City Day guides and Sahara adventure

Oct 16th, 2017, 06:50 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 262
City Day guides and Sahara adventure

I’m just starting to put together a plan for visiting Morocco next September. My husband and I are self drivers, but I’ve been reading that some areas are best seen with guides. I’m wondering if you can tell me where a private guide would be most useful (necessary). I’m asuming it would be in places like Fez and/or Marrakesh? I’m thinking these guides are more for their informative value as well as to keep us from getting lost. Are there any areas where we would need them for safety? Also, we would appreciate guide recommendations!

Also, we are thinking that we’d like to do the camel trek into the Sahara and to spend the night in. Bedouin tent. Does anyone have recommendations of tour guides or companies for that as well? We are not looking for the most expensive high end experience, but one that is well run, safe, clean, etc.
soods is offline  
Oct 17th, 2017, 07:21 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
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"...where a private guide would be most useful (necessary)."

You definitely don't need a guide in Moroccan cities. Just use your guidebook, wander, getting lost is an important part, don't avoid it, embrace it then ask any kid to lead you out for a tip.
MmePerdu is offline  
Oct 24th, 2017, 05:56 AM
Join Date: Mar 2012
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I'm presuming you don't really mean the Sahara and are referring to the sand dunes at Erg Chebbi (Merzouga) or Erg Chigaga (M'hamid)?

Otherwise you are looking at a rather long trip south of Laayoune to get to the Sahara.

I'd recommend two nights in Merzouga, firstly in a hotel and then at a sand camp. Your hotel will organise this for you, typically 300-350 dh/person including the camel ride, evening meal and overnight in a tent.

Guides and tour companies offer an excellent service where people are either too busy with work to take the time to plan a trip, or are concerned about driving in a foreign country. Morocco is such a fabulous destination and the culture is so different that most tour companies get rave reviews. But that's more down to Morocco.

However I would hazard a guess that far more people just hire a car and do their own thing. You can truly stop where you want, and don't have to share your holiday with a stranger (albeit undoubtedly a personable guy). And as for city guides, it's rather like be hiring a guide to see round Detroit or Milwaukee.

If like me you love the planning aspects of a holiday just get a good guidebook such as Lonely Planet or Rough Guide, plus a map such as National Geographic's Adventure map of Morocco (the North American equivalent of the Reise KnowHow I normally recommend), see

Apart from real peak periods such as Christmas in Marrakech there's rarely any real need to pre-book hotels, or certainly to book them more than a day in advance, so I normally have a rough plan of where I'll go and then get a hotel when I arrive. Where you should go depends obviously on your preferences (city or countryside, mountains or beach) and the time of year.

Driving in cities in the evening is initially confusing so don't make this your first experience of Morocco—instead start out in the morning. The road network isn't complex and signs are in Roman alphabet using French transliteration, in other words the town that we would pronounce ee'fran is spelt Ifrane. No need for GPS.
TimCullis is offline  
Oct 24th, 2017, 12:53 PM
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Hi Tim, I was hoping to hear from you! Yes, I meant Erg Chebbi. You answered the one question I was struggling with, who arranges the camel ride and overnight in the dunes.

If we drive from Essaouira to Merzouga, we’d probably want to spen a night or 2 along the way to sightsee. How many nights and where would be the best place to stop? Most people seem to favor one gorge over the other. What are your thoughts? If we get to Merzouga in the evening, have dinner and spend the night, is there anything to do during the day before we head out on the overnight camel trek?

We are planning the middle of September and will definitely self drive. Flying from Chicago seems to create some issues. We can either fly round trip to Casa, or into Marrakesh and out of Casa. Not sure which is best for our interests (a little of everything!) and time frame of 16 days. Can you please make some itenerary suggestions??

Dades Gorge
Merzouga/Erg Chebbi

Are there places we should see that I’m missing on this route?

Thanks so much
soods is offline  
Oct 28th, 2017, 07:20 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 10,279
We're doing a similar trip, but longer in April and would be interested in suggestions also. We decided to fly into Marrakesh and out of Casablanca. I'm going to tag alon on this thread to see what is suggested.

I'm not interested in guides in the cities, but more of a driver/guide to get us to the desert. My reason for getting a driver/guide for parts of the trip are so that the driver can enjoy the scenery as we move along. We typically drive ourselves and may pick up a guide here and there. I have found that really good guides do enhance a trip by sharing local stories/culture with us that we may not have otherwise known.
yestravel is offline  
Oct 28th, 2017, 07:51 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
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In my experience, driver & guide in Morocco are separate professions. I've never had a driver who also acted as guide. If you want both you may, unless someone here knows of an exception, have to hire one of each.
MmePerdu is offline  
Oct 28th, 2017, 09:49 AM
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Hi yestravel. As I was reading reviews from riads in Marrakesh, people had mentioned that the riad arranged guides/drivers for them. So that may be a way for you to find who you are looking for.

Are you flying from the state? If so, what AirInes are you flying?

I’m also looking for accommodation recommendations for all of these city/towns. Our budget is flexible, looking for authentic character, clean and location is most important.
soods is offline  
Oct 28th, 2017, 10:00 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
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"...the riad arranged guides/drivers for them."

This has always been true, especially for day trips. If the intent is to have a driver and/or guide for a multi-day excursion then I suggest you do it advance and try to find ones that come recommended by others who have used them. Otherwise hotels & riads can always provide grand taxis with drivers at short notice.
MmePerdu is offline  
Oct 28th, 2017, 10:03 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 10,279
Yes, we fly from Washington, DC. Ending up on AF I think. Would love to do the Royal Air Maroc which is nonstop, but the airline gets so awful reviews I decided to go with a one stop. We're still working on an itin so haven't looked into accommodations yet. I have been collecting info on tour guides to take us to the dessert if we decide to not self drive that portion of the trip. Pros and cons each way.

Hopefully some posters familar with Morocco will chime in on places to visit or stop.
yestravel is offline  
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