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active 2 hours ago

Yassine Echcherki

I'm originally from Sefrou, Morocco, which is located in the foothills of the Middle Atlas Mountains, Southeast of Fez. In 2010 I started my company Morocco Off the Beaten Track with the vision of bringing local Moroccans together with the rest of the world to encourage understanding and give the gift of worldly experience to all involved. My goal is to always provide a uniquely Moroccan experience, where my travelers can see, feel and taste what makes the Kingdom of Morocco special.

I have worked for the U.S. Peace Corps as an Arabic language instructor and culture trainer, as well as worked with different travel companies in Morocco facilitating and organizing cultural tours and programs. I have also conducted cross-cultural educational programs for several American organizations and taught French and Arabic at a primary school in Citta Del Castelo, Italy. In addition to speaking my native Arabic language, I'm also fluent in French and English.

At Central Washington University in Washington State, I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Marketing. I also volunteer and teach English to Syrian refugees in the greater Seattle area while providing them with localization and life coach services. I strongly believe that cross-cultural education and international learning opportunities are the keys to promoting peace and building long lasting friendship.

What places and activities do you specialize in?

"Morocco Off the Beaten Track operates mostly in semi-urban to rural areas. We generally want to give our travelers the opportunity to experience the real Morocco far from the touristy places, however can plan trips to the larger and Imperial Cities (Marrakesh, Rabat, Fez, Casablanca, etc.) if our travelers so desire. In our tours, we visit villages, meet artisans and farmers, and share food with local people. Our activities include community service, historical and cultural tours, hikes and treks, cooking classes, surfing instruction, 4x4 and camel desert trips, skiing and snowboarding, rafting, and rock climbing."

How did you get involved in travel?

"I started Morocco Off the Beaten Track to provide opportunities for travelers to learn about Morocco and to support local Moroccan communities by providing jobs and giving them the experience of interacting with people from other countries. The catalyst for this was my experience with the US Department of State Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). I was selected to participate in the MEPI Student Leaders Program at Montana State University because of the quality of my leadership experience and community involvement. This prestigious program brings young leaders from North Africa and the Middle East to learn leadership skills and to study democracy, human rights, and conflict resolution. In my time in the USA, I realized how little Americans knew about Morocco and how many misconceptions there were of the Arab world. I decided to found a travel company that could bridge the gap in understanding of Morocco and the US. I had experience working with travel companies in Morocco, and had traveled throughout the country myself, so I knew what it would take to start this company and how to create and facilitate outstanding programs for my travelers."

Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.

"I will never forget the time I went with my friend to the desert dunes of Merzouga in Morocco. Prior to traveling there, I had not known that Morocco had deserts like this. It was endless rolling dunes of reddish sand, and it took us two hours by camel to reach the oasis we were staying at. At the oasis, I learned different ways to bake bread by the local Berber nomads and got to try their unique foods. Their hospitality was outstanding and was one of the more special things about the trip. In the evening we went to the largest dune in the area and got to see the silver shine of the desert in the moonlight. It was a breathtaking view and something I will never forget."

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