Meet the team
Rachel Blech – Managing Director
Responsible for client liaison, tour design and marketing, reservations and administration
Rachel Blech was born in London where she worked in theatre, festivals and arts management for before relocating to Ireland in 1997. In Ireland she worked as a community arts facilitator, arts manager and publicist. In 2000 she created her own local radio show specialising in world music and then in 2004 began broadcasting as a freelance presenter for Irish national radio, RTÉ Radio and also for the BBC. For many years she presented a weekly world music programme called The Magic Carpet for RTÉ lyric FM. It was while working in radio that Rachel first visited Morocco in 2006, when she attended the Essaouira Gnawa Music Festival in order to make a short documentary. After her visit in 2006, Rachel began organising group trips to Morocco for private individuals and also acted as tour leader for external travel agents. In 2009, she decided to set up the company SheherazadVentures in partnership with the Hajja family, whom she had met on that first music trip in 2006. Having organised national tours for performing artists, managed West End theatre shows, handled logistics, marketing and finances for international arts festivals, the skills were already in place for running a travel business. With an in-depth knowledge of Southern Morocco and the local music scene, she has also written for Songlines music magazine, EasyJet and RyanaIr inflight magazines, Frommer’s Morocco, Fodor’s Morocco, Time Out Marrakech, The Journal of Music and Irish Music Magazine. Rachel now spends the majority of her time in Morocco running the travel business and walking her rescued Marrakech street dog!
Yaish Hajja - Desert Logistics and Bivouac Manager
Responsible for desert logistics, bivouac hospitality and ground team co-ordination
Yaish Hajja has worked in the family travel business alongside his younger brothers since his twenties. He was born in the remote desert between M’Hamid and Erg Chigaga. When his family moved to the village he was educated in the local school of M’Hamid el Ghizlane. He speaks Arabic, fluent French and some English. He has an intimate knowledge of the Sahara desert region having worked as a guide for many years and he will proudly tell you about the landscape and the nomadic traditions. He is passionate and knowledgeable about Moroccan, African and Saharan music, culture and politics. He regularly plays darbouka (North African drum) and sings for our guests around the campfire as well as organising our desert transportation, bivouac camps, camel trekking, community liaison and local guide services. Yaish is usually based in the village of M’Hamid from where he manages the Hajja family’s bivouac camp at Erg Chigaga. It is Yaish who ensures that the camp is stocked daily with everything necessary to guarantee that our clients have the best possible experience of Moroccan hospitality during their desert adventure.
Mustapha - the ‘boss’
Responsible for getting our clients to their desert destination, carrying water, equipment and baggage
Mustapha has been with the company a long time. For generations the local nomads reilied solely on Mustapha and his kind, travelling for miles in search of new grazing land and for trading spices, carpets and handicrafts along the caravan routes right across the Sahara from North to South. Sometimes Mustapha does not seem happy in his work, but usually he will grunt and groan, make an ugly face and then slowly get on with the task of taking you gently through the sand dunes to arrive safely at your desert camp. We do not recommend challenging Mustapha to a drinking competition, but without him and his friends we simply would not exist!
In addition to the official partners within the company, we have a network of tried and trusted Moroccan colleagues who provide the additional ground services required - drivers, guides and escorts, cooks, camel-handlers, official city/site guides etc. Our objective is to utilise individual family-owned or independent suppliers thereby maximising economic benefits to the local families. All hotels that we use are personally checked out to ensure that they are suitable for our clients and that they are safe, clean, friendly and respectably run. Where possible we use small independent character accommodation which, if not always Moroccan-owned, provides employment for local people.