Request for help Morocco travel

Jun 22nd, 2007, 02:50 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 11
Request for help Morocco travel

My boyfriend & I will travel to Morocco and only have one week. I am torn between using a guide or not is the first question. Need help to determine if it is easy to travel without a guide. Pros/Cons?

Would like to see the Sahara for sure. So what is the best route there? Marakkesh? Fez? Good deals on goods - leather, rugs, pottery/tiles? Does anyone ship goods to the US vs. carrying?

Thank you
Envchick is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2007, 04:40 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 223
I personally am a fan of travelling without a guide. It is easy (I've done it as a lone female traveller many times). The pros are that you have complete flexibilty with your schedule/accommodation and you will save money (not only the guide's fee, but also any commissions he would have taken on your purchases, dinners, accommodation).

The Sahara can be reached by a full day's drive from either Marrakech or Fes. From Fes, it easier to go to Merzouga, from Marrakech it is easier to get to Zagora.

Most reputable shops will ship things back to the US. Leather, rugs, tiles - there are deals to be found anywhere, it depends where you are and what you're looking for.
jenmaroc is offline  
Jun 25th, 2007, 09:16 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 219
While I agree with Jenmaroc about travel without a guide, we just returned from 2 weeks in Morocco and had a car/driver and guide for 10 days of that time. Here's why we used a guide: (1) ease of getting around - we didn't have to worry about city driving/navigation or waste time finding an ATM/clean WC/etc.; (2) language - my French is barely passable; (3) Local knowledge and insights that guide books don't offer on history and culture, plus immediate answers to questions about the things we were seeing along the way; and (4) help in avoiding some of the "hustle" encountered in the souks and streets. Yes, a guide is more expensive but we agreed he was worth it at the end (4 of us split the total cost).

The guide we used was based out of Tangiers but met us in Casablanca and took us through Rabat, Fes, Meknes, Volubilis, the High Atlas, out into the Sahara Desert, Ourzazate, Marrakech and Essaouira. His name is Said, and his website is www.d-destination.com. He is not into shopping and did not EVER take us into a shop in hopes of getting a commission (in fact, we did most of our shopping independently).

Hope this helps.
CleoB is offline  
Jun 26th, 2007, 01:11 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 34
CleoB

Can you give an idea of the cost for 10 days ?
Was the guide professional.helpful?
How did you find this service/

Thanks!
lornamd is offline  
Jun 26th, 2007, 03:49 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 219
We did our tour booking through Heritage Tours in NYC. I found them on the Conde Nast "regional experts" list and was really pleased with the private (4-person) tour they helped me put together. Ten days, per person, was around $2500. Guide, car/driver, gas, 3-4 star (equivalent) riads (with breakfast), Sahara desert camp, camel trek, and some dinners included (such as at the Kasbah du Toubkal in the Atlas Mtns). Yes, it was more expensive than we'd normally spend but we felt it was worth it at the end. Heritage Tours was totally willing to work with our budget, food interests, and such. Not so easy with 4 experienced travelers and their diverse ideas! We were especially thankful to have a car/driver for the many roadside police checks that pulled cars over (at random?). We were stopped several times in our small van, but there were no hassles.

The guide, Said, was booked for us by Heritage Tours but has operated his own business out of Tangiers for many years and gave us his card when we asked for it. He was incredibly professional, spoke English well, and always reviewed the day's plans with us before embarking to be sure we wanted to do what we'd originally planned. On a couple days, he recommended flexing the schedule in order to take advantage of some special event in process, or to get to a site before closing. He also took us down some tiny alleys for fresh bread at the community bakery, or mint tea in a home nearby. My husband kept the "expert" guidebooks handy and checked all the facts as Said presented them, which Said found amusing. As a college professor, he gave Said a grade of A each day for having the facts straight and for showing us what the guidebooks said we shouldn't miss. Hope that helps - if you'd like more info, just say so!
CleoB is offline  
Jun 26th, 2007, 05:44 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 34
This was very helpful- thanks CleoB.

I hope to find a less steep price for a guide for 10 days and book my own riads- If anyone has suggestions they would be welcome!!
lornamd is offline  
Jun 26th, 2007, 06:10 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 10
Definitely have a driver. Fes medina is too hard to navigate on your own; a guide there would work best. Be clear about what you want to see or don't want to see. We bought rugs in Fes; they shipped them. I just returned and after a great, but too short, stay in Fes, we drove all the way to Merzouga, with a few really neat stops (barbary apes!) it was 8-9 hours. The dunes in Merzouga area are amazing.
hampfam is offline  
Jun 30th, 2007, 05:47 AM
  #8  
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All of you have been most helpful! It's great to have first hand experienced travelers provide me with your knowledge! Peace to all of you!
Envchick is offline  
Aug 8th, 2007, 09:53 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 12
Hi
Here are a few more guides and tour operators that have been recommended. You can also take a look to get ideas for itineraries and activities.
Sahara Trek at www.saharatrek.com/index.htm is a versatile operator that has a variety of interesting tours including a crafts tour and a cooking tour. It also has a Sahara tour and the more classic tours. Marrakesh Voyage at www.morocco-travel-agency.com has an excellent site with good rsources and information and a variety of tours including even a honeymoon tour and trips to arts and music festivals. Finally, for more traditional, classic and upscale tours both short and longer check out Isram at www.isram.com/isram/index.htm.

Good Luck
alros is offline  
Aug 13th, 2007, 07:21 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 295
For those of you purchased items and had it shipped back home - roughly how much did that cost you, let's say for a carpet? How long did it take? Is there a tracking/order number? Did you encounter any problems (wrong thing shipped, damaged, etc.)?

I've never had anything shipped, I've always carried with me back home but I doubt I can do that with a carpet. My concern is paying for the item but not having it shipped to me. How can one tell a company is reputable, is there anything to look out for?

Also, where is the best place for shopping in terms of quality and price? I'm thinking Marrakech is probably the worst place. I hear Chefchaouen has a lot of great stuff.
oceania is offline  
Aug 13th, 2007, 01:20 PM
  #11  
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We are going to use SaharaTrek. Alros you had mentioned them too so I feel better. They have been most helpful and I feel much more relaxed about this trip with a private guide that allows us our space but yet helps to get us through the stress so we can enjoy the ONE week that we have.

Wasn't too expensive.

Thank you all. Great advice.
Envichick
Envchick is offline  
Aug 14th, 2007, 08:20 AM
  #12  
jgg
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 2,683
We bought a few rugs and had them all shipped home with no problems. We always just negotiated shipping as part of the price so we wouldn't have to deal with going to a place to get it shipped. Some were sent DHL and two were even sent by regular mail. All of the rugs arrived within 2-3 weeks of being purchased.

The places I bought from either had me sign my name on the back of the rug or had me take a picture of me with the rug so I knew they were mine when they arrived home.

We bought rugs in Marakkech, Merzouzga and Fez.

If you only buy one or two small rugs, they actually have these nice little soft carrying cases that they roll the rugs up in with a handle, so if you want to you can take them with you. We bought a lot of items from one store - a large bowl, sword, vase, etc. They packed them very tightly in a basket weave bag (kind of like the ones you see in Mexico). I couldn't believe they fit everything in there. They wrapped everything with bubble wrap and we were able to carry it on the plane no problem, (although it was a bit heavy - thanks to my hubby for doing most of the carrying - and we had to unpack and repack it in order to take out the sword and put in our checked luggage).
jgg is offline  

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