Trips and Treks Difficulty Grading Explained

The proposed outdoor activities on our website are accessible to all without exception, from those who enjoy a gentle stroll to keen long-distance explorers. However to help you choose the trip that is best suited to your physical level of fitness we have developed trip grading system to help you match your level of fitness and aspirations with a trip that will complement both and have given them a rating as explained below. Never overestimate your physical capabilities and choose a trip that you will be able to do without forcing yourself.

All our trips are graded to indicate the appropriate level of fitness and expertise needed to participate according to a number of factors such as distance covered each day, level of fitness required, daily altitudes, ease and difficulty of terrain, remoteness, level of special skills like climbing experience, walking conditions, weather and other factors.

We have classified our activities into five progressive levels, from easy to demanding and the following descriptions below are meant to serve as a rough guide only. Study the itinerary in detail to see the duration and if you are uncertain which trek is best for you, do not hesitate to drop us an email to tell us what you are looking for and we can help you with a trip selection.

Our Grading System Explained

Please remember that it is absolutely impossible to precise about how hard a trek may be, as there may be many contributory factors. However we do we are unable to use a definitive grading system that answers everybody’s questions regarding how technical and physically demanding our trips are. The main benefit of grading is to provide you with an overall indicator to give you a graded overview of what each trip entails technically and physically. Below conditions that may affect grading:

  • Length of trek and length of daily walking time
  • Average altitude and accumulate altitude gain and loss
  • Trail conditions and nature of the terrain
  • Temperature range and likely weather conditions
  • Remoteness to services and general level of comfort

Easy and Gentle

This kind of activity is suitable for all levels of fitness and age groups. These treks offer an easy and a relaxed walking pace with ample time for sightseeing to appreciate attractions along the route. Generally experience is not necessary at this level and anyone who is in good health and fit enough can undertake a trek at this level. Walking are on low level paths which are often flat and well maintained, the perfect choice for those with little or no previous experience of walking holidays. These kinds of trips are accessible to all without exception, not forgetting that little preparation is required and always advisable.

Daily walking time : 3 to 5 hours

Daily distance : 5 to 8 miles

Daily Elevation gain : 980 ft to 1650 ft

Daily Elevation loss : 980 ft to 1650 ft

Nature of terrain : generally flat walking paths

Moderate

These trips offer a medium pace and most people who enjoy a weekend in the hills or mountains are capable of undertaking a trek at this level. These treks are ideal for those who are looking for shorter days on good paths at a low altitude. The terrain is generally without steep climbs or vertiginous mountains and the walks do not present any difficulties for anyone in reasonable condition and accustomed to walking in hilly areas. A little physical preparation during the two months before your departure is always necessary for those who have no activity during the year.

Daily walking time : stages of 4 to 6 hours

Daily distance : 6 to 9 miles

Daily Elevation gain : gradual altitude up to 2300 ft

Daily Elevation loss : 1500 ft to 2300 ft

Nature of terrain : generally uphill and downhill trails

Moderate to Strenuous

Treks require a good level of fitness and should only be undertaken by those with some previous mountain walking experience. The hiking trails will be varied and you should expect to have some rough long ascents and descents and footpaths may sometimes be narrow and steep. On these treks, you often will be quite high in altitude and you will be more isolated from major roads and towns. The terrain will be in rugged, hilly and mountainous areas. A physical training during the three months preceding the departure for the trip is enough to make such treks.

Daily walking time : stages of 5 to 7 hours

Daily distance : 7 to 12 miles

Daily Elevation gain : gradual altitude up to 4000 ft

Daily Elevation loss : 2900 ft to 3600 ft

Nature of terrain : rarely rough and rugged footpaths

Challenging

On these challenging activities you must be extremely physically fit and have a previous experience of trekking, preferably at high altitude. For any trek at this level, fitness is most important and you should have complete confidence in your physical condition and your ability to trek for many days with difficult underfoot terrain such as scree, very long ascent and descents or difficult passes on steep mountainsides. Extremes of altitude and weather may also be encountered. This kind of treks are designed for experienced walkers looking for a challenge, and stamina is very important as trekking days are very long and due to the remoteness, amenities and facilities will be less and you will be further away from main roads, villages and towns.

Daily walking time : stages of 6 to 10 hours

Daily distance : 8 to 15 miles

Daily Elevation gain : sharp altitude up to 7900 ft

Daily Elevation loss : 5000 ft to 6500 ft

Nature of terrain : mostly rough, rocky and rugged trails

Demanding

These active treks require you to have a previous experience and should be in excellent health and top physical condition considerable degree of determination. This kind of treks require significant experience of the activity, and the trekking days include daily elevation gain and loss ranging from 1000 to 2000 meters following stages. These trips take place in rugged terrains, up and down mountain trails that are steep and rocky. This kind of activity is designed for people with technical experienced skills and a high degree of determination. In this grade some special equipment such as ice axe and crampons will be necessary and if so, we require you to have experience of them.

Daily walking time : stages of 6 to 12 hours

Daily distance : 10 to 15 miles

Daily Elevation gain : sharp altitude up to 7900 ft

Daily Elevation loss : 5000 ft to 8000 ft

Nature of terrain : mainly rugged, steep and rocky

Training and Preparation for your trek

Please remember that it is absolutely impossible to precise about how hard a walk may be, as there may be many contributory factors. Whatever the level of trip or activity you have selected either easy or difficult, it is always recommended and advisable to do a little physical preparation before leaving for your adventure. It is a well known fact that a prepared and trained adventurer will get a better level of enjoyment due to their mental preparation and improved physical fitness. If you can, it is best to start your training at least two months before your trip, if at all possible. Make sure you include ups and downs if you are preparing for a mountain trek.

Staffing and Support

All our trekking and walking trips are fully staffed and supported by native Berbers. Whilst trekking, you will have the assistance of a group of which include experienced tour guides, cooks, kitchen helpers and muleteers. Our teams are trained in mountain and wilderness safety and first aid, and are full time professionals working in the High Atlas Mountains. The quality of your leader can have a significant impact on your holiday, both in terms of success of your trek and enjoyment. We therefore have extremely high standards with leaders who have many years of experience, a broad knowledge of the culture and mountains and who are also keen and knowledgeable naturalists.

Our guides are there to support you and ensure that everyone can walk at their own pace and still have the safety of being near to a member of staff. The muleteers and their mules will carry your kit bags, so all you need to take is a day sack with essentials. The team are all specially selected and receive professional training.

Acclimatisation and Altitude or Mountain Sickness

Our High Atlas treks are designed and well planned to ensure there is plenty of time for adequate acclimatisation and cases of mountain sickness are very rare. Altitude sickness is not related to your level of fitness it occurs as a result of failure to adapt to high altitudes usually over 2000 metres and can affect anyone, including those in previously excellent health. The main cause of altitude sickness is going too high too quickly and the common symptoms are headaches, nausea, irregular breathing, insomnia and the swelling of fingers and glands. Treatment is to descend to a lower altitude as quickly as possible which normally results in rapid improvement and recovery.

At Atlas Sahara Aventure, we understand that proper acclimatisation is vital and very important. To make sure that you return from trekking in the Atlas Mountains with a lot of happy and unforgettable memories, our routes are planned specifically to allow a gradual gain in altitude with many of our treks having extra days to allow plenty of time for acclimatisation. By slowly gaining height we reap the benefits of a gradual gain in fitness and acclimatization.

Health and Fitness

The High Atlas Mountains offer some of the best trekking and sightseeing holidays in the world, with stunning scenery and magnificent mountain ranges, hidden valleys, typical Berber villages and roaring rivers. Outside the towns the rural Morocco unfolds an ever varying and dramatic landscape of rare beauty and fascination with rich and ancient cultures that enable you to be in contact with local villagers and build relationships with ever-friendly people of another culture and tradition. The trail into the deep parts of the country follows ancient foot trails and mule tracks, which meander through scenic riverbanks, beautiful terraced fields, lush valleys and high passes connecting picturesque hamlets and mountain Berber settlements.

You do not need to be an athlete to undertake either of our trekking and tour itineraries you simply require a good level of fitness, gained from regular exercise and a sense of adventure. Greater fitness will allow you to adjust with ease, leaving you to enjoy yourself and your surroundings. We suggest you begin a fitness program at least three months prior to departure for your trek. Take part in regular activities such as cycling, swimming, jogging, tennis, walking and bush walking.