Summer Abroad Morocco, Sample Itinerary

This is a sample itinerary. No two Dragons courses are the same. Every itinerary considers the unique strengths of the instructor team and interests of the student group.
Week 1 After traversing the Atlantic Ocean, we arrive in Casablanca and then travel by multiple modes of transportation to a small town, tucked away in the Middle Atlas Mountains. Here, at our orientation site, we begin Arabic language study, receive an introduction to Moroccan cultural norms, get to know each-other, and set our intentions for the course. In addition, we begin an exploration of the Islamic traditions of Morocco and explore the rolling hills of the Middle Atlas.
Week 2 Following our course orientation, we travel by taxi to the quaint Berber (Amazigh) town of Azrou (which translates as “Great Rock”). In Azrou, surrounded by the rare cedar forest which dominate the mountains, we prepare for our semi-urban homestay with language and cultural etiquette lessons. We meet our homestays families and get ready for a multi-day cultural experience in Moroccan homes. In Azrou, we discover urban life and family dynamics. We come together as a group each day to learn Arabic including the alphabet, greetings and introductions, shopping and transportation phrases, as well as useful expressions to begin navigating daily routines independently. We hear from local experts, spend time with local Moroccan youth, hike in the surrounding mountains, and develop a plan for our Independent Study Projects. We wrap-up our time in the Middle Atlas, by travelling to the city of Fez to see the religious sites and massive medina of this world-renowned city. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fez teems with superlatives. Not only is its medieval medina the largest car-free urban area in the world, but it’s also home to the oldest existing, continually operating educational institution on the planet. We explore the medina (old city), wending our way along the labyrinthine passageways to experience the diversity of the souqs (markets). We visit centuries-old tanneries, walk among crumbling ruins, and practice our bargaining skills.
Week 3 After saying farewell to the north of the country, we travel by taxi, bus, and local van southwest to the remote village of Imilchil, home of the traditional Ait Hadidu mountain tribe. We explore this unique community in the Eastern High Atlas Mountains, see a women’s weaving cooperative, meet local guides, and prepare supplies for our trek. We then spend several days exploring the largest chain of mountains in North Africa as we hike through an area almost untouched by tourists in the heart of the High Atlas Mountains. As we trek we encounter some of the most remote villages in Morocco as well as communities of nomads who tend their flocks in these canyons during the summer. We experience the raw beauty of sandstone plateaus and canyons during our morning hikes and continue to learn more about Morocco and its people during our afternoon lessons. Returning to Imilchil, we have the chance to visit the homes of the Ait Hadidou tribe, participate in daily routines, and practice language skills in a remote setting.
Week 4 Heading into the Expedition Phase of our course, we cross the High Atlas peaks and travel through the “Valley of the Kasbahs (Castles)” in the south on our way through Marrakesh and to the west coast. We finish our course in a village outside of the coastal city of Essaouira, a tranquil location for our Transference Phase where we present Independent Study Projects, reflect together about our journey in Morocco, and prepare for the onward journey. If possible, before our departure from Casablanca we spend an afternoon visiting the Hassan II Mosque, one of the largest in the world and the only active mosque in Morocco open to visitors.