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2021 Washington Latin Morocco Program

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2021 Washington Latin Morocco Program!  We have created two webpages dedicated to this once in a lifetime experience so that travelers are as informed as possible throughout the process. This first page, the Pre-Enrollment page, is meant to share exciting details, highlights, and pertinent info that participants will want to know before enrolling.  Once enrolled, the Post-Enrollment page will be shared with you and is intended to prepare travelers in more detail for the adventure ahead. Please be sure to review the information on both pages thoroughly and get excited for Morocco!
Travel Dates: March 25, 2021 - April 3, 2021
Dates are tentative until flights are secured
Group Organizer(s):
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $2,590 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Estimated Airfare: $1,000
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, but given the unpredictable nature of international travel we must remain flexible in our planning. Changes to a schedule are uncommon but if inclement weather pushes us off course or an unexpected opportunity arises which travelers are excited about, we reserve the right to adjust programming in the best interest of the group. 

DayLocationDescriptionLodging
March 22USA - MoroccoDeparture from USAAirplane
March 23CasablancaGroup arrives in Casablanca and will be privately transported back to their hotel where a Darija (Moroccan Arabic) orientation will be presented to them by our Moroccan Program Leaders!Casablanca Riad
March 24Casablanca - Moulay Idriss ZerhounAfter 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 and explore it’s stunning exterior architecture. Afterwards, the group will be privately transported to Meknes.
Meknes Riad
March 25Meknes - Moulay Idriss + VolubilisThe group will take a guided tour
though Meknes in the morning and Moulay Idris come the afternoon. This holy town holds a special place in the hearts of Moroccans; it was here that Moulay Idriss I arrived in 789, bringing with him the religion of Islam, and starting a new dynasty. The day will end with a visit to the Archaeological Site of Volubilis. Volubilis contains essentially Roman vestiges of a fortified municipium built on a commanding site at the foot of the Jebel Zerhoun. Covering an area of 42 hectares, it is of outstanding importance demonstrating urban development and Romanisation at the frontiers of the Roman Empire and the graphic illustration of the interface between the Roman and indigenous cultures. Because of its isolation and the fact that it had not been occupied for nearly a thousand years, it presents an important level of authenticity. It is one of the richest sites of this period in North Africa, not only for its ruins but also for the great wealth of its epigraphic evidence. Students will descover the archaeological vestiges of this site and bear witness to several civilizations. A group reflection will be held here.
Meknes Riad
March 26Meknes - MarrakechAfter breakfast the group will be provately transported to Marrakech (6hrs drive). Lunch will be in Rabat. Upon arrival to Marrakech, dinner will be held at Attay Cafe (a rooftop terrace in the old Medina).Marrakech Riad
March 27MarrakechAfter breakfast on the rooftop the group will be 
provately transported to the Amal Center where they will have a Moroccan cooking class! The instructor will teach everyone how to make tagines, mint tea and talk about Moroccan culture. Lunch will be served after the class comes to a closing. Students will then have time for a student to student interaction with local Moroccans.
Marrakech Riad
March 28Marrakech - OurikaAfter breakfast the group will be tranported to Ourika Valley. This Valley sits at the foothills of the High Atlas.
The group will hike up to see it's waterfall and spend time reflecting on all that they have seen in Morocco so far.
Everyone will have lunch near the running river. After our full day outdoors, we will return back to Marrakech and dine in the new part of the city.
Marrakech Riad
March 29Marrakech - EssaouiraThe group will depart after breakfast for Essaouira (3hr drive). Essaouira is a beautiful coastal city; it’s medina is built up like a fortress from the sea and protected by 18th-century ramparts. After checking-into the Riad, everyone will walk to the main square to enjoy Moroccan mint tea on a rooftop terrace to watch the sunset and discover Essaouira! Essaouira Riad
March 30Essaouira - MarrakechAfter breakfast the group will set out for the day, starting with a local guided tour of the medina. After lunch the group will head back to their riad and regroup for their afternoon activity. Due to Essaouira’s small and quaint medina, it is indefinitely the perfect setting for the students to have a scavenger hunt! This activity will give them the opportunity to interact with local artisans and use their arabic skills! Upon finishing this exercise, a reflection meeting will be held on the beach. The group will end their last day taking a camel ride down the beach at sunset! Marrakech Riad
March 31Morocco - USADeparture from either Marrakech or Casablanca depending on which airfare option is more favorable. Your own bed, eventually!

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Accommodations

In order to provide a safe and memorable experience, we follow strict guidelines when choosing program accommodations. Walking Tree partners with locally-operated, three-star equivalent hotels and guest houses which are centrally located, clean and safe. 

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

This authentic traditional Southern Moroccan house offers you a complete immersion in the heart of the Medina, with the combination of an exceptional location, comfortable rooms, and a large terrace with a panoramic view over the red town, the Atlas Mountains and the storks. Enjoy the infinity pool and hydromassage jet system as well! Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel to keep everyone connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender.

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.

Riad Raoud Rayhane

Enjoy a small slice of luxury in Riad Raoud Rayhane in the heart of Essaouria’s medina. An unexpected entrance at the back of an alley way makes way for a clean and comfortable stay. Breakfast will be served rooftop! Students will be roomed in double, triple or quadruple rooms based on gender.  Wifi is also available.

Group Flight

Once your flight has been secured the itinerary will appear here.

Remember that Walking Tree is not 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 but travelers will need to check in at the airport in order to receive their boarding pass. We recommend arriving no later than three hours prior to the scheduled departure but for specific details on exactly where and when to meet on the day of departure, please contact your Group Organizer/s.

FLIGHT INTERRUPTION DELAY OR CANCELLATION 
Air travel is unpredictable. Regardless of proper planning, there may still be instances when a flight is delayed or cancelled due to weather, mechanical problems, labor strikes, etc.  Please note that in such an event, Walking Tree Travel (WTT) is not financially responsible for unanticipated costs incurred by travelers.  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 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 advocate as best we can for a quick and effective resolution to the situation.

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 was born in Marrakech, Morocco and was raised in the old Medina as well as an off the grid Berber village in the High Atlas Mountains. He enjoys camping, taking road trips and carpentry projects. In 2012 he graduated in IT Development and started working as a freelance contractor for Technical Specifications Development. A year later he started managing accommodations and excursions for travelers in Morocco, where he met his wife, who is American. They are a combination of Berber, Moroccan and American; speaking English, French, Arabic and Tamazighit. He also has a two year old son, named Solomon. Said and his family are currently living in Marrakech, 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.

Cristina Reid
Cristina Reid
Program Leader


Syracuse University- B.A. in Art History, Minor in Italian Language and Literature
Born in NYC with a Spanish mother and Scottish father, Cristina was raised on the Jersey Shore. She has been traveling between the US and Europe since early childhood, acquiring both english and Spanish language skills and a passion for travel. After spending her first semester of freshman year at Syracuse University in Florence, she fell in love with art, art history and Italian language. She went on to spend a second semester in Florence furthering her art studies and interning at the world renowned Uffizi Galleries. After graduation, she moved to Spain where she currently lives and teaches English and Art at a bilingual primary school.

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. Any of the following are grounds for early dismissal or in-country consequences at our discretion.

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. 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 with or using weapons
  4. Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle
  5. Being out of designated area or accommodations after curfew
  6. Breaking group rules

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

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 has taught us that travel can come with risk. For this reason, we recommend that all travelers consider protecting their trip and travel investment by purchasing a travel protection plan with a Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) provision.

To make this process as easy as possible, we have partnered with Travel Insured International, one of the most respected providers in the industry.  Begin by taking a few minutes to get a quote here.

IMPORTANT NOTE: in order to secure coverage with CFAR included, you must purchase the plan within 21 days of the date your initial payment or your deposit for your trip is received. You must also insure 100% of the prepaid, non-refundable trip costs that are subject to cancellation penalties or restrictions and cancel 48 hours or more before your scheduled trip departure date. Please note that CFAR is not available to residents of New York.

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