Discovering the Culture of Morocco

Morocco

On a recent luxury journey through Morocco, A&K staff writer Bennett Neuhauser found a culture in the midst of transition buoyed by a tradition of inner beauty.

From the crenellated ramparts of its iconic kasbahs to the pastel colors of its desert landscapes, Morocco outwardly plays to certain expectations – a Muslim country with Moorish architecture, an arid land where herds of sheep roam painted hills, Berber men sipping coffee in cafés, women walking on roadsides in scarves and djellabas – all overlaid with the enduring influences of mid-20th-century French rule.

Yet, Morocco is far more than it first appears. Presided over by a progressive king who has opened the door to major reforms, Morocco is a Western-friendly nation with one foot anchored comfortably in the past and the other striding confidently into the future.

One of the souks selling copper cook pots and utensils

The Medieval Medina of Fez

After a first morning spent touring Casablanca and its massive Hassan II mosque, we boarded our spacious, air-conditioned motor coach for the drive to Fez. The next day, our small group of 18 ventured into the souks of its famed medina, to experience a cornucopia of sights, sounds and smells. We walked along narrow, uneven alleyways, with daylight filtering down from above high gray walls, enjoying up-close looks at tables heaped with spices, dried fruits, fresh fish or silk and leather garments. They’ve been selling goods and working metal by hand in the medina since medieval times, and today’s generation works in the same stalls their ancestors once did. And everywhere, there are cats, scrounging, prowling and sleeping – the mascots of the medina.

Part of a university dating to medieval times.

Centers of Faith and Learning

Led by our Resident Tour Director Mohamed Zahidi and his team, we were allowed to enter the Karaouine, the oldest continually operating university in the world. Founded in 859, virtually every surface of its quiet inner courtyard is decorated with highly detailed, delicately carved geometric patterns. Prohibited by their faith to use representational art such as icons, statues and paintings, Muslims employ geometric patterns to evoke spiritual meaning. Entering this graceful place that seemed hidden in the medina was like lifting the veil on an ancient culture that once kept outsiders at arm’s length.
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Luxury Redefined: Botswana’s Sanctuary Chief’s Camp

Luxury Redefined: Sanctuary Chief's Camp

Spectacular, renovated Chief’s Camp sets a new bar with huge suites, expanded public areas – and its own solar farm

When you’re already solidly on top it’s hard to raise the bar – but that’s just what Chief’s Camp in Botswana has done. A top-to-bottom renovation has made this top-tier camp even more luxurious, with 10 beautiful, stylish pavilions that are triple the size of the previous suites, more privacy, additional public areas, a greatly reduced carbon footprint and a stunning, one-of-a-kind Geoffrey Kent Suite.

“The new Chief’s Camp provides guests with every luxury and then some,” says Charl Badenhorst, Operations Director for Sanctuary Retreats in Botswana. “And we’ve taken full advantage of our location in the best game-viewing area in Botswana by adding more outdoor spaces, including private plunge pools, expansive decks and private outdoor dining options so our guests can fully enjoy their surroundings.”

Chief's Camp Outdoor Dining

Morning coffee delivery and heated mattress pads are just some of the special touches at the camp. Each en suite bathroom has floor-to-ceiling windows and folding glass doors, a spacious outdoor shower, a large, indulgent soaking tub and top-of-the-line amenities.
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A&K Philanthropy: Bridging Oceans and Breaking Barriers

cambodia-clean-water-project

Investing in a New Role Abroad

Emily Etue

Emily Etue

The world of philanthropic travel comes with its own unique set of challenges. Language barriers, time zones, cultural gaps and thousands of miles of ocean often separate a team from its goals. With this in mind, A&K Philanthropy (AKP) created a brand new role, the Program Coordinator.

American-based philanthropic organizations tend to coordinate their field workers remotely from stateside offices, visiting sites only on occasion. “This approach makes it hard to track what’s happening on the ground,” explains Emily. “Communication is sluggish, and opportunities are missed. This new Program Coordinator role invests in a dedicated person on the ground in the region, bringing with it a slew of advantages.” Emily is one of six Program Coordinators now working overseas for AKP.

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AKP Leaps Into Action with “Project Leopard,” Assisted by A&K Sri Lanka and Our Advisory Board

AKP Project Leopard

For local farm families living near Sri Lanka’s Yala National Park, home to the highest population density of leopards in the world, protecting livestock can be a life-and-death struggle. Cattle make easy prey for the powerful felines and, in turn, a leopard is no match for an angry farmer with a weapon or a trap.

Fortunately Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy (AKP) has found a simple and effective way to diffuse this conflict, in the form of steel enclosures that protect livestock at night, when the endangered leopards are most often on the prowl. AKP’s new “Project Leopard” will donate 25 such shelters over the next two years to farm families living near the park, saving cattle and cats.

AKP Launches “Project Leopard” in Sri Lanka

AKP — with support from A&K’s Sri Lanka office — launched the project recently, with the travel agents who comprise A&K’s Advisory Board and the A&K-USA leadership team on hand for the festivities.

To learn more about this and other AKP projects, or to donate, please visit akphilanthropy.org.

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Changing Lives in Zambia, One Spoke at a Time

Zambia bike shop

Early this September, Nakatindi Village and A&K Philanthropy proudly declared Chipego Bike Shop open for business. A social enterprise, the shop provides bicycles and mechanical support for local healthcare workers, students and customers throughout the community. The ribbon cutting was marked with a touching song, traditional dance and a tree planting, with the whole village joining in the celebration.

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Vogue Recommends Cuba with A&K

With the desire to travel to Cuba greater than ever before, Vogue points to A&K to take you there. “Those eager to see it before people are ordering café con leche from Starbucks should consider Abercrombie & Kent’s people to people tour—all you need is your passport,” writes Vogue’s Kate Guadagnino. “As A&K’s Geoffrey Kent puts it, ‘Visiting on the eve of great change affords a rare glimpse into the heart and soul of a culture.’”

Find out more about what A&K has to offer for Cuba travel »

Vogue’s Hottest New Destination: Cuba
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