This tour combines many aspects of both physical and human geography topics. Fold mountains, tectonics, river processes/forms and arid landscapes are all encountered. Additionally, a developing world city is experienced along with traditional Berber life in the High Atlas and traditional Bedouin life in the Sahara. Many development topics and issues are readily identified and offer meaningful, real life, live, relevant case-study examples e.g. river basin management, rural development.
NOTE: Although this tour is best covered in 6 days, it can be completed in 5 days, depending on flight times, (a 5 day tour version needs a morning arrival flight on Day 1 and an evening departure flight on Day 5). .
ITINERARY: ARRIVAL INTO MARRAKECH: AIRPORT TRANSFER TO HOTEL: MEDINA VISIT.
Arrival day into Marrakech Menara Airport transfer to hotel; depending on flight times, walk to the Old Medina.
Time in Marrakech at the start of your tour instantly opens everyones’ senses to another world! This city bustles and fascinates in equal measure as your time in the Old Medina will readily illustrate.
Take in Koutoubia Mosque, Jemaa el Fna, the Souks and an Apothecary visit.
Another option is the Majorelle Gardens (once owned by Yves St Lauren) is about 30 minutes walking from the Medina and offers a most tranquil, a lush oasis after time in the Medina.
Overnight in Marrakech. .
ITINERARY: MARRAKECH > MARRAKECH PLAIN > HIGH ATLAS > TIZI-N-TICHKA PASS > OUARZAZATE
This journey takes your group across the Marrakech Plain and then up and over the High Atlas. The highest peak in this impressive mountain range can often be seen, Mount Toubkal (4,167m). The Berbers (the Mountain People) live here; to see their villages and to observe their everyday farmland and village activities is fascinating. Water is a precious resource and its traditional management to lead it to the terraced fields is fascinating. The Berbers’ traditional mud brick homes are seen plus the rapid, recent change to concrete construction.
Taddert is en route, an ideal stop for refreshment, perhaps some mint tea and lunch. An Argan Oil Co-operative can be visited here (an example of rural development to help ladies gain income).
The N9 road continues to snake upwards to the Tizi-n-Tichka Pass (2,260m), the watershed of the High Atlas. From near to here great panoramic views can be seen, over the mountain range and the road recently travelled.
Descending the south facing slopes of the High Atlas there is much to still fascinate in the local Berber activities seen. A stop is made overlooking Zaouite Inkkal village; the many positive geographical factors influencing the site selection for this village can be discussed, and also its negative factors.
Ouarzazate, the “Peaceful City” for overnight. .
ITINERARY: JBEL SARHRO > TIZI-N-TINIFIFFT PASS > DRÄA VALLEY > ZAGORA > SAHARA > CAMEL RIDE TO BEDOUIN CAMP
Having crossed the High Atlas yesterday, today it is up and over the Jbel Sarhro mountains. Climbing out of Ouarzazate, the road snakes as you ascend towards the Tizi-n-Tiniffifft Pass (1,660m). At the Pass an awesome overlook allows you to view deep water cut canyons, reminiscent of Arizona. The river here has deeply incised the valley in the past and during flash floods of today, developing a polished rock channel floor; fascinating. It is a mini Grand Canyon! Look out too for the “eye” and the “heart”, weathered rocky outcrops as you travel onwards from this area.
Passing through Agdz, a busy service centre, your route enters the valley of the Draa River. The water from this river allows intensive farming on the fertile soils of the valley. Date palmeries abound here, a rich and valuable crop. Date stalls are frequently seen too – stop, try, buy! Beneath the date palms, and shaded from the intense sun, small plots produce a wide range of vegetables and fruits.
Your journey continues to follow the Draa Valley southwards. The date palmeries are like a thick wide and very long “carpet” of greenery on the valley floor, especially when seen from above; a fine vantage point allows this to be appreciated.
Zagora is a grand, small city, the wealth from date cultivation is obvious in the wide central avenue and the quality of many of the buildings.
Your accommodation this evening is in a Bedouin tent. You are in the Sahara! Both reg (rocky) and erg (sandy) arid landscapes are seen. Your group takes a camel trek to your campsite, traveling amongst sand dunes and alongside the faces of high rock mountains.
There is the opportunity to enjoy a fine sunset amongst the dunes before your evening meal. After eating, often campfire entertainment is provided, music (drumming) and singing around a campfire, under the stars. For early risers, there is the opportunity to witness the sunrise, equally as impressive as a new day starts.
Overnight in the Sahara, near Zagora, in a Bedouin Camp.
ITINERARY: BEDOUIN CAMP > TAMEGROUTE > ZAGORA > DRÂA VALLEY > OUARZAZATE
Whilst this day returns northwards on the same routing as you took to Zagora, there is still ample opportunity to engage with new educational topics and different educational experiences along the way.
By now your pupils/students will be gaining a greater understanding and a fuller realization that they are in a sub-tropical environment and in a country that is at a very different level of development than the UK. This opens up the opportunity to discuss issues and to evaluate development options. Stops can be made at appropriate places along the way to engage your with your pupils/students in meaningful, relevant and important topics.
Additionally, if the opportunity arises, it may be possible to stop and to engage with a farmer working his land. Your Courier will see if this is possible. By asking questions of a local farmer, so much can be learned and appreciated – geography is truly coming alive!
The first planned stop of the day is Tamangroute. This Saharan town is famous for its "sub-terranean" homes, homes built very close together so as to provide shaded passageways between the homes to guard against the strong tropical sun.
The renowned Islamic Library of Tamangroute can be visited too. The Islamic Library, once an important centre of learning, contains many ancient texts, many on hide as well as on vellum e.g. a 15th century Egyptian book of illustrated astronomy, a book of medicine and a Quran written on gazelle-hide from the 11th century.
Tamangroute is also renowned for its unique pottery glaze, a rich green. A visit is made to the potters’ area to see the clay being prepared, turned with great talent (and you can “have a go” if you wish), glazed and finally kiln fired.
Your journey continues to follow the Draa Valley norththwards. Zagora is a grand, small city, and the wealth gained from date cultivation in this area is obvious in the wide central avenue and the quality of many of the buildings. The date palmeries of the Draa Valley are like a thick, wide and very long “carpet” of greenery on the valley floor. There are again many places where you can stop to try the many varieties of dates grown here; delicious and healthy.
Acacia forests are seen, “umbrella shaped” trees, specially adapted to the harsh environments. A stop can be taken to discuss this tree’s adaptions to its natural environment and their uses to the local people. Protected gazelle reserves too are passed (although sightings are not to expected – but you never know!).
Then it is onwards in the direction of Ouarzazate, up and over the Anti Atlas and the Tizi-n- Tififft Pass (1,660m) and towards your overnight accommodation.
Arrive Ouarzazate for overnight.
ITINERARY: OUARZAZATE > AÏT BENHADDOU KASBAH > HIGH ATLAS > MARRAKECH
In Ouarzazate there is the option (not yet included in tour cost) to take a stop at a Film Studio e.g. Atlas Studios or CLA Studios (on the western outskirts of the city). But then your journey begins to take you over the High Atlas.
Before the highest part of your High Atlas journey, about 45 minutes from Ouazazate, is Aït Benhaddou is a grand fortified settlement, now a World heritage Site and well worth a stop and a stroll.
Aït Benhaddou is the most famous Kasbah in Morocco. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The kasbah is believed to date from the 11th century. Its strategic location gave it a commanding position on the trans-Saharan trade route between Marrakech, Ouarzazate, and the Sahara.
A wander amongst the fortified villages, through narrow alleyways and up stairways, is pleasant. Also, a climb to the old Granary at the top of the highest point in Aït Benhaddou gives expansive views of the surrounding area; you can easily imagine the yesteryear camel trains that would have once focused here.
Many big movies have been partly filmed in Ait Benhaddou. These include Gladiator, Lawrence of Arabia, Jesus of Nazareth and The Jewel of the Nile. Gates that featured in Game of Thrones can also be seen. A visit can be made (for a donation) to the “Gladiator House” where there are some artifacts and memorabilia from the film.
Then it is up and over the High Atlas once again; so much fascinating activity to observe (and process). The highest peak in this impressive mountain range should again be looked for - Mount Toubkal (4,167m). The Berbers (the Mountain People) live in the High Atlas; to see their villages and to observe their everyday farmland and village activities continues to be fascinating.
The N9 road continues to snake upwards to the Tizi-n-Tichka Pass (2,260m), the watershed of the High Atlas. From near to here great panoramic views can be seen, over the mountain range and the road recently travelled. Taddert is en route, an ideal stop for lunch.
Descending the north facing slopes of the High Atlas there is much to still fascinate in the local activities seen. River valleys that have been deeply cut into the landscape can be seen. Many rock sellers are at the roadsides, all trying to boost their family’s income.
After all the tranquillity and tradition of the mountains, soon you are back in the midst of the exhilarating hustle, bustle and clamour of vibrant Marrakech.
Overnight in Marrakech.
ITINERARY: Departure Day
- All Moroccan ground transport (incl. airport transfers) to cover the described itinerary
- 4 x nights hotel accommodation on a half board basis; twin/triple rooming for pupils; twin rooming for teachers (with single teacher rooming an option at a supplementary cost) plus 1 x night in a Bedouin Camp on a half board basis
- An ATS Moroccan Courier, English speaking, throughout, to help with all practical and logistical matters
- Camel ride in Zagora (1 camel per participant) with camel leaders
- A DAY OF VILLAGE ACTIVITIES IN DOUAR OULAD ELGUERN
- Personal Insurance
- Personal spending
- Lunches (but they can be added at a supplement)
- Drinks/Bottled Water (but they can be added at a supplement)
- All other items not mentioned in the WHAT ATS OFFERS list
- Price for 20 Pupils plus 2 Teachers: 140,680 MAD (14,068 Euros).
- Price for 30 Pupils plus 4 Teachers: 197,460 MAD (19,746 Euros).
- Price for 40 Pupils plus 4 Teachers: 242,000 MAD (24,200 Euros).
- Please contact us for a price for your particular group.