What we present here is our rough summer itinerary overview. The specific dates may very by a few days here and there depending on travel needs, but overall this will be the flow of our course. At Dragons, we intentionally keep our itineraries flexible so that we can take advantage of unexpected opportunities and best craft the trip to your unique interests. Moreover, as you will soon learn, travel in Morocco is not an exact science and we’ll all soon become Morocco travel experts and be able to adjust into the flexible schedules of Moroccan life.
Nota bene: We tried to get Sir David Attenborough to narrate our itinerary, but alas, we actually have a budget. So, without further ado, the Morocco Instructor Team presents: The Tentative Itinerary for Summer 2018!
June 28: Washington D.C. to Casablanca
Meet Elke, Foster, and your teammates at the Dulles International Airport*. Fly to Morocco!
*Note: Administration will provide more details about meeting instructors at the airport.
June 29 – July 1: Marhaba (Welcome) to Morocco
Upon arrival we meet-up with our third instructor, Ismail. We travel by train and grand taxi to Moulay Idriss, a small town in northern Morocco. After a good night’s rest, we wake to begin the first phase of our journey: orientation! Get to know your team as we learn about topics such as Moroccan cultural norms, country survival skills, mindfulness techniques, an introduction to Islam, and language study. If we stay focused, a mini-excursion to the Roman ruins of Volubilis might be in the cards.
July 2-3: Fez
After orientation, we are off to the imperial city of Fez! The medina (old city) of Fez is the largest car-free urban area in the world and houses the oldest operating educational institution on the planet (Al-Qarawiyyan University). We explore the narrow alleyways of the medina, visit centuries-old tanneries, walk among crumbling ruins, discover a local sect of Islam, and hopefully speak with a Moroccan professor.
July 4-8: Imouzzer Kandar
Next up: homestays! Learn local habits and customs over the next several days while living with a host family (one student to each family). As a group we come together on a regular basis for language study. We learn the Arabic alphabet, greetings, introductions, shopping and transportation phrases, as well as useful expressions to help navigate daily routines. We also explore local markets, hike through cedar forests, and partake in discussions with community members.
July 9: Er-Rich
After saying goodbye to our Moroccan families, we head south into the High Atlas Mountains to arrive in the market town of Er-Rich where we stay one night before heading deep into the mountains. Amazigh (indigenous or “Berber”) culture is introduced, and if we’re doing our job right, your local knowledge should rise with the altitude!
July 10: Imilchil
We now arrive in the extremely rural mountain village of Imilchil, home of the traditional Ait Hadidu tribe. Explore this unique village in the Eastern High Atlas Mountains, we meet our trekking guides, and prepare for our trek while staying with a local family.
July 11-13: High Atlas Mountains
Spend 4 days traversing the largest chain of mountains in North Africa as you follow an ancient trade route. As we trek we encounter some of the most remote villages in Morocco and experience the raw beauty of sandstone plateaus and gorges. Keep an eye out for nomadic tribes that move throughout the area.
July 14: Tinghir
We finish our trek with a short ride down the mountains to the oasis town of Tinghir. Here we rest, complete midcourse evaluations, and visit a local hammam (bath house) to freshen up for our arrival in Ismail’s hometown of Goulmima.
July 15-17: Goulmima
Enjoy a 3-day group homestay in a small town on the “road of a thousand kasbahs.” Experience traditional Amazigh life, work on Independent Study Projects (ISPs), explore Islam in daily life, and volunteer with a local development association.
July 18: Ouarzazate
The Hollywood of Africa, the city of Ouarzazate, welcomes us with open arms for one night as the instructors present the students with increased leadership challenges. Starting the next day, the students will work together to demonstrate their skills gained throughout the course and facilitate our next experience, organizing everything from logistics to lessons.
July 19-21: Expedition Phase
In this phase, you, the student, take ownership over the structure and content of our days. What are we going to eat? Where are we going to sleep? What are we going to do? Maybe we’ll find ourselves climbing to the top of sand dunes or possibly getting lost in a local kasbah. You are presented with options, a budget, and specific tasks to accomplish. The success of this phase lies with you and your fellow students!
July 22-23: Marrakesh
We cross the High Atlas peaks to reach Marrakesh, also known as the “Red City” for the ochre colored walls of the medina. Here we discover what urban life in the south of Morocco is like by stopping by apothecary shops for tea and spices, talking with local musicians, and soaking up the sound of drums in the heart of Jamaa al-Fna (the main square in the old city). Bring your bargaining skills because this is the place to explore a plethora of traditional Moroccan handicrafts!
July 24-26: Sidi Kaouki
For our Transference Phase we arrive at the Atlantic coast to unwind amid the crystal blue waters of the Essaouira region. In the very small town of Sidi Kaouki, we present ISPs and reflect together about how our experience is transferable and important to our lives back home.
July 27: Casablanca
For the finale, we make a short visit to Dar Beida (Casablanca), the largest city in Morocco. We spend one afternoon exploring this iconic city and try to visit the Hassan II Mosque, the third largest mosque in the world.
July 28: B’slama (Goodbye) Morocco
It’s goodbye for now as we rise early for our flight back to where it all began in Washington, D.C.
After you’ve read through our itinerary, explore our destinations a bit more with this interactive Google map and some photos from Foster and Ismail.
Ma’a Salama (with peace),
The Morocco I-Team