On the road with little kids
Replies: 18 - Last Post: Feb 20, 2013 2:00 PM Last Post By: kalikaleidescope
Jan 19, 2013 10:51 AM
On the road with little kidsHello everyone,
thanks for all the helpful info I've absorbed just reading thru the forum, although as Search is down I'm having trouble finding enough info on travelling with small kids.
Am hoping u guys could offer some words of advice as I put our itinerary together. I'm trying to create a slow-paced road trip as our boys are only 3 & 5 and 4 to 5hrs in the car is the max I want to put them (& us) thru. I also know that too many nights in too many different beds leads to tired grumpy kids & no fun for any of us..
Our trip starts when we leave Marrakesh end of March with a hire-car. Then (lucky us) we have 2 weeks to do a loop thru (some of?) the following:
High Atlas: Ouirgane or Ourika Valley? Any other suggestions?
Skoura: best day trips with small boys?
Oualidia (then back to Marrakesh).
Couple of qu's:
-would you fancy the drive over the Tizi'n'Test pass with 2 small kids? Have an image of mad drivers on mountain rds with kids whining in the back. Have the impression Tizi'n'Tichka is a softer option?
-would like to include a drive south to Zagora thru Draa Valley with a possible overnight under canvas but my other (wiser?) half says too much driving...
-I turn 40 midway thru the trip. Any good suggestions for some extra special b'day stop-off en route? I wanted Merzouga but have sacrificed that idea in the face of realistic parenting ambitions.
Would also really appreciate any tips on keeping the boys happy & safe in Morocco whilst opening their eyes & minds, by other parents who've already travelled this particular path!
Thanks for reading and I promise to feedback on our experiences in case they are of any help to anyone else.
Jan 19, 2013 11:59 AM
1Key to success with kids is lots of stops—no problem in Morocco when there's so much to see and do.
The Test is much quieter than the Tichka, which is a main 'N' road. The passes are different but about comparable. How you view them will depend on whether you are used to mountain roads (you haven't specified in your profile where you are from) but both passes are regularly done with massive great motorhomes.
Your boys would probably love the 'Kingdom of Heaven' castle filmset at Ouarzazate, see post #17 at http://www.morocco-knowledgebase.net/forum/showthread.php?t=304
If heading south over the Test pass you might consider Riad Hida in Ouled Birhill for your special event, see http://www.riadhida.com/ It's a pasha's palace renovated about 20 years ago with peacocks wandering the grounds. Taroudannt is another option.
Moroccans love kids and older children are used to taking care of their siblings. Hope they don't mind getting kisses from strangers! In the 1980s we took our two daughters on their first trip when six and two. Tired of fending off 'false guides' in Marrakech we engaged the services of an 8 year old girl as a companion who then took us around and fended off the older guys. Very funny to watch.
Jan 20, 2013 7:56 AM
2The main concerns will be the often-wild Morocco drivers, especially grand taxi drivers who speed and pass on blind curves. Just be alert. And never drive at night. Lots of stops are a good idea.
Drink only bottled water and obviously make sure you all have your immunizations, especially Hepit. A.
Jan 20, 2013 9:59 AM
3Thanks to you both for taking the time to reply.
V glad to know the Test route is an option after all (someone told me that it was much more windy with steep drop offs & they wouldn't fancy it with their kids in the back). It is indeed other drivers that I'm worried about Marocfan (& my nerves)...we used to live in the Alpujarra mountains near Granada so the kids are more used to winding roads than some.
Will definitely look into you suggestions Tim, much appreciated as I can tell from your posts that you really know your stuff. Even if the film set's not our type of thing, it looks like heaven for the boys, and your link to Knowledgebase may be most helpful of all: hours of happy reading for me there!
Cheers for your help :-)
Jan 20, 2013 5:50 PM
4This is my first post so bear with me, I am not normally compelled to write on these kind of things but after a 1 mnth trip to Morocco (13th Dec 2012 - 10th Jan 2013) with a 3, 6 & 12 year old, & a 40th birthday for my partner too, I thought I'd share some of my thoughts which may be relevant to you!
We too were concerned about travel times with kids, the answer was we took gadgets! You may frown on this but it made the journeys well, bearable! We are lucky enough to have an ipad which we loaded with films, & had a DS too - gold dust!
We flew to Marrakech & took the bus to Ouarzazate - an amazing 4hr journey but very windy roads & only one stop which entailed a vomiting daughter (along with other passengers too). The bus was very comfortable - 3yrs & under dont have to pay but that does mean they share a seat, but as bus wasnt full we spread ourselves out once got going.
Once in Ouarzazate we hired a car for 6 days - totally recommend - & did the journey to Merzouga, a trip that we too weren't totally convinced to do with the sprogs but as they were drugged up on gadgets we managed the trip in 2 fairly relaxing days of travel, stopping in the Boulmane du dades overnight & snack stops aplenty. We spent 2 nights in Merzouga then drove the 'lower' road (N'Kob way, is it the N9?) to Agdz, & eventually back to Ouarzazate. We were suprised how much distance we covered in the car with the kids, we didnt necessarily go everywhere we would have liked to go/stop, we did go with the whim of how the back seat passengers mood was, but hey thats what you have to do with kids for your sanity, as long as you are prepared for that you'll have an ace time whatever you do. & we definitely went furthur than when relying on buses, on our next trip we will hire a car the whole time.
From Ouarzazate it was back to bus's for us; to Marrakech, Essaouria, Taghazout then unfortunately home back to rainy cold Wales.
Taghazout was where the 40th celebration was spent - we met up with friends from back home & surf lessons were obligatory for them shaking bones, (& my 12 yr old was in wifi heaven in this very westernised town).
Essaouria fell in love with - got something for everyone, want to live there, go!
Although glad did go to Merzouga, we didnt opt for an overnight stop in desert as heard people go for peace & thought our brood would spoil the tranquility for others, so we just did the obligatory camel trek which entailed very sore bum & thighs & being totally ripped off for - kids were more happy playing in the sand dunes & watching the camels than getting on them - a camel ride on the beach in Essaouria was more comfortable for them (&us). Glad did for the experience & sunsets though.
If you want any more specific info about these places we went with kids please ask. Oh & if like us you need a stiff drink at end of day buy a litre of whisky at airport (you can get in plastic bottle) to numb the trials & tribulations of travelling with littlies in those towns which are alcohol free! Fell in love with the place, my 3 yr old was only saying today he misses Morocco, my 6 yr old that if we did live in Morocco she'd get used to UHT milk! Have fun, you will, its a wonderful country for you & kids. & remember you can always go back to do what cant fit in this time! Enjoy the pace, bimble......
Specific to your suggested itinery, you could always spend best part of first week doing the inland mountain, desert, kasbah ting doing a loop back towards Marrakech then your 2nd week by the coast relaxing- that is what I would do. I'd ditch Taroudant & Oualidia in that case & beach it in Essaouria with fingers crossed that wind not so strong that you can sit on it! If you have car though south of Essaouria & down to north of Agadir there are many fine deserted beaches to play on.
Have a lovely time!
Jan 21, 2013 12:27 PM
thanks so much for your great reply. I just wrote you a long grateful reply (which was of course also wise, witty and insightful) but then had the merciless gods of Forum lose my message...argghhh. No wonder we don't usually post...(me neither, but your reply made me very glad I had).
I can't write it all out again...there was stuff about the miraculous power of both Apple devices & whiskey (u sound a girl after my own heart ;-) btw...but also about bimbling & waiting 'til they're older, but the main bits were thanking you, and asking a couple of qu's...
in a nutshell, thanx to you Merzouga now seems within my grasp again. But without the trek into the dunes themselves, was it still worth the drive? It sounds like you don't regret it, which is hopeful! Btw, I also couldn't inflict our madness on the poor innocents stuck with us on an overnite trip, plus 2 hrs trapped on a camel with my 3 yr old on the 1st day of my new decade..not exactly the quiet profound moment I had in mind ;-)
I will now read up a bit on Taghazouet thanks, but do u have any thoughts or ideas on the area re south of Agadir, around Mifleft...? I know that loads of wind makes my boys run even wilder & more manic, plus seas they can't swim in & possible low temps in April, have all combined to make me less sure about being too long on the beach. We live in Spain so are bit spoilt if I'm honest.
Lastly, if u can be bothered to pass on any good kid friendly accom u found (esp in Essaouira) that'd be much appreciated.
Thanks again, & really glad u guys had such a great trip. Fingers crossed that this time my reply makes it out!
Jan 21, 2013 4:59 PM
Jan 22, 2013 12:27 AM
I've been in Morocco with 3 years old boy...and my advice (not only for Morroco) is to take a sleeping bag for baby. We had one made out of shirting fabric. It is not to keep temperature but to make protection layer against for ex. blankets which haven't seen water since agees and were in constant use in the desert.
Other things...don't give to childrens snail soup in Marrakech :-)
BTW: We were in Merzouga and sleeping in the desert and it was greatest fun for my boy to have there bucket & spade and sliding from the dunes.
Jan 22, 2013 6:49 AM
Jan 24, 2013 4:36 AM
Jan 24, 2013 11:55 AM
10Oh Nat...exactly what happened to me the other night and god but it made my teeth grind!
Thanks so v v much for trying. Can't seem to private message you & v reluctant indeed to post my email address but very keen to read more of your wise words :-)
Wonder if any of the moderators can explain why both PM & Search function appear to be down, and when they might function again? Or maybe I'm doing something wrong!
And Nat, if you can bear it, please do post again!
Jan 24, 2013 12:20 PM
11Here's a briefer reply as my extended one didnt get through. Yes, it was worth the drive to Merzouga, not only for the experience there but the journey in itself enabled us to see a chunk of the country (albeit through the window of a car) that we wouldnt of otherwise got chance to see. We stayed in 'Auberge la Tradition' which was at the foot of the biggest dunes, Dh300 a night for all 5 of us&including all meals, nothing fancy but fine. Was great in that the kids could mess around in the dunes whilst we drank our sneeky beers (purchased in Ouarzazate) outside the auberge. Other places are probably just as close but as didn't visit them can't comment. The owner said the location was Erg Chebbi but I dont know as I thought the whole range of those dunes was called that, so map wise I couldnt say how to find it other than it was about 3mins drive out of Merzouga village.
We were worried about the wind in Essaouria too but it wasnt as bad as expected (when we were there). Its a great town for a bit of everything, & the harbour& fish market the kids loved. There's a great cafe at the far end of beach called Ocean Vagabond which is right on the beach & has sun loungers, trampoline, good food (quite expensive though), beers (sound like a right alcoholic), & its sheltered & is at the end where all the camels & horses are, the kids can mess around at the same time as you can chill. We hired a whole riad (Chez Carole, think found on Holiday Lettings) which wasnt cheap (about £380 wk) but as xmas we splashed out. The beach was good for finding tat, driftwood etc so our beach experience there was more that kind of thing, & people-watching as is a hive of activity. We did see quite a lot of broken glass also so I did get quite stressed if the littlies didnt have their shoes on! If you want a pure beach hit I'd wouldn't say Essaouria was
the necessarily the place. But as a whole I totally loved it & want to live there!
Taghazout isnt the prettiest place, it's very westernised & the town beach stunk at times, but we did have a
great time there, it was grand place to meet up with our mates & do the surfing & bodyboarding thing which is its main draw.
Mirleft - some friends stayed there for a mnth last jan & said the beach was gorgeous, but whilst they were there a road was getting tarmaced so could be very different now. They also said its quite a steep trek down to the beach.
You spoke of Oualidia, somewhere I'd of loved to have gone for our beach hit but in dec/jan looked too cold. On a map it looks similar distance to Essaouria - if I was you & you do do the desert thang I would probably spend you're last week just flopping by a beach (Oualidia) as the 1st week would be spent doing a lot of driving & you'll probably just want to relax by then.
Whatever you do you'll have a fab time, just take it easy!
Jan 26, 2013 5:22 AM
We are going to Morocco in the beginning of March with our 4 year old son. We sadly only have 10 days to travel so obviously won't try to do to much. We are both seasoned travelers accustomed to being in a country for months at a time so planning this is a bit daunting. Can anyone suggest a reasonable itinerary based on the following: We can fly either to Marrakech or Agadir and will stay for a night or two to get used to the country. We would like to see a bit of the desert and I think it would be fun for us to run around on the dunes. I'm not wild on long camel/donkey rides and I think my son would be bored after a few minutes. So I guess it is best to pick one desert place to see and one beach-y place, possibly Essaouira. We would ideally like the last couple of days to chill out on a beach, but it might not be warm enough? We might splash out a bit on a nice Riad with a pool. We aren't keen on staying in Agadir even if we fly there, perhaps there is somewhere close that is a bit less touristy? Thanks
Jan 26, 2013 7:57 AM
13Essaouira is great but that time of year it may be windy/cool; you never know. Good idea to avoid/minimize time on a camel; about half an hour is enough. Your desert choices basically boil down to the Zagora or Merzouga areas...quite a distance from both Agadir and Marrakech. Read the Morocco travel guides published by LP and Rough Guide to help you decide on which areas appeal to you.
Jan 28, 2013 2:07 PM
14Thanks..after reading the rough guide and internet search, I have fallen in love with the desert! Also found a flight to Ouarzazate so we may just fly direct and stay in the desert the entire time and save Essaouira for another trip. Is it easy to use buses or better to rent a car? We aren't sure if we'll go to Erg Chebbi or Zagora but I imagine that I would want to stay a few days so I am not sure we would use a rented car once we arrive. Or would it be useful to have the car in Erg Chebbi? Thanks
(4 star Hotel)
From US$78.00 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$308.92 per night
(5 star Hotel)
From US$258.24 per night