Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains
A geography trip to Morocco combines the exotic souks of Marrakech with the spectacular snow-capped peaks of the High Atlas. Students will visit traditional Berber villages, learn about local methods of agriculture and irrigation, and discover the charms of Essaouira’s historic fishing port.
School Geography Trip To Morocco
Less than four hours by air from the UK, Morocco provides an incredibly exotic and diverse destination for a school geography tour, blending snow-capped mountains with arid deserts. The labyrinthine souk of Marrakech is an Aladdin’s Cave of wonder where the sights, sounds and smells with enthral your students. In the mountains, the Berber villagers of the High Atlas live a largely subsistence way of life growing crops on the terraced hillsides and grazing livestock in the high pastures. On the Atlantic Coast we explore the town of Essaouira where fishing and tourism are the mainstays of the economy.
The itinerary featured here is intended to give you inspiration and an idea of what you could do on your tour. Your trip will be created individually by one of our travel advisors to match your requirements and budget.
Flight to Marrakech. Explore the Medina and the Souk
Flight to Marrakech. On arrival you will be met by your guide and transfer to your central hotel. After lunch you explore the Medina and see the Koutoubia Mosque which dates from the 12th century. You then walk over to the main square of Marrakech, the Djemma al Fna. This huge square (often just called the main square) is a vibrant mix of food stalls, musicians, jugglers, snake charmers and other performers, all vying for your custom. Beyond the Djemma you can find the Souk, a cavernous and rambling maze of narrow alleyways with shop keepers and stalls selling every manner of products imaginable. You need your bargaining skills to be at their sharpest here! You also visit a traditional apothecary where, among other things, you can discover frankincense and myrrh.
Dinner: This evening you sample the Moroccan national dish of Tagine which is slow-cooked in heavy earthenware pots. Overnight at your hotel in Marrakech
Full day in the Atlas Mountains
Atlas Mountains: Today you drive north from Marrakech to the village of Imlil. This is a tourist centre and the starting point for treks and climbs into the High Atlas Mountains. The people here are Berbers and live a simple life where agriculture plays a large part. On arrival you have lunch at a traditional Berber guest house.
Berber Village: This afternoon you explore the village of Tachdirt and will see how the local Berber communities live. You will see children herding flocks of goats, people working in the fields, and the innovative irrigation system which keeps the crops watered in this generally arid landscape. Villages in the area live a life of partially subsistence agriculture growing cereal crops and tending goats and where cows live in barns underneath people’s houses.
Return to Marrakech: In the afternoon you retrace your route back to Marrakech. You pass the exclusive hotel which is owned by Richard Branson, and stop at an argan oil cooperative where you can see local women grinding argan nuts to make the prized oil which is used in both cooking and cosmetics.
Full day in Essaouira
Essaouira: This morning you depart from Marrakech and travel west to the town of Essaouira. You stop for lunch along the way before reaching Essaouira itself which is a historic town on the Atlantic coast with a long, windy beach much favoured by kite surfers. There is a harbour of small fishing boats, and fortifications dating back to the time when the Portuguese occupied the city, and when it was known as Mogador. There is also a bustling souk and a delightful square with cafes and excellent fish restaurants. You will be able to explore the historic ramparts with their ancient Portuguese cannons, and also watch the fishermen unload their catch in the harbour. The evening in Essaouira is a fascinating time when local people come out to the markets to shop and we will eat at a city centre restaurant. The evening can be rounded off with an ice cream at one of the delightful cafes on the main square.
Return to Marrakech. Majorelle Gardens and Djemma al Fna
Majorelle Gardens: You have time in Essaouira this morning which allows the opportunity to see the fish market when it is bustling with activity. You then depart by road to Marrakech with a lunch stop along the way. Before arriving at your hotel, you visit the Majorelle Gardens which were once owned by the French fashion mogul Yves St. Laurent.
Djemma al Fna: This evening in Marrakech you have dinner at your hotel after which you can visit the lively Djemma al Fna where musicians, acrobats, snake charmers and other entertainers all compete against a cacophony of noise. There are numerous food stalls who all vie for your business and interest in the same manner of market traders the world over.
Traditional Village. Flight Home
Traditional Village: You spend a day amongst the villagers of Douar Oulad Elguern. This is a traditional and welcoming village where students can participate in some of the everyday village activities. These include food preparation including bread making, couscous making and vegetable preparation alongside some of the ladies of the village. There are also other tasks including fetching water from the village well, making traditional mud & straw bricks and making charcoal. These various hands-on activities show students the challenges and hardships of life without the everyday home comforts that we take for granted.
Flight Home: You return to Marrakech in the late afternoon for your flight home.
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