As a geographer, I have always loved the thrill of travel and encountering the sights and activities of the real world. In my career as a High School Geography Teacher, I enjoyed not only introducing and educating students on many varied geographical topics but also engendering inquisitiveness in order that they gained a true depth of understanding and appreciation of the issues involved.
Leading my students on many educational trips was always the "icing on the cake", the time when realization truly dawned and all classroom learning came fully "alive", meaningful and purposeful; this was very fulfilling.
Thus travel needs to have a purpose, an aim, an end result; travel is not simply going away and coming back home! Look, see, interpret, evaluate, consider, understand and thus become more educated, more considered in opinions and viewpoints. Travel should indeed broaden the mind of the traveler but also benefit many people who are encountered along the way.
What places and activities do you specialize in?
"I now specialise in assisting in both Morocco and Iceland. Specifically thinking of Morocco, it is a country with so much to offer the visitor. The landscapes, the people, the activities (traditional and modern), the cultures; what a kaleidoscopic mix! Trips that can be fully organised can be "Travelling Tours" of one or many more days duration, perhaps travelling in to the High Atlas or into the Sahara (perhaps spending overnight in a Bedouin camp).
Also Trips can be "Hikes and Treks", again of either one or many more days duration, exploring the remote places of the High Atlas, encountering friendly and welcoming Berber communities, perhaps spending nights in a Berber home if wished.
Also, the Anzal Tours unique "Highlight Days" are individual speciality days that take you well off the beaten track to quite stunning places where you can truly experience the very real Morocco, the Morocco that "lies behind", the Morocco that is simply remarkable.
I thoroughly enjoy assisting in the development of tailor made itineraries for Anzal Tours's clients, first listening too their ideas and needs, suggesting additions/alternatives and then together finalising their ideal tour."
How did you get involved in travel?
"My travels beyond my home country of Scotland really began whilst working as a geography teacher, planning, organising and leading my own students to foreign lands each year. Much of mainland Europe was explored from its lowlands (e.g. The Netherlands) to its highlands (e.g. the Swiss Alps), to the Mediterranean shores.
Iceland become a most popular destination; one visit and you are smitten! This stunning country became a firm favorite amongst my students and every few years a 15/18 day epic trip was organized, a trip whose events and memories live on with participants to this day.
South West USA was also visited, quite a contrast to Iceland's sub arctic.
Whilst teaching I was also working as Geography Consultant for a large UK Educational Tour Operator, establishing and developing their Geography Study Tours. This involved many trips overseas to research and then write study materials for students.
When I left teaching to take up a full-time job with the UK Educational Tour Operator, as well as Europe and the USA, China was visited and also Morocco.
Morocco was a total eye and mind opener. It was a remarkable experience that first trip, a thrill that continues as I now frequently the country each year (but not in July or August!). Morocco offers such contrasts, from its Mediterranean north, the central Atlas mountains and the Sahara in the south. The land, the people are so colorful, so active, so interesting; once again I am smitten!"
Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.
"It was late May and the day began with a drive towards the foothills of the High Atlas in Morocco. My friend and I had no particular itinerary in mind, just simply to follow our noses. But once in to the foothills around Amizmiz, something was drawing us inwards and upwards, further and deeper into this astonishing mountain massif.
As we gained height the rocky, beautiful mountain slopes were seen to be alive, alive with people, adults and children ... and many donkeys! It was harvest time in the High Atlas and the barley was being hand gathered. Many waves were received and reciprocated as we drove ever upwards to our unknown goal.
We were amongst Berber communities, wresting a living from the hard land through strong and fervent endeavour. It was magical, we were in another world, a world apart, a world very far from the life in Marrakech, the city we had left that morning.
By now the road had become piste (unsurfaced), winding and steep. But we were drawn in; let's see where this takes us, this is an adventure, destination unknown. We could only imagine the hard labour of the farmers and their families; it was hot, very hot, it was dusty and their small fields were very many; there was much to do to be able to survive until the next year's harvest.
Eventually we came to the end of the road. We parked and within moments of leaving the car to take a stroll in the most beautiful surroundings we had glasses of hot sweet mint tea thrust into our hands; no curious looks, no suspicions, only instant inclusion by the Berbers. How humbling.
After some chat we were advised to walk a little further in to the valley ahead, not far, only a few hundred metres, and there we would see a natural wonder, the "Mouth at the Entrance to the World".
We followed a stream, the "river of life" for this community, and there it was, a water cut canyon, stained red rocks with vertical fretted walls; indeed it did look like the mouth to another world. And coming through the narrowest of gaps was an old Berber man, on his donkey, coming towards us.
My friend, a Moroccan, engaged in easy conversation with him (in a mix of Berber and Arabic languages); again, we felt immediate inclusion, we were welcome, very welcome. They were proud of their land, of their community, of their ability to live in such a demanding environment that did give rewards to those who endeavoured and persevered.
On returning to the village there was more mint tea proffered, more conversation and then we left but with a good deal of hesitation. So we did hesitate, met some more kindly and gentle Berbers who invited us to drink yet more tea (with delicious cake) under the canopy of an apple tree orchard with the sound of rushing river water on the steep valley floor below as a backdrop.
We had seen, learned and experienced so much on a day that was completely unplanned, just following our noses, going where we were invisibly led. Morocco once again had shown itself to be magical, entrancing and a sheer delight for all the senses. "
Featured trips & expertise
The High Atlas mountains are more than just a backdrop for vibrant Marrakech. Only an hour from the city, spectacular scenery and culture await you, with plenty of trails to choose from. Check out one of these four easily-accessible regions and immerse yourself in varied terrain, stunning views, and local Berber culture.
Extending from the Mediterranean Shores and Rif mountains in the north to the Atlantic Shores to the west to the hot desert lands of the Sahara in the south, Morocco is a vast country with a huge range of landscape regions. Cutting across its midline are the Atlas mountains, with the Sahara on one side and the more lush, coastal regions on the other.
Morocco has activities for travelers of all ages and interests. With such a diverse landscape — from plains to mountains to coast and desert — Morocco is a great place both for both adventure and relaxation. Check out our list of favorite things to do, below.
The choices are endless. Morocco offers a lifetime of places to explore, but for most of us with a limited amount of time it's best to pick a few key places. We have put together a list of places and regions to consider as you go about the process of putting together the perfect itinerary.
Morocco is a vast country, stretching from its Mediterranean shores in the north, its Atlantic coastline to the west, to the Sahara in the south. As a result, Morocco’s climate and weather vary greatly and this influences the best times to visit particular areas of the country.
Experience Morocco's stunning natural beauty and fascinating culture on this four-day trip to its mountains, deserts, and oases. Ride camels in the Sahara, roam the maze of passageways in a classic kasbah, and hike through a river gorge. Along the way, you'll meet Berber tribes, eat fresh dates and nuts straight off the trees, and browse the vibrant souks and bazaars.
Recent trip reviews for Ian
Imperial cities in morroco, Morocco - Dec 29 - Jan 7, 2018
Our driver Sellam was outstanding and so were Larbi and Hassan, the guide in Fes.
The riad in Fes was beautiful, but the food was awful and the owner, Assis kept promising food/meals that never came since the kitchen didn't know about it and his stuff has no clue and the cook(s) don't either. The bathroom always stank of sewage. We were in room #19.
We also were required to pay an extra $85 for a New Year's Eve Fiesta, that also did not exist and the New Year's dinner was uneatable. Plus,... read more
Marrakesh-sahara-casablanca, Morocco - Dec 24 - Dec 29, 2017
We loved our time in Morocco! It was especially great because of our driver/guide Saleh. He was very professional and respectful to us. We were very satisfied with Hotel Amlal, beber camp site, and Hotel Casablanca. The only issue we had was with Hotel Akabar. It did not really meet our expectations and the hotel and dining staff were not great. It was the only accommodation that did not provide us with any water during our dinners, and did not give us an option for dinner like the other... read more
Morocco trip, Morocco - Dec 26 - Jan 1, 2018
We (a group of 4) started planning our Morocco trip almost too late - by first week of December we were still discussing whether Morocco is our destination for 2017's Christmas - New Year break.
I was elected to be in charge of planning this trip.
We only have 7-8 days but we don't want to miss a thing in Morocco - eventually I was sitting there scratching my head looking at a list of 7 different cities/places and trying to weaver them together with almost no knowledge of how to get around... read more
Exotica morocco, Morocco - Dec 22 - Dec 26, 2017
Ian has provided me with a really good service and information.
Also thank to Larbi, his partner in Morocco for arranging the trip. I got to visit lots of places in my short amount of time.
Since I am a solo traveler, the amount they’ve given me to explore each city is adequate.
Within 5 days 4 night, I’m able to discover Casablanca, Rabat, Meknes, Volubilis, Fez, and Chefchaouen. Also a short city tour in Ouezzane.
If I added 1 more day, I’m sure I’ll be able to discover Marakkech as well. But for now, northern Morocco is more than enough.
Thank you so much for everything, Ian and Larbi