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Experience rural life in the Atlas Mountains on this service-intensive program. Get to know what life is like in this remote region of Morocco, the second-poorest in the country. Work with local organizations on education, health, and cultural preservation initiatives. Finish your program in the blue city of Chefchaouen and the surroundings.

With our No Anxiety Escrow Policy, you cancel for any reason up until the day of travel, and escrow 100% of the program fees for up to two years from the cancellation date.

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2017 Departures

Departs (USA) Returns (USA) Availability
July 4 July 19 Available
July 18 August 2 Limited

Program Profile

Country
Morocco
Community Service Component
Advanced
Community Service Focus
Infrastructure, Agriculture
Get to Know
The People, The Sights
Lifestyle
A Little Bit of Everything
Travel Component
Moderate Travel Involved

  • Day 1

    After meeting and greeting your flight leader and the other students traveling to Morocco, you’re off to Casablanca! Most students are able to sneak in a nap and relax with their new friends during the flight.

  • Day 2

    Arrive in Casablanca where your Rustic leaders will be awaiting you. Depart to Bin El Ouidan literally meaning “between the rivers”. Get to know the group in the afternoon as you face to majestic crystalline lake that reflects the beauty of the surrounding mountains!

  • Day 3

    Depart for a Berber village nestled in the Zawiya Ahansal Valley of the High Atlas Mountains, the largest mountain range in North Africa. Zawyat Ahansal will be home for the coming six nights!

  • Day 4

    Wake up to the jaw-dropping mountains surrounding you as the group prepares for day 1 of the service project. The program is partnered with the Atlas Cultural Foundation (ACF); a US non-profit organization with the mission of collaborating with rural Moroccans in order to improve their quality of life in the fields of cultural preservation, community education, and public health.

    All our projects are tailored to meet the biggest needs of the community and may include working in a community garden, tutoring local elementary students, and/or construction projects.

  • Day 5 - 8

    Continue work on our service projects, but make sure you take a break to play games with the children of the community. Get to know your surroundings as you hike to nearby villages and practice the art of haggling in the weekly market. Keep practicing your Arabic with the locals too!

  • Day 9

    Weave your way through the final towering peaks of the High Atlas Mountains to get to the red city Marrakech! Before arriving in the afternoon and checking into our riad, stop at Ozoude waterfalls for lunch and embark on a short hike! In the evening, spend time reflecting on all that you have done and learned over the past few days.

  • Day 10 - 11

    It’s souq time! Wander the UNESCO-acclaimed thousand-year-old market where you can watch snake charmers mesmerize their cobras and vendors hawk their wares. See everything from whale vertebrae and acrobats to ostrich eggs and orange juice stands! The mosque will sound a call to prayer as smoke from kabob stands billows overhead in this frenetic market.

  • Day 12

    Drive to Rabat, the capital of Morocco! Visit Hassan tower and Mohamed the 5th mausoleum. Enjoy dinner on an old traditional boat that sets on Abu Raqraq river before you walk to the old Medina of Rabat to explore, note the difference between Marrakshis and R’batis as you discover this city.

  • Day 13

    Drive to Chafchaouen, known as the blue city of Morocco and explore it through a competitive scavenger hunt!

  • Day 14

    Today the group will make its way to Akchour to embark on a 2.5 hour hike to a stunning waterfall and swim in the cool pools bellow. Have a picnic lunch before hiking through the incredibly scenic terran to reach the “Bridge of God”, a naturally formed archway caved into the jutting canyon. You’ll never get enough of Akchour but the blue-washed city of Chefchaouen is awaiting you! Once you’re there, dine at a atasty rooftop reastaurant and prepare for next day’s exploration of Chefchaouen.

  • Day 15

    This morning you will get the chance to explore the the blue city at day light, hike all its streets and shop for souvenirs for family and friends back home. after lunch, hop on the bus and head to Casablanca where you’ll have your final dinner as a group with all you new friends.

  • Day 16

    Wake up early and head to the airport to return home or continue on your summer adventure. We hope that you have given and received all that you could during these past weeks. May you carry with you the powerful cultural exchanges and relationships in all your future endeavors.

An Important Note About Schedule Changes

Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity.

The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.

“Optional Activities” are fully included in the cost of your program, but you can choose to not do these activities.

“Add-On Activities” are not included in the cost of your program and must be paid for separately. Add-on activities are rare, but include things like skydiving, bungee jumping, or weekend side-trips. Not every program has add-on activities.

For more information, email morocco@rusticpathways.com

Program-Specific FAQs

  • A “souq” or “souk” is the Arabic word for market. While not an integral part of your service project, souks are an important part of the program. Moroccan souqs are extremely vibrant and eclectic. They are often a focal point and epicenter for culture and trade. In the souqs your senses come alive as you will get to see, smell, and taste many of the elements that make Morocco so special and unique. Spices and juices, lanterns and leather, old bones and ancient charms are all for sale. Souqs are also a major catalyst for cross cultural interaction. In Jamya al-Fna Square and the surrounding markets of Marrakech for example, people gather around mystics and storytellers to hear the folk tales of their ancestors. People watch snake charmers and acrobats perform and musicians from all corners of Africa come to play their music. The square and the souqs for their role in this melding and sharing of culture has earned Jamya al-Fna UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

  • While participating in service expect to get your hands dirty and do some physical labor while helping out with a construction project initiative through our partner organization in the Atlas Mountains. You’ll be helping out in the community garden as well. In addition to service work also expect to go on several hikes to further explore the physical beauty of Morocco. While none of these activities are overly strenuous or physically demanding you should feel comfortable and confident in participating.

  • During this program expect a range of accommodation types.

    You will stay in hotels with hot showers and western style toilets. In some cities like Marrakech you’ll enjoy the special treat of staying in a riad, a traditional Moroccan mansion style house. With many rooms, a central courtyard, and beautiful architecture, riads are a favorite place to stay among students. Most riads are equipped with air conditioning, western toilets, and warm showers.

    While participating in our service project in the small village of Zawyia Ahansal you have the special treat of being invited into the home of the village Sheik. The sheik, or village chief has opened his home to Rustic Pathways and students for many years. It is a warm and welcoming house with a central courtyard where we will take some of our meals as well as several dormitory style rooms and shared bathrooms. The sheik has a mix of western and turkish style toilets as well as a shared shower. Keep in mind the water isn’t always warm. Despite the somewhat rustic accommodations the sheik’s home is one you are sure to have a hard time leaving. Enjoy spending time with the local community in this homestay style setting beneath a breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains. After spending a week here the warm hospitality of the sheik and his family leave a resounding impact with students and it is often the highlight of their experience.

  • Your service project is through our lasting partnership with the Atlas Cultural Foundation (ACF); a US non-profit organization with the mission of collaborating with rural Moroccans in order to improve their quality of life in the fields of cultural preservation, community education, and public health.

    All our projects are tailored to meet the biggest needs of the community and may include working in a community garden, tutoring local elementary students, and/or construction projects.

  • Students will have access to clean, safe drinking water (pronounced lma) on this trip at all times. Water in faucets can be used to brush your teeth but is not for drinking. Summertime in Morocco is very hot (you’re headed to the desert after all)! Please remember to pack a reusable water bottle so you can constantly stay hydrated throughout the program.

  • Delicious traditional Moroccan food of course! Morocco is home to many delectable dishes many of them heavily influenced by French colonialism. Having been a major stop along the African spice route, Moroccan cuisine is rich and flavorful. The tagine, a Moroccan favorite is a stew cooked within a conical clay pot where couscous, vegetables, spices and chicken or beef are usually piled high to be shared around the table. Dig in and fork what strikes your fancy onto your plate or eat like a real Moroccan and scoop up each bite with some crisp and crunchy bread. Variations of the tagine are common as well as fish fillet and assorted kinds of kebabs. Hearty lentil soups are also a good starter to any meal. Be sure to sample some pastilla while you are traveling, this traditional dish is a crispy crepe stuffed with chicken and spices while the top is sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. It’s the perfect combination of savory and sweet! Almost all Moroccan meals are served with bread, as it is a big staple in Moroccan daily life. After you are good and stuffed be sure to wash down your Moroccan feast with a steaming cup of sweet Moroccan mint tea.

  • Morocco is incredibly geographically diverse and therefore experiences several different climates depending on which region you are visiting. It is important to keep all of these in mind while you are preparing for your trip. Morocco’s Atlantic coastal cities such as Casablanca and Rabat are generally cooler and milder than in the interior. Expect ocean breezes and lower temperatures than what you would find traveling east. The interior of Morocco such as in Marrakech is hot and sunny during the summer with sporadic periods of rainfall. Up in the Atlas Mountains where you will be doing your community service expect it to be hot and sunny during the day and cooler at night. The north of the country around Chefchaouen and the Rif Mountains has a Mediterranean climate and can be hot and more humid during summer. Besides packing appropriate clothing don’t forget a water bottle and sunscreen!

  • It is very important that we respect the cultural norms and local customs while traveling throughout Morocco. With a majority of the population practicing Islam, Morocco is a conservative Muslim country and the influence of religion is felt in the ways people act, dress, and present themselves. Women should be very mindful of their clothing while visiting Morocco. It is important to wear modest clothing that does not show or reveal too much skin. This means avoiding shorts and tank tops and tight clothing such as yoga pants or leggings. Wearing loose fitting clothes will keep you cooler during hot days and the added coverage will protect your skin from that powerful Moroccan sun! When visiting religious sites such as the Hassan II mosque it is required that women cover their heads before entering the mosque so remember to pack a scarf or saraong. While swimming or visiting the beach we ask that you please pack a one-piece bathing suit. Remember, Morocco isn’t all desert and heat, evenings on the Atlantic coast or up in the Atlas Mountains can get pretty chilly and breezy even during the summer months. Be sure to pack a sweatshirt or light jacket that you can throw on just incase!

  • In the cities such as Casablanca and Marrakech many people speak English to varying degrees. Moroccans speak a local dialect of Arabic called Darija. In many of the Atlas Mountain communities the local dialect is Berber where the majority of the people make up this indigenous minority. If you know some French this will also go a long way in Morocco. Once a colony of France the majority of Moroccans can speak French as it is still taught within Moroccan schools. We encourage you to practice or pick up as much Arabic as you can during your trip. It is fun to practice and your local Moroccan leader can help you translate and teach you words along the way. Using Arabic in the markets and souks of Morocco will go a long way towards impressing vendors and ensure you get the best price while bargaining.

  • The Islamic Holy Month of Ramadan is a special time of year when Moroccans commemorate the first revelation of the Koran to Muhammad. The annual observance is very important as it is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Muslims observe the month long holiday by taking on an extra sense of self-accountability and charity. From sun up to sun down Moroccans will fast and abstain from eating and drinking. As a result, daytime during the holiday takes on a slower pace. You will frequently see Moroccans napping and dozing in the heat and many shops and stores have shorter hours. At night when the sun goes down Muslims break their fast and things come alive as people are often eating, shopping, and celebrating with their friends and family well into the night. Your program will run as usual during this time and while Moroccans do not expect foreigners or visitors to fast it is important to be mindful and respect those that are fasting. Taking our food and drink indoors or snacks and ice cream during van rides instead of out in public view is a way to honor this. Ramadan is a great opportunity for students to gain additional insight and perspective on Islam as well as enjoy the spiritual energy and atmosphere this holiday has to offer.

  • When you join us on this incredible journey we want you to have an as immersive experience as possible and soak it all in. To do that you are encouraged to take a break from technology and engage with the life on the ground in Morocco. Leave the lands of social media behind and focus on being present in the moment—don’t worry, it will still be there when you return—we promise!

    You will have access to internet in Casablanca and Marrakech but throughout the rest of the trip, internet access will be sporadic.

    What should families at home do in case of emergency? You will be given the phone number to our 24/7 emergency line, which is kept open for true emergencies only. One of our awesome staff members in the U.S. will be in charge of this line, and they will pass any necessary information to us on the ground in Morocco.

  • HX Global provides the most up to date recommendations regarding Morocco. Since we do not know your child’s medical history, we recommend you reference HX Global’s website at: http://hx-global.com/ or the CDC website at: http://www.cdc.gov for more information. We also suggest consulting with your local travel doctor prior to your travels for further information.

  • Believe us when we say that you are not going to be ready to go home after two weeks! Time will fly and you’ll feel like your journey is just beginning as you board the plane home. The long flight over to North Africa is the hardest part; once you’re here, why not make the most of it and build an incredible summer?

    This trip connects seamlessly with other programs throughout Africa. Connecting is a great idea if your travel plans allow for it!

Packing the right gear (and the right amounts) is the first step to an incredible travel experience. Follow these tips to pack like a pro:

Travel light. Pack only the essentials. You’ll need less than you think!
Bring the right clothes. Pack clothes that are culturally appropriate for your destination and acceptable for service projects. This means bringing lightweight pants/capris, t-shirts with sleeves to cover shoulders, and appropriate footwear. Shorts and leggings are not acceptable in Morocco.
Leave your valuables behind. While traveling, it’s easier for things to get lost, stolen, or damaged. Keep any prized possessions safe at home.
Check with TSA. Make sure your luggage complies with TSA regulations, especially your carry-on. Useful tip: Pack an empty water bottle and fill it up after security.
Extra paperwork? If you need additional forms filled out to get credit for your service hours, no problem! Bring these forms with you so they can be completed in-country.

Rustic Gear. Want to get all your shopping done for your program in one place? We’ve got you covered. Check out Rustic Gear and get all the essentials sent right to your door.

Carry-On

A school backpack is ideal as it will be used for day trips.

  • Passport
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Wallet/money
  • Book and/or journal
  • Pen
  • Phone
  • Camera
  • Chargers
  • Change of clothes
  • Water bottle
  • Medication
  • Additional community service forms
  • Visa documentation (if applicable)
  • Camera
  • Ear buds
  • Outlet power converter
  • Consent to Travel form
  • Rustic Pathways emergency contacts

Check Luggage

A 50-70 Liter duffel bag or backpack is ideal.

Clothes

  • Socks (7-8)
  • Underwear (15)
  • Lightweight pants/capris (3-5)
  • Jeans (1)
  • Long skirt
  • T-shirts (6-8)
  • Long-sleeved shirt (1-2)
  • Fleece/hoodie
  • Pajamas
  • Swimsuit (ONE PIECE)
  • Quick dry towel
  • Beach towel/sarong
  • Soft shell jacket
  • Strappy sandals (like Tevas or Chacos)
  • Sneakers or hiking shoes
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Headlamp/flashlight

Toiletries

(Travel size bottles in Ziploc bags)

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Face wash
  • Toothbrush
  • Tooth paste
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Contacts
  • Contacts solution
  • Foam ear plugs
  • Personal med kit
  • Deodorant
  • Wet Wipes
  • Razor/shaving cream
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Tissues

Optional

  • Donations
  • Portable games (Bananagrams, cards, etc.)
  • Arabic phrasebook

Important Information

  • Morocco is an Islamic country and its citizens dress conservatively. It is not necessary for our female travelers to wear headscarves, but to be respectful of their culture please leave tight clothing, two-piece bathing suits, miniskirts, shorts and shirts that bare your shoulders at home.
  • Most of the toilets in Morocco will not have toilet paper available, so please bring a travel-size roll of toilet paper or some tissues that you can carry in your bag.
  1. a
    Casablanca

    Begin your journey in Casablanca

  2. b
    Bin El Ouidan

    The majestic crystalline lake that reflects the beauty of the surrounding mountains

  3. c
    Zawiya Ahansal

    The Berber village where you will partner with the Atlas Cultural Foundation to improve community life through service

  4. d
    Marrakech

    Wander through the medina and souqs of Marrakech

  5. e
    Rabat

    Sightsee in the political capital of Morocco

  6. f
    Chefchaouen

    Explore the markets and climb to a local mosque

  7. g
    Akchour

    Hike through a canyon to a stunning waterfall