Morocco Feature


Morocco with Kids

Traveling in Morocco with children is really great fun—especially since Moroccans adore kids—so you will find that the locals warm to you and greet you with more enthusiasm than the average tourist. However, at the same time you can expect a few practical challenges along the way.

Choosing a Place to Stay

Choosing the right place depends largely on the age of your brood, the type of holiday you want, the regions you wish to visit, and your budget.

For a beach-based holiday with on-site kid's activities, then a modern resort destination like Agadir is ideal. Here there is Club Med or ClubHotel Riu Tikida Dunas. Further up the coast, the beach at Essaouira offers lots of water sports, and Sofitel has a private beach and a pool. There is a pretty coastal lagoon resort at Oualidia too—popular with Moroccan vacationers—and hotel La Sultana Oualidia is luxurious.

For rural-based activity holidays and trekking, most places are fairly simple mountain gites (self-catering apartments or homes), auberges (hostels), and maisons d'hôtes (essentially bed-and-breakfasts based in private homes). For top-notch deluxe accommodation accessible by road try Kasbah Tamadot in Asni near Mt. Toubkal National Park, or La Pause Marrakech, a deluxe desert-style camp near Marrakesh with outdoor activities including donkey and camel rides. The Xaluca group of hotels also have family-friendly five-star hotels convenient for hiking trips to the Dadès Gorge and for trips to the Sahara desert in Erfoud and Merzouga.

Cities such as Fez, Meknès, and Marrakesh have the widest variety of accommodations. Although a traditional Moroccan riad or riad-style boutique hotel offers atmosphere in the old medinas, it may be a less attractive option for families with younger kids. You may prefer a more modern hotel, but realize that not all hotels have elevators, even newer ones. If you don't fancy a hotel in the new town and a riad doesn't suit you, then consider renting a villa or apartment, some of which can provide maid, cook, and babysitting services.

Top Experiences for Families

Morocco does not have many ready-made attractions such as zoos and theme parks, but if you like spectacular natural beauty, then your family will be well served.

Sahara Desert. You can see the desert by foot, by camel, or by four-wheel-drive vehicle; you can also crest the dunes on a camel for only an hour, or take a day trek through an oasis. You can also pack off for several days deep into the Sahara with a nomad guide. Visit Erg Chebbi or Erg Chegaga to climb the highest sand dunes in Morocco, and then glide down on a sand-board. Many hotels have their own desert camps, and there are countless agencies in Marrakesh, Ouarzazate, Zagora, Merzouga, and M'Hamid who can fix you up.

Water Sports and Beaches. Agadir has a large concentration of all-inclusive resorts, though few people would go all the way to Morocco for a beach vacation. Families with older children and teenagers should check out the coast between Sidi Ifni and Essaouira for some of the best spots for kite-surfing, windsurfing, and surf schools. In Marrakesh, Oasiria offers two pools and waterslides, gardens and restaurant for hungry kids and parents.

Mountain Trips. Mule trekking or hiking in the High Atlas Mountains near Mt. Toubkal is easily achievable for younger children, while toddlers can hop up in front of mom or dad on a mule. Families with younger kids can stay in one place and take day hikes; if you have older children, you can travel with a guide, staying in simple mountain gites as you pass through neighboring valleys or even attempt the summit. In the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains near Marrakesh, Terres d'Amanar is an outdoor activity center offering archery, climbing, zip lines, and crafts workshops. Near the Dadès Gorge, with the help of a local guide, you can visit nomad families living in caves and old salt mines.

Film Studios. The Atlas Film Studios in Ouarzazate makes for an interesting visit if you're heading south. You can walk through some of the film sets used in major movies such as Kundun, Kingdom of Heaven, and The Mummy.

Markets and Bazaars. The ancient medieval medinas of Fez and Marrakesh are full of exotic delights—the intricate architecture of imperial palaces and mosques, the colorful chaos of the souks, the intoxicating smell of sizzling street food, and the maze of alleyways where tourists, shoppers, and traders intertwine. In Marrakesh, the bustling main square, Place Djemaâ el-Fna, will fascinate children and adults alike with its daily cornucopia of musicians, snake charmers, henna artists, storytellers, and acrobats. At night, it is transformed into the biggest outdoor barbecue in the world.

History. Explore one of Morocco's most famous historic sights, the ruined Roman city of Volubilis near Meknès, and the Rabat Archaeological Museum, which houses many of the relics from this site. In the Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs, along the Draâ and Dadès valleys, go to see especially the kasbahs of Telouet, Aït Benhaddou, and Taourirt. The museum at Ksar Tissergate near Zagora is also well worth visiting.

Wildlife. Walk in the beautiful cedar forests near Azrou and visit an 800-year-old tree as Barbary apes swoop overhead.

Classes. Learning to shop for vegetables in the souks and cook your own tagine is a great family activity. Cooking classes at Souk Cuisine in Marrakesh and Café Clock in Fez are good starting points.

Practical Considerations

Baby care. There are almost no public baby-changing facilities anywhere in Morocco. You can buy disposable diapers in city chain supermarkets such as Aswak Assalam, Marjane, and Acima. In rural areas you may struggle to find them, so stock up if touring. The same goes for baby formula, though any café or restaurant will be happy to boil water for you for mixing. Breast-feeding should be done discreetly and away from public view.

Traveling with smaller kids. Most car-rental agencies and tourist transport providers will be able to supply a child seat (but check in advance). In taxis and buses there is rarely even a seat belt. If a child is small enough to sit on your lap, he or she will usually travel for free on buses and taxis.

Walking. Sidewalks are rare, or else they are broken and narrow, which can make pushing a stroller difficult. It's easier to hook up a baby knapsack or carry small children.

Sun care. Children are very prone to sunburn, dehydration, and sunstroke, so always have plenty of drinking water, strong sunscreen, sunhats, and T-shirts for covering up.

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