Compiled and updated March 2013
Browse tours with Morocco Explored.
Morocco's economy is very dependent upon tourism and continues to be a favourite holiday destination for Europeans (3rd favourite for the French), and in Marrakech, over 17,000 foreigners are registered (2007) homeowners. Recent reforms have been put in place to ensure the visitors experience in Morocco is as carefree as possible. All guides must be registered and trained. Tourist Police work in every major city. Compared to Europe crime is commonly petty thievery on trains and buses.
The political situation is stable and progressing with modern democratic reforms. With strong diplomatic and trade associations in Europe, especially France - and increasingly the USA and Japan, positive change and growth is in the future for Morocco. Islamic extremism exists but attacks are very rare and severely punished. Moroccans practice a moderate and tolerant form of Islam and are sensitive to the plight of Palestine and Iraq.
Moroccans welcome all visitors, the culture is renowned for it's hospitality. Hassling to buy tends to be a problem and Moroccans are experts in talking you out of your money using charm and perhaps a glass of mint tea. The best way to let them know you do not want anything is to avoid looking at the wares for sale and simply walk away even if the person is blocking your way. A bit of humour here can go a long way!
Read more about safety and hassle travel tips on MoroccoGuide.com.
For health and food related safety, please visit About Morocco.
From the city of Marrakech where anything goes, to the Sahara village where women dress in black with one eye showing from behind a veil, Morocco is a country of many contrasts. Foreign women travel quite safely but will attract attention everywhere most often to buy something or be offered a "service" (especially in the big cities, take that offer as you may!). As Muslims, men should not touch a woman he doesn't know. If a foreign women wants respect she should not tolerate his long handshake or his lingering hand on her arm or anywhere else. Dress as you do at home but conservatively to gain respect. Foreigners are treated with the duality of wonderful hospitality or as a chance for financial gain. The invitation to visit and have tea or dine with a family is a memorable experience. But measure invitations with obligation. Traditions are strong and old ways are practiced. A good attitude and a sense of sharing and humour go a long way to breaking down preconceptions of foreigners and is always appreciated by Moroccans. For more about cultural difference, read 12 Good Things about Morocco.
Travelling in a foreign culture and developing country such as Morocco can be a delightfully rewarding and challenging experience. African cultures have much to teach those of us who come from the modern world offering opportunities to combine enjoyment and understanding with learning new and ancient ways of living and survival.
Romantic meanderings aside, Moroccans work very hard to make visitors feel welcome and provide what you need but patience and understanding is needed as well. It is a developing country and modern amenities are still being built or are non existent in many places outside the city. Sometimes visitor's expectations are not understood by a culture that has little or no direct experience of them so instead, you might receive an interpretation of your request with interesting consequences. Life moves a lot slower than what Westerners are used to, and this must be taken into consideration when something is taking too much time. Life is slow by nature and things do get done eventually. It's best to approach Morocco with an appreciation of cultural differences, sounds, smells, language, expression, light, relaxing, enjoying and accepting. Remember laughter speaks the same language everywhere.
We recommend hiring a genuine human guide for a few hours to allow yourself to become comfortable with the culture. After a day or so in Morocco you'll be an old hand at getting around. You might pay 400 dirhams or more per 4 hour tour, 100 dirhams per hour for a local guide. Read more on About Morocco.
Otherwise many people love to find their own way since Morocco is fun to explore, and Morocco Explored encourages this. We recommend bringing a good guide book like Rough Guide, National Geographic, Cadogan, or Time Out for accuracy, good advice, great maps and cultural details. Lonely Planet is ever popular but reports from our clients unfortunately claim it tends to be misleading.
Travelling with both a hired driver and a guide is not practical as guides specialise ie: trekking, camels, city tours etc. When you book a tour with Morocco Explored we can help you hire an English speaking city or historic site guide when you arrive at their specialised location. All certified guides must complete a two year Government training course and carry a badge that qualifies them as a professional guide.
Drivers are not allowed to act as an official guides unless licensed to do so. Drivers can help and inform on your journey but often cannot engage your services outside the car at certain destinations. However he can help you find and hire a local informed guide if needed. If you really enjoy your drivers and guides think about how much they might deserve in your own country. Please tip when deserved!
Tipping is customary in Morocco but also up to you… about 100 dirhams for a professional guide per each hour they work with your group is a good starting price. However if someone shows you back to your hotel they'll probably expect a tip and you can offer them 10 dirhams. Keeping spare coins in your pocket is a good idea to avoid digging through your wallet or purse.
Its never a good idea to tip children for anything for any reason. Pedophilia is on the rise in Morocco. Foreigners with good intentions have encouraged them to freely approach strangers. Please never give children anything even candies (bon bons) or pens (stilos) etc, no matter how needy they appear (see Q18 below).
For trekking each person may tip their trekking guide 300 - 500 dirhams.
Otherwise tipping 10-15% is the standard but as always it is up to you.
Guides know many languages as well as Berber and Arabic, including French, Spanish, and English and often some German, Japanese, Italian and Dutch as well. Our drivers know English, Spanish and French.
During high seasons: Christmas and New Years into the first week of January: Easter; and sometimes during October our English speaking drivers are in great demand.
We inform our guides to avoid any illegal occurrences as outlined in the Geneva Convention for acquiring cultural property or endangered species. As well we strongly discourage anyone from purchasing anything that compromises the wild population of plants or animals in Morocco.
You can relax and wear whatever is familiar and comfortable on the street at home. Morocco is very tolerant and welcoming to visitors, you're not expected to act or look like a Moroccan. Longer shorts and shirts are fine for men. For women it's a good idea to bring a scarf to cover bare shoulders and arms in rural villages. Shorts are not acceptable for women unless below knee length.
Rural people will be visibly embarrassed if you choose to dress with skin showing, and react with a muffled laugh or cover their eyes. In their view, you're walking around in your underwear. City dwellers often dress as we do.
Click the link Food on About Morocco.
When you send a deposit Morocco Explored will send an information package of what to bring and what to expect while travelling in Morocco. Read more about Camel Trek Tours.
Warm wool blankets are provided as well as pillows and sheets and foam sleeping mats. Winter nights (November to early March) can be very cold in the desert dunes at night because sand doesn't hold in any heat. The wool tents can be quite warm. We provide some sleeping bags, but in limited supply. In high season (Christmas and New Years) visitors might consider bringing their own.
We normally use 2, 3, or 4 star level medina riads, auberge (small country inns) and hotels.
Hotel stays include a full (not continental) breakfast and many include dinner. You will stay in traditional mud kasbahs, many with wood burning fireplaces, air conditioning, salons and roof terraces for meals and relaxing. They are charming and comfortable but tend to be cold in the winter in the higher elevations mountain locations or desert. In Marrakech, Essaouira and Fes we use smaller hotels renovated from beautiful old Merchant houses - riads in the old medina. In Casablanca we use a modern hotel downtown.
We send hotel your contacts once a deposit is received and booking confirmation is sent to us from the hotel.
Travel insurance should be obtained before leaving your country of origin. We never force anyone to purchase it however. Local hospitals have limited diagnostic capability. Foreign clinics can be expensive, evacuation can cost thousands, luggage can disappear, so insurance is a good idea. We recommend World Nomads for good deals and excellent service for medical and personal property insurance while travelling.
Yes! All our employees are Moroccan – muleteers, camel handlers, drivers, guides, hoteliers, and we have forged multiple relationships that translate into employment for many families. Many riads in Marrakech are run by Europeans - we try to use Moroccan owned as much as we can. In Marrakech, we use a small riad owned and run by a Moroccan family. Morocco Explored only employs one foreigner, the rest are Moroccans living and working in Morocco.
Local people are sometimes badly paid. For example a porter or a muleteer with a mule receives the Morocco Tourism Ministry recommended minimum. We strive to pay higher than this and we also provide a pension for our full time employees. Also your tip is important to support their livelyhood. Please tip when deserved!
People are happy to have visitors because tourism helps support the local economy with cash, spreading wealth from local artisans (often women), shopkeepers, cafes, guides (often young men supporting their family) and beyond. Many rural economies are still based on the barter system.
The social support system of Morocco is to give alms to the poor, especially during Ramadan. That said, you may want to assess how needy someone really is before giving a few dirhams to anyone begging on the street. There are a number of scams based upon organised begging. Please, never give anything to children, no matter how needy they may appear to be. Pedophilia is on the rise in Morocco, especially in Marrakech and giving encourages children to freely approach foreigners. We particularly recommend clients consider giving a more helpful gift to important development projects such as Education for All Morocco.
Our prices might be a bit higher than some other companies who offer similar tours because we believe in paying all our drivers well and provide retirement pensions. Cheaper tours will find their drivers sleeping in their vehicle to save money. Our drivers are provided with a hotel and shower and meals every day while on tour.
Reservations, cancellations can be found on this link to our Terms and Conditions. We have camel treks priced with 3, 4, and 5 days, and Marrakech day tours priced online. Private tours are priced individually depending upon how many people are travelling, for however many days.
Can we invite you to join us and fall under the enchantment of Morocco? For Morocco Explored tour options click below.
Who is MOROCCO EXPLORED?
Our tours are priced in Morocco dirhams because all our tour and trek expenses are paid in Morocco dirhams. We use the central Morocco Bank Al Maghrib to convert Morocco Dirhams (MAD) from other currencies.
Morocco Dirhams are a closed currency, which means they are not bought or sold internationally therefore not used by international banking. We accept payments converted to Canadian dollars (CAD).
We require a deposit to start the reservation process. If you need to pay by credit card, we welcome payments of any amount in Canadian dollars online. Click on the Pay Now links throughout this website. Credit cards are subject to high bank fees in Morocco so Morocco Explored only accepts this method of payment through online payments.
You can buy dirhams in some foreign exchanges outside Morocco but you should sell your dirhams back to the bank before you leave Morocco, (will be a lower rate than you bought them) because you cannot sell dirhams outside Morocco. There is no black market in Morocco.
Morocco is still very much a cash based economy. Euros and (US and CAD) dollars are always accepted in Morocco and you will save time bringing cash, doing away with long slow bank lineups or non-active cash machines to acquire dirhams. You can also use your debit card at bank machines. There will be a charge for overseas transactions from your bank and we advise travelers to take out large sums at a time. But first PLEASE CHECK that your bank doesn't charge huge transaction fees for overseas withdrawals; if not, bring your bank debit card to acquire cash just about anywhere. Also you must have only a 4 digit PIN #.
American Express and Thomas Cook travelers cheques are welcome in Morocco. Cash in Euros, US and Canadian dollars, and GBP Sterling are accepted at every money exchange. Change tellers are also located in some hotels.
Visa is usually accepted in the bigger shops and restaurants, but double check that the total on your bill is in dirhams and not in your currency! Other credit cards are often not accepted.
In Morocco you will see kasbahs and ksours throughout the Atlas mountains and the desert. A kasbah is a mud and straw fortified structure that would have been typically inhabited by a wealthy extended family; ksours (also called kasbah's) are large fortified dwellings that sometimes house 100's of families, and their livestock.
The city is called Fes, the hat is a fez.
When you visit Ait Benhaddou where the top photo was taken, perhaps you can let us know.
Telephone to Morocco:
GSM: +212 66 770 5212
Telephone from Morocco:
GSM: 0 66 770 5212
Telephone Canada and voice mail:
+1 604 393 3715
©2003 - 2013 MOROCCO EXPLORED | MOROCCO EXPLORED.COM
Our Tours Recommended in National Geographic Traveller
Welcome to morocco!
Morocco welcomed 2.5 million tourists between January and May 2008, up 11% over the same period last year. French tourists topped the list with 927,000, followed by Spaniards (587,000), Britons (141,000), Italians (116,000), Belgians (113,000), Germans (97,000) and the Dutch (75,000). According to official figures, a total of 7.4 million tourists visited the country in 2007, with overnight stays exceeding 17 million.
12 GOOD THINGS About Morocco . . . How Moroccans are different from you and me.
Top 10 TO DO LIST for Marrakech . . . An electic list!
"I came here for the waters,” says Humphrey Bogart in 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."
"If people and their manner of living were alike everywhere, there would not be much point in moving from one place to another."
"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."