2 week plan for mid/late Jan
Replies: 9 - Last Post: Nov 11, 2012 3:54 AM Last Post By: khamlia
Nov 8, 2012 11:39 AM
2 week plan for mid/late JanHi all,
I am considering a 2 week trip in Morocco from mid/late Jan, most likely flying out to Marrakech, if not there then Agadir. With this in mind, and also as one of the main things I want to see is the Sahara there, I aim to focus on just the south, never travelling north of Marrakech. From what I've been reading, the following seem a likely route for me:
Zagora (any recommendations for tour companies for the desert trips here would be great)
I would be grateful of any advice as to the suitability of the above, I also have some specific questions:
1) I've been looking at the CTM bus website, and all journeys on the above route seem reasonable enough, with possible exception of Zagora -> Taroudant, which could be worse but takes a good 8 hours by the look of it. Is there a better way to break up the Zagora-> Agadir journey?
2) On same topic, are CTM generally as good and reliable as anybody? Are the train services all in the north of the country?
3) I'm currently thinking of doing a 60/40 split in favour of the inland over the coast. I've been reading climate information and it seems that Agadir is a fair bit warmer than Essaouira. Are either places suitable for swimming in late Jan? If I'm wasting my time even thinking of going for a dip in either place in January then the ratio might get moved to 70/30 or so. I definitely want to check out Essaouira even if I can't swim or sit on the beach there. I read it was quite windy there so I don't have my heart set on doing either.
If Agadir is not noticeably better for either I might just cut that one from the plan.
3) Any recommendations for hiking in the mountains around Marrakech? I'm quite fit but no great hiker, it seems some of the places in that area are for your experts only, especially in winter. Is there somewhere easy enough to access/do some walk(s) at that time of year?
4) Is the south less French speaking than the north? I speak basically no French, just wondering as to the general use of learning some before I go. It would probably be easier for me than the local language as I can speak Spanish OK.
Thanks all, look forward to reading any replies.
Nov 8, 2012 1:17 PM
1..... south of the High Atlas is where you get the best of the weather in January.
From Agadir/Inezagane lots of traffic towards Ouarzazate where you can decide on where in the Desert you want to go.
In Talouine, (between Taroudannt and Ouarzazate) Auberge Souktana is a place to get advice on walks/hikes in this interesting area, Ahmed and wife Michelle run this small friendly place, just beyond the east-side of the village, on opposite side of the road set back a bit is the Casbah, its somewhat obvious, big and out of place.
Research this site for information, http://www.visitagadir.com/index.php find the beaches map, suggested routes through the Sous Valley including Taroudannt and Talouine. Information on the Anti-Atlas, Tafraoute a beautiful mountain village can be reached by bus or Grand Taxis from Inezagane, Ighrem a smaller village with a bus service from Taroudannt or taxi.
French is the favourite foreign language in this area, surprising amount of English at times, mostly to do with young people on the internet.
Marrakesh is as far south as the Railway Network gets. The Superatours Bus Company works in conjunction the trains, takes over where the rail-lines finishes. CTM buses are as good as Superatours, these are the top two.
Nov 8, 2012 2:25 PM
Nov 8, 2012 6:22 PM
3Yes CTM buses are fine; so are Supratours buses. Yes train service is just from Marrakech north...see www.oncf.ma for schedules. Yes Essaouira will be too cold to swim and maybe Agadir will also be in January. English will be just fine...no French needed. Desert, especially at night, is likely to be c o l d.
Nov 9, 2012 3:15 AM
4and in Zagora - if you can go longer, to M´Hamid. Zagora is not so exciting now, too big it is.
You not need some tour companies. Find some accommodation and they arrange for you the trip to sand dunes Erg Chigaga, but count with that it is further 2-3 hours by 4x4 from both Zagora or M´Hamid. Near Zagora you have only sand dunes Tinfou, not so big, I usually say it's like someone took a bucket and poured the sand where :). Near M´Hamid are some very small sand dunes. So, if you want to see a little bigger you have to go to Erg Chigaga.
And right, it can be cold there at night, but don´t care, have something warmer with you and they have also many blankets in the camp so you will not have cold anyway.
Edited by: khamlia
Nov 10, 2012 8:50 AM
5Hi, thanks to all for the replies.
I don't mind a bit of cold, being from the UK I can deal with that. But while it isn't a problem for me, is January so out of season that there won't be any other tourists, and therefore no way I can take trips into the desert?
I would hate to go all that way just to find there was absolutely nothing to do but mope about in my hotel.
Khamlia - which of Zagora and M'Hamid is nearer Erg Chigaga?
I don't mind if Zagora itself isn't so interesting, I will not stay there very long at all. I am just going there in order to get a tour to Erg Chigaga. If Zagora has banks and M'Hamid does not then maybe Zagora is more helpful to me, really.
Moroccotraveller - Talouine looks nice, thanks for the tip. Do you think the hiking in that area is better than that nearer to Marrakesh? Most of the guides seem to like the latter, it doesn't especially bother me. But as Talouine is more equi-distant between the desert area and Agadir it could be a good place to go.
If you were going to stop off at Talouine would you still make time for Taroudannt? Is there much that one offers but the other doesn't?
Nov 10, 2012 11:21 AM
6ruffo, no problem, we can say the season is the whole year and tourists come even after Christmas. And the trips into desert are the whole time too.
In M´Hamid I don´t know if there is the bank but it is in Zagora. Anyway from Zagora it take also around 2-3 hours to reach sand dunes Erg Chigaga.
Be only aware that if they suggest you to take camel trek from Zagora or M´Hamid to sand dunes so in that case you would not come to Erg Chigaga but to some smaller dunes. To take a camel trek to Erg Chigaga it takes about 3-4 days as I heard.
Edited by: khamlia
Nov 10, 2012 1:35 PM
7...... in January I would stay south of the High Atlas, even then a trip up into the Anti-Atlas can be cool. For the western Sous Valley area last January the weather was like this... http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/GMAD/2012/1/15/DailyHistory.html?req_city=Agadir+Al+Massira&req_state=&req_statename=Morocco .
Daylight length is also a factor up to 10 hours in January, darkness is fine for me in towns, in rural and remote places not so enjoyable.
The walks in the Talouine area are an easy grade, nothing too strenuous, not frequented much by tourists, I got good advice for a walk alone of a few hours from an small old guy working in Auberge Souktana. Walks closer to Marrakesh are more talked about because of the concentration of tourists in the biggest tourist draw in Morocco. The Imlil area is most visited from Marrakesh, see this link introduced here by Tim.. http://www.imlil.org/ . Another place I walk is around the Crater of Amagour about 15km.from Taroudannt, mostly a gentle climb mixed with steep bits and surrounded by the flat Sous plain..... an earlier post on the area.. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=2159509
For January the seaside villages south of Agadir on the Atlantic are worth considering, weather similar to the Carry Islands at this time. Research here for Sidi Ifni, Mirhleft, Legzira Beach, Aglou Plage and a real quirky place Tifnit.
In late January the Cherry Blossoms in the Anti-Atlas are a riot of colour, the area is at its most spectacularly beautiful in Spring, walks from the two biggest villages, Trafraoute and Ighrem are easily done, and access is simple as a bus.
Morocco is a place to savour and enjoy, do a little slowly and well rather than a blurred rush.
Are you reading any guide books for this trip ?
Nov 10, 2012 4:42 PM
8"...do a little slowly and well rather than a blurred rush" - if only life were that simple, MoroccoTraveller! Unfortunately I have a boss who wants me back in work for February. I fully agree with the spirit of what you are saying. I have just booked my flights so will now have 2 weeks to spend in Morocco. So far I have the LP Africa guide, I will be getting the Morocco one as soon as my library can get it for me. I did already have a look at Tifnit and it seems a really pretty place, maybe I will check it out. Thanks again for your advice. I will be sure to check out those links.
khamlia - thanks again. I can see the logic of going to M'Hamid now, as I have been searching for 4x4 tours to Erg Chigaga, and they are all so much cheaper from there. I saw one for €60 and another €90. It's just a one night trip, but that's probably all I can afford, timewise. Maybe 2 nights, at a push. They seem to leave M'Hamid at 11am and arrive late afternoon. By 4x4, would this mean they are taking you to proper Erg Chigaga? and not just the small sand dunes?
Nov 11, 2012 3:54 AM
9You can emphasize to them that you want to go to Erg Chigaga dunes.
When I was there I took the trip to sand dunes from M´Hamid. We started around 11AM, came to proper Erg Chigaga, on the way we made stop in some oasis. Then in Erg Chigaga we took one promenade over sand dunes (not by camel but by foot). After that we got lunch and around 5 or 6PM were going back to M´Hamid. But in that camp they had tents so if you will so you can stay overnight there. And take camel trek from there too. I paid for my trip 120EUR including 4x4 and lunch for 2 persons.
Don´t only not believe them when they will say to you that the highest dune L´Habidia (la grande dune) is 300m high. It is not true, it is only about 100-120m high.
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