Morocco Trip Report #1: Logistics
Replies: 6 - Last Post: May 22, 2012 10:02 AM Last Post By: Rob1382
May 20, 2012 11:52 AM
Morocco Trip Report #1: LogisticsMorocco Trip Report #1: Logistics
If you’re reading this considering whether or not to go to Morocco, then I’ll cut to the chase and say, “Go!” Morocco has something for everyone: culture, history, architecture, mountains, desert, forests, shopping, great food etc.
I just got back yesterday from a 17 day trip to Morocco with my family (wife and 2 grown children) and we all had a thoroughly wonderful time. I wanted to give back to the Forum via this trip report as it was so helpful in my preparation. This first trip report will emphasize logistics, the second, favourite sights etc. I’m sure if I get anything wrong or if my experience was in any way not representative of the norm, then the forum regulars will correct me. Here goes – I hope this helpful to some:
- Flew into Casablanca and immediately caught a train to Marrakesh. You can catch the train in the Casa airport (very handy). It takes two tickets: one to Casa Voyageurs and then one from CV to Marrakesh.
- I was counting on bank machines using my debit card so I panicked a bit when the machines in the airport weren’t working for me or other tourists. Luckily we had brought $500 USD as back up and we changed some to get our train tickets. We were successful in withdrawing money from a bank machine outside Casa Voyageur during our wait for the Marrakesh train. Overall, our bank machine success rate was about 80%. Don’t let yourself run too low. The most reliable banks for us were BMCI and BMCE. No machines, even the ones that weren’t working, ever swallowed our debit card. Change your PIN number to 4 digits if it isn’t already.
- I had both a Lonely Planet and Rough Guide for Morocco. Now normally I’m a big Lonely Planet fan and it has been superior for other trips, but I found the Rough Guide to be the superior guide for Morocco (Am I allowed to say this here?). With a good book you can do Morocco on your own and don’t need to hire a guide for anything – despite what they will tell you.
- Overall we probably averaged $300 Dh per person per night with half board (meaning including two meals), a bit more in the bigger cities, a bit less south of the Atlas. This works out to about $70 Canadian or $70 US for a double room that includes breakfast and dinner. This bought us a clean, safe room with hot water, our own washroom in a good location.
- A comment about those pesky touts. Everyone has to make a living and tourism is quickly becoming a vital part of the Moroccan economy. Courtesy and common sense will go a long way in dealing with touts. The touts here are not so bad (though tending to be more aggressive in the poorer areas of town, for example near the tanneries in Fes and Marrakesh). Many here have posted effective strategies for dealing with touts – no doubt you’ll develop your own as your trip wears on. (One of my favourites is to ask them questions about themselves. They tend not to have lots of patience for this). I found them to be nowhere near as bad as in India, for example.
- Thanks to a brilliant tip here in the forum, I rented a car from the Marrakesh airport and kept it the week, dropping it off in the Fes airport, thereby avoiding driving in the crazy inner cities. I paid the extra $$ and went with an international company, Avis, just to buy some peace of mind about the vehicle, service etc. It went really smoothly and if you’re moving around towns below the Atlas Mountains, having a car saves tons of time and is a great way to see the country on your own terms and at your own pace.
- None of the 4 of us got sick. We drank bottled water, used hand sanitizer and eased our way into some of the food. Yes, you can eat at the food stalls at the main square in Marrakesh. Go to a busy one – better and cleaner food.
- In terms of photography, my travels in India and Southeast Asia led to wonderful people shots with willing and often excited participation from the locals. Don’t expect the same here. Your people shots will be either paid for (water sellers, snake charmers, entertainers etc.) or not especially welcome. Expect this and accept this. To get decent people shots you need to be very discreet and a bit lucky.
I think I’ll stop it there. Next post will comment on our itinerary and sights. Bon voyage everyone.
May 20, 2012 6:33 PM
1Good posting! I disagree with only one thing: eating at the food stalls in the Jemaa'-el-Fna in Marrakech. But my stomach may be more sensitive than yours.
May 21, 2012 9:21 PM
May 22, 2012 12:17 AM
May 22, 2012 8:31 AM
May 22, 2012 9:59 AM
I simply bought a highway map in Marrakech. There are several available around the main square. In Fes, we stayed at Dar Fes Medina ( www.darfesmedina.com ). It was was a bit on the pricey side (660 Dh per night), but still very good value for a modern room, flat screen TV, hot showers and aircon that works. I highly recommend it and if you check the reviews on the web on Trip Advisor etc. you'll see others recommend it as well. It was 10-12 minutes walk from the main gate to the medina, Bab Bou Jeloud.
Overall, I found driving to be a pleasant experience. Highways are well signed, with regular markers noting distances to the next town. Watch your speeding however. Speed traps are common and I was nabbed for 1 speeding ticket. Let me know if you have any other questions. Rob.
May 22, 2012 10:02 AM
Marocfan has it right. Plan on being fast, discreet and respectful. I managed some great people shots, but you have to work harder to get them. I have a good digital, point and shoot camera. A good zoom is very helpful. If you have an SLR digital with a zoom lens, you'll do even better. Rob.
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