Weather, safety - Chefchaouen
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Apr 23, 2012 11:30 AM Last Post By: TimCullis
Apr 11, 2012 8:52 AM
Weather, safety - ChefchaouenHi
I am planning to travel to Morocco at the end of April/beginning of May. I am a female travelling alone in my 20s and wondered firstly if it will be safe - any tips on travelling alone re buses, etc? I will be travelling from Tangier to Chefchaouen and on to Fes - and also whether there is likely to be quite a few other independent travellers in Chefchaouen to meet? What is the best place to stay in Chefchaouen to meet other people but still get good value/nice surroundings in a private room? Any good cafes to hang out in?
Also, what is the weather usually like in Chefchaouen at v beginning of May - will it be warmish or should I pack warm clothes?
Apr 11, 2012 10:22 AM
Apr 11, 2012 12:26 PM
2I and 3 others are planning to visit chefchaouen after someone recommended it on a 2 day jaunt from Spain. what made you want to stop there for a visit? I really want to visit Fes. Are you traveling by bus from Chef. to Fes? I really want to see more of morocco...we will be there May 1-4 or thereabouts..
Apr 11, 2012 2:46 PM
Apr 12, 2012 3:02 AM
4Good advise from Morocfan. Just don't trust young guys offering trips to farms, offers of a hotel or other things when getting off the bus in both Chaouen and Fes…..it’s usually a scam. ….just say no and all will be well.
Good idea is to get a taxi from the bus stop in Chaouen up to the medina to avoid being pestered on the brutal long walk up the hill......should be about 10-20dh.
I really like Pension Castellana just of the main square in the medina for a place to stay. It’s very simple with rooms set around the open centre (I’ll call it a riad if I must but I don’t like using that term as it really isn’t one) with spotless shared facilities, the roof terrace is great and Mohamed the owner is a really good man who has had the place for decades and who I class as a real friend. I find the Castellana a really good place to meet folk and have spent many hours enjoying the local produce (both food and kif) with fellow travellers on that terrace looking at the stunning view of the mountains behind…..happy days! There’s also the best Hammam in town right next door.
Café wise, the main square is where all the action is so just find a table and watch the town play out in front of you.
There are MANY kif (hash) sellers in Chaouen and if you look like a smoker then you will be pestered by kif sellers in the square or when walking about town. This usually involves them whispering something to you about “chocolate” or “good shit” or “something special my friend” and then walking or sitting with you until you make it clear you do or don’t want any. If you want him to go away, just say you don’t smoke as it sends you loopy or some other reason for avoiding it, this usually does the trick. Never say maybe, later or possibly as this will be taken as a chink in your armour and they will pester you mercilessly until you crack. I’m making it sound intimidating but it’s really not and these guys are just doing their job which they’ve done since kif has been grown and is part of the local culture. They’re not nasty or dangerous, just tiresome sometimes if you give them the merest idea they will get a sale.
Fes is just as safe and a real smack in the face after calm Chaouen, but just as fun. I like the Pension Batha just out from the main gate for a bed to stay in. It’s simple, basic and cheap for the standard. There’s also the Hotel Batha around the corner which is a huge old place with a great pool and old style bar for a cool G&T. The rooms are pricy for me but I like it far a day or 2 for the pool and location. Final place a like is the Pension Cascade just inside the main gate. It’s the granddaddy of all hostels in Fes and has, again, been around since the dawn of time it seems. The rooms are austere and the place looks dated but it’s one of, if not THE best place in Morocco for meeting fellow travellers. The roof terrace is a real meeting place for everyone, including for those staying elsewhere, and doubles as a sleeping area on a night for those on a tight budget.
Fes has some great eating places and cafes. My favourite is Café Medina just out of the main gate as it does Pigeon Fassi which is the best thing I’ve eaten in Morocco. I also like the famous Tami’s in the corner just down the main street in to the medina. He does a great Kefta tagine.
Weather wise it can be changeable in the mountains in May. Luckily, Chaouen is the home to the best jumpers in Morocco made from hand woven wool with hoods and big pockets. Very warm for those cold Chaouen nights so don’t bother wasting packing space and just get a jumper when in town.
General safety is not to be worried about. Morocco is vastly safer than the UK for example and if you dress respectfully (no vest tops and short shorts) you won’t get too much hassle if you look and act confident and just say no to any offers that you didn’t instigate.
Good luck and have fun.
Apr 12, 2012 3:47 AM
Apr 12, 2012 5:06 AM
6Got my eye on a trip in Autumn. Want to explore more of the area to the south of Chaouen………can’t wait! Last time I was there I tried to follow some of Tim’s directions for a nice drive and got horribly lost in the hills S/W of Chaouen and found roads that weren’t even on the map so need to go back and vindicate my self.
Apr 12, 2012 6:42 AM
Apr 12, 2012 6:45 AM
8I'm in Chaouen now, it's raining, but the weather has been fine since I arrived on Saturday night, the town was quite busy over the Easter weekend, with Moroccan tourists, but now all gone.
Nothing is 'moving' in the town because of the lack of tourism, hotels and restaurants are sparsely patronised, the bar which I frequent in the evenings, Oumou Rabia, in the Avenida Hassan, has few customers; everybody appears to be 'broke'.
Even the Spanish holiday, Semana Santa, failed to make its traditional financial contribution to the local economy, the Spanish tourists don't have the money to spend. So now is a good time to visit, your pennies will be most welcome, and discounts on the price of a hotel room and other services should be easily negotiated.
As for lone female safety, this will be no problem if you just use common sense, the same as you would do anywhere else. The town is well protected by plain-clothes police, a new young generation who don't seem to be interested in lining their pockets with 'bachsheesh' ( for the moment anyway, they're still "debutantes" ). there are always at least two police drinking in bar Oumou Rabia every night, the bar itself is now open until 11pm, it previously closed early, but they now need to look for extra customers with the revenue they generate.
So, welcome to Chaouen, bring a pullover, it's cold at night and few hotels have heating, just lots of extra blankets are available instead. You could instead buy a woollen Kaftan in the shops here, and when you leave give it away to some poor person, it's what I usually do.
Apr 12, 2012 8:53 AM
9Thank you so much everyone for your advice, that's really helpful and more than I expected! What a great forum. I will buy a jumper there and it sounds like I'll be perfectly fine travelling alone. Anyone who is planning to be in Chefchaouen on 30th April or 1st May let me know and we could meet up. Looking forward to it!
Edited by: lorz21
Apr 12, 2012 2:50 PM
10And don't forget the famous hat man in Chefchaouen with his hand knitted hats, gloves...
Kate: Thami's got a write up in The View from Fez. Thanks for the hints for Fez, I need a backup from Pension Campini. I stayed at Pension Castellana after you recommended it, will probably stay there again when I visit in May.
Apr 13, 2012 2:59 AM
11+1 for the Hat Man....he’s a real Chaouen legend.
Tim – Last time I was in Fes (about 6 months ago) I was sat in Tami’s and got chatting to a guy who turned out to be the guy who writes for View from Fez. Can’t remember his name (older guy who was very amusing and friendly) and he turned out to be a top guy who I enjoyed a drink with and who really gave me a good incite in to the ups and downs of living in Fez…..really enjoyed his company. I think he said he knew you. Small world ey.
Update on the Castellana. The renovations in the main building that have been going on (very loudly) were nearly finished last time I was staying (6 months ago). They’ve completed the downstairs and were just having a new canopy fitted to the open roof so the rain wouldn’t fall in the little open area in the middle. Mohammed was very proud of his new work and had been busy commissioning a beautiful new hanging lamp for the canopy. Personally I preferred the classic blue plaster entrance that was there before, but the new “cave” look doorway is an interesting addition and quite unusual for Chaouen. I found out that the big building being built out the back isn’t the hotel being extended (thank the lord) but Mohammed’s new house that he’s treating himself to.
Apr 13, 2012 4:32 AM
13Think it was Sandy....but without the ‘tash. He lives in Fes and was having a nightmare trying to get his permanent residency visa.
Apr 23, 2012 9:51 AM
Off to Chaouen on Saturday. What rates are at the Castellana? Or if you have any other recommendations for a double room for around 200-300 DH?
(1 star Hotel)
From US$78.38 per night
(5 star Hotel)
From US$798.18 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$120.03 per night