IB Geography expedition to Morocco: Easter 2015

‘The best school trip I have ever done.’

 

– Lower Sixth IB geographer Elle Robson.

The Geography department ran another very successful field trip to Morocco during the first half of the Easter holidays. The field trip relates directly to several parts of the Geography IB syllabus as well as offering real geographical awe and wonder. The group of 45 Lower Sixth IB geographers, split into two independent groups, visited three contrasting environments in a different order:

 

Marrakech

 

Students visited the enchanting and vibrant city of Marrakech, the meeting place of the plains and the mountains, the Arabs and the Berbers. Highlights included a caleche ride through the old city to the Tanneries to learn about industrial processes and a walk through the ordered chaos of souks and the famous Djemma el Fnaa. Students contrasted the French designed modern city of Gueliz with the traditional city of the ancient, walled Medina and evaluated strategies to control city in-migration through a visit to the new town of Tamansourt on the outskirts of Marrakech.

 

The highlight for many was the three days in the High Atlas Mountains staying at the sustainably run Kasbah du Toubkal in the village of Imlil. The village is sited in an area of spectacular mountain scenery in the Toubkal National Park. Some of the money raised from the sale of the 2015 Geography Calendar was donated to the Imlil Community Association and all students were keenly involved in building a playground wall for a local primary school. Students also enjoyed a day trek in the beautiful mountains and valleys of the High Atlas, entering isolated areas away from normal tourist routes and enjoying some time playing sport and craft games with local young children. This was a unique opportunity to experience the traditional Berber way of life and some dramatic high energy mountain scenery. Students visited a Moroccan girls’ boarding house at Asni to see first-hand how money raised for the charity Education for All from the sale of the Geography calendar supports the education of young Moroccan girls.

 

The Sahara

 

The next leg of the trip saw us winding our way up and over the High Atlas mountains, over the Tizz-n-Tickaa pass to the town of Ouarzazate on the edge of the Sahara desert. Here we studied the opportunities and challenges of tourism visiting Ait Ben Haddou, a fortified hilltop oasis town which has featured in several major films including Gladiator and the High Atlas film studios. Further south following the Draa river valley students studied desert processes and landforms such as mesas, buttes and wadis. Near the river oasis town of Zagora, students studied irrigation strategies in hot, arid environments, barchans dunes and issues of sand encroachment in the village of Tinfou. The highlight of the trip for some was the camel trek into the desert to spend a night under the stars in a traditional Bedouin tent.

 

This experience of a developing country engaged students in a range of fascinating human and physical landscapes, provided a unique cultural experience, a valuable community action project and a wealth of case study information to consolidate their IB geography course.

 

Paul Thompson

 

 

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