After 10 years as an Intrepid leader in Morocco, Abdellah Bouraihan has the secret to getting to know his groups.
It’s day one of our trip and we’re in the medina of Marrakech, and our bags are being shifted from our van to hand-pushed carts. The carts are ideal for navigating the narrow, paved streets, which are full of motorbikes and cars. We are about to embark on a trip that will take us criss-crossing Morocco for the next few days. Amidst all the chaos, our tour leader, Abdellah, remains calm and smiling.
A few days later, as we get ready to leave for the High Atlas Mountains, Abdellah emerges dressed in a traditional djellaba and keffiyah – a robe and scarf. He is dressed for the mountains, and his smile is even wider. He is taking us to his part of the world.
It was a desire to show people his part of the world that brought Abdellah to the travel industry. Hailing from the M’Ggoun Valley, Abdellah has been a tour leader since 2005 and has been with Intrepid for 10 years. Abdellah got an economics degree but had no passion for it. So instead, he studied to be a mountain guide. ‘My wish was to accompany people, to show them the area,’ he says.
When asked whether he prefers mountain treks or cities, Abdellah replies, ‘I like a mix. Morocco Uncovered is a perfect trip for me. It’s a little bit of everything. Some cities, mountains, Sahara, valleys. So that’s the thing that I like to do.’
Abdellah loves sharing the hospitality of the Moroccan people with travellers, as well as real-life experiences and, of course, the food. He delights in sharing Moroccan food with visitors, and his favourite dish to share is tride, also known as rfissa – a dish of chicken, lentils and onions served with broth on a bed of shredded pastry. When our group is served it, Abdellah watches us closely, delighted with our reaction.
When I formally interview Abdellah, I’m back home and he is in Chefchaouen, one of his favorite cities in Morocco, on the last day of a 10-day trip. He speaks just after breakfast and shares that he went on 20 trips last year, and this year has been even busier. It might end up being double. That’s a lot of people to share his country with.
So how does Adbellah get to know the groups he leads? To make a genuine connection? ‘I don’t ever judge people,’ he says. ‘Once you start to judge people, you may actually destroy your trip. I don’t ever judge people. What I like to do is to show them myself. Once you talk from your heart, I think everybody feels comfortable to talk to you.’
Abdellah smiles. Speaking to him is always comfortable, but he has to take off – his group is waiting.
Are you good to go? Check out Intrepid’s range of small group adventures in Morocco.