Morocco in Fall, 2013 - 9 night itinerary?

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Jan 4th, 2013, 09:47 AM
  #1
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Morocco in Fall, 2013 - 9 night itinerary?

Morocco here we come... I just booked Delta Skymiles freebies into Rabat in the fall for the wife and I. It wasn't really all that thought out, but I wanted (needed) to burn a few SkyMiles.

Now, I just have to come up with an itinerary. A quick check seems to show that most people to some sort of Rabat - Casablanca - Marrakech - Fes - Rabat loop with longer times spent in Casablanca and Marrakech. Any thoughts? I'm planning on doing it as a self-drive, but have good things about some tours, trains, hired drivers. Thoughts?

As for lodging, I've got both Starwood and Hyatt points to burn. I could use them in both Casablanca and Marrakech. Does this take away too much of the atmosphere for Morocco by staying in business or resort hotels as opposed to Riads?

Thanks in advance for any recommendations and sharing your experiences!
Alan
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Jan 4th, 2013, 04:21 PM
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Actually, most people skip Casablanca, and in my limited experience, that is the wise thing to do. It is a large, busy port city with little to offer the tourist.

Rabat is a pleasant, somewhat quiet place, with a wonderful kasbah as well as gardens and Roman ruins in the Chellah. The archaeological museum is small but fine. Say a night or two.

Fes is fascinating, frustrating and I think unmissable.

Marrakech a little more laid back, somewhat more tourist friendly.

Also think about a night Essaouira, a charming port city.

While I am a big, strong guy who has driven in Europe and the third world, urban Morocco would have reduced me to tears -- and I might very well have injured someone in an accident. Consider using trains and buses.

Click on my name and scroll down for a short trip report.
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Jan 5th, 2013, 12:47 AM
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Hello
Yes, I agree that Casablanca doesn't offer much, but Rabat is worth a day or two. There's an article on the city here: http://www.conciergemorocco.com/2013...tion-for-2013/
The train service is excellent: see www.oncf.ma
If you can spend 3 nights each in Fez and Marrakech, that's perfect. I reckon best keep your hotel points for other countries - don't miss staying in the riad hotels in Morocco.
Good luck!
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Jan 5th, 2013, 08:33 AM
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Thanks so much for the information... I'm glad we've got plenty of time to plan!

We had planned on a self drive so that we could see some things outside of the cities. Is that reasonable? (I'm a regular driver in New York city, and didn't have issues driving in places like Ankara, Istanbul and Cape Town). Is it worth the drive between Marrakech and Fes through the Atlas Mountains?

Thanks again!
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Jan 6th, 2013, 05:54 AM
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I think self driving would be useful for visiting more out of the way places. The trouble is the cities. Also, if you plan to stay in riads, parking will be a problem, as most of them are in medinas where the streets are too narrow for cars, which are largely prohibited.

The road from Fes to Marrakech (which I covered in a grand taxi) winds through some nice countryside and a few smaller cities. The road is two lane, and you'll frequently have to pass trucks and buses. Although it may look like less on the maps, I would think you'd need to allow about eight hours driving.

The driving problems I observed in Morocco were mainly traffic jams -- huge in Marrakech and Fes, and chaos. Taxi drivers drive the wrong way down a street a short distance to take a short cut. This is accepted, apparently. Traffic doesn't always form in lanes -- you're likely to face pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, mopeds and sometimes donkey carts coming from all directions. This is why I think I would probably have had an accident.

But plenty of people do self drive and you may find the conditions acceptable -- or at least survivable. Me, I'm planning a return trip in the spring -- without a rental car!
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Jan 6th, 2013, 07:24 AM
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Thanks Fra!

That's sort of what I figured... BTW, in Ankara, I found that taxi drivers use the horn as a turn signal. You don't know which way they'll go, but they're going to turn!
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Jan 6th, 2013, 09:19 AM
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Hi, again (from your other post on the Europe board) -
I agree with the other posters. A couple of days in Rabat is a good idea to get acclimated and get a feel for the country. It is a lovely city which is very laid back. If you drive to Fes, you will want to take a look at Meknes and Volubilis, a Roman site with terrific mosaics and a wonderful setting. The road from Fes to Marrakech, through Khenifra, is not interesting. It skirts well clear of the Atlas ranges. Yes, you might want to go to Essaouira and then drive up the coast to return to Rabat. If so, stop in Oualidia for oysters, sea urchins, and spider crabs. There are lots of good guide books to Morocco, but the most complete is The Rough Guide. Also, get a Michelin map of the country. Write again for more info. We lived in Rabat for five years and are from NYC.
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Jan 6th, 2013, 10:19 AM
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Thanks Bedar! Did you manage to book tickets?
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Jan 6th, 2013, 10:53 AM
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Not yet !!!!!
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Jan 14th, 2013, 07:13 AM
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Yes, skip Casablanca. What I suggest is that you do the Rabat to Fes leg on the train (www.oncf.ma) then hire a car for Fez to Marrakech with a Marrakech drop off, then train from Marrakech to Rabat.

Get a map that shows scenic routes (Michelin 742 will do) and plan a route that avoids main roads where possible, then you'll see the best of Morocco. For example, from Fez head south to Sefrou, then cut across through the 'lake district' to Ifrane, then on to Azrou to see the wild monkeys. From there head south via Ain Leuh, Source Oum er Rbia to Khenifra. Then south almost to El Kebab but cutting off just before to Aghbala, then over the Atlas at Imilchil and down into the Todra Gorge.
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Jan 14th, 2013, 07:31 AM
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Thanks, Tim! I'll look into it...
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Jan 14th, 2013, 10:15 AM
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You can Not book it online, you will need to purchase it at the office a day or a few Days before you go.
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Apr 29th, 2013, 07:10 PM
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Astein:

I'm one for driving it...we did approximately a 30-day visit a few years ago, driving most of the way...we hired an "outlaw" at the docks in Tangiers who drove us 4 hours to Fes in a new Mercedes for equiv. of $100..we felt it was worth it...

Upon leaving Fes several days later, we picked up our rental car, drove into some Atlas villages and turned south into the desert near Erfoud, Merzouga and remote Rissani. Made a good choice in hiring a driver ($18 for a very full day) mainly because we wanted to get to Erg Chebbi(dune country) before sun-up and driving in the dark with absolutely no lights anywhere other than the headlights of the car..so the guide knew his way and we were happy to have him.

We drove to the gorges (Todra and Dades, to Ouarzazate, on to very remote Fint, the Draa Valley to the beginning of the Timbuctou camel trail, and back to Ait Benhaddou, staying in Riads and some very comfortable hotels(at attractive rates). On to Marrakesh and finally Essaouira. We had arranged to leave the car in Marrakesh so we hired another rogue taxi driver (after a bit of hagglihg which ended in a fair $60 to Essaouira). Ended in Rabat to fly home. Great trip, plenty of time to do and see what we wanted to...

Highly recommend driving. If you plan it correctly you won't have to deal with any urban driving (see how we did it, above)..country driving is easy, good roads and signage and plenty of petrol. I would do it again....and if my wife could travel, which she can't, I know she would agree.

Just to give you a familiarization of the terrain and what you'll be seeing and doing, I will post three groupings of pix in the next three posts. 1) Fes, 2) Atlas and the desert, the gorges and Ouarzazate, Draa Valley, Fint and Ait Benhaddou. 3) Marrakech and Essaouira. Try to extand your trip a few days at least.

Happy travels, Stein...Maroc is a most intensely alluring, exotic place. Don't miss it. Learn to say "NO".."La", in Arabic..but you'll find many Moroccans speak French and some a decent English.
stu
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Apr 29th, 2013, 07:22 PM
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https://picasaweb.google.com/stuartt...KvrpeoxMr2uwE# (Atlas villages, the desert and dunes, the gorges, "O", Draa Valley, Fint, Ait benhaddou)
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Apr 29th, 2013, 07:26 PM
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Stein..by now you know I'm an amateur photographer, and these have all been scanned before I went digital. Hopefully, they paint a picture for you.

https://picasaweb.google.com/stuarttower/Maroc3# (Marrakesh and Essaouira)

Sure you can't add on some extra time? Try.
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Apr 30th, 2013, 04:32 AM
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Tower - thanks for the info and photos... I'm a photographer as well and appreciate the images...
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May 3rd, 2013, 06:35 AM
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Fra Diavalo: You'll notice in my pics above that Villa Maroc was a favorite of ours in Essaouira...and Palais Jamai (now a Sofitel) was great for Fes, right at the edge of the medina...
I noticed your recommendations of these two in one of Stein's other threads.

stu
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May 3rd, 2013, 07:03 AM
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Enjoyed your photos, stu, some great shots there!
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May 3rd, 2013, 10:00 AM
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Thanks Fra, it's a wonder what Picasa editing can do. Noticed some of your other trips...we sometimes follow in the same footsteps. Unfortunately my overseas traveling has ended due to wife's incapacitation. But we sure got a lot in in so many decades of great travel. No regrets. Keep on travelin' and truckin'...
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