I may be biased, but I truly believe that OAT has the best associates—and I’m especially proud of our regional staff, the people who live and work in the destinations our travelers visit. So, it’s no surprise to me that so many OAT travelers rave about the Trip Leaders they’ve had on past adventures with us.
That’s why I was so happy to hear from Karen M. & Paul C. and Dianne A. Here they explain why their Morocco and Tunisia adventures were especially rewarding, thanks to the efforts of their expert Trip Leaders …
Our trip to Morocco was our best OAT trip so far. This is in part because Morocco is such a fascinating place, but the principal reason was our Trip Leader—Chakib El Hiba. He is certainly the best Trip Leader we’ve had on any OAT trip, and perhaps the best Trip Leader we’ve had with any tour group—and we’ve had a few!
He is an intelligent and learned man who readily reveals his comprehensive knowledge of his homeland with visitors. I believe he has been doing this for several years now, and it shows: The tour was well-organized; he was quick to prepare us for the numerous stops and different phases of the voyage—going so far as to tell the group what the choices were for coffee at our first stop in Casablanca, and then providing Moroccan pastries to go with the coffee. And when our guide in Volubilis faltered, Chakib was able to take over and animate the otherwise rather desolate surroundings. Throughout, he was sensitive to our needs, responsive, and always available. He was helpful when visiting the shops scheduled for the tour; he answered all questions; and he was good company. In sum, Chakib was a model for what a Trip Leader should be.
What sets OAT apart from other companies is its emphasis on providing opportunities to visit local homes and institutions. Chakib deserves much credit for making these visits so successful in Morocco. Whether we were being served lunch by a village imam or tea by nomadic Berbers in the desert, dining with a middle-class family in Rabat, or meeting children eager to show us their schools, it was clear that our hosts held Chakib in high esteem and wanted to make us feel welcome. In this important way, too, Chakib made this trip a smashing success for everyone. He should probably be Morocco’s ambassador to the United Nations!
This experience has certainly made us look forward to our next trip with OAT.
Karen M. & Paul C.
Titusville, New Jersey
I had to let you know of an experience I had recently on my OAT trip to Tunisia. We were two days late in joining our group because of snow in the United States … So on our last day in Tunisia, we asked Kias El Habib, our Trip Leader, if he could arrange for us to see some of the things we had missed during the first two days of the trip. Our only option was to take a cab with a driver who didn’t speak English (and we spoke nothing but English).
So off we went. Almost immediately, the cab driver pulled off to the side of the road and began pointing to sites of interest, while waiting for us to take pictures. At the Bardo Museum, he found an English-speaking guide, and brought him to us. From that moment on, we felt more confident.
While we were at the North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial, I looked down to discover that my fanny pouch was wide open and my change purse (with all my money, credit cards, and driver’s license) was missing. I was frantic. I immediately informed my sister, who was with me, and we began retracing our steps at that location. Upon reaching the cab, there lay my change purse on top of my coat in the back seat of the cab—wide open with money showing. Outside stood our driver, conversing with a site attendant. I then realized how my change purse got there: We had started taking out his fare because we were unaware there would be another stop. Not wanting to overrun our three-hour limit, we had hurriedly left the cab. And nothing was missing from my change purse!
This could have been a devastating close to our trip. But because of the choices our Trip Leader made, we had a superb experience. We were able to capture most of the missed events and left with peace of mind. Thanks to you for your choice of Trip Leaders, and to Kias for his knowledge of the locals.
Chocowinity, North Carolina
I’m so glad you were able to experience the more intimate side of both of these fascinating countries, Karen, Paul, and Dianne. I believe that if you really want to see a destination best, it’s through the eyes of those that live there.
And here, Andrea R., describes what made her recent adventure to Morocco so special, including two of her favorite photos from the trip …
My adventure to Morocco was another wondrous travel adventure. This is a beautiful country with gorgeous desert landscapes dotted with herds of camels, goats, and nomads. The nomads live a primitive life, but are generous with their stories and delight in having a cup of tea with visitors.
Everywhere, even in the mountains, people live without running water or electricity, yet seem healthy and happy. There are very close family and neighborly ties as they depend on each other for survival. We listened to a group of Moroccans play unusual string instruments as they demonstrated their dancing skills and invited us to join them.
All of the cities have their medinas—huge communities behind walls where you’ll find casbahs and palaces, restaurants and shops, and street merchants. We went on camel rides in the desert, dined in colorful restaurants where beautiful music was played and endless dinner courses arrived, visited an impoverished school, as well as a wonderful orphanage, enjoyed home-hosted dinners with some very smart people, saw the magnificent mosques and palaces, went to a hamam where our bodies were scrubbed with olive soap and loofas, and wandered the tunnel-like and winding streets of the medinas.
Andrea and her fellow travelers don some traditional Moroccan clothing.
Andrea enjoys local Moroccan transportation.
13-time traveler & Vacation Ambassador
New York, New York