2021 DeBakey Morocco Program

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2021 DeBakey Morocco Program!  To better inform yourself about this once in a lifetime opportunity, there are two webpages at your disposal. The first is the Pre-Enrollment page, the purpose of which is to share the itinerary, exciting highlights and important info that travelers will want to know before signing up.  Once enrolled, your family will begin using the Post-Enrollment page which offers a much greater level of detail.  Please take the time to review the information thoroughly and get excited for beautiful Morocco!!  
Travel Dates: June 1, 2021 - June 9, 2021
Dates are tentative
Group Organizer(s):
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $3,190 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Estimated Airfare: $1,200
Deadline(s): Enrollment deadline forthcoming

What to Expect

Please read through all of the information below. More details will be added as your departure draws closer.

Itinerary

We do everything possible to run safe, engaging, and immersive programs for our travelers and given the unpredictable nature of international travel we must remain flexible in our planning. Changes to a schedule are uncommon but, we reserve the right to adjust programming in the best interest of the group. 

DayLocationDescriptionLodging
July 1USA - MoroccoDeparture from USA Airplane
July 2Casablanca (Arrival)Students will arrive in Casablanca and be privately transported back to their hotel where a short Darija (Moroccan Arabic) orientation will be presented to them by our Moroccan program leader!Hotel
July 3Casablanca - MarrakechAfter breakfast around mid-morning, students will start their Moroccan adventure by visiting the Hassan II Mosque; the largest mosque in Morocco and the 13th largest in the world (its minaret is the world's tallest at 689 ft.). The walls are composed of handcrafted marble and the roof is retractable; it also stands on a promontory looking out to the Atlantic Ocean, allowing worshippers to pray over the sea. Students will take a guided tour inside the mosque and then pair up in groups to photograph it’s stunning exterior architecture. Afterwards we will head south on our first 3 hour road trip to Marrakech!Marrakech Riad
July 4MarrakechAfter breakfast, students will take a guided tour of Marrakech’s ancient medina.
They will explore the heart of the medina by visiting the Bahia Palace or Ben Yousef.
Students will also have the chance to experience the famous Jemaa el-Fna square, while their guide shares about the rich history and cultural life of Marrakech and Morocco! After lunch on a rooftop terrace, the group will visit Jardin Majorelle, a botanical garden preserved in the new part of Marrakech’s city limits. Following the garden the group will learn about Berber (Amazigh) culture by walking through the three part exhibition dedicated to preserving Morocco’s true identity.
Marrakech Riad
July 5Marrakech - OurikaWe will start out day early by heading to cooler temperatures,
in the shadows of the High Atlas Mountains. 50km southeast of Marrakech, lies a blooming valley that is especially mood-altering, where almond and cherry orchards bloom manically and wildflowers run riot. Students will spend this day in nature - hiking Ourika Valley and then having lunch next to it’s running river.
Marrakech Riad
July 6Marrakech - Essaouira After breakfast students will head to Essaouira, a small coastal city on the Atlantic Coast! Upon arrival, group will check into their Riad. Students will spend the afternoon exploring Essaouira’s medina and watch the sunset while drinking Moroccan tea on a rooftop that overlooks the main square and Essaouira’s famous port.Riad Rayhane
July 7Essaouira2 hour surf lessons start at 10 am; private instructors from Bleu Kite Surf School will lead a beginners corse from Essaouira’s beachfront thats filled with horses, camels and kite surfers! Afterwards the students will enjoy an outdoor lunch with a sea view at Ocean Vagabond. The afternoon will be open for the group to do some personal shopping while enjoying vibrant beats of African music on every corner. Dinner will be served at a local gem, Loft (a restaurant that resembles a cozy wooden cottage in the mountains; but with plenty of Moroccan decorations, rugs and pottery in every corner. Loft as colorful and fun, as their food is delicious).Riad Rayhane
July 8Essaouira - MarrakechEssaouira - Marrakech: The group will depart for Marrakech shortly after breakfast. Everyone will spend the afternoon grabbing last minute treasures before the group’s farewell dinner at Attay Cafe!Marrakech Riad
July 9MarrakechTransfer to airport for flight homeYour own bed, eventually!

Fundraising

Need to Raise Money? We Have You Covered.

Walking Tree Travel is proud to team up with Equal Exchange, a worker-owned cooperative that distributes organic coffee, tea, sugar, bananas, avocados, cocoa, chocolate bars, and more.  There is no limit to the amount you can earn, so the sooner you can start, the better!

Learn more here.

WTT coffee

Accommodations

In order to provide a safe and memorable experience, we follow strict guidelines when choosing program accommodations. Walking Tree partners with hotels and guest houses which are centrally located, clean and safe.  We vet and inspect the accommodations to ensure they uphold the ethos of our programs, are great values for our travelers and nice places to rest after enriching days of travel.  

Below are the accommodations we anticipate using on your trip, subject to availability. 
Riad Baladin

Riad Baladin is situated in the nicest part of the old town of Essaouira, just a few meters away from the sea and a few minutes away from the main square. This Oasis offers 10 rooms with ensuite bathrooms in a typical Moroccan style, combined with a contemporary design. Breakfast is served on the roof-top terrace which boasts a panoramic view over the town and the sea. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel to keep you feeling connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.

Riad L’Heure d’Eté

This cozy raid will offer a comfortable escape from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech. Students will be roomed in double, triple or quadruple rooms based on gender. Breakfast will be provided at the riad and Wi-Fi connection is available throughout the hotel.

Group Flight

Once your flight has been confirmed, the itinerary will appear here.

Walking Tree will secure a seat on the group flight for each participant unless otherwise instructed.

Travelers are responsible for checked baggage fees. Please visit the airline’s baggage webpage to learn if you should expect to pay anything.

We will provide a group manifest – complete with reservation codes and ticket numbers – to the Group Organizer/s before departure, and travelers will need to check in at the airport in order to receive their boarding pass and have documents verified. We recommend arriving no later than three hours prior to the scheduled departure, but contact your Group Organizer for specific details on exactly where and when to meet on the day of departure.

FLIGHT INTERRUPTION, DELAY OR CANCELLATION 
Air travel can be unpredictable.  Regardless of proper planning, there may still be instances when a flight is delayed or cancelled due to staffing shortages, weather, mechanical problems, etc.  Please note that in such an event, Walking Tree Travel (WTT) is not financially responsible for unanticipated costs incurred by travelers en route.  Our programs officially begin and end in the destination country, and because our staff doesn’t fly with the group, Group Organizers (the traveling faculty member/s) become the front-line advocate for the group in the event of a delay. In most cases of cancellations or delays, the airline will be the one who re-books travel or possibly arranges a hotel and food the night.  Our primary role will be to  keep families updated and provide support to the Group Organizer to reach a  quick and effective resolution.

Host Community and Project Details

Packing List

What follows is a sample packing list, which will be updated for each program. We recommend you bring a larger piece of luggage like a roller, duffel bag, or backpack, as well as a smaller backpack that you can bring on hikes, weekend excursions and shorter activities.

“Less is more” is a packing tip we encourage for all our travelers. The below list should cover everything you would need, but we frequently hear that travelers feel “overpacked” if they follow all of our suggestions. Know yourself and what you are comfortable traveling with. We suggest bringing only as much as you would be able to carry on your own.

What to wear in Morocco?
The answer to this varies widely. But, perhaps most important to know is, there is no dress code in Morocco. You are not required to dress in one way or another. People that live in Morocco dress in a wide variety of ways and do not expect visitors to dress as they do. That being said, it is always a good idea to dress more modestly than you may at home.
With this being said, it may be nice for the female students and parents to read this:
“Is there a dress code in Morocco for women?”: The answer to this is yes and no. How to dress in Morocco as a woman is a question that plagues a lot of female visitors. You do not need to dress the same as local women. Morocco has no laws, or dress codes on what women must wear. Socially, society is conservative and it’s better to dress a bit more modestly. In large cities like Marrakech or Casablanca local women dress in a wide variety of styles. You’ll see short shorts and tank tops; you’ll also see full body veils. In rural communities it is highly advisable to cover up more. Wear longer shorts or pants and skip the tank tops, or at least drape a large scarf over your chest and shoulders when you are in the local communities. There is a strong likelihood that you will attract unwanted attention the more exposed you are.
*Please bring a bathing suit suitable to wear underneath a wetsuit (for surfing) for our time in Essaouira! Please note that walking to and from the beach everyone will want to wear their normal clothes, not cover-ups. Also, please note that Essaouira can be cold and windy. Students may want to carry a light rain coat/wind breaker when we are walking around. Once the sun goes down it can become quite chilly! It’s always a good idea to have a hat on you (due to the cold/wind) and a sweatshirt during all seasons when traveling to Essaouira. Students will also want to wear long jeans/pants for camel rides!*
CLOTHES:
6-8 pairs of underwear
6-8 pairs of socks (preferably breathable and/or lightweight)
4-6 t-shirts
2-3 long sleeve shirts (preferably lightweight)
1 light sweater or sweatshirt
1 light rain jacket
2-4 pairs of travel/athletic shorts/pants that are breathable and light
2-3 pairs of comfortable/hiking/everyday pants (NOT all jeans)
1 dressy/casual outfit to be worn to more formal dinners
1 bathing suit (suitable to wear under a wetsuit for surfing)
1 pair of durable tennis shoes
1 pair of sandals
1 sun hat or baseball cap
Important Note for Female Travelers: In the interest of being respectful while still allowing travelers to be comfortable, we recommend that shirts should cover shoulders and be long enough to be considered a “tunic”. All dresses and skirts should be conservative and be a “midi” length or longer.
TOILETRIES:
Please bring all your basic toiletries that you would normally travel with. Incase you need a guideline below are things not to forget to pack:
-Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash
-Hair brush and/or comb (+ hair ties, barrettes + bobby pins)
-Deodorant
-Shampoo and conditioner
-Sunscreen and face lotion with SPF.
-Mosquito repellant
-Face wash
-A light moisturizer/lotion.
-Hand sanitizer
-Band Aids and Neosporin
-Prescription medication in properly marked original container(s)
MISCELLANEOUS:
-Passport and student ID
-Sunglasses
-Journal and pen
-Book (optional)
-Camera (digital/disposable/waterproof)
-European power adapter
-Debit card or US Dollars (for desired souvenirs, extra items etc.)
-Durable and lightweight water bottle
-1 quick-dry towel
-Deck of cards or other portable games

Support Team

At a minimum, one experienced Program Leader will travel on every trip. In addition to this full time leadership presence, Walking Tree has additional support staff in all destinations and 24/7 support from our headquarters in Denver, Colorado. Below you’ll find a list of the team members involved in the planning, organizing, and leadership of your program.

Said Ait Said
Said Ait Said
Morocco Country Director & Program Leader


ISTA NTIC Syba Ofppt, Marrakech

Said is from a Berber village in the High Atlas Mountains, but was raised in Marrakech, Morocco. In 2013 he started managing touristic accommodations and excursions for travelers in Morocco. He currently lives in Marrakech with his wife and two children. They are a combination of Berber, Moroccan and American; speaking English, French, Arabic and Tamazighit. They enjoy traveling and embracing their multi-cultural lifestyle!

Luke Mueller
Luke Mueller
Co-Founder of Walking Tree Travel and Business Lead - Denver, CO


Emory University – B.A. Sociology and minor in Latin American History

During college, Luke spent a semester living and traveling in rural Mexico. His experience sparked a fascination with Latin America and a commitment to community service that continues to this day. Upon graduating from college, he joined WorldTeach and lived with a local family in a small village in Costa Rica while teaching elementary English. After this experience, he moved to San José, the capital and largest city of Costa Rica, and wrote for The Tico Times newspaper. Luke has since traveled to over 60 countries on five different continents.  Now settled in Denver with his family, he continues to crave massive helpings of rice and beans.

Group Roster

Below is a list of the travelers enrolled on the program.

Blog and Communication

During travel we will work hard to keep families updated as frequently as possible with blogs and photos, giving you peace of mind that your traveler is safe and thriving on their program.  Students regularly contribute to these posts, giving parents a great way to vicariously track the progress of the trip. You will receive an email notification when the first blog is posted, after which we recommend you check in regularly via the black “Program Blog” button at the top of this page.

Beyond this proactive approach to communication during the trip, most destinations are wired enough to allow participants semi-regular access to WiFi so you can also expect to communicate with your traveler directly. Ask your Walking Tree representative about the degree of connectivity on your program.

 

GLC Curriculum

Walking Tree has developed a curriculum of activities meant to help travelers get the most out of their trip before departure, during travel and after they return home. These simple and engaging activities are meant to spark discussion, frame experiences, and prepare participants to travel ethically and effectively both on this trip and on future adventures.

For more information about student learning objectives and the format of the curriculum, click on the ‘learn more’ button below.

Learn More About the GLC

To view and complete the Pre-Program Activities, visit our online portal at the button below.

Pre-Program Activity Portal

Standards of Behavior

In order to run a safe and successful program, it is important that we create an environment of trust, security and respect. All individuals participating in our programs are required to take responsibility for their actions and adhere to a high standard of behavioral conduct.

ABSOLUTE DISMISSAL

  1.  Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs.
  2. Associating with participants while they are in possession of, or are consuming, or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs.
  3. Behaving in a way that consistently damages the group dynamic or jeopardizes personal or group safety.
  4. This includes consistently displaying a negative attitude, intimidating or excluding other participants, sneaking out, disobeying group leaders, and any other behavior that is not conducive to an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.

GROUNDS FOR DISMISSAL OR IN-COUNTRY CONSEQUENCE

  1. Getting a piercing or tattoo.
  2. Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials.
  3. Threatening physical or emotional harm, or brandishing a weapon.
  4. Possessing, consuming, or distributing tobacco or nicotine, including vape pens.
  5. Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle.
  6. Being out of designated area or accommodations after curfew.
  7. Breaking group rules.

These standards of behavior are essential for the successful completion of your program. Please take the time to review these as a family and make sure everyone understands and agrees to them.

Health and Safety

We strongly recommend visiting the CDC Morocco website to get the most updated information on health and vaccination considerations in your destination country. In addition, we encourage you to consult with your personal family physician so you can be as informed as possible when making important decisions about vaccinations and other necessary health-related preparations before travel.

Our in-country staff prepare meticulously for all programs. Walking Tree will register our programs and travelers with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in case of emergency. In country staff also verify the safety records of our partner organizations, vendors, and transportation providers, thoroughly vet homestay families via in depth interviews and home visits, and keep up on important current events in the region.

Program Leaders are seasoned travelers who are CPR and First Aid certified, undergo thorough training in crisis management, and participate in a multi-day leadership training retreat. We do our best to prepare for any eventuality and have detailed emergency protocols for our leaders, in-country staff and U.S.-based staff.

We receive medical disclosures from all participants to ensure we are able to meet every students’ needs during the program. Please inform us immediately of any additional health issues that you did not list during your initial registration process. Program Leaders will also hold an online information session before your departure, as well as an arrival orientation in-country, in order to give participants important instructions on food safety, hygiene and preventing injury and illness. Leaders and in-country staff always respond immediately to any mental, physical or emotional health issues and follow comprehensive emergency protocols.

Insurance

While we work hard to ensure the safest experience possible for our travelers on program, experience teaches that travel is never without risk. For this reason, we recommend that all travelers consider a travel insurance policy with  two additional provisions: Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) and Bed Rest. Detailed explanations of both provisions can be found on the link below.

To provide families with a quality option, Walking Tree has partnered with Travel Insured International, one of the most respected providers in the industry.  Begin by getting a quote here.

IMPORTANT NOTE: in order to secure coverage with CFAR included, you must purchase the plan within 21 days of your deposit/first payment. You must also insure 100% of your trip cost, so program tuition + flight.

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