Questions on 10 day Morocco winter vacation


Dec 4th, 2013, 01:50 PM
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Questions on 10 day Morocco winter vacation

Background: We are a couple in our mid-30s with our 4year old daughter. We will be in Dublin end of January and have the opportunity to take 10-11 days off in the first half of February. We were earlier contemplating visiting either Rome and southern Italy or Barcelona and Andalusia or possibly even just Rome and Barcelona (getting really nice cheap flights to do the circuit). We have since been thinking of visiting Morocco instead. We have actually been to Italy and Spain before but not Morocco. The only deterrent initially in avoiding Morocco was the flights - we are getting cheap direct flights to SPain and Italy from Dublin. Getting to Morocco will be more challenging and we will end up paying 3x more for one stop flights with 3-4 layovers involving different airlines. Nevertheless we are considering just sucking it up.

Here is the initial planning we have done on the itinerary and would like input on this as well as have some other specific questions at the end.

Day 1: Dublin to Marrakech Flight. Arrive in the afternoon.
Day 2: Marrakech
Day 3: Marrakech
Day 4: Drive to Dades visiting Ait Benhaddou enroute. Overnight in Dades
Day 5: Drive to Merzouga. Camel trek to desert camp
Day 6: Drive to Fes
Day 7: Fes
Day 8: Fes
Day 9: Drive to Chefchaounen via Volubilis. Overnight at Chef
Day 10: Drive to Tangier. Overnight at Tangier
Day 11: Afternoon flight back to Dublin

a) Is it going to be cold / damp enough to not be worthwhile doing this trip in early Feb? Particularly with a 4 year old. I'm especially concerned about the desert segment because temperatures can dip and not sure if they provide any sort of heating in the tents

b) For Day 4 to 6: which option would you think is the best. 1) Rent a car 2) Bus 3) Private Tour. We would be willing to spend for the private tour if the experience would be sufficiently greater than busing or self hire. In general we don't like to book tours unless absolutely necessary. From my research I understand it will e challenging to visit Benhaddou if we use the bus. Our reservation with the car is around encountering bad weather over the mountains given time of the year.

c) If it sounds like we are doing too much, I'm happy to extend our stay at Fes to 5 nights (or do something different) and fly back to Dublin directly from Fes. We could then do volubilis as a day trip from Fes one of the days. Is Chef worth the effort of spending a night there within this duration. I'm guessing it will also be colder being at an altitude.
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Dec 5th, 2013, 01:09 AM
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Hello. Yes, it will certainly be cold in early February, but there should be sunshine, too. Have you looked at Ryanair flights? They fly from London Stansted to Fez and Marrakech. I'd say your route is doable, but I think a vehicle and driver is better than driving yourself. In the desert there's no running water or electricity so no heating in the tents. If you're worried about that, then simply stay in a desert hotel and do a camel ride into the dunes at sunset/sunrise. Contact me offline for more ideas. Good luck!
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Dec 5th, 2013, 09:31 PM
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Thanks Helen. I'll certainly contact offline. Recommendations on tour companies for the Marrakech to Fes segment will be useful. I'm getting quotes around $800 for a private tour for 3 days / 2 nights. Wondering if that's what the going rate is. Sounds on the higher side.
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Mar 15th, 2014, 02:08 PM
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We are now traveling to Morroco in late spring. Risk hot weather but will take the chance since we have the opportunity. Here is our itinerary. Would love your thoughts on it and have a few specific questions

a) Essaouira to Ouzarzate drive may be too long. Should I plan to stop somewhere.Perhaps Imil? Or should i cancel Essaouira altogether?

b) Is 3 nights in Fes too long. Would 2 nights be adequate?

c) Need input on the desert segment. On 5/31 could we just return to Merzouga and drive onward to Fes that same afternoon?

5/24/2014 Arrive in Lisbon
5/25/2014 Fly to Marrakech
5/26/2014 Marrakech
5/27/2014 Marrakech
5/28/2014 Rent Car. Drive to Essaouira
5/29/2014 Drive to Ouzarzate via Ait Benhaddou
5/30/2014 Arrive in Merzouga. Travel to Desert Camp
5/31/2014 Desert Camp. Arrive back to Merzouga.
6/1/2014 Drive to Fes
6/2/2014 Fes
6/3/2014 Fes
6/4/2014 Drive to Chef via Volubilis
6/5/2014 Drive to Tangier
6/6/2014 Fly to Lisbon
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Mar 19th, 2014, 11:35 AM
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We just returned from Morocco a week ago Sunday. We flew into Rabat took train to Fes. Spent three nights in Fes and then had a tour company arrange for us to see southern Morocco with a car and driver. We finished in Marrakech. Did the trip in 2 weeks and we didn't even get to the northern part of the country.

To answer your questions:

a) we skipped Essaouira because it was just too much traveling. We would have liked to have been to the Argan area, but not enough time.

b) Fes kind of rubbed us the wrong way. It's fascinating and historical, but so many "fake" guides and people you can't trust because everyone is making money on the side instead of just being upfront with you was a big turnoff. I almost wished we had not have gone there. If you can see past that stuff it's worth the visit. It's not the place, it's some of the people and not ALL of the people. You just don't know which ones have another agenda that's not in your best interest. I'm more Marrakech than Fes. I think Fes is the kind of place that you either spend two nights in or two years. I can see how it would grow on you once you got used to what's going on. When you go to Fes, do eat at Dar Hatim and go to Cafe Clock, which we went to several times. We stayed at the Palais Amani, which was very nice but away from the real activity of the medina. You want to be close to everything because it's too easy to get lost.

c) the drive to Fes from the desert is very, very long. 9 hours and there are a couple of interesting stops along the way.

We loved the south. There are great places to go and see and the Berber people are very nice. We spent one night at a mediocre desert hotel outside of Merzouga and one night in the desert at a luxury camp (fantastic!). We spent one night in Dades at Chez Pierre, two nights in Skoura at Les Jardins de Skoura, and one night in Ait Benhaddou at Ksar Inghda (or something like that). All of them great. We spent 7 days there.

NOTE: I am NOT a tour operator as you can see from my other posts on Fodors. We live in New Orleans with no ties to Morocco. I do want to mention though that we used Travel Explorations (Alecia Cohen) for the southern portion of the trip and she did an outstanding job for us. Our driver, Tahar, was wonderful and the itinerary was perfect as were the hotels with the exception of the one outside of Merzouga, which was ok but not great except the location on the edge of the dunes.

One final note (I could go on and on...) is that getting from place to place is not that easy. The roads are not that great and many are twisting winding roads, some are rock roads, and none were more than two lanes. So if you get behind a truck or a donkey cart, it could take you awhile to get to your destination.

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Apr 19th, 2014, 06:43 PM
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Thank you BKD. I'm omitting Essaouira from our itinerary. Also spending two nights in Chef and flying directly out of Tangier next day without stopping a night there.
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Jul 8th, 2014, 10:03 PM
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Essaouira is not to be missed! It has amazing beaches,a wonderful harbor area with a fabulous souk within the old town area that has better prices than Marrakesh.The town has alot to offer to all ages-there is a reason that the singer Cat Stevens lived there for over two years!
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Aug 24th, 2014, 10:22 AM
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For Fodorites planning Morocco in the future, we particularly enjoyed Essaouira...small, quiet town on the Atlantic, with an interesting history. The plaque dedicated to Orson Welles denotes the fact that he "shot" his famous "Othello" there. Seafood abounds at the harbor restaurants, large tables for visitors and great variety of dishes. Essaouira once had a major Jewish community until the mass exodus "flying carpet" to Israel in the 50's, and it's cemetery is a popular visit.

Stay at The Villa Maroc near the harbor...excellent riad with a rooftop offering broad views of the ocean and the busy harbor. It was a wonderful way to end our month in Morocco, and from there we drove to the airport in Casablanca/Rabat. I eastimate that we drove over 1,500 miles and felt that we took in a goodly part of that amazing, exotic country.
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Aug 24th, 2014, 10:43 AM
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Here is second segment on Maroc:
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Aug 24th, 2014, 10:44 AM
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and thrird segment featuring Essaouira:
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Aug 24th, 2014, 10:49 AM
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sorry, this above is #3 on Maroc:
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