Two and a Half Weeks in Morocco

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Nov 12th, 2004, 08:11 AM
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Two and a Half Weeks in Morocco

I returned from Morocco on October 19, it was a remarkable adventure, a trip we won't soon forget. I wrote a detailed trip report but it ended up too long. So I'll post a shorter but probably not short summery and if anyone has any questions I'll try to answer.

We rented a car from National/Alamo for $600 US for the entire trip, we put about 4000km on the little Fiat. The roads in Morocco were generally very good, easier than Greece's. The signage is also good so the country is easy to navigate. There is lots of police around doing spot checks and are a good source of information. Two words of warning, parking on streets you will have to pay (20 dirham) there will be a man (usually in a blue labcoat) he watches the car and if you leave for a while they hold the spot. Secondly if you are pulled over for a violation the fines are negotiable, it may start at 400 dirhams but you should be able to get it down to 100 or 0. In all honesty the police were very kind to us.

We were pleased with all our hotels. In Casablanca we stayed at Holiday Inn/ Crowne Plaza for $69 US we thought it was a great price for the service and amenities. In Fes we stayed at the hotel Batha which is directly outside the Medina, the location was perfect. It was about $45 has a swimming pool and restaurant and a moroccan feel that we didn't have at the Crowne Plaza.

From Fes we were off to the desert in Merzouga we stayed at Kanz Erremal (www.kanzerremal.com) I cannot recommend the Kasbah enough it is small, authentic and has the most wonderful staff especially Bahra the camel man. Not to mention that sleeping in the Sahara with just my husband Bahra and our camels was an amazing experience.

We were in the desert 2 nights before heading to the Todra Gorge for one night the hotel was nothing special but only $20 one of the 2 actually in the gorge. Ouarzazate was another one night stop at the lovely Riad Salam highly recommended if you are in the city.

Next were off to Marrakech we stopped at Ait Benhaddou on the way, this was one of the tougher drives with a lot of switchbacks through the mountains. In Marrakech we stayed at a lovely riad called L'Aviateur we had the blue suite for 56 euros. The riad a quiet slice of heaven in a very busy city and our suite was a perfect fairytale.

After Marakech we went to Tamaragt a village just north of Agadir. Were were there for a surf camp. It was a blast and the beaches are wide and sandy but sadly have a lot of litter not to mention camel, chickens and goats. The other problem is people will steal everything even your shoes, you have to hide everything.

Last stop was Essaouira, we stayed at Villa Quieta, it was beautiful across from the beach but about a 10 or 15 minute walk to the medina. The villa has belonged to the same family forever and the took great care turning it into a hotel plus there breakfast is very yummy! In Essaouira we went riding on the beach which if you know how to ride was great.

We found the food to be generally very good in Morocco, neither of us got sick but in the remote areas we even brushed our teeth with bottled areas. We also took a presription pill every three days to protect against travel sickness.

We used a guide one day in each city that had a medina except Essaouira. The guides were arranged by our hotels, we were pleased with all them especially Mohamed Idrissi in Fes (066 13 53 44)they not only take you places you would not otherwise find the can help you bargain for goods. The shopping in Morocco was out of this world, the quality of crafts and the prices were amazing just be prepared to bargain a lot.

Lastly about safety, we found the Moroccan people wonderful. Some sales people were pushy but not too bad. Iwas hassled by men when I was alone once in Fes but it was nothing too bad, and our guide in AitBenhaddou was overly friendly holding my hand but certainly not scary. The only bad experiance was our last night in Casablanca before heading home a man threatened to kill me amongst other things. I feel he was just an unstable person and is not indicative of the overalll safety of the medina.

Like I said if anyone has any questions I'd be happy to help as I know it can be difficult to plan an independent trip to Morocco.
Trish is offline  
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Nov 12th, 2004, 12:18 PM
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Sounds wonderful... I already looked up the riad you mentioned - L'Aviateur - and it looks marvellous!
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May 24th, 2005, 04:15 PM
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Trish

Thanks for your offer of assistance. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts onmy planned trip. We will be crossing over to Morocco form Spain. PLanning to take the ferry from Algteciras to Tangier (I've read all the warnings about Tangier) and then take the overnight train to Marrakech.

We have booked a lovely riad in Marrakech (at least I hope it's lovely - it looks lovely on the website).

The thing is, I will have my wife with me and my adult son, but will also have my 2 younger daughters (7 and 9) and my older daughter and her 3 friends, all pretty 17-18 year old girls. Am I mad? Will they be OK if they stick close to me?
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May 26th, 2005, 02:20 AM
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Interested about your comment re Tangiers. That is the only city we have visited in Morocco. The hotel was superb and we had a great time but the anti american feelings there were pretty bad. We hope to revisit soon, but my first visit has always put me off...glad to hear the rest of the country is different.
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May 26th, 2005, 10:23 AM
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Guykb, to be honest you may be crazy! With regards to your older daughter and her friends there was quite a few younger girls that were backpackers in Marrakech so they won't be alone but they will have to be careful. I'm almost 6ft tall and am in my late 20's and tend to stand out in a crowd and Morocco was no diffrent so the girls are going to have to be prepared to ignore a lot of unwanted attention plus they should try to dress as conservativley as possible, it will help. Also if people keep trying to engage them in conversation and they don't want to speak to them they should try to ignore them and so no thank you firmly. Morocco can be intense, we loved it but it was almost sensory overload.

Your younger girls should be fine as long as they are good at sticking close in a crowd. The medina during the day is very busy with both tourists shopping and Moroccans going about their daily business and they wouldn't want to get seperated.

I would suggest getting a guide for at least a half day to take you around the medina because it's huge and there is a lot of things we would have missed if we didn't have one. They also can spare you a lot of hassles when you're shopping because people will leave you alone and be less aggresive but they often do get a commision from the shopkeeper if you buy something.

The other common sense thing is to watch purses and wallets, we had no problems but we were constantly being warned by the guides and people in the hotels and restaurants so it must be a common problem.

Good luck and have fun.

Mincepie,
Morocco would be worth another shot, it wasn't always an easy trip we may have been more tired when we got home but it was also rewarding we felt that we really experienced a diffrent culture and way of life. I felt that the Moroccan people really wanted tourists and of course our tourist dollars but many went of their way to tell us they welcomed people from all countries and more importantly that all religions were fine with them.
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May 26th, 2005, 11:47 AM
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I am very excited to go to Morocco and went to the website of "kanzerremal" but want to know how you get there?? From Marrakesh?? Also do you think a 5 year old would enjoy going to the desert? Any response would be greatly appreciated I go to Morocco June 29th.
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May 26th, 2005, 03:48 PM
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Thanks for that feedback Trish. Actually, the older girls are pretty timind, so will probably be close to me ay all times I would think - maybe they won't even leave the Riad! I think our riad comes with a guide, so hopefully we are covered there.

I'm looking forward to it, although I have to admit, slightly nervous. I'll post how it goes when I get back next February!
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May 27th, 2005, 11:01 AM
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Lucrecia, Kanz Erremal was suggested to us by the people at the Hotel Batha and we got there by driving from Fes. It was a long day of driving, about 7 or 8 hours in our not so sturdy Fiat. The drive had some interesting views and we were surprised at the number of towns and villages we drove through so there was always someone to help if we weren't sure about the way were were driving. This casbah/ hotel is owned by a Spanish woman and all the guests were European except us and most of them seemed to have flown into Ourzazate which would still be a long drive but not as bad as the one we had. We took this route when we left the desert.

As far as a five year old goes I think they would like it, the desert is pretty amazing. Although there were no children at our hotel when we were there I know they have them sometimes because the Spanish woman has kids. When we were riding our camels out into the desert there was a group heading out from another hotel and I could see they had kids with them. It's also possible to drive into the desert in jeeps if you didn't want to go on camels which can be tiring on the legs and bum. You can also visit the town of Merzouga it has a few shops and small restaurants. My other suggestion if you go to Merzouga is to have someone take you to the village where the Hamila(sp)live. They are decendants of Sudanese slaves and will perform the most beautiful albeit sad music you can imagine. We had no plans to go there but a man from Kanz Errmal convinced us and it was worth it they sang just for us and a couple of backpackers they asked for nothing but we left a small donation. Their village was really suffering because the last few years had brought even less rain than normal but they were wonderful, kind, and generous people.

Where are you planning on going when you visit Morocco?
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Jun 3rd, 2005, 11:51 AM
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Hi Trish. Thank you so much for the information. We leave on June 29th we will be staying mostly with my husbands family in Casablanca but will be going for a week or so to other places. So far I have planned to spend some days in Marrakesh and then go to Kanzermal. I have contacted them and gotten all the quotes. Do you have any other suggestions? We will be in Morocco until the 25th of July so almost a month. I am curious where do you live? I am so excited about this trip I went to Morocco over 12 years ago to get married and have not been back since.
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Oct 19th, 2005, 01:54 PM
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Trish,
Your review is so helpful!

We are thinking about travelling to Morocco in December. Did you guys arrange your hotels from home or book them once you arrived?
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Oct 22nd, 2005, 08:36 PM
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I am planning a trip to Morocco in December. We are going there for about two weeks for Christmas and New Year. It is quite challenging to plan this trip. Especially when it comes to logistics. We have narrowed our destinations to Marrakesh, Fez, Essaouira and Ouarzazate. I just purchased plane tickets. I am curious how much other people are paying for tickets in the month of December (holidays). I couldn't find anything less than $1,300 (per person). We are flying to Marrakesh and leaving from Fez. Just booked a nice riad in Fez for three nights through a very good website (www.riadsmorocco.com). They are filling up fast due to the holidays. The one we book is $182 a night. We don't really have many to choose from since most of them are already booked. We will be in Fez to celebrate the new year. They also require that we join them for New Year dinner ($100 per person). I have yet to book four nights in Marrakesh. Hope to get something cheaper. There are many charming riads in the Medina. Still undecided. There don't seem to be very good value riads left at that time (Christmas). We might end up spending $200 a night in that city. We think that is quite pricey for Morocco.

That's my experience so far. I would like to know if we could rent a car in Marrakesh and return it in Fez.
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Oct 22nd, 2005, 08:41 PM
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I am planning a trip to Morocco in December. We are going there for about two weeks for Christmas and New Year. It is quite challenging to plan this trip. Especially when it comes to logistics. We have narrowed our destinations to Marrakesh, Fez, Essaouira and Ouarzazate. I just purchased plane tickets. I am curious how much other people are paying for tickets in the month of December (holidays). I couldn't find anything less than $1,300 (per person). We are flying to Marrakesh and leaving from Fez.

Just booked a nice riad in Fez for three nights through a very good website (www.riadsmorocco.com). They are filling up fast due to the holidays. The one we book is $182 a night. We don't really have many to choose from since most of them are already booked. We will be in Fez to celebrate the new year. They also require that we join them for New Year dinner ($100 per person). I have yet to book four nights in Marrakesh. Hope to get something cheaper. There are many charming riads in the Medina. Still undecided. There don't seem to be very good value riads left at that time (Christmas). We might end up spending $200 a night in that city. We think that is quite pricey for Morocco.

Still don't know how to find hotels in Ouarzazate area. I heard we should have everything booked prior to our trip since it is the holidays.

That's my experience so far. I would like to know if we could rent a car in Marrakesh and return it in Fez. At first we didn't plan to drive but think it might be interesting. The road conditions sound good. We had a hard time driving in Greece (esp. Crete). Morocco should be better. If we decide to take a train from Marrakesh to Fez, how long does it take? Is there high speed train between the two cities?

Also, how much does it cost to hire a guide for a day. If they travel with you, do you have to pay for their hotel room?

We love Moroccan arts/crafts and furniture. Is it possible to have them shipped to the US? Are we going to receive them?

What is the tipping etiquette? At restaurants and for tour guides.

I will probably have more questions. Thank you.

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