you soon lose directions.

Souk Chouari: Specializing in weavings and basket works as well as wood sculpting.

Souk of jeweler’s: Large selection of jewelry and gold.

Souk el Attarine: Perfumes and oils.

Souk of Blacksmiths: Where the metal is worked by craftsmen following age-old traditions.

Souk Haddadine: Ironworks of all shapes sizes and functions!

Souk Cherratine: This bazaar specializes in leather goods, though their style is not as traditional as it once was as they produce according to tourist’s tastes.

Souk Smata: Babouches are the pointed slippers you see on many Moroccans, and here you will find the largest collection you could ever imagine.

Souk as-Smmarine: this souk has a large selection of fabrics; you can also find a number of souvenirs.

Souk Laghzal: Home of the wool merchants.

Souk Rahba Qdima: Also known as the Auction Crier souk, because of its proximity to the ancient slave market.  This souk’s specialty is sheepskins, tapestries, carpets and rugs.

Souk of Tanners: Tanneries in Marrakech have remained unchanged for hundreds o years. Craftsmen are still using saffron to obtain rich yellows, poppies for deep reds, antimony for black and indigo for brilliant blue coloring and stretch the skins to dry in the sun; this is one visit to the past that one should not miss.

Free time before diner

20h00 transfer to the Restaurant by bus

Diner at Narwama

Narwama is an undeniably trendy restaurant, offering a mix of world lounge music in a former UNESCO World Heritage building with a huge central courtyard. This warm and inviting restaurant’s name translates to “fire and water” in Arabic, and it serves sumptuous Thai, Moroccan, and Mediterranean dishes. The extensive menu includes nearly 100 dishes.

Overnight at the hotel

DAY 8: BERBER EXCURSION
Departure for 4X4 BERBER COUNTRY EXCURSION

Far from the agitations of the cities, in the heart of the Atlas get ready for an exciting adventure.

You will discover the beauty of the Mountains and the lac Lalla Takerkoust.

The High Atlas Mountains:
The High Atlas chain is the highest mountain range in North Africa (Mount Toubkal reaches 4265 meters above sea level) and it provides an inexhaustible supply of water for a large number of the country’s reservoirs. It is a spine made up of a series of forbidding mountains, making access difficult, although there are passes (at altitudes of above 2000m) along three axes.

Mountain Valley:
Behind each pass in the High Atlas, we find a very deep valley green terraces and trees. In every little field we grow different things: cereals (barley, wet, and corn), potatoes and alfalfa for animals.

The walnut trees are very big because they are old in the valley of the Atlas, but apple trees, pears trees and cerise are small because they are new tree introduced some 20 years ago in the high valleys.

Berber villages:
In each valley of the high Atlas, we find many villages till 2500 m of elevation. They are in general built by stones or by earth mix with water. They have the same color as the mountain because we use the same materials we find on the same place for building. Roofs are flat because we build them by wood and earth, also the earth on the roof can be washed after rain or snow, so that we take off the rain water and snow from the roof. We also use the roof to dry some harvest like corn and walnut.

02 Stopping stages will cover the itinerary “in the middle of no where”. Each stage will be the opportunity to discover beautiful locations

1st point: Falcon show

The Peregrine falcon of Morocco owes his great nobility with certain characteristics and common distinctions not very common in the world birds of prey, since it remains the only one to have a rather astonishing behavior towards his parents when they age, by taking care itself of their nutrition.

Faithful to its maitre, it lends itself easily to raising, and when progress is made, it shares the joy of its master. It hates lowness, cowardice and treason and when it is in position of weakness, it prefers to give itself death, while precipitating on the ground after a flight in suicidal straight fall down.

2nd point: A school with Moroccan Children from berbere villages around

For this one, we have already contacted the authorities in order to have a special authorization.

The group will be having the opportunity to enter inside of the school, discuss with the Childs but as well the Director of the school.

They can bring with them some gifts to the Childs, so for example pens or furniture …

13h00 : Lunch at. « La Villa du Lac »

La Villa du Lac opens in a setting overlooking the lake and the High Atlas Takerkoust a few miles from Marrakech. The rooms are decorated and furnished in the spirit of the country and swimming pool offer breathtaking views of the lake and mountains. In this place combines scenery and friendly, many activities are available: horse riding, Jet Ski, ATV, buggies…

Optional activities:
Quad biking or buggies riding

Return back to Marrakech by asphalted road

Free time before diner

20h00 Transfer for the restaurant by bus

Diner at Souleimane Palace

Moroccan way by professional women cookers that the owner provides on request

This place is usually chosen to be the highlight of the program as it reveals some king of magic.

Once the door opens, you’ll discover one of the most beautiful jewels of the Moroccan architecture.

This Riad is divided in 2 main big rooms richly decorated. The first room has a very high ceiling with superb walls all engraved with mosaics. This room is used for the welcome drink or the open bar.

The second room which is separated from the 1st one by a door is where dinner will be served. This room is a patio (courtyard) with in the middle a fountain and all around beautiful sculptured columns. The main advantage of this charming place is that this patio has an open roof. Guests will be served diner under the stars. Near by each column big candlesticks will be lighted. Very deluxe and romantic place.

Entertainment:
Duo of Andalusian musicians and a Gnawa Duo

Overnight at the hotel

DAY 9: Departure day…

Buffet breakfast at the hotel

(The wake-up will be arranged according to the schedule flight)

Check-out at the hotel:
Extras to be settled individually by guests

Luggage’s to be identified by the guests before transfer.

Transfer of the guests by coach to the airport.

Assistance by “SMS Frankfurt staff”

Hotel Selection

Marrakech
Les Jardins de la Koutoubia
http://www.lesjardinsdelakoutoubia.com/

Le Meridien N’FIS
http://www.starwoodhotels.com/lemeridien/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=1817

Sofitel Marrakech Lounge and Spa
http://www.accorhotels.com/fr/hotel-3569-sofitel-marrakech-lounge-and-spa/index.shtml

Hotel Selection Mhamidd
Dar Azawad (or similar)
www.darazawad.com
Individual Adventure Tours and Incentives in Morocco by
www.Incentives-Worldwide.com

 

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