- Our School
- Sixth Form
One of our most ambitious school Art and DT trips, 44 students and staff
set off on the Morocco five day adventure to explore culture, customs, heritage and cuisine.
After a four flight, we were met by our guide Hamadi at the airport, and had a city tour to familarise ourselves with Marrakech. An exotic walled city, with a labyrinthine network of markets and streets winding their way towards the main, central square. There was plenty to explore, with cultural highlights as well as the shopping in the souks and the artisan ensemble; a delightfully small craft market of candlemakers, jewellery designers, leather goods, felted and fabric goods, carpets, rugs, carved wood items and local food delicacies. Some bartering and haggling with dirham was successful, and we then headed to our Hotel Mogador Opera 4*. A large modern hotel in uptown Marrakesh, this was a perfect place to relax, sit, unwind, swim and enjoy some downtime before our buffet supper together.
An early buffet breakfast with fresh fruit and vegetable juices, pancakes, espresso, tea, flatbreads, honey, jams, cooked breakfast with spicy sausages and peppers, pastries and cakes was enjoyed by all. We then set off to the C12th Menara botanical gardens to watch the sunrise. The pavilion and basin (an artificial lake) are surrounded by orchards and olive groves.
Onto the beautiful Bahia Palace which captures the essence of Islamic and Moroccan style with intricate, colourful woodwork, decorated ceilings and columns, multicolour glass and vitrage, planted with small ornate gardens with citrus groves within the place walls that offered a respite to the Moroccan heat.
We then moved onto the Saadian tombs, a recently discovered gem of the Saadian dynasty and then onto the new town, the Jardin Majorelle, designed by the late Yves Saint Laurent, provided a welcome respite from the chaos of the city. Here our snap happy photographers were keen to explore design, colours shape, form, texture and planting within the beautifully landscaped gardens.
Lunch consisted of cous cous and tagine with a fabulous skyline panorama of Marrakech from our roof top terrace restaurant.
In the afternoon, we spent a very enjoyable few hours exploring the souks and medina, plus a visit to the enchanting Pharmacie to research herbs, spices, lotions and potions with the help of the Pharmacie Doctor who had a great sense of humour and we were all soon enjoying shoulder massages, medicinal samples and a fun afternoon of pampering!!
As the dusk appeared, we experienced the world famous Djemaa el Fna, which comes alive at night with story tellers, acrobats, musicians and street food stalls. There were also the souks to explore, which were chaotic, but a lot of fun to navigate around.
A quick bus ride back to the hotel to swim and freshen up, and we were then treated to a fantastic three course meal at the Kasbah, along with folk lore entertainers, belly dancers and musicians.
A delicious breakfast, swimming pool games and sun loungers started the day, after our incredible day previously. A few sleepy students enjoyed a lie in!
The Palmerie, located just outside of Marrakech, was our location for the first of our Cooking workshops today. In the morning heat of the desert, we split into teams and were shown how to prepare a delicious cous cous and Moroccan salad. Students participated with real enthusiasm and enjoyed learning about the different ingredients and techniques. With an hour for cooking, we were then introduced to our next adventure. Berber headgear in place, we proceeded to meet our camels and enjoyed a wonderful guided ride through the Palmerie and desert with the evocative call to pray. This was a truly memorable experience for all, with lots of chatter and laughter over a mid-afternoon lunch recounting our tales and experiences.
At the end of our busy day, we returned to the hotel and enjoyed some relaxation and swimming in the huge pool, a lovely supper and then the hotly contested staff Quiz!!
The area of the Atlas Mountains close to Marrakech offers stunning mountain scenery, snow-capped mountains topping over 4,000m, traditional earth built Berber Villages and a great adventure infrastructure, which we were keen to embrace. The Ourika Valley was stunning. Lined with apple, cherry, citrus groves and terraces of wheat, the lofty mountain skyline dominated the views and our photographers enjoyed a tremendous opportunity to capture the incredible panoramas. A visit to a local Berber family, we enjoyed a tour of their simple mud house, and then mint tea, bread and honey refreshments together, learning about their traditions and village life. We continued up the valley watching the views open up and amaze us with the impressive alpine skyline.
Next stop was the river cafe, with tables and chairs in the river to cool feet and refresh. This was memorable for us all, and we enjoyed the busking musicians, village cooks who were selling their cereals whilst literally sitting in the sunshine, in the river.
Lunch was at the local mountain Kasbah, and then we returned to Marrakesh artisan ensemble for some souvenir shopping.
Back to the hotel to swim, sun bathe, relax and change for the final evening’s entertainment: Moroccan Fantasia at Chez Ali. Our students and staff dressed up for this evening, and we enjoyed a fabulous evening of delicious food, entertainment celebrating folklore and culture.
One final Moroccan buffet breakfast, swim in the pool and then packing up. We headed back to the Palmerie for our second cooking workshop to make tagine. Bedouin transport took us to the Desert Kasbah where we had the most incredible culinary experience. Working in teams, we learned about marinades, spice infusions, vegetable preparation and creative cuisine in teams. This was made all the more memorable in a stunning alfresco location, high temperatures, Moroccan breeze and sunshine. Whilst our tagines were cooking we explored the Kasbah, enjoying Moroccan culture and heritage. After lunch henna skin art and calligraphy was enjoyed by all, with some interesting creations.
Finally, we set off to the airport, having said our sad goodbyes to our generous, hospitable hosts and brilliant tour guide Hamadi.
We arrived back at Lavington at 3.30am.
This was an extraordinary, memorable school adventure with 44 wonderful students and staff who together have experienced an incredible insight into Moroccan culture, cuisine, history and heritage plus the sensory indulgence of Marrakech, Palmerie, Sahara desert and high Atlas Mountains.