Morocco has an allure that will grip you from the start. Maybe it’s the natural beauty of the country - the vibrant blues, striking buildings and diverse landscapes. Or, maybe it’s that everything is steeped in a history and culture that holds tradition, family values, delicious food and hospitality at its core. While our Morocco and Morocco – Marrakech programs have many similarities, they also have some distinct differences that set them apart from one another, and allow volunteers to experience this vibrant country in two polar opposite settings. Keep reading to find the program that’s the perfect fit for you…
Our Morocco programs are based in two of the largest cities in the country: the Morocco Program is located along the picturesque coast of the North Atlantic Ocean, and is based in Rabat, but also has placement locations in neighboring cities: Salé and Casablanca. Rabat has an approximate population of 1.2 million people.
Alternatively, the Morocco – Marrakech program is located inland - you guessed it – in Marrakech. However, this program also has a select few projects that are based approximately 1.5 hours away in the stunning, and unbelievably picturesque Atlas Mountains. Marrakech has an approximate population of just over 1 million people.
It takes around 4 hours to travel via train between the two programs, so it’s incredibly easy for volunteers to visit either of these locations for a weekend away. Either way, you’ll never find a shortage of picture perfect moments, so get your selfie sticks ready and prepare to Snapchat your way through this amazing country!
Morocco has a Mediterranean climate that is generally hot and dry for most of the year, with cooler, yet still mild, temperatures and rainfall during the winter months between November and March. Temperatures usually reach an average high of 27°C (80.6°F) in the summer months and an average high of 17°C (62.6°F) in the winter months. However, temperatures can drop to an average of 7°C (44.6°F) in the winter. While most of the time the weather is relatively similar in both locations, it’s important to remember that volunteers in the Atlas Mountains can expect drastically different weather. The weather in the mountains is typically very cold at night, warming up during the day, and then dipping down again in the evening. You can definitely expect snow in the winter, and even in summer time you might find a light dusting on the tips of the mountain tops, so we encourage volunteers to dress in layers and plan accordingly based on the season.
One of the main differences between the Morocco program and the Morocco - Marrakech program, are the start dates. While both programs offer volunteer opportunities ranging from 1 – 24 weeks, the fixed start dates are different. The Morocco program is available to start on the first and third Monday of each month, whereas the Morocco - Marrakech program has fixed start dates on the second and fourth Monday of each month.
While both programs offer projects in Teaching English, Teaching French, Childcare, and Women’s Education, there are a few projects that differ depending on the location you select. For instance, our Morocco Program solely offers volunteers the opportunity to work on a Sports Development project, which aims to alleviate delinquency among young Moroccans in developing communities by introducing various sports activities to students, and a Ramadan project, which allows volunteers to experience several projects combined during the month of Ramadan.
Alternatively, on the Morocco – Marrakech program you’ll find a Special Needs Care project based in Marrakech, and two additional projects that are located way up in the Atlas Mountains: the Agriculture project and the Amazigh/Berber Immersion project, both of which offer a grassroots immersion opportunity within one of the indigenous villages in this region.
Accommodation and Food:
Volunteers on both programs are accommodated in homestays and live alongside a local family in their riad (a traditional Moroccan home), and share rooms with 2 - 4 other volunteers of the same gender. The host family prepares 3 traditional (and delicious!) meals per day, which include a variety of Mediterranean fruits and vegetables, and meats with spices. But don’t worry, vegetarian options are available too! A typical Moroccan meal begins with a series of hot and cold salads, followed by a tagine (Moroccan stew) and bread is eaten with every meal. Lamb or chicken dishes are common, as is couscous topped with meat and vegetables. The consumption of pork and alcohol are prohibited as per Muslim dietary restrictions and drinking the delightfully sweet mint tea is a daily tradition.
Travel and Tour Options:
There’s certainly no shortage of travel and tour opportunities in both program locations, as well as further afield when you’ve got some more time on the weekend!
In Marrakech, some of the most popular travel and tour destinations are:
- The Medina of Marrakech: the Marrakech Medina was founded in 1070-72 and was considered the political, economic and cultural center of the city. Today, this area is a lively, compact area made of maze-like streets, showcasing the most extraordinary handmade clothing and jewelry, food, ceramics, and other items that are ideal gifts to take home to family and friends. Within the walls several historical monuments can also be found, including: the Koutoubiya Mosque, the Kasbah, monumental doors and gardens, the Bandia Palace, Saadian Tombs, Jardin Majorelle, as well as the Ben Youssef Madrasa.
- Sahara Desert: there’s no shortage of outdoor adventure, and volunteers can participate in multi-day treks on 4x4s and even by camel!
- Atlas Mountains: volunteers who love the outdoors should strap on some comfortable shoes to explore the neighboring Atlas Mountain range, which stretches from the Atlantic Coast to Tunisia. Qualified mountain guides are available to lead you on treks through ancient paths, terraced pastures and through traditional Amazigh villages. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about local customs and traditions of the Berber decedents, indigenous to North Africa.
Alternatively, on the Morocco Program volunteers will find a plethora of historic sites, picturesque landscapes, as well endless choices for their inner-foodie! Some of the most popular hot spots include:
- Rabat Medina: bustling with visitors and locals, bursting with colorful designs and the intoxicating smells from street vendors, it’s a must see!
- Hassan Tower and Mausoleum of Mohammed V
- Marrakech: only a 4 hour train-ride away!
- Sahara Desert: like I said, an absolute Mecca for outdoor adventure!
Some volunteers even choose to travel further afield in their spare time, visiting Fes, Meknes (imperial cities), Volubilis (Roman), Tanger, and the south of Europe (Italy, Andalusia, Portugal, and the south of Spain).
Why Not Volunteer In Both Locations?
Many volunteers wish to take advantage of the close proximity of the Morocco and Morocco – Marrakech programs, and choose to participate on both consecutively. It’s quite simple and convenient too, given that these programs have different start dates, and it’s a quick commute from one location to the other via train or plane. If this is something you’re interested in, we’d love to have you join us! You’ll simply need to submit an application for each program, and your Program Manager will review and process your application within 24 – 48 hours. Not to mention as a multiple trip volunteer, you will receive a 10% registration fee refund from your second program onward! See the IVHQ Alumni Network page for more information.
We hope to see you in Morocco soon!