Journey Beyond Travel - Our Team and Mission
Journey Beyond Travel is located in Morocco and we have more than a decade of experience offering meaningful cross-cultural experiences with in-depth personal encounters. We provide you with an insider's view to Moroccan life. We gear each trip to your personal interests and are vested to ensure you have an authentic, high-quality, and rewarding experience. We live up to our vision of sustainable tourism in Morocco that gives back to the local people. We are proud to have the best on-the-ground team in country and you can get to know us below.
Journey Beyond Travel - Staff
Thomas Hollowell is the founder of Journey Beyond Travel. Originally from the US, he started out in Morocco as a Peace Corps Volunteer. He founded Journey Beyond Travel more than a decade ago because he saw a need for a quality tour company that could take people to parts of Morocco left unseen. His passion for developing itineraries and arranging high-quality excursions with a focus on flexibility and professionalism led Journey Beyond Travel to become Morocco's premier tour operator. His passions include website design, running, swimming, and writing. He currently has four books to his name and is a current contributor to the Rough Guide to Morocco. He and the team at Journey Beyond Travel put their heart and soul into each and every trip to ensure you go beyond the destination!
Fazia Farrook has many roles with our team: co-founder, head coordinator, bookkeeper, and ensuring that your entire trip runs smoothly. She works directly with our guides, drivers, and special hand-picked riads. She comes to Journey Beyond Travel from a diverse cultural background – Portuguese, Brazilian, Guyanese, and Indian. She has been living in Morocco for over 17 years and considers it her home. After growing up in Canada, she moved to the US and majored in African Studies at university with a focus on Morocco. After a year abroad in the North African Kingdom, she decided to stay and teach English for seven years in Rabat. With a decade under her belt in the field of tourism, she is now pursuing certification in Sustainable Community Development. Her hopes are to work even more closely with villages in order to start sustainable projects that will continue giving back to local communities.
Houssaine Boufala spent many years teaching after he finished his English Language degree and continues to study linguistics in his spare time. It wasn't until 2008 that he began working in the field of tourism with Journey Beyond Travel. As a Morocco Tour Specialist, Houssaine works with clients when they first contact us about the trip they'd like to put together. Houssaine's role is to begin a dialogue with each traveler in the hopes that we can meet their needs, develop a unique itinerary, and answer questions about Morocco's places, people, and culture. A truly dedicated and responsive facilitator, Houssaine prides himself at being reliable, credible, and working hard to answer questions as best as possible. His hobbies include traveling, jogging, music, and theater. He has also found that he enjoys volunteering his time to those in need.
Aicha Brahimi is a native of Azrou in the Middle Atlas Mountains of Morocco. She graduated from the University in Meknes with a degree in in English Literature where she soon thereafter began working with a travel agency in the Netherlands. In the year 2000, she began working the the United States Peace Corps where she held positions that allowed her to directly work in the fields of development and environmental work. It wasn't until 2012 that she joined our team at Journey Beyond Travel. She hopes to work with us for at least a decade when she hopes to retire. She especially enjoys meeting various travelers as they pass through and some of whom are able to enjoy a meal at her family's home - a delight in conversation and of cultural sharing. She also enjoys traveling (and has been to numerous countries abroad) and being an official 'tester' of the hand-picked accommodations we use for our esteemed guests. Aicha also helps in various capacities with local women's co-ops, associations, and volunteering her time to those less fortunate.
Amanda Mouttaki is a curious world traveling mom of two busy boys, as well as a foodie at heart, and lover of all things Moroccan. She first came to Morocco in 2004 when she met her husband in Marrakesh. After spending nearly a decade in the US together, they decided to return to raise their family. Amanda received a BA in International Politics and an MBA in Project Management. She has been writing for Journey Beyond Travel for some time and is now the head editor. Amanda has a deep love of travel and sharing her adopted homeland with others. She also enjoys reading, writing, learning new languages, and volunteering with programs that serve women and children. She dedicates much energy to her blog, MarocMama where you can read great travel articles, get travel advice, and find some top recipes.
Journey Beyond Travel - Coordinators
Abdelkarim Tata (aka "Tata") has worked with Journey Beyond Travel since the beginning and has become our team's Sahara Desert Regional Coordinator. His main objective for tourists is to ensure their safety and to take them to little-known areas around his village and in the farther reaches of the desert. If you are heading to the Sahara Desert, chances are you'll acquaint yourself with Tata and learn more about the southern oases, the reality of living in a desert climate, and how agriculture plays such an important role in their lives. Tata enjoys not only showing travelers his home, but introducing them to his family, sharing a meal, playing music, and taking people to meet nomadic families. Tata has been learning English with our clients and on his own after studying it some in high school. In university, Tata studied Animal Husbandry and has various projects going on in the Ziz Valley and Errachidia. He enjoys meeting people from around the world and finds the diversity in people, places, beliefs, and perspectives remarkable. He enjoys enriching his knowledge about the world by learning from others and sharing his own cultural perspectives with travelers as they pass through his region.
Omar Jellah is our Atlas Mountains Coordinator and has been working in the field of tourism for 12 years and enjoys his experience above all others because he has been able to make friends and connections all over the world. He also attributes learning more about his own country through the eyes of travelers and what they share with him. His main goals during your trip is to make you feel like a friend and even family so that you are comfortable in learning about their Berber heritage and culture. Omar's favorite part of his job is to ensure that you have great service throughout your time and that you are able to discover the villages and local people. Omar's good humor shines through his work and he and clients often laugh together over their experiences. Whether clients like to walk fast or slowly, he's happy to simply be along ensuring all goes well. Omar's hobbies include walking and cross-country skiing. Omar started working in tourism when he was 14 years old. Following, he joined the Royal Moroccan Federation of Ski and Mountain Rescue before attending a private English institute for nine months and thereafter obtaining his license as a Certified Mountain Guide. He's always open to learning more about tourism, trekking, and about other people from all over the world.
Naim Souhel is our Cultural Coordinator and is also an independent driver. Naim graduated with a degree in English Language and Literature in 2005 and is an expert on Amazigh (Berber) history, language, and culture. He always dreamed of working in tourism so that he could meet others, practice English, and in many ways, be his own boss. With his experience, he has discovered new places around Morocco that he enjoys sharing with fellow travelers. Naim truly values his job and the friends he has made along the way. It seems that everyone who meets Naim befriends him dearly. With each trip, he strives to be helpful, respectful, flexible, punctual, knowledgeable, and serious when necessary (although joking around is his forte). With his clients, he is especially good at explaining culture, religion, language, and finding clean and quality places to eat en route. When at home, he enjoys helping his family and visiting friends.
El Houssaine Ichen was born in the mountains of Morocco in a village called Tounfite. He contracted polio at the age of three, but this has not hindered his passion for learning, pursuing a career in tourism, and even going hiking. El Houssaine speaks Tamazight (the Chleuh Dialect), Arabic, French, English and basic Dutch. He has met many interesting persons from all around the world and enjoys helping travelers discover Morocco. As the Accessible Tourism Coordinator interning for Journey Beyond Travel, his goal is to champion tourism for all, giving both able-bodied and disabled persons alike a chance to explore his beloved country without barriers. His current projects and passions include networking with fellow travelers, sharing and learning at accessible tourism conferences, and pushing for change in Morocco's tourism sector.
Journey Beyond Travel - City Guides
Mohamed Tabalqait graduated from university in 1991 with a degree in English Language and Literature. It wasn't until 2007 that he obtained his official guide licensure after studying French Literature and Translation in Rabat alongside two years of Spanish language. Before his licensure, he worked for six years as an assistant tour coordinator where he became fascinated with meeting people from abroad, learning about their heritage, and as much as their culture as he could. He finds his job both challenging and rewarding and feels that each and every trip is different from any other - which keeps his interest in his job and the field of tourism high. Before each visit, Mohamed enjoys talking with clients about what they are most interested in seeing and doing. This helps keeps things flexible and interesting for everyone involved and he tries to fine tune each day to the needs of each traveler. One of his favorite places to take visitors in Marrakesh is not only to the main sights and monuments with their fascinating history, but also to some hidden places, local cafes, and areas where travelers can meet people doing daily activities.
Abdelfettah Filali Zarrouk (known as Fettah), has been working in the field of tourism since 2008. Previous to this, he worked for four years as a night watchman for a riad. Over time he obtained a degree in English Language and Literature where his skills for communication, computer use, and foreign-language acquisition allowed him to become the full-time manager of the property. He wanted to prove to himself that hard work and commitment pay off. What he really enjoys about his job is meeting people from around the world, from different cultures and traditions. He feels lucky to have this 'window' to the outside world. His job has allowed him to explore Morocco and gain a deep appreciation for the diverse people and country that he calls home. He prides himself in his ability to gauge traveler's interests and develop a sightseeing route in Fez that takes people to major sights and hidden gems. Fettah hobbies include singing, sports, and traveling.
Journey Beyond Travel - Drivers
Hamid Bid Bid has been working in tourism for 27 years and as a driver and tour host since 2005 when he joined up with the Journey Beyond Travel team. He enjoys sharing his culture and customs with travelers who he takes very good care of throughout their journey. With a degree in Tourism and Hotel Management, he has become an intuitive person having the superb ability to meet the needs of various clients from around the world and enjoys trying to meet high expectations. One of the highlights of his work is that he feels confident making recommendations to clients about places in their route where they can get off the beaten path. He is well connected around the country and takes people to special places in each region. His passions include cooking, fishing, and reading English books to better his skills.
Brahim Jarrou started in the field of tourism when he was quite young, in middle school where he would help with tourists going to the desert between Rissani and Merzouga (before the road was paved and everything was off road). He started working for a travel agency in Marrakesh in 2007 and stayed with them until 2010 when he decided to go freelance with his own small transport company and thereafter joined Journey Beyond Travel. Brahim enjoys taking travelers around his beloved home of Morocco and learning from them about where they come from. His goals are to always be punctual and polite while trying to take tourists off the beaten path into villages, meeting nomadic families, and offering real experiences. He's had plenty of memorable experiences and has always gone above and beyond to ensure those traveling with him have the time of their lives.
Hamid Jarrou has been working as a driver since 2005. It was three years later when he began working in the field of tourism and transportation. While with clients, he attempts to meet the needs of every traveler and give them the attention they need throughout the day to enjoy their trip. He wants everyone to fall in love with his country! He enjoys meeting clients when they first arrive into Morocco, when they are full of wonderment and awe at the new country in which they've arrived. In his job, he has learned a great deal about people from around the world and also about the field of tourism. He has learned that each traveler is different and that each person has unique needs. Rather than standard package trips, he enjoys the private and custom trips Journey Beyond Travel arranges since it means more meaningful interactions with guests. Hamid's hobbies include reading, watching movies, listening to music, along with volleyball and basketball. He awaits your visit to Morocco and helping you experience his culture and country in new ways.
Kamal Abdelfadil has been working in tourism since 1995 when he started in the field for a large hotel in his southern-Moroccan mountain town of Tinerhir. As the only English speaker and trained guide in the region, he led travelers on assignment into the Dades Valley and beyond into villages within the palm groves and Kasbah valleys, delving with them into local culture, tradition, language, religion, and architecture. Gaining recognition in the area, he was recruited by the international film industry in 2006 where he began working as a personal liaison, translator, and guide with VIP client rosters from around the world. His film and TV list includes the Amazing Race and Journey to Mecca, the story of Ibn Battutah. Speaking English, French, Tashelheit (Berber), and Arabic, he came to us with a passion to share his knowledge of Berber culture and history, as well as an openness to discuss religion, as well as family and rural life. His current projects include readings on Berber history and culture, architecture, agriculture, along with Berber and Gnawa spiritual music.
Redouane Naji was born in Fez and received his Bachelor of Arts in English Literature in 2007 with a focus on Sufiasm and Linguistics. He started working in the field of tourism in 2007, which helped him hone is skills in the industry. Over time, he worked to improve his skills to ensure he became a safe and conscientious driver. He also began exploring off-the-beaten path destinations so that he would have the experience in driving every road and backroad in Morocco. Redouane prides himself in being open-minded, polite, patience, and his dynamic personality will surely captivate you on your adventure. He possesses superb interpersonal communication skills, as well as organization and management skills. He enjoys reading and sharing his knowledge of Moroccan culture and history; whether Berber, Jewish, or Moorish, with any travelers who would like to learn more. In his spare time, he enjoys music, trying out new foods, learning about other countries, and looking forward to his next trip where he can share his country while learning from others about theirs.
Lahsen Alkouch is from a Berber nomad family and grew up in the Sahara Desert of southern Morocco. As the family grew, his parents gave up the nomadic way of life, choosing to build and live in a small home in the Draa Valley where the children could get an education, while they worked in agriculture and raised sheep. Lahsen proved to be a natural student winning a scholarship to continue his education, but this came to a halt when he quit college to help his family. After leaving school, he worked in a variety of jobs before becoming a hotel manager in the desert; his background and natural affinity with travelers from around the world proving the perfect match. From this, he soon began taking visitors around his region and realized the enjoyment that sharing his country brought him. Naturally outgoing, and becoming more fluent in English, he began driving and guiding people around Morocco, a job he still enjoys.
Rachid Ouargaga received a BA in English and Linguistics before he began working in the tourism industry. It's now been eight years that he's been driving and leading people from all over the world around Morocco. He enjoys traveling and seems to always make a new discovery with each trip that keeps his job both interesting and educational. Rachid enjoys tailoring each day's activities based on what travelers enjoy seeing and doing. Some are interested in photography - he knows superb spots. Some might be interested in history or villages, so he tries to ensure clients experience that which they are most interested. Rachid strives to ensure that he makes a good impression of his country for each visitor. He enjoys receiving emails and photos from travelers who want to share their memories with him. Rachid enjoys hiking, camping, jogging, playing basketball, watching movies, and listening to music and might share some of his favorite Moroccan tunes with you on the road!