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Experiencing the Gateway to Africa

Date Posted: 08/10/2014

School: Seaford Head School, Seaford, east Sussex
KS: 3 and 4
Destination: Morocco

A mule ride up a mountain and meeting local Berber people were among the many highlights of Seaford Head School’s visit to Morocco.

The east Sussex school, which organises an annual ski trip and bi-annual Geography trip, believes in offering pupils ‘once in a lifetime opportunities’.

Following the success of a visit to the geological wonders of Iceland, this year 37 students from Year 8 to Year 11 and six members of staff went to Morocco.

Known as Europe’s gateway to Africa, it is an exotic and beguiling destination where it’s hard to believe you are only four hours from London.

Head of Humanities Liz Smith, who organised the trip, said: “It offered a superb chance to experience a developing country, see examples of human and environmental Geography and appreciate contrasting societies and diverse cultures.”

The five-day trip began in the Red City of Marrakesh and included a walk through Djemaa el Fna, the buzzing central square inside the old fortified city, where students visited a herbalist to see colourful herbs and spices and haggled for souvenirs in the souks (helpful hint - start by offering a third of the price asked and go from there. It’s a way of life and part of the fun).

A coach journey took the party to the High Atlas village of Imlil, stopping en route at the Toubkal National Park to learn about wildlife in the mountains.

“On day three the group split in two and swapped at lunchtime,” said Liz. “The day involved a visit to a nursery and primary school in Imlil village, where students interacted with the pupils and left gifts; and community work on the Targa N’ait Souka irrigation canal.

“There was a visit to a Berber house to see how the animals and people share a space; and lunch in a typical Berber guest house, sitting on cushions and low chairs to eat, and watching bread being cooked in the clay oven.”

A 45-minute mule ride took the group up the mountain to Gite Armed for the rest of the stay, with comfortable accommodation inside the typical trekker hostel.

The following day included a walk down the mountain to look at waterfalls and a visit to the Argan Oil Co-operative to watch nuts being shelled and kernels ground to make the oil that is a popular cosmetic product and also used in food.

The Berber hosts gave a demonstration of music and dancing to round off the final evening.

Summing up the trip, Liz said: “The highlight was probably the mule trip up the mountain, something everyone will remember, plus the different culture and landscape.

“Some had been abroad before but this was living alongside the local Berber people. So many of the students pushed themselves both physically and mentally to ensure that they had a truly memorable school visit to Morocco.

“All food was typical of the region and very delicious and healthy, and they enjoyed bartering in the shops.”

For more information visit www.ststravel.co.uk or contact the Moroccan National Tourist Board on:

020-7437 0073
www.visitmorocco.com

School Travel Organiser's Guide