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Man 'Born to Explore' Takes TV Viewers to Untouched Morocco

Morocco, rugged beauty
Explorer Richard Wiese walks with locals near a remote and isolated village in Morocco's Atlas Mountains. (Image credit: Born to Explore.)

Adventurers short on time and travel money can still make a trip this weekend to one of the most inaccessible and exotic spots in Morocco. 

With the click of a remote, viewers can visit Taffraout Isserce, a tiny mountain village of only 200 people, thanks to a new episode of "Born to Explore," a television series that sends host Richard Wiese to far-flung spots around the globe in search of adventure.

A lifelong explorer, Wiese has spent the first season of the show searching out encounters with wildlife and untouched cultures. In this week's episode, he certainly succeeded in the latter.

According to the Moroccan officials who helped arrange the visit, when Wiese and his crew arrived in Taffarout Isserce in November 2011, they were the first non-Moroccans to set foot there.

"I was as skeptical as can be," Wiese told OurAmazingPlanet. "Morocco is a really well- traveled place, so I thought, how could you visit a place that non-Moroccans had never been?"

Yet according to Wiese's interpreter and residents of the tiny hamlet, the Americans would be the first foreigners to visit.

Extraordinary ordinary experiences

Even with the help of a local guide and a newly built road, getting to the village was quite a journey, one that took the crew along winding dirt roads high into Morocco's Atlas Mountains.  

When they finally arrived, "I would say the entire village was out there to greet us," Wiese said. (Along with goats and cows.)

The next moments, Wiese said, might have been torn from the dusty pages of an old National Geographic. The crew was led to a large, communal kitchen, lit by shafts of sunlight and abuzz with butter-making and bread-baking, where traditional tea was served. [See images from his Morocco trip here.]

It's on just such experiences with ordinary people that Wiese said he wants to focus his show. The son of an airline pilot, Wiese has been traveling the world since he was a young child. He climbed Mount Kilimanjaro when he was 12, and, by his mid-40s, in 2002, he became the youngest president to ever lead the storied Explorer's Club.

Yet his youthful bravado has given way to more nuanced desires.

"When I was younger, I did much more testosterone-fueled things," Wiese said. "But now I'm taking time to meet the porters who used to carry my bags. I'm meeting families."

Wiese and locals enjoy tea, al fresco, in Morocco. (Image credit: Born to Explore.)

Making connections

Now, Wiese said, it's as much about the human connection as it is about the adventure.

"I still like to race and climb and run, but I'm secure enough now that I don't feel like I have to wrestle an animal," Wiese said.  "I can if it's appropriate!" he added. "But I'm not interested in almost dying every week."

And, he said, meeting people from other cultures should just be part of an explorer's job.

"One of the roles of an explorer is to go to a land different from their own and say, 'Hey, these are what these people are really like,'" Wiese said. "And once you look somebody from another land straight in the eyes, and you see a smile, you never think about that place the same way. I think it gives you a reason to feel optimistic about the world."

Catch Wiese's latest visit to out-of-the-way places on Saturday, Feb. 25. The "Morocco: The Lost Village" episode of "Born to Explore" will be broadcast on most ABC stations. 

This story was provided by OurAmazingPlanet, a sister site to LiveScience. Reach Andrea Mustain at amustain@techmedianetwork.com. Follow her on Twitter @AndreaMustain. Follow OurAmazingPlanet for the latest in Earth science and exploration news on Twitter @OAPlanet and on Facebook.

Andrea Mustain was a staff writer for Live Science from 2010 to 2012. She holds a B.S. degree from Northwestern University and an M.S. degree in broadcast journalism from Columbia University.