Chama Ouammi is a Tour Leader, activist for women’s empowerment and education, and a Berber Superwoman. She’s the first female Tour Leader from her region and is one of the few women leading hiking and cycling tours. From a small village in Ait Bougumez valley (known as the Valley of Happiness), Chama studied Computer Science at university earning a Bachelors of Science in Management of Networks and Computers. After working for many years in the technology sector, she decided to transition to a new career – sharing her love for Morocco with travelers as Tour Leader.
As a Tour Leader Chama loves sharing Morocco with her travelers, meeting travelers from all over the world and sharing local experiences with her groups (she’s been known to pull a van of travelers over to show them the traditional ways the desert Berbers brought water from deep underground wells and to visit a family of nomads in the Middle Atlas mountains, a round of tea of course quickly followed). In addition to wanting to share her country and culture with travelers, Chama was wanted to become a Tour Leader to challenge herself and to challenge the obstacles of Moroccan society. In her Berber culture, women were not allowed to do outside sports like hiking. Tour Leading was also seen as men’s work and Chama wanted to prove that women were just as capable as men and could do the job of Adventure Tour Leading as well as men could do.
In the following discussion we sit down with Chama to discuss her journey to become a Tour Leader, the challenges she has overcome, and her recommendations for travelers visiting Morocco.
WATCH CHAMA’S INTERVIEW BELOW
While Chama’s parents and family are very supportative of her career (and her sibilings career – one of her sister is a Mathematican, her brother studied finance and her younger sister is studying English), many people in her village and in Morocco question whether women can be Tour Leaders. It’s seen as “men’s work” – she has already faced similar challenges working as a software engineer. Chama is determined to make a difference and give back to other women, helping them with education so they can chase their dreams. Her goal is to set up a foundation that helps educate women in her village so they have the skills to start their own business and pursue higher education. She wants to change Moroccan culture and viewpoints of women – one woman at a time.
As a Tour Leader, Chama is enthusiastic about her country and helping travelers experience Moroccan culture, as well as meet everyday Moroccans. She has a number of recommended experiences for travelers to include in their Morocco itineraries- including visiting the Sahara desert and taking a camel trek, the beautiful blue city of Chefchaouen, hiking in Todra Gorge, visiting the nomads in the Middle Atlas mountains.
She also recommends trying Morocco’s delicious cuisine, especially couscous and tajine. Couscous is a special dish eaten at home with the entire family on Fridays. This is a meaningful tradition to take part in – particularly enjoying couscous with a local family in their home. Many families will feed travelers couscous when them come to their home as a way to show respect for their guests. Tajine is another important dish in Morocco and another staple of Morocco cuisine. Tajine comes in many forms – lamb tajine, beef tajine, vegetable tajine. It’s an every day dish that many works in the medina eat for lunch. And no trip to Morocco is complete without a cup of Berber mint tea – lovely called Berber Whiskey (with zero alcohol). Chama’s personal favorite food is Pomegranate. Morocco is known for it’s fresh fruits, and pomegranate when it’s in-season is a particularly beloved treat.
In addition to highlighting food, culture and history on her Morocco tours, Chama also likes to help her travelers’ experience Morocco like a local. From eating in family homes to having tea with nomad families in the Middle Atlas to showing travelers Berber life. Her passion for Morocco’s history, culture and people infuses the tours she leads with joy.