I would say the single most difficult thing about planning a trip is finding an authentic cultural experience with the locals and I'm not talking about pulling over in a small town to buy some souvenirs. I'm talking about a real sincere opportunity to get to know the locals, without artifice and without a script. By far my favorite memories have been getting the chance to get to know the locals and experience their daily life. Finding that local connection is especially arduous when planning a trip to Morocco. Morocco is undeniably a beautiful and fascinating country, but not the easiest place to find an authentic experience. It's really important if your planning to travel to Morocco that you go with a travel company that really knows Morocco well and more importantly, has amazing guides.
Having a local guide that you can trust is the true key to a successful trip in Morocco. Luckily for me when I traveled to Morocco last year with Wildland Adventures I had Kamal as my guide. Kamal is one of those people that you instantly feel comfortable with and you know is going to become a longtime friend. His enthusiasm, passion and knowledge of his country is impressive to say the least. Kamal is a Berber and grew up in Tinghir, Morocco. He's been a professional guide for almost twenty years and in 2006 he was recruited by the international film industry to work as a personal liaison, translator, and trip leader where he worked on shows like the Amazing Race and Journey to Mecca. Speaking English, French, Tashelheit (Berber), and Arabic allows Kamal to communicate with everyone we come in contact with, from nomads in the Todra Gorge to the Tuareg 'Blue Men' of the Sahara.
Kamal does a fantastic job of conveying the history and culture of his country. In addition, he shares a lot about his own Berber culture and the history of the Berbers. Which was one of the most interesting things during the trip. I got an in depth look at what it means to be Berber and even got to enjoy a home cooked meal with his family in Tinghir.
Although, my favorite local connection that Kamal set up was the visit with the school kids in Rissani. I came to Morocco with a bunch of school supplies that I was hoping to give out along the way. When I told Kamal about my plan during the first day he told me he knew of a school along the way that could really use the supplies. He took my to a small school on the outskirts of Rissani and the children couldn't have been happier. It was one of the more humbling experiences to see the kids light up in joy, not so much that I had brought school supplies, but because I had come to see them. It was an experience that I could have never planned on my own and I'm so thankful to Kamal for setting it all up for me.
Don't just take my word for it, since my trip Kamal's received much praise from our travelers:
"Kamal has been a treasure.....and is such an enhancement to our trip! We can't say enough about him....sweet, funny, educational and chivalrous are a few that come to mind. We will definitely recommend your company to others who are interested in Morocco." - John Z Morocco Adventure
"We enjoyed Kamal very much. He was affable, amusing, kind, and accommodating. He quickly learned what we needed. We could talk about anything with him and enjoyed his curiosity about American terms and ideas, even as he shared all sorts of details about Moslem life with us." Louise W. Exotic Morocco Tour
Here's a slideshow of some of the local connections that Kamal made for me.
Now you know, the best way to make a local connection in Morocco is to travel with a local. Wildland Adventures works with some of the finest and most trustworthy guides in Morocco. For more information about travel to Morocco, check out our trips to Morocco.
Your friendly adventurer,