Morocco Local Leader Mustapha Imharken
Born in Ikhef-Nighir in the Bougmez Valley, Mustapha has an impressive educational background having graduated from High School with a specialisation in Experimental Science focusing upon physics and biology, as well as further study in Accounting before following his passion to become a Mountain Guide. He trained at the CFAMM (Centre de Formation Aux Métiers de Montagnes) and has been leading KE adventures in Morocco since 2010.
We interviewed each of our leaders and here is what Mustapha had to say...
How old are you?
I am 27 years old.
Where were you born?
Ikhef-Nighir Bougmez Valley, Central High Atlas, Morocco.
Where do you live now?
How many brothers and sisters do you have?
I have three brothers and three sisters.
Can you give a brief outline of your education?
In 2006 I graduated from High School with a specialisation in Experimental Science focusing upon physics and biology integrated with mathematical studies. Extra curricular studies of English for three years. 2006-2008 two years of post High School training in Accounting with a focus on the tax system, entrepreneurship, and analytical skills. October 2008-June 2009, Advanced studies on Guiding in the Mountains..
Are you married and do you have any children?
No, but I'm engaged and will be married next August.
How did you come to be working in the tourism industry?
When I was 13 years old I started to explore the tourism industry by becoming a Muleteer. I enjoyed the different cultures of the clients, and the outdoors so much, that I knew it was for me.
Have you had any training specific to working with foreign tourists?
Yes I did training at CFAMM, (Centre de Formation Aux Métiers de Montagnes)
What is your first language?
Tamazight (Berber dialect).
What languages do you speak?
Tamazight, Arabic, French and English.
How did you learn to speak English?
At High School and by helping the U.S Peace Corp Volunteers scheme as a teacher and student.
Which KE holiday do you most like to lead?
Every single trip has its own charm, but if I had to pick one, it would be the Road Cycle Tour of Toubkal.
What has been the most amusing moment you have experienced on a KE holiday?
On a 'Ride the Kasbah Mountain Bike' trip, I did have one client who was quite nervous over the big drops down into the river below as we drove through the narrow and twisty Dades Gorge valley! I'll never forget the look on their face.
What has been the most challenging incident you have faced on a KE holiday?
On a Winter Toubkal trip when a client broke his leg and we had to carry him down as a helicopter was unable to reach us because of the weather.
Do you think that foreign tourism is a good thing for your country?
I think that foreign tourism is very good for my country. It aids the economy and makes our country richer with greater multi-culturism which is needed to help our tourism industry grow.
What do you think is the future of foreign tourism in your country?
It has a great future. Now that low cost airlines fly in less than 4 hours from the UK we can see our economy grow even further, and if the European financial crisis stabilises we will become even more attractive to visitors.
What do you do with your free time?
Visit my parents, explore more places in my country and train (walking, cycling, etc).
What is your favourite sport?
Cycling and mountain biking.
When travelling with a group, what do the local people say about your clients?
They encourage me to take my clients into their villages, particuarly the smaller ones as visitors bring much needed money to their environment. They really welcome them.
Have you travelled abroad, and if so where?
Which countries would you like to visit?
UK and France because my clients are mainly from these two countries. I would like to learn more about the two cultures so that I can understand better their needs in my country, and continue to deliver the high quality service they want.
What music do you listen to - who is your favourite performer?
Classical, and preferably classical Moroccan - music with clear words where you can get a picture of what they are singing about! Such as Mohamed Rouicha.
Which person do you most admire in the world?
My father. He was poor, but worked hard to send his children to school so that we could have a better life.
What you have to say about Mustapha...
"Mustapha, the local guide, was very knowledgeable, helpful, friendly and sorted out any potential difficulties speedily. He was good fun to be around.." Tony Sturdee
"Mustapha and his team worked extremely hard and efficiently all week, and could not have been more helpful. The smooth running of the holiday was largely down to him. " Stephen Dick
"The local guides and drivers were superb. Mustapha was brilliant - a delightful bloke and most helpful and supportive. " Mike Thomas
"Mustapha really made the trip the fantastic experience that it was. The jeep support drivers were also excellent, and we had great fun." Helen Dace
"Mustapha is a true asset to KE and an absolute star. He really surpassed any expectations I had.
" Rebecca Krijewski