The transfer to our traditionally designed Riad on the outskirts of Marrakech is in the afternoon. Although the evening is free for you to relax in the tranquil gardens, Andy will also arrange a transfer in the evening into Marrakech for dinner and a wander round the souks off the famous Djemaa-El-Fna Square. Marrakech explodes into life in the evening so this is the ideal time to visit and as this is optional, a transfer charge will be applied (paid locally).
Today we drive into the High Atlas Mountains. The road up to the mountains is a real switchback, but very scenic. Eventually we cross the Tizi’n’Tichka, which at 2260m is the highest road pass in Morocco. This is a narrow range of mountains and we soon drop into the gorge on the other side, where we turn off into a wide valley towards Tijhza Village. We arrive in Animeter, where we leave the bus, transfer our bags to mules and walk up the picturesque valley (approximately 1.5 hours) to our kasbah in Tijhza.
The focus of today will be the Tijhza Village Project. It is necessary to keep the itinerary fairly flexible, considering the laid-back lifestyle in this part of the world. Our group will be split up into different activities, dependent on group size and skills (if any). Please note the nature of our volunteer work may change on arrival according to the village needs, but in the past we have worked on improving living conditions for the poorer villagers, renovating the school, irrigation channels and tree planting. Andy will contact you prior to departure with a more up to date list of activities.
We say goodbye to our friends in Tijhza and head back over the pass to Imlil, a different valley in the High Atlas Mountains where North Africa's highest mountain sits. Our base for the next three nights is the centre for trekking in Toubkal National Park and we stay in a comfortable and clean but basic family gite run by Mohammed, our Toubkal project coordinator and Exodus guide. Mohammed's gite overlooks a beautiful valley with spectacular views of the nearby mountains.
Day 5 - 6
We spend the day helping Mohammed's village improve their irrigation channels and maybe constructing a new reservoir dam wall. As requested by the village, our work is high up in the hills with fantastic views of the valley below. Our visit launches Exodus' involvement in Responsible Tourism projects in Toubkal National Park, an area where Exodus trekking groups have been passing through for many years.
This morning we transfer out of the mountains and head east towards the coast. In the afternoon, we make our way to Tafedna for the third of our project destinations. This region is the only area in Morocco where argan trees can grow, which make the high quality argan oil that is used in local cooking and the cosmetics industry. We may help on establishing the new village women's Argane cooperative as well as the village school we have previoulsy worked on.
We continue our work at Tafedna and if prevous experience is anything to go by, we will be entertained with an incredible lunch! We will also have the opportunity to purcahse some of the locally made Argane products directly benefitting the women of the village.
All our work this week is complete and we can enjoy some well-deserved free time in the seaside port of charming Essaouira. This charming town dates back to the 15th Century and was constructed around 1760 by Sidi Mohammed ben Abdullah, who needed a base from which to suppress a revolt from Agadir. Today, Essaouira is extremely relaxed and its whitewashed houses with painted shutters, artisan's workshops, boatyards and fishermen. There are also many pleasant cafes and some outstanding seafood restaurants to sample before staying overnight in a traditional Riad Hotel.
Our transfer will leave in the morning to make the 3-hour journey back to Marrakech in time for our afternoon flight. You would need to reserve another transfer should you flight leave earlier from Marrakech.