Seven day solo trip to Morocco

Reply

Nov 16th, 2015, 12:39 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 137
Seven day solo trip to Morocco

I have been checking frequently on this forum and Trip Advisor for information on Morocco, and while I didn't initiate a posting, all that I read on both sites had been very helpful. Thought I would post my recent trip experience in case it might be helpful to others. Seven days was not enough time, and I already know that I will be back!

Traveling solo I wanted to visit the Imperial Cities of Morocco (Rabat, Meknes, Fes and Marrakech)to see the historical sights and stay in riads within the medinas. However, I only had a week and knew some on the ground guidance was needed. Also, while I realize public transportation between the cities is available, I wasn't ready to tackle that aspect of travel with no French/Arabic language skills (plus being of a certain age!). And I was not interested in a group tour company (too much desert time, which I have experienced in Egypt and Namibia). So I contacted various agencies mentioned on this site and TA. I found Liz Williams of Authentic Morocco the best fit. Liz was very responsive to my numerous questions, and her agency holds pre-paid funds in trust until the end of the trip, which I felt was a valuable feature. We worked out an itinerary that stayed within my timeframe and budget (though I might have adjusted it for a few splurges in lodging!), and she arranged my transportation with a driver from her in-country staff. In each city guides were scheduled (all outstanding), and my driver for the entire period was both a safe driver and personable.

In addition to an afternoon stop in Meknes, a stop was added to the Roman city ruins of Volubilis. Guides were available at the entrance, but I felt my Cadogan guidebook chapter and suggested path met my needs. Also it was scorching hot (in November!), and I wasn't up to a long winded guide!

I really enjoyed staying in the suggested lodgings (Dar el Kebira/Rabat, Ryad Salama/Fes, Riad Adore/Marrakech, and Hotel le Doge/Casablanca for my last night before an early morning flight heading towards home). By staying in the medinas, I felt I was in the midst of such an exotic cultural experience. Each riad/hotel provided an evening meal at extra reasonable cost in addition to the included breakfast, and all meals were delicious! Breakfasts were large, and meant I could easily skip lunches. However, I did want to visit the historic Hotel La Mamounia, so lunch on my last day in Marrakech was a splurge! Beautiful gardens on the property, and lunch on the patio was relaxing (and expensive!).

I found the Fes medina challenging; much too easy to get lost. There are numerous historic sites in Fes, and definitely a city not to be missed. One note - the Chouara Tannery is under reconstruction, so only the leather shop is open! I only had two nights in Marrakech. This medina seemed more easy to explore with the Jamaa El-Fna square and the Koutoubia Minaret as landmarks, however I didn't go out on my own as my city guide really covered all areas of the medina quite thoroughly and included an easy stroll through the various souks. After the city tour, I was taken to the Majorelle Gardens. Beautiful gardens and very interesting Berber ethnological museum.

Of course, shopping opportunities abound. I'm not good at bargaining, so made sure to stop by the Ensemble Artisanal in Marrakech - fixed prices in this government 'compound' of individual stores. One riad guest mentioned bargaining hard in the souk to arrive at a price for leather slippers - mentioned the best quality leather to buy (goat) and price. At the EA store, I paid half for what looked like the same style and goat leather!

As previously mentioned, I'm already planning a return to Morocco in a few years (likely to only Marrakech - much more to see), and have alerted Liz to this new trip! If you have any questions, let me know. Janet
Janetd5 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 16th, 2015, 06:14 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 746
Thanks for the quick summary. I head to Morocco in April and am glad to have 15 days on the ground. Did you happen to hear how long the Chouara tanneries will be under reconstruction?
MinnBeef is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 17th, 2015, 12:42 AM
  #3
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 137
MinnBeef, Sorry, but I don't know how long the construction will take. It looked like a huge empty pit to me, with scaffolding and not that many workers on the ground. Quite the hard sell tactics at the leather store, so I was focused on finding the exit. (I realize this must be a difficult period for the store, but shopping wasn't my reason to visit the site!) Great that you have 15 days in Morocco!
Janetd5 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 17th, 2015, 05:50 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 746
Thanks Janetd65. Sounds like you had a great trip. How would you assess your experiences traveling as a solo woman who, I'm guessing, is also Western? I'm a solo male American traveler, pretty experienced in international travel, but Morocco will be one of the more culturally different countries I will have traveled to. I understand the Fes medina in particular can be very challenging. Were you hassled a lot (random shopkeepers, strangers, little kids, etc.) or were you more often than not allowed to go about your business as an obvious tourist?
MinnBeef is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 17th, 2015, 10:54 AM
  #5
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 137
MinnBeef - Yes, I'm western, female, and 'of a certain' age ... with extensive travel experience, including in culturally diverse countries. With time constraints the approach I took to visit Morocco described above. Most of my time in the medinas were with a city guide, and no hassling experienced.

However, with a free day in Fes I ventured out with map in pocket. Didn't take long before I received some calling to visit a hawker's store, then he started following me. I decided it was a rest day, and turned around and returned to my riad. Just not up to this type of 'hassle' (or intimidation?). I was definitely modestly dressed; used 'la shukan' a few times; still the following was too much. Also, the Fes medina challenges are the narrow two main streets, dead end side alleys, cobbles, and ensuring you are not in the path of a donkey! However, Fes is definitely worth visiting, but a solo female is wise to have a guide - not sure if this is true for a man.

Of note, I didn't experience this anywhere else in Morocco, but again I didn't have that much free time to wander on my own. I saw few western tourists in the Fes medina, while Marrakech had many. My Marrakech riad provided notes on touring the medina - one statement - do not speak with children between the ages of 8-18!

Hope this helps.
Janetd5 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 17th, 2015, 12:29 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 746
It does-Thank you. I'm very much looking forward to visiting Morocco. My challenge will be keeping my cool if I think someone is trying to take advantage of me. I'll just have to practice being Zen as much as possible!
MinnBeef is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 17th, 2015, 08:14 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 2
Hi Janet,
I am planning the same route early next year, probably January 2016.
Can you tell me how many days you spent in each place you visited? I will have 7 days off, maybe 8 but not more.

Thanks in advance.
Aqua_Uomo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 18th, 2015, 05:18 AM
  #8
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 137
Aqua - I was able to cover a lot in Morocco in 7 nights primarily because of arranging a car/driver, city guides, and lodging through the Authentic Morocco agency. No down time dealing with public transportation between cities and locations. Rabat/1 night; Fes/3 nights; Marrakech/2 nights; and Casablanca/1 night.

I arrived early afternoon in Rabat and had a city tour. The next day drive to Fes included a stop/city tour in Meknes and a stop/self tour of Volubilis. Fes city tour the next day, then a free day. (If I had a do-over, my free day would have been in Marrakech.) Then a 7 hr drive to Marrakech with a city tour the following day. Free time the next day until leaving in the late afternoon for the drive to Casablanca. And next morning, an early flight to head for home. Janet
Janetd5 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 18th, 2015, 04:34 PM
  #9
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 2
Thanks for sharing. I usually rent cars and drive. I will do the same route: Casablanca, Rabat, Meknes, Fes, Mararrakesh. I was wondering if there will be time to pass by Essaouira and Safi on my way back to Casablanca.
Do you remember what road you took from Meknes to Marrakesh? Did you go straight through Beni-Mellal or all around through Rabat and Casablanca?
Aqua_Uomo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 19th, 2015, 03:47 AM
  #10
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 137
The 7 hour route taken from Fes to Marrakech was the highway/toll road A2/3/7 by-passing south of Rabat and Casablanca. I was told the route through Beni-Mellal could take up to 3 hours longer. The highway was certainly easy driving ... there's the usual challenge when approaching your destination and the nearest parking or drop off if staying in the medinas.
Janetd5 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 21st, 2015, 05:33 PM
  #11
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 746
Good to hear, Peter. These are crazy times but I am still greatly looking forward to my Morocco trip in April.
MinnBeef is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:26 AM.