Two weeks in Morocco

Jun 8th, 2010, 11:08 PM
  #1  
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Two weeks in Morocco

Four of us are going to Morocco in December and were thinking of spending two weeks. Is that too long of a time? - we are in our late 50's. I am at the beginning of planning an itinerary and would like to see Rabat, Fez, Meknes, Marrakech, Sahara Desert Camp, Essaouira. We want to reserve our own hotels but at the same time thinking of getting a driver/guide. Is it necessary to have a driver/guidefor the whole trip? I guess I would miss our independence by having a guide with us all the time. Would love to know what others have done - Any ideas would be most welcome - don't know where to start.
4holdings is offline  
Jun 9th, 2010, 06:32 AM
  #2  
 
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You don't need a guide for Rabat, Meknes, Marrakech or Essaouira. You might like one for the medina at Fez, to keep you oriented, but it will be hard to find one who doesn't keep taking you to shopping ops. I'd recommend a driver for the trip to the desert, and for getting around where you can't take trains. Click on my name for my TR for Morocco.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 9th, 2010, 08:32 AM
  #3  
jgg
 
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We only spent 8 days but did not do Essouria, Rabat or Meknes and wished we had an extra day in Fez, so I think two weeks would be fine. We did have a driver/guide for most of the trip and really enjoyed it - we did not feel that it took away our independence nor did we feel as though we were constantly taken to his friend's shops - although must admit I am a shopper and did do my fair share! Here is a link to my trip report:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...s-tangines.cfm
jgg is offline  
Jun 10th, 2010, 05:03 AM
  #4  
 
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Just back from 12 days and it didn't feel too long. We didn't make it to Essouria but did the other cities in the loop you mention. Make sure when you visit Meknes you also go to Volubilis if you're into Roman ruins. Our time there was a highpoint for me.

I was very glad to have a driver the whole time. He would ask each day what we wanted to do, where to go along the way to our next riad/hotel so it wasn't like being carted around against our will. Not having to fool with maps and trying to find our way was wonderful - also some of the mountain roads were a little scary with big trucks coming around the bends - no shoulders, that kind of thing. I was VERY happy to not be doing the driving. And he would make suggestions and talk about what we were passing - it was nice spending time with him.

Just read a TR here or on tripadvisor where they drove themselves and had a flat tire and also had to deal with several police checks where they were pulled over and questioned - two more reasons to consider a driver. We did get stopped by police roadblocks a couple of times and there seemed to be some heated words. I guess it's the usual looking for a little cash. But I was thrilled to not be the one having those chats. Not trying to scare you - none of that is a huge deal but just consideratioins in weighing driving or being driven.

We loved our time there - what a beautiful, magical country.


We only had guides set up for certain places - a day in Fez, in Marrakesh, in the desert, half day in Rabat. We were clear from the start that we weren't shoppers so that wasn't an issue.
Leslie_S is offline  
Jun 25th, 2010, 02:18 AM
  #5  
 
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I could easily spend two months in Morocco if I could. Two weeks would have me paring the trip down.

I understand about the guide thing. While it's nice at times to have someone along, I do personally feel that having a guide for an entire country feels a bit too much like you have to be on your best behavior or something. So we might do a day guide for cities, and that's it.

We took public trains and buses for part of our trip and rented a car and drove ourselves for the rest of the trip. Train from Casablanca to Marrakesh, nice bus to Essaouira and back. Rented a car in Marrakesh and drove the mountains, out to Merzouga and then on to Fez, where we turned in the car. From there, it would be easy to catch a train back around to Rabat (which we didn't do). We actually took another bus north to Chefchouen and a few days after that, on to the coast and the ferry to Spain.
Clifton is offline  
Jun 25th, 2010, 09:22 AM
  #6  
 
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I'm working on a 2-week itinerary, too. I think I can possibly stretch to 15 nights, which would help. It certainly is hard to cut things out when it all looks so tempting! So far, we're doing Marrakech > car to Ouarzazate > Merzouga > drop car, Fes > Rabat > Casablanca(just to fly home). Essaouira was axed, but now I'm pondering Chefchouen. Ahh!

Clifton -- My itinerary seems to be following in your footsteps almost exactly! Do you think the trek to Chefchouen was worth it? It looks beautiful, but it will consume quite a bit of travel time. I'd love your opinion. Thanks.
NanBug is offline  
Jun 25th, 2010, 03:20 PM
  #7  
 
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NanBug. Now that I have some hindsight, I'd pick you itinerary over ours. Not because we didn't love both Essaouira and Chefchouen, but we always felt like we could use more time in each place. Chefchouen is interesting and beautiful.. and not touristy IF you get away from the central plaza and the east portion of town. But it is small and well off your "circle". And the connections there are not even as streamlined as they were to Essaouira. So I wouldn't get too sidetracked if it were my trip.

About the only place we went where I was very ready to leave from was Marrakesh. Anyplace else left us going "gosh, I wish we had a couple more days". Even the road trip portion. Over the mountains to Ouarzazate (don't miss Ait Benhaddou) is beautiful. We stayed in a kasbah over looking the palmeries near Skoura in that area that was so evocative.

But then beyond Ouarzazate enroute to Merzouga has the gorges to drive. And between the desert to Fez, again we enjoyed the stops. It looks like Sedona or monument valley during the first part of that drive! Then up to the Middle Atlas, where we stayed in Azrou for the local market (Tuesdays, if I recall). Very, very not-touristy. But it oddly looks like a European town. But the shops in the town are incredibly cheaper on handmade goods than in the cities because Azrou is where the city merchants come up to buy them. And we spotted wild monkeys in our drives around there.

Just saying, don't miss stuff like that in between in order to get further along, whatever the stuff is that you encounter along the way. Morocco is an *incredibly* beautiful country!
Clifton is offline  
Jun 27th, 2010, 06:06 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
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Thanks for your thoughts, Clifton, I appreciate it.

I think we won't bother with schlepping to Chefchouen, so we can keep things slow. There's always the next trip, right?

I've heard your comments about Marrakech repeated quite a few times by others. As of now, we're flying into Marrakech and probably spending 3 nights/2 days. The first (half) day will be jet-lag recovery day, so that will leave us with 2 full days to see the city. And I'm sure we'll be ready to flee by then, based on what folks say. I'd rather spend more time in Fes and elsewhere.

Thanks again for your comments -- you certainly helped!
NanBug is offline  
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