TGL Morocco 2017

Spice markets, snake charmers, winding alleys, and a rainbow of colors. Morocco! And that's just Marrakech, where our team will begin and end this amazing trip. Get ready for incredible architecture, flavors, and sights from Marrakech to the Sahara and back - not to mention some awesome NGO work and a lot of surprises along the way!

We begin in Marrakech where we will explore the city on foot together and discover all the beautiful chaos this city has to offer. In the days that follow we will work with a local NGO, El Fenn Maroc, which works to empower local artists in Marrakech. We started a program with them last year specifically connecting local youth with photography - both with us, and with local photographers who will join us for this workshop. We'll continue building on this program, while also visiting a few other NGOs along the way just to spread our support as much as we can!

From Marrakech, we head to the High Atlas Mountains to see old kasbahs and small mountain villages. You won't believe mountains like this exist in Africa! A whole other world from Marrakech, we begin to enter areas where homes are mostly made of mud, where locals move livestock and do everything by hand, and where Berber communities have settled. We'll stay in a true Kasbah - a palace of sorts made mostly of mud - and enjoy the calm and magic of this particularly unique part of Morocco.

From there, we make the final leg to the Sahara where we will camp in the desert under the stars, ride camels along the dunes, eat dinner cooked over a fire, and generally try to believe that this is real life. By the way - You'll fall in love with our 3 incredible guides, hired through a company that specializes in responsible and ethical Moroccan travel.

Previous years have sold out quickly and had a waiting list - so apply soon if this trip sounds as amazing to you as it does to us!

Returning for 2017! This year we're working to offer something different. Our partners over at Open Doors Morocco are piecing together pre trip travel offerings to other portions of Morocco that include places like Chefchaouen, Fes, and Casablanca to explore the diversity of Morocco. We'll be providing more information on this to our Morocco participants soon!

Trip Dates

October 10 - 20, 2017

Cost

$3000 USD

Group Size

10-12

Difficulty

Moderate

This trip is physically easy to moderate.  There is lots of walking but mostly it's flat - certainly in Marrakech. The heat can be cumbersome but we try to take afternoons easy, and offer lots of chances for shade and hydration. There will be several fairly novice hikes to reach viewpoints. Going up and down the sand dunes can be taxing - but we provide ample time to do so. There is a good 10 hours of driving (or more if anything causes a delay) between Marrakech and the Sahara, but this is broken up in at least one direction. There will be one long day of driving back to Marrakech.
The emotional demands of this trip are moderate You'll be emotionally invested in the youths we work with, but much of the workshop will be fun, light-hearted, even a bit chaotic. You'll be moved and impacted but also inspired. Poverty in Marrakech isn't as forthright as other countries, but you certainly will encounter some.
The standards of accommodation, quality of meals, and access to amenities of this trip are very good. Accommodation is fairly excellent! You can expect a simple room with two twin beds, an ensuite bathroom, and clean sheets, towels, and blankets. Hot water can be hit and miss, especially if we're all trying to shower at once. However you will find that the accommodation will be elaboratedly decorated in the local fashion, with archways, open areas, silks, colors, and other ornate details. At the Kasbah, while it may be mud, it's updated to great standards. Camping in the desert is, well, camping but it's fun, and extremely worthwhile. Meals are of good quality. Lots of bread, rice, chicken tagine, lamb, and cous cous. Alcohol isn't commonly come by. Amenities such as bathrooms and convenience stores are available in most places. Toilets will be western style.
Level of safety in Morocco is very good to excellent. The most common issue for tourist is pickpocketing, but statistics are en par with almost anywhere well touristed in the world. TGL will offer tips and advice for your belongings and cash in team newsletters.

What is Included?

  • Connector.

    All Ground Transportation

    From the moment you arrive to when you depart, we have you covered. Taxis, buses, tours, you name it.

  • Connector.

    All Accommodation and Meals

    Rooms are double rooms with twin beds, paired by gender, and accommodation is always clean, comfortable, and safe. From dinner the arrival day, to breakfast the departure day, we will keep you well fed and hydrated.

  • Connector.

    All Entry Fees and Guides

    Entry fees, shooting permits, guides, passes, etc. If the team is going to shoot there, we'll get you in. We'll even be sure to tip any guides on behalf of the whole team.

  • Connector.

    All Photo Instruction

    You'll have 2 leaders available all day long to field as many questions as you can muster, provide one-on-one help, and offer group topics and instruction as required by the scene at hand.

  • Connector.

    A Donation to the NGO

    While there are a lot of factors involved that determine the exact amount - which we're happy to be completely transparent about - you can rest assured we make a substantial donation to our NGO partner post-trip.

What's Not?

  • Connector.

    Flights

    We're open to people from every corner of the world. This means we cannot possibly offer a flight that would suit everyone. If you can get yourself here, we'll take care of the rest!

  • Connector.

    Insurance

    We require every participant to have adequate travel insurance, and to carry copies of this insurance at all times.

  • Connector.

    Passport and Visa

    Each participant is required to ensure their passport is valid for the time of travel, and to research, learn, and meet all the requirements of an entry visa specific to their country. If there are fees associated with the entry visa, they're not included.

  • Connector.

    Alcohol and Souvenirs

    We do not provide alcohol for our participants, so that's up to you. As well, as much as we really really like you, we can't buy your gifts for you. Souvenirs are on you!

  • Connector.

    Internet

    Some hotels have wifi, others do not, or sometimes it simply doesn't work. When wifi is available for purchase, it's up to you if it's worthwhile. Some participant opt to purchase a local SIM card and data plan - a great option that we don't cover.

Behind the Scenes of TGL Morocco

The NGO: El Fenn

El Fenn Maroc is a non-profit cultural association whose mission is fourfold: to build bridges across cultures through visual art, to help preserve traditional arts in Morocco, to provide support for Moroccan artists and their families and communities and finally, to foster an appreciation for visual arts.

El Fenn Maroc operates out of Marrakesh Henna Art Cafe in the ancient medina of Marrakesh, Morocco. This art cafe features two galleries of art with both permanent and revolving exhibitions of guest artists. The two galleries are also used for workshops by Gordon and other artists, and the cafe offers space to other non-profit organizations as well. The first fundraiser for another Moroccan non-profit was held at the cafe in April of 2015, and more are scheduled for 2015-2016.

We will be working with local artists and photographers and various communities that El Fenn serves. We’ll be providing images of their work, of the great things the organization is doing, and also be teaching basic photography and hosting small photo projects/walks

Who Are Your Leaders?

Daniel Nahabedian is a freelance professional photographer, specializing in Travel, Culture and Landscapes (maybe also sunsets). He is a photography instructor, teaching in group and private workshops about basic and intermediate photography, as well as post-processing in Lightroom. He is an Armenian-Lebanese-French guy, raised in the UAE and living in Spain. His goal is to contribute to making the world a more friendly place by sharing his travels, knowledge acquired, and glimpses into cultures and traditions from around the world. He has an award-winning travel blog, Canvas of Light.

www.canvas-of-light.com

Michael Bonocore is our most senior trip leader, with over a dozen TGL trips under his belt. He's the Travel Editor at Resource Travel and specializes in travel, street, and landscape photography. He's also a professional videographer. He's worked with tourism boards, camera companies, and travel websites to make visual content from around the world. Hailing from SFO, he's been on the road more than he's been at home for the last 3 years. Michael is an extraordinary teacher and leader - you're in for a treat!

www.bonocorevisualstudios.com

TGL Testimonials

Timothy C.

Standing in direct contrast to bland, sanitized, one-size-fits-all packages, The Giving Lens provides a wonderful setting for true exploration – enhancing photo skills, befriending diverse and amazing people, and getting deeply into local communities. My entire trip in Jordan exceeded “photo workshop + volunteering” to become a vast, wonderful immersion with a great group of ... Read More
Timothy C.

Melanie F.

The most important thing to understand about The Giving Lens and its leaders; they WILL infect you with passion. Passion for photography and passion for the NGOs it supports. After two week with my team and all the locals we had befriended, I was more sad to leave my Giving Lens family than I ever ... Read More

Braeden H.

Thailand was my first, but I can’t imagine my last, trip with The Giving Lens. Everything was well taken care of allowing you to have fun, learn lots of great photography skills, and to really soak in every single moment in the wonderful culture around you!