Tour Guide Necessary Through Morocco?

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Nov 26th, 2005, 08:22 AM
  #1
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Tour Guide Necessary Through Morocco?

Hi - I'm planning a trip to Morocco in January. I have never done a trip with a tour group or a guide before. From the postings here it looks like alot of people do go this route in Morocco. Do you think it's necessary or would provide a much better experience? It looks like Fes, Marrakesh and at least one night in the High Atlas would be on our itinerary. If we didn't do a tour, we would rent a car or take a train. We are a relatively active 30yr old American couple. The only reason I hesitate to do a tour is the added expense. But if it's a must, we'd do it. Thanks for any advice or recommendations!!
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Nov 26th, 2005, 08:54 AM
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Hi there,
A tour guide is absolutely NOT a must...in fact, I think its better without. I'm a 32 yr old American woman and have toured Morocco several times by train and rental car (and in fact, I live in Fes now). Without a guide, you are a bit more flexible and have the countryside, the road, the medinas all to yourself. I once took a guide with me for a portion of my trip, and regretted it. He was nice enough, but wanted to chit chat constantly when my friend and I really wanted to lose ourselves in the beauty of the scenery.

If you want, you can hire guides to take you through the medinas of Fes and Marrakech, but dont waste your money on having someone accompany you throughout your trip. The roads are very good and easy to navigate (driving at night can be a little hair-raising, so I'd avoid that). Likewise, the trains are comfortable and inexpensive.

Have a great trip!
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Dec 7th, 2005, 01:03 PM
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Thank you for the advice! We've decided to rent a car and do without a formal tour/guide. One thing I believe we'll need one for is an overnight (at least one night, maybe more) in the desert. Is this correct, and any recommendations here? Thanks again!
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Dec 7th, 2005, 01:51 PM
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My friends and I did pick up a guide in Rissani who helped us drive out to the dunes at Erg Chebbi (uh, after I tried it by myself and planted the car in a sand dune). Having said that, there is a new tarmac road that goes out to the kasbahs and hotels at the base of the dunes - and I've repeated the trip recently without a guide no problem.

Most auberges in the area can arrange for a guide to take you out into the dunes - its fabulous! I recommend Chez Michel (officially known as Auberge Kasbah Derkaoua). The Tombouctou is another option - its a bit more basic (I had a great experience wwith them and then a later mediocre experience). They aera little casual with reservations (as in they tend not to take any note of them...which is why Chez Michel might be preferable).

Sounds like a great trip!
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Dec 13th, 2005, 07:40 AM
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Fassia, Thank you so much for all of your help! I have one more question for you...If we are driving, do you think it's too ambitious to do a loop from Casablanca to Marrakesh (then maybe a side trip to Essouira), over the high atlas, to erg chebbi, then up to fes and back to Casablanca? We arrive on a Friday afternoon and leave the following Saturday afternoon (so an 8 day trip...)
Would it make more sense to extend our flight to Marrakesh and then do the remainder of the trip I detailed above?
Thank you SO much!!
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Dec 16th, 2005, 01:48 AM
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Hi- its me again...If you've only got 8 days then I think your itinerary sounds too ambitious.

Casa-Marrakech takes 4 hours roughly - and then you'll want at least two days there. So assuming you arrive in Marrakech on Friday night and spend Saturday and Sunday there, it will then take you absolutely all of Monday to reach Rissani (Erg Chebbi). I would not recommend driving all that distance in one day!! We're talking 12+ driving time if you really make good time. Consider breaking the trip up by staying overnight in one of the villages along the way: Skoura, Kelaa M'Gouna, etc.

From Erg Chebbi, its about 7-8 hours to Fes (so again, another whole day driving). You'll pass through some wonderful scenery...I've driven from Erg Chebbi to Fes in one day several times - its long, but not too bad.

If you spend Tuesday night in the Desert, then you'd reach Fes Wednesday night. I'd recommend two days in Fes. That puts you driving back to Casablanca either Friday night or saturday morning (depending on your flight time).

The roads in Morocco are very good, but distances are deceptively large. On all roads (with the exception of the motorway between Fes and Casa) you might find yourselves stuck behind slow-moving vehicles, and passing on the mountain passes can be a little tricky.

It might make sense to extend your flight to Marrakech - it will eliminate the fairly undramatic drive from Casa, but I dont think it will buy you a lot of extra time.
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