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Morocco

Getting around

Bus & tram

Bus

A dense network of buses operates throughout Morocco, with many private companies competing for business alongside the main national carrier, Compagnie de Transports Marocains (CTM; in Casablanca 022 753677; www.ctm.co.ma).

The ONCF train company runs buses through Supratours to widen its train network. Morocco’s other bus companies are all privately owned and only operate regionally. It’s best to book ahead for CTM and Supratours buses.

Bus travel is relatively cheap considering the distances that have to be covered. Typical fares from Casablanca to Marrakesh, Fès and Tangier are US$8, US$10 and US$14. More often than not you’ll be charged for baggage handling – US$0.60 is common.

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Car & motorcycle

Taking your own vehicle to Morocco is straightforward. In addition to your vehicle registration document and an International Driving Permit (although many foreign licences, including US and EU, are acceptable), a Green Card (proof of insurance for your vehicle) is required from the car’s insurer. Not all insurers cover Morocco.

Renting a car in Morocco isn’t cheap, starting from US$395 per week or US$57 per day for a basic car with unlimited mileage. Most companies demand a returnable cash deposit (US$340 to US$565) unless you pay by credit card. The best cities in which to hire cars are Casablanca, Marrakesh and Tangier, where the competition is greatest and prices lower. However, it is usually cheaper to arrange car rental in advance through a travel agent or international agency.

By law, insurance must be sold along with all rental agreements.

In Morocco you drive on the right, as in Continental Europe. Speed limits in built-up areas range from 40km/h. Outside towns there is a national speed limit of 100km/h, rising to 120km/h on the motorways. It’s compulsory for drivers and passengers to wear seat belts in cars, but no-one does.

In many Moroccan towns, parking zones are watched by gardiens de voitures in characteristic blue coats. The going rate is US$0.40 for a few hours and US$1.20 overnight. In an increasing number of big city centres, parking tickets are issued from blue kerbside machines (US$0.30 per hour for a maximum stay of 2½ hours). Parking is free on Sundays.

Petrol in the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla is tax-free, so drivers heading to Morocco and mainland Spain via the enclaves should arrive with a near-empty tank. Moroccan mechanics are generally extremely good and all decent-size towns will have a garage.

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Train

Morocco’s train network is run by the Office National des Chemins de Fer (ONCF; www.oncf.ma in French). There are two lines that carry passengers: the line from Tangier in the north down to Marrakesh, and the line from Oujda in the northeast, also to Marrakesh, joining with the Tangier line at Sidi Kacem. The Belgian-made trains are comfortable, fast and preferable to buses. There are different 1st- and 2nd-class fares; 2nd-class is more than adequate.

Couchettes are available on the overnight ordinaire trains between Marrakesh and Tangier. The compartments fold up into six bunks (couchettes) and they’re well worth the extra US$10. Sample 2nd-class fares include Casablanca to Marrakesh (US$8.50, three hours), Rabat to Fès (US$8, 3½ hours) and Tangier to Marrakesh (US$21, 9½ hours).

Children aged under four travel free. Those aged between four and 12 years get a reduction of 10% to 50%, depending on the service.

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Local transport

The elderly Mercedes vehicles you’ll see belting along Moroccan roads and gathered in great flocks near bus stations are grands taxis (shared taxis). They link towns to their nearest neighbours. Grands taxis take six extremely cramped passengers and leave when full.

Cities and bigger towns have local petits taxis, which are a different colour in every city. Petits taxis are not permitted to go beyond the city limits. They are licensed to carry up to three passengers and are usually metered.

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Air

Royal Air Maroc (RAM; in Casablanca 022 912000; www.royalairmaroc.com) dominates the Moroccan air industry with paltry competition from Regional Air Lines (in Casablanca 022 538080). Internal airports serviced by RAM include Casablanca, Essaouira, Fès, Marrakesh, Rabat and Tangier.

Student and under-26 youth discounts of 25% are available on all RAM domestic flights – but this is only if the ticket is bought in advance from one of their offices. Group reductions are available and children aged from two to 12 travel at half price.

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Bicycle

There are no special road rules pertaining to cyclists and they’re really not given much consideration by drivers. Distances are great and those on bikes will need to carry all supplies with them (including any spare parts you may need, food and plenty of drinking water). You can transport bikes on both buses and trains.

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