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SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT MOROCCO

 

"If one is serious about traveling to Morocco, take time to research the culture and history and become acquainted with the country before you arrive. It will benefit your experiences immensely and your journey will be far more enjoyable."
Anonymous

 

"I came here for the waters,” says Humphrey Bogart in the movie Casablanca. ”Waters? What waters? We’re in the desert,” his police-chief friend Claude Rains points out. ”I was misinformed,” Bogart wryly responds.

 

"A traveller without knowledge is like a bird without wings."
Sa'di Gulistan (1258AD)

 

'If travel is searching for a lost paradise, the... kingdom of Morocco is large and mysterious enough to indefinitely prolong the quest."
Barnaby Rogerson, Cadogan Guides

 

"In the effort and exhaustion of travel you will find the savour of life."
Al Man Al Shafi

 

"We shall never apprehend all the subtleties of Morocco any more than we shall succeed in understanding it's profound reality."
Alain D'Hooge

 

"If people and their manner of living were alike everywhere, there would not be much point in moving from one place to another."
Paul Bowles

 

"The world outside is tugging like a beggar at my sleeve. You say Morocco. That makes me smile... I have not seen Morocco in a long long while."
Jackson Browne

 

"Take the train from Casablanca going south.
Blowing smoke rings from the corners of my mouth.
Colored cottons hang in the air. Charming cobras in the square. Striped djellebas we can wear at home. Well, let me hear you now. Wouldn't you know we're riding on the Marrakesh Express.
They're taking me to Marrakesh."
Graham Nash

 

"To visit Morocco is still like turning the pages of some illuminated manuscript all embroidered with bright shapes and subtle lines."
Edith Wharton

 

 

morocco drums

 

 

 

Traveling to Morocco
What You Need to Know

Information for travelers about what to wear, will it be hot, tipping guides, food, money exchange, bartering, who needs a visa, Ramadan and much more. Browse our list or scroll down.


 

About Visiting Morocco

Book a Tour With Morocco Explored

Camels and Camping

Carpets - how to buy

Clothing - what to wear

Currency of Morocco

Desert - Sahara

Environment of Morocco

Flights to Morocco

Food-Alcohol

Guides & Drivers

Health & Safety

Hotels - riads, auberge, kasbahs

Immunisation

Travel Insurance

Islam

Languages of Morocco

Helpful Links

Morocco Myths

People of Morocco

Policies - Morocco Explored

Politics of Morocco

Private Custom Made Tours

Ramadan

Reviews & Testimonials

Sahara Camel Treks

Shopping and Bartering

Support - who works for Morocco Explored?

Terms & Conditions

Trains Ferries Buses

Telephone Morocco - how to

Vegetarian Meals

Visas for Visiting Morocco

Morocco Weather

Women Travellers

 


 

About Visiting Morocco

Morocco is different. Diversity, colour and contrast creates a unique holiday destination, whether you're a seasoned traveller, an adventurer, a shopper, a big city escapist weary of your office, seek sunshine and smiling faces, love to photograph, enjoy music, or simply need to slow time to unwind.

Wandering through her ancient cities, hear the wail of Muezzin calling the faithful to pray. In crowded markets jewel colours of indigo, saffron and henna dazzle in beautiful carpets. In the D'jemaa El Fna square you can dance with bellydancers, have your fortune told while having a tooth pulled, pay a scribe to write a letter to send back home, and be mesmerised by a flute charming the cobra. Relax in a terraced cafe and taste exotic spice in your food and herbs in your tea. Ancient mosques and minarets, opulent palaces and the stark beauty of a sunrise among towering kasbahs in the Sahara are waiting for you. Time slows to the pace of your camel softly shuffling across dunes to the nomads camp. Watch the moonrise and your world will fall away, caught in the aura of mystery that pervades this land. Like their camels, desert travellers are in no hurry. Where else is there to go? When Morocco calls you will begin to understand. Here is a land where something forgotten lives on.

Can we invite you to join us and fall under the enchantment of Morocco?

 

morocco explored tours

 


 

Morocco clothes


Clothing

In the cities of Marrakech, Agadir, Casablanca etc., Moroccan men and women often dress as they would on the streets of London or New York. However outside of the cities and especially in the rural villages we recommend that travelers follow local tradition where both men and women cover themselves from the knee (shorts or skirt) to the elbow (short-sleeved T-shirts). Loose trousers are recommended for camel treks.
See also FAQ's. Read all about CAMEL TREKKING.

In the High Atlas mountains a fleece jacket or warm sweater and long pants are needed for desert and High Atlas nights outside of the summer months. For winter a warm coat, a hat, gloves and wool socks are essential. A windproof jacket is also essential for walking treks in the desert or in the Atlas mountains.

Currency

The local currency is the Morocco Dirham displayed as MAD on exchange listings. Please note that this is different from dirhams used by several other Arab countries and their exchange rates will be vastly different from the MAD. Morocco's currency is restricted (you cannot sell MAD internationally) so you will need to convert your own currency on arrival. Cash is recommended for initial conversion at the airport, and although ATMs are readily available at airports and throughout Moroccan cities and towns, they occasionally run out of money. We recommend that you retain all receipts for cross-checking when you arrive back home. Euros are generally accepted as payment as well. For more about credit cards and acquiring cash see FAQ's. Morocco Explored uses the Bank al Maghrib to convert Moroccan Dirhams to other currencies.


Dades off road


Drivers, Guides and Vehicles

Regulations govern guides, drivers and vehicles licensed to work with tourists in Morocco. Each driver and vehicle has to be registered and carry the associated permits. Both drivers and vehicles are checked twice yearly before the touristic permit is renewed. Police checkpoints regularly stop and check for the correct paperwork. We use registered drivers who are personally known to us. Guides are licensed according to district and activity: ie: mountain guides, Marrakech city guides, etc. They must have a badge showing they are licenced in the district. Because of this, as a tourist you should hire a local guide if you wish to have a guided tour. They will have up to date knowledge and personal experience of the site you are visiting. Our drivers cannot act as a guide in some places.
We send more about tipping in our Information Package with each booking. Please read FAQ's for more about tipping guides.

Environment

Morocco defies a simple description. Across the Mediterranean sea south of Spain, it lies in the Northwest corner of the African continent and is much more than just desert. From the Rif mountains in the north and south along the Atlantic coast, fertile flat central plains are separated from the Sahara desert by the High Atlas mountains. We like to think of it as a country of cedar forests, long sandy beaches, colourful markets, ancient medinas, rocky deserts, bountiful vineyards, acres of olive, argan & orange trees, hedgerows filled with wild flowers and herbs, exotic palm oasis, snow capped mountains, and deep river gorges. The climate invites visitors all year round to explore this fascinating country. Please see weather below.

 

High Atlas Berber villages


Morocco Explored
runs most tours in the southern part of Morocco, in the delicate desert environment and High Atlas mountains. We foster responsible tourism and recommend our travellers do not leave rubbish anywhere, and respect the environment with preservation of resources, flora and fauna, etc.

Wherever possible please take out whatever you bring into the desert, (i.e. emptycontainers, etc.). There are no disposal facilities in the delicate desert environments. Please be environmentally aware and burn toilet paper or carry it out for disposal. If you bury toilet paper in the desert it will not decompose and the wind will quickly shift sand to expose it.

Plastic Morocco

morocco PLASTIC CLEANUP
Read how you too can make a difference to this growing problem in Morocco.


Koutoubia mosque


Five Pillars of Islam

Morocco is an Islamic country and its people are predominantly Muslim. A Muslim is expected to:

    1. take a declaration of faith;
    2. pray 5 times a day facing Mecca;
    3. fast from daybreak to sunset during the month of Ramadan;
    4. give alms and be charitable;
    5. visit Mecca once in your lifetime.

When you travel throughout Morocco you might witness praying in the street or fasting. In the ninth month of the Muslim calendar is Ramadan (May 27- June 25, 2017). During this month, Muslims all around the world refrain from eating, drinking, and worldly pleasures from dawn until sunset. When the sun has set, however, it is time for Iftar, the fast-breaking meal. This meal is usually introduced with a small serving of dates and water, tea, or coffee, followed by a meal and dessert. Time is set aside in local mosques to meet and recite the Quran in special prayers (Tarawih). Many businesses are closed during Ramadan, but life mostly goes on as usual after the fast is broken for the day.

Sometimes tempers and patience can be tested during daylight hours when no smoking, food or water is consumed but overall, people are very happy to be expressing their faith through fasting with strength and dignity. It's an amazing time to come to Morocco and witness this most important time of year. Please show respect by not smoking, drinking or eating in public places and outside of restaurants or cafes on the street. Many cafes and restaurants are open all day during Ramadan.

Ramadan ends with a national holiday.

While in Morocco you may be asked for alms. It is acceptable to give to those genuinely in need i.e. the elderly. However, we strongly advise against giving anything to children, including sweets. Please see FAQ's for more about giving gifts and tips.


Marrakech market


Food and Drink

Moroccan cuisine is delicious and fresh. A sample of meals might include harira (tasty and nourishing bean soup traditionally served for breakfast), tagine (succulent meat cooked with spices and vegetables in a conical shaped pot), meschui (whole roasted sheep/goat), tangia (lamb baked in a clay pot with lemon and spices - a Marrakech specialty), couscous, fresh salads and fruits, hot steaming bread and delicate French pastries. Drinking café au lait, or café "nous-nous' is a popular pastime in the street side cafes and mint tea awaits wherever you go. Alcohol can be purchased at supermarkets and hotels but is not commonly sold in restaurants and if it is, may be unavailable during Ramadan.

Vegetarian requests are understood and accommodated in most tourist visited areas. Vegan is not.

Most food in Morocco is typically grown without GMO, hormones, or antibiotics. Enjoy!

 

 


If you are invited to eat with a family you might typically sit on the cushions and eat from a communal plate placed in the middle of a small table - eat with your right hand only. Utensils are not used although as a visitor, you are likely to be offered a fork or spoon.

Water in the cities is fine for washing and brushing teeth but we do not recommend that you drink tap and never well water. Excellent bottled mineral water is available everywhere. Alcohol is available to buy in Super Marches (super markets) and a few bars and lounges are sprinkled around the big cities of Marrakech, Agadir and Casablanca. Morocco also produces beer in Casablanca and wine from vineyards near Meknes.

If you are an inexperienced traveller chances are you likely will suffer stomach upsets. It usually lasts about 24 hours, so give yourself a break, eat only well cooked foods and drink plenty of water, then congratulate your stomach for joining other well-travelled guts enjoying local food from around the world.

Here's some great Moroccan RECIPES.

10 GREAT PLACES TO EAT IN MARRAKECH
Some old, some new serving traditionally styled meals.


Moroccan tea pots


Health and Safety

For our tour liability please see Terms and Conditions.
To view up to date health risks for Morocco please visit the IAMAT online guide to world travel.

Canada: http://travel.gc.ca

Great Britain: http://www.fco.gov.uk

United States: http://travel.state.gov/


Hotel Lamrani


Hotels/Accommodation

We have a list of links to Hotels booked regularly by our clients.

Morocco Explored uses smaller and locally owned (as often as possible) traditional riads, kasbahs, desert auberge, and nomad tents in our camel trek camp.

Hotels in Morocco are a matter of choice and fit every budget. Classified hotels are 1 star (simple) to 5 star (pure indulgence to "why 5*?"), and are classified as auberge, riad, rural gite d'tape or hotel. Stays usually include breakfast, and many include dinner.

Auberge are found in the country or in rural small towns, usually built traditionally with mud, many with wood burning fireplaces and small salons or roof terraces for taking meals. Auberge are comfortable, and commonly family run and owned.

In Marrakech, Essaouira, and Fes or anywhere there is a medina, small hotels renovated from old houses are called riads. Riads are usually small (about 6 rooms or less), charming, often with a walled garden where breakfast is served on an inner patio or on a roof terrace. Riads are usually too small to have a swimming pool, but may have a very small plunge pool to cool of during summer months. Some riads are in former merchant houses or palaces and may have large opulent rooms and gardens.

Gite d'tape are simple country inns hostel style, where mountain trekkers can enjoy a hot shower, a good meal, and a roof over their head for the night.

Desert camps are typically nomadic style tents of woven wool furnished with carpets, mattresses, sheets, pillows and blankets. Our luxury desert camp has full bathrooms and hot showers and all furniture made in Morocco.

Otherwise there are the usual more modern (Morocco style) hotels or equivalent found anywhere in the big cities and larger towns. There are no motels in Morocco.

Why we don't send a list of our hotels before you book...

Custom tours means we do not pre-book blocks of rooms in tourist hotels, we book mostly in small locally owned unique hotels on a first come, first serve basis. Morocco Explored can provide examples of hotels used regularly and send the complete contact list after receiving a booking confirmation (deposit) and a reservation confirmation from the hotel. Our small hotels have limited rooms available. It's taken a long time to find and create excellent working relationships with our hoteliers and providing quality experiences for our clients is important.


Saghro trekking


Immunisation

Professional medical advice for updating your shots should be obtained from your local travel clinic before entering Morocco. Some shots take several weeks or longer to be effective.


Berber women


Languages

In this former French colony English is spoken as the 4th or 5th language after Arabic, Berber, Spanish and French. Alongside classic Arabic, French and Spanish, English is now taught in many schools.


Myths about Morocco

Films, fiction and images often depict Morocco as a Middle Eastern (Asian) country covered by sand and inhabited by dark blue-robed men who lure you to their tent to offer an exchange of gold or women for camels. Although anything might seem possible, a more authentic Morocco description should include an hospitable North African tribal people who delight in sharing their culture of fine cuisine, exotic music, exquisite crafts, and fascinating history.


Morocco Nomad


People of Morocco

The original occupants of Morocco are collectively known as the Berber tribes but over time parts of modern-day Morocco have been occupied by Arabs, Phoenicians, Romans, Vikings, Spanish, Portuguese and Nomadic peoples of Sahara to name a few.

Moroccans are a naturally curious and hospitable people who are intrigued by the outside world. They delight in welcoming you into their home which could be a black wool tent (Atlas and desert regions), a flat-roofed traditional house made of mud and straw (pise), or a medina villa (riad). Always ask before taking a picture of anyone or anyones belongings. Small children are usually an exception.

12 gOOD THINGs about morocco
Read about how Moroccans are different from you and me.

 

Tinehir market


Morocco Explored Policies

When you choose Morocco Explored you will be supporting many Moroccan partners and guides. Our work is diversified among many regions and families unlike other tour operators who may work exclusively within their own Moroccan family, or are foreigners working tours in Morocco. We take advantage of local knowledge and wisdom. We choose to respect on every level the unparalleled diversity within Morocco. See also our Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditions, Who Are We? and FAQ's.

We also contributed to Education for All, a Moroccan NGO starting to build and run boarding houses near secondary education colleges to allow young women from disadvantaged rural families to continue their education beyond the Primary level.

Politics

Morocco is considered one of the most moderate democratic Islamic countries. The former ruling monarchy is peace loving and tolerant and has recently stepped down from absolute power to allow modern democracy to become the political system. Since 9-11 foreign visitors from all nations have continued to visit Morocco and have always been welcomed with hospitality. The September 2003 and May 2007 attack in Casablanca are rare events and retribution was swift for the offending terrorists. Foreign Embassies advise that caution should be taken in public places when confrontational situations arise, such as street fights, protest marches, etc. as is prudent anywhere in the world.
Read more at FAQ's.

 

Erg Chebbi sand dunes


Sahara Desert

We are often asked if it is safe to travel into the Sahara and the answer is yes! For many the desert is the highlight of their trip. Morocco Explored will transport you to the Erg Chebbi sand sea as well as many varied and incredible places along the way.

The Erg Chebbi dunes at Merzouga are the highest in Morocco and climbing them is an exhilarating experience - just remember to always carry a bottle of water with you. You can walk or ride a camel to the dunes and enjoy the ever-changing colours of this remarkable landscape especially at sunrise and sunset.

 

desert tours

 

For those whose dream is to wander the desert like a nomad and sleep under the stars deep in the dunes you might want to experience a camel trek. For those wanting to enjoy the tranquility of the desert without travelling by camel you can enjoy the comfort of a room on the very edge of the dunes.
Read more about CAMEL TREKKING.

 

 


Marrakech souk


Shopping

Shopping in Morocco can be an challenge rather than a casual pass-time. A visit to the souk* (a market consisting of hundreds of tiny shops where you can buy almost anything), will possibly involve sharing a glass of mint tea with the merchants while you examine variety and quality of the craftsmanship and haggle for a bargain. All this takes time. Enjoy, it can be a lot of fun.

For some really great tips on how to haggle click on "How to Buy a Carpet".

 

how to buy a carpet

Tips and Tricks for Haggling

Please note that it is considered inappropriate to offer money (or anything else toanyone) with your left hand.

The larger cities have hip and sophisticated shops that sell clothing, electronics and jewellery etc., much of it imported from Europe - and increasingly China/India who sadly now manufactures phoney Berber carpets and handcrafts. There are also shopping centres that sell brand-name food, pharmaceuticals and household goods. But more often you will buy from local merchants selling daily essentials such as mineral water (eau mineral), toilet paper, shampoo, and junk food, etc.

We advise our clients to avoid any illegal occurrences as outlined in the Geneva Convention for acquiring cultural property or endangered species. We strongly discourage from purchasing anything that compromises wild populations of plants or animals. See also FAQ's.

 

camel guides


Support Staff

Morocco Explored employs local people whenever possible (muleteers, camel handlers, drivers, guides, guest house owners in the mountains. Read more about Morocco Explored guides, drivers and tipping in FAQ's

 


off road high atlas


Trains, Ferries and Buses - ONCF, Supratours, CTM bus

Trains schedules and information.
Essaouira bus schedules and information.
Spain to Tangier Ferry Schedules

 

Visas

Visa requirements are country-dependent. For many passport holders a free entry visa for 3 months is granted by Morocco upon arrival.

However citizens from countries not listed below need to obtain a visa in their own country prior to entering Morocco. For applications contact your nearest Moroccan Consulate or Embassy as soon as possible. Visas often take several weeks to be issued.

Countries NOT requiring pre-authorized visas.
Algeria - Andorra - Argentina - Australia - Austria - Bahrain - Belgium - Brazil - Bulgaria - Canada - Chile - Congo (Brazzaville) - Croatia - Cyprus - Czech Republic - Denmark - Estonia - Finland - France - Gabon - Germany - Great Britain - Greece - Guinea (Conakry) - Hong Kong - Hungary - Iceland - Indonesia - Ireland - Italy - Ivory Coast - Japan - Kuwait - Latvia - Liechtenstein - Lithuania - Luxemburg - Macao (up to 30 days) - Mali - Malta - Mexico - Monaco - Netherlands - New Zealand - Niger - Norway - Oman - Peru - Philippines - Poland - Portugal - Puerto Rico - Qatar - People's Republic of China - Romania - Russian Federation - Saudi Arabia - Senegal - Singapore (They can stay one month without visa) - Slovakia - Slovenia - South Korea - Spain - Sweden - Switzerland - Tunisia - Turkey - United Arab Emirates - United States of America - Venezuela


 

Sahara desert


Weather - Forecasts for Morocco cities.

Will it be Hot? In a nutshell, hot in summer, warm in spring and fall, warm to cold in winter. The truth is, it can vary immensely depending on where you are. Northern Morocco including Tangier, Fez and the Atlantic coast down to Casablanca has a pleasant Mediterranean climate, and receives more rain than the rest of Morocco. The Atlantic coast has steady year round temperatures resembling pleasant summer weather, but can be windy during the summer months. Further south it will be warmer.


Temperatures in Centigrade Day/Night 24 hour average

Location JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JLY AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Marrakech 18/6 19/8 22/10 23/12 27/14 31/17 36/21 36/21 32/19 27/15 22/11 19/7
Casablanca 17/8 17/10 18/11 19/12 21/14 23/18 25/20 26/20 25/19 22/16 20/12 18/10
Essaouira 17/12 18/13 18/14 18/14 19/16 20/17 21/18 21/18 22/18 21/17 19/16 18/13
Errachidia 13/4 16/7 19/9 23/13 27/17 33/22 36/26 36/25 31/21 24/14 18/9 14/4
Fes 9 10 13 14 18 22 26 26 23 18 13 10
Agadir 20/8 21/10 22/12 22/13 23/15 24/17 26/18 26/19 27/18 24/16 23/13 21/9
Midelt 12/0 13/1 11/3 20/6 23/8 28/13 34/16 33/16 28/13 21/8 17/4 13/2
Ouarzazate 18/1 20/3 23/7 27/10 31/13 37/17 40/20 39/21 34/17 27/12 22/7 17/2
Ouirgane 17 17 21 23 27 30 35 34 30 24 19 17
Rabat 17/8 17/9 19/10 19/11 22/13 23/16 27/18 27/18 26/18 23/14 21/12 18/9
Taroudannt 22 23 26 27 30 32 37 38 35 32 25 22
Zagora 21 23 26 30 34 39 42 41 36 30 26 21

 

The High Atlas mountains offer relief from Marrakech hot summers, with pleasant daytime temperatures and cooler nights. These mountains experience the full 4 seasons, with deep snow falling some years, making it a unique destination for skiing. Snowpack can stay on the mountain passes until mid-June which hampers any high elevation mule trekking. So be prepared for anything in the mountains.

Because sand does not hold any heat, the Sahara dunes can be cold at night and very! cold in the winter, with pleasantly warm sunny to very hot summer daytimes. Summertime it's especially important to drink water every half hour or so to avoid nausea and heatstroke. We do use our air conditioning in the vehicles to keep you comfortable. But please remember to still drink water often. Fruit juice and sugar based drinks are not considered proper rehydration fluids, nor is coffee or tea. Please drink water often during your summer visit to Sahara. Flash thunderstorms can be spectacular. Sand storms and mud rains occasionally last an hour or so, and make memorable experiences.

January and February can be quite cold in the mountains and in the desert, especially at night this time of year. But there are fewer tourists, and sunny warm days in Marrakech contrasting with snowy High Atlas in the distance is otherworldly.

 

 

For more information click on the menu across the top of this page.

FAQ's has important information about visiting Morocco.

 

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info@moroccoexplored.com
moroccoexplored@gmail.com

Telephone to Marrakech Morocco:
GSM: +212 667 705 212 / 661 498 177

Telephone from inside Marrakech Morocco:
GSM: 0 667 705 212 / 0 661 498 177

Telephone British Columbia Canada voice mail:
+1 604 393 3715

 

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