2023 Washington Latin Morocco Cultural Journey
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What to Expect
Please read through all of the information below. More details will be added as your departure draws closer.
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.
|March 25||USA - Morocco||Today the group will depart the USA and cross the Atlantic Ocean!||Airplane|
|March 26||Casablanca||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 leaders!||Casablanca Hotel|
|March 27||Casablanca||After 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. Afternoon will consist of free time back at the hotel before dinner.||Casablanca Hotel|
|March 28||Casablanca - Fes||After breakfast and checkout, the group will travel to Fes. Fes is listed as a World Heritage Site and is believed to be one of the world’s largest urban pedestrian zones (car-free areas). It’s maze-like medina houses the University of Al Quaraouiyine, founded in 859, is the oldest continuously functioning university in the world. The city is also known as the “Mecca of the West” as well as the “Athens of Africa”. Upon arriving late afternoon, the group will check into their riad. Students will dine in a 250-year old courthouse that has been restored into a cultural zone called Cafe Clock.||Fes Riad|
|March 29||Fes||After breakfast at the riad, the group will enjoy a half-day city tour with a local expert. Students explore the medina’s many artisans’ quarters and the famous tanneries. The group will also get to see Fes’s religious and historical heart! The highlight of this day will be the Medersa Bou Inania. It originally functioned as both an educational institute and as a congregational mosque. It was founded in AD 1351-56 by Abu Inan Faris and is widely acknowledged as an excellent example of Marinid architecture. It is known to be the most elaborate and beautiful of all Merenid monuments, immaculate after renovation, it comes close to perfection in every aspect of its construction: its dark cedar is fabulously carved, the zellij tilework classic and the stucco a revelation.||Fes Riad|
|March 30||Fes - Marrakech||After breakfast the group will travel South to Marrakech! After checking into the riad, students will have the afternoon to participate in group reflection activities and come together for a Q & A with group organizers and leaders. Dinner will be served in the old medina on an open rooftop terrace.||Marrakech Riad|
|March 31||Marrakech||After breakfast, students will take a guided tour of Marrakech’s ancient medina. They will explore Bahia Palace, the Saadian Tombs, and 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!||Marrakech Riad|
|April 1||Marrakech||Mid-morning the group will experience the alchemy of scents, flavors and traditions that make Moroccan cuisine so special by participating in a hands on cooking class for lunch. Come afternoon, students will have the option to take part in a centuries old tradition: a Moroccan hammam (a cleansing and cultural experience). A farewell dinner will be held afterwards at the Riad and accompanied by live Moroccan music.||Marrakech Riad|
|April 2||Marrakech - Casablanca||After breakfast, a local artisan will join the students in the riad’s common area for traditional henna tattooing and Moroccan mint tea! The group will then depart early afternoon and private transportation will deliver the students back to Casablanca where they will stay in their hotel before departure.||Casablanca Riad|
|April 3||Casablanca - USA||Morning departure back to the USA||Your own bed|
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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.
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.
Melliber Hotel Casablanca
For its ideal location in Casablanca, next to the sea. The Melliber Appart Hotel is a beautiful building that has all the commodities to make your stay unforgettable. Free Wi-Fi found throughout the building will keep everyone connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender.
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
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.
6-8 pairs of underwear
6-8 pairs of socks (preferably breathable and/or lightweight)
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.
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)
-Shampoo and conditioner
-Sunscreen and face lotion with SPF.
-A light moisturizer/lotion.
-Band Aids and Neosporin
-Prescription medication in properly marked original container(s)
-Passport and student ID
-Journal and pen
-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
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
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!
Morocco Country Director
University of Arizona
Stafford was raised in Shreveport, Louisiana and then graduated High School in Dallas, Texas. After attending the University of Arizona, she set off traveling with her sister through Southeast Asia, Europe and Northern Africa in 2013. After traveling through Morocco, she fell in love with it and decided to make it her home a year later. She has been living in Marrakech since 2014 with her husband and their two children. When she is not coordinating student travel excursions to Morocco for Walking Tree Travel, she is the English Foreign Language Coordinator for a private school in Marrakech. She enjoys cooking, baking, photography and taking family vacations!
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs.
- Associating with participants while they are in possession of or are consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs.
- 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
- Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials.
- Possessing weapons.
- Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle.
- Getting a piercing or tattoo.
- Being out after curfew.
- 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.
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.