Upper School geographers are visiting the Kingdom of Morocco. Designed to showcase the wide variety of physical and human geography there the trip will see them arrive in Tangier, the gateway to Africa, before travelling to Marrakech, gateway to the Atlas Mountains. From there they will head off on a short road trip into the Atlas via Imlil and Taroudant before arriving at the coastal city of Essaouira. On the way they will experience different climates as well as sampling the traditional culture and hospitality of the Berber people.
Updates from the trip leaders are posted below:
Sadly, today was our final full day, and we spent it in style - we started with a camel ride along he beach, then went for tour around Essaouira, and saw the port and the ramparts. It has been a fantastic trip and we should extend our thanks and best wishes to Lhoucine, our fabulous guide.
Today, we left the hotel in Immouzer early to walk to the local waterfall. Named “Cascades”, we were initially surprised at the lack of water that the falls produced; indeed, it was little more than a trickle. However, the students quickly realised that the beautiful structures that had been produced by centuries of water were, in actual fact, deposits from slow-moving water that had percolated through the local limestone.
Photos taken, and Geographical investigations complete, we boarded the buses and headed towards Essaouira - a beach resort on the Atlantic Coast.
En route, we were lucky enough to see some of the famous goats that climb the Argan trees to get to the tastiest leaves. We realised later how important Argan is to the local economy, when we visited a Women’s Association where the oil is produced. These associations are essential in supporting Moroccan women who are widowed, divorced or disadvantaged in other ways, as many of them have no secondary education to fall back on, and there is no system of social security. The women we met were charming, funny, resourceful and entertained us with a song as we left.
We arrived at Essaouira in the early evening, had a walk on the beach, spent some free time shopping for souvenirs, and retired to our hotel for another swim and evening meal.
Day 4 & 5
Yesterday, we crossed the High Atlas Mountains. The steep mountain roads were “interesting” at times as we witnessed the power of geography in action - recent heavy rainfall had combined with loose sandstones, and sections of road required significant and urgent repair. We were very glad that our Amazigh drivers and guide knew the mountains so well. As we reached the top of the Tizin’ Test Pass at 2080m, we were amazed to find that despite clear skies on the climb up, we were above the clouds on the other side. After a picnic lunch and an elongated photo opportunity, we began our descent through the dense cloud, before emerging into the fertile Souss Valley. The group was certainly ready to make the most of the beautiful swimming pool when we arrived at our hotel - a traditional Riad. We finished the day with a lovely meal in a candlelit tent.
We awoke early and left the hotel for a very important date with “Tesco”, “Daniel”, “Bert”, “Ernie”, “Chelsea” and “Dennis” - some of the names that the pupils gave to the donkeys that they rode on our exploration of Tiout Kasbah. This village is one of a group of seven settlements that are clustered around an oasis at the foothills of the Anti Atlas Mountains. These amazing animals are owned by the people of the village, who provide them as part of the Village Association’s move towards sustainable tourism. Lunch was at the house of Jaafar, a larger than life host who was very keen to practice his English, and made us welcome by offering us a fabulous meal of fresh salad and traditionally prepared cous cous and goat. By the early evening, we had arrived at our hotel in Immouzer for another (very cold) swim and hearty meal.
Day 1, 2 and 3
On our first evening, we went to the Kasbah in Tangiers for our first experience of Moroccan culture and food. The students enjoyed their first tagine and we took a guided tour around the narrow streets and alleyways of this famous city, only 10 miles from the Southern coast of Spain.
Day 2 saw us in the Souks of Marrakech, exploring all the vibrant and diverse offerings of the thousands of stalls and shops that have made the city so famous. We then had a delicious evening meal at a rooftop restaurant where the students got involved in making bread on the fire.
From Marrakech, we took buses to the stunning Atlas Mountains where we saw the wonders of Physical Geography played out in the mountains and the skies. Our tour guide took us on a hike up to a traditional Berber village where we were guests of a local family, and the students were able to participate in the traditional ceremony in which mint tea was made and served. We hiked back to our base and visited a women’s association where we learned about the ways in which local women are trying to educate themselves and provide for their families. Today has not only provided valuable opportunities to think about people in the context of the theories of human geography, but perhaps more importantly, it has reminded us how lucky we are to have access to education.