Top 10 TO DO LIST for Marrakech . . . An electic list!
Get Dirty with Me
PLASTIC CLEANUP Read how you too can make a difference to this growing problem in Morocco.
Morocco's House of Representatives passed a bill banning smoking in public places, tobacco advertising and selling to minors. The bill, passed unanimously, is aimed at reinforcing the legal measures to prevent tobacco smoking. The bill is also aimed at protecting citizens' health, particularly that of youths and minors, and intends to expand the ban of tobacco smoking in all enclosed public places, including public buildings and public transport. The new law will allow police to draw up reports on any breach.
A new generation of Italian designed double decker trains, are coming to Morocco.
Covering the Casablanca Rabat line, each car holds 376 passengers and each train has 50 first class seats, a bar with fast food, and up-to-date lavatories (thank you!).
ONCF goes even further by providing services from the Casa Port to Rabat Ville station in only 52 minutes.
The Casablanca – Fez line now enjoys the dual benefits of the two-track line and double decker trains for express connection, taking only 3 hours and 20 minutes, as opposed to 4 hours and 30 minutes.
We would now like to see a high speed line connecting Marrakech and Fez.
Morocco is cleaning up cities and towns by contracting a Spanish refuse collection service. New green and white trucks are collecting trash daily from covered receptacles everywhere. Street cleaners are now paid well, and have new green and white uniforms, new brooms and carts. This is especially good news for the cities air quality and CO2 emissions. Prior to this the only other alernative was to burn excess trash on the streets.
Anyone who visited Essaouira is familiar with the popularity of sail boarding on the Atlantic and now Morocco has built a huge wind farm south of the city in Sidi Kaouki. The power lines go directly to power up the sizzling night life in Marrakech.
The Moroccan government announced that October 10 will be designated as an annual National Women's Day. The decree follows legislative changes advancing women's rights and the improved political representation of women in governance. On October 10th, 2003, King Mohammed VI publicly announced the newly created Family Law lifting the iniquity imposed on women, protecting children’s rights, and safeguarding men’s dignity. The laws strongly emphasise human rights and equality as they are perceived worldwide, in line with the teachings and goals of Islam. Among it's provisions: husband and wife are jointly responsible for the family, women are not subject to the "guardianship" of a male family member, women can institute a divorce and women have the right to accept a marriage only if her husband agrees not to take further wives. In comparison to many Arab states, Morocco has made huge advances in women's rights, so that other countries now look to Morocco as an example.
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Morocco welcomed 2.5 million tourists between January and May 2008, up 11% over the same period last year. French tourists topped the list with 927,000, followed by Spaniards (587,000), Britons (141,000), Italians (116,000), Belgians (113,000), Germans (97,000) and the Dutch (75,000). According to official figures, a total of 7.4 million tourists visited the country in 2007, with overnight stays exceeding 17 million.
To cut down petrol and diesel use, the government has outlined an action plan encouraging citizens to replace older cars with newer, more efficient models. In addition, beginning in January 2009, only two types of fuel will be sold in Morocco: 50ppm diesel and super unleaded petrol. The use of these cleaner fuels should cut atmospheric emissions by 760 tonnes of lead, and 54,000 tonnes of sulphur per year.
A critically acclaimed Moroccan-American film produced in the Hollywood style has come to Morocco. Real Premonition tells the story of a young Moroccan who finds trouble when he moves to the United States. Moroccan cinemas recently began screening the first feature-length film by young director and producer Ziad Ahmed. The film earned Ahmed the 2006 Outstanding Achievement Award from the Florida Motion Picture and Television Association.
Rayssa Fatima Tabaamrant is a traditional female singer from southern Morocco, who performs in town squares, bars or weddings, and whose lyrics deal with anything from local to international affairs or social issues of the day. The Guardian calls her new recording Echo of the Atlas "exhilarating, an astonishingly rousing performer, with a declamatory style and the ability to improvise her sounds like a traditional answer to great blues or rock." Wow! Backed by a stomping band using hand drums, cymbals made from car-wheel rims, lutes and fiddles, she tears into this live set with a 15-minute track that constantly changes direction and ends up as a furious workout against a driving, insistent riff from her musicians.
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Morocco is different. Diversity, colour and contrast creates a holiday destination for everyone, young and old, whether you're a seasoned traveller, an adventurer, a trekker, a shopper, a big city escapist weary of your office, seek sunshine and smiling faces, love to photograph, paint, dance, enjoy music, or simply want to feel the warm sand on your feet and slow time to simply unwind.
Wandering through her ancient citys, hear the wail of Muezzin calling the faithful to pray. In crowded markets jewel colours of indigo, saffron and henna dazzle in beautiful carpets. In the D'jemaa El Fna square you can dance with bellydancers, have your fortune told while having a tooth pulled, pay a scribe to write a letter about it to send back home, watch acrobats from behind your steaming glass of mint tea, and be mesmerised by a flute charming the cobra. Relax in a streetside cafe and taste exotic spice in your food and herbs in your tea. Ancient mosques and minarets, opulent palaces and the stark beauty of a sunrise among towering kasbahs in the Sahara are waiting for you. Time slows to the pace of your camel softly shuffling across dunes to the oasis palms. Watch the moonrise and your world will fall away, caught in the aura of mystery that pervades this land. Like their camels desert nomads are in no hurry. Where is there to go? Go with it and you will begin to understand. Here is a land where something forgotten lives on.
Can we invite you to join us and fall under the enchantment of Morocco? BROWSE OUR TOURS.
In the cities of Marrakech, Agadir, Casablanca etc., Moroccan men and women often dress as they would on the streets of London or New York. However, outside of the cities and especially in the rural villages, we recommend that you follow local tradition where both men and women cover themselves from the knee (shorts or skirt) to the elbow (short-sleeved T-shirts). Loose trousers are recommended for camel treks. See also FAQ's. See also CAMEL TREKKING.
In the High Atlas mountains, a fleece jacket or warm sweater, and long pants are needed for desert and High Atlas nights outside of the summer months. For winter, a warm coat, a hat, gloves and wool socks are essential. A windproof jacket is also essential for walking treks in the desert or in the Atlas mountains.
The local currency is the Morocco Dirham displayed as MAD on exchange listings. Morocco's currency is restricted (you cannot sell Dirhams internationally) so you will need to convert your own currency on arrival. Cash is recommended for initial conversion at the airport, and although ATMs are readily available at airports and throughout Moroccan cities and towns, they occasionally run out of Dirhams when they are busy! We recommend that you retain all receipts for cross-checking when you arrive back home. Euros are generally accepted as payment as well. For more about credit cards and acquiring cash, see FAQ's.
Convert Moroccan Dirhams to another currency.
Regulations govern guides, drivers and vehicles licensed to work with tourists in Morocco. Each driver and vehicle has to be registered and carry the associated permits. Both drivers and vehicles are checked twice yearly before the touristic permit is renewed. Police checkpoints regularly stop and check for the correct paperwork. We use registered drivers who are personally known to us. Guides are licensed according to district and activity: ie: mountain guides, Marrakech city guides, etc. They must have a badge showing they are licenced in the district. Because of this, as a tourist you should hire a local guide if you wish to have a guided tour. They will have up to date knowledge and personal experience of the site you are visiting. Our drivers cannot act as a guide in some places. Please see FAQ's for more about tipping guides.
Morocco defies a simple description. Below Spain, it spans the Northwest corner of Africa from the Rif mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, south along the Atlantic coast where fertile flat central plains are separated from the Sahara by the High Atlas mountains. We like to think of it as a country of cedar forests, long sandy beaches, colourful markets, ancient medinas, rocky deserts, bountiful vineyards, acres of olive, argan & orange trees, hedgerows filled with wild flowers and herbs, exotic palm oasis, snow capped mountains, and deep river gorges. The climate invites visitors to ski, surf, wind-surf, golf, cycle, trek and more. Please see weather below.
Morocco Explored runs most tours in the southern part of Morocco, in the delicate desert environment and High Atlas mountains. We foster responsible tourism and recommend our travellers do not leave rubbish anywhere, and respect the environment with preservation of resources, flora and fauna, etc.
Wherever possible please take out whatever you bring into the desert, (i.e. empty shampoo containers, etc.). There are no disposal facilities in the delicate desert environments. Please be environmentally aware and burn toilet paper or carry it out for disposal. If you bury toilet paper in the desert it will not decompose, and the wind will eventually shift sand to expose it.
Read about our direct action to make a difference: Get Dirty with Me PLASTIC CLEANUP in Morocco.
Morocco is an Islamic country and its people are predominantly Muslim. A Muslim is expected to:
When you travel throughout Morocco you might witness declarations of faith e.g. praying in the street or fasting. In the ninth month of the Muslim calendar is Ramadan (July 9 to August 7, 2013). During this month, Muslims all around the world refrain from eating, drinking, and worldly pleasures from dawn until sunset. When the sun has set, however, it is time for Iftar, the fast-breaking meal. This meal is usually introduced with a small serving of dates and water, tea, or coffee, followed by a meal and dessert. Time is set aside in local mosques to meet and recite the Quran in special prayers (Tarawih). Many businesses are closed during Ramadan, but life mostly goes on as usual after the fast is broken for the day.
Sometimes tempers and patience can be tested during daylight hours when no smoking, food or water is consumed but overall, people are very happy to be expressing their faith through fasting with strength and dignity. It's an amazing time to come to Morocco and witness this most important time of year. Please show respect by not smoking, drinking or eating in public places and outside of restaurants or cafes on the street. Many cafes and restaurants are open all day during Ramadan.
Ramadan ends with a 3 day national holiday.
While in Morocco you may be asked for alms. It is acceptable to give to those genuinely in need i.e. the elderly. However, we strongly advise against giving anything to children, including sweets. Please see FAQ's for more about giving gifts and tips.
Moroccan cuisine is delicious and offers you traditional dishes such as harira (tasty and nourishing bean soup traditionally served for breakfast), tagine (succulent meat cooked with spices and vegetables in a conical shaped pot), meschui (whole roasted sheep/goat), tangia, a Marrakech specialty, couscous, fresh salads and fruits, hot steaming bread and other delicacies. Café au lait, or café "nous-nous' with pastries is a popular pastime in the street side cafes and mint tea awaits you wherever you go. Alcohol is permissible and can be purchased at supermarkets and hotels (but may be partly unavailable during Ramadan).
Most food in Morocco is typically grown without GMO, hormones, or antibiotics. Enjoy!
Want some great Moroccan RECIPES?
If you are invited to eat with a family, you will typically sit on the floor and eat from a communal plate, placed in the middle of a small table - eat with your right hand only. Utensils are not used although, as a visitor, you are likely to be offered a fork or spoon.
Vegetarian requests are understood and accommodated in most tourist visited areas. Vegan is not.
Water in the cities is fine for washing and brushing teeth etc., but we do not recommend that you drink quantities of tap or well water. Excellent bottled mineral water is available everywhere. Alcohol is available to buy in Super Marches (super markets) and a few bars and lounges are sprinkled around the big cities of Marrakech, Agadir and Casablanca. Morocco also produces it's own beer and wine.
If you are an inexperienced traveller, chances are you will suffer stomach upsets. It will pass, (usually within 24 hours), so give yourself a break, eat only well cooked foods, and drink plenty of water, then congratulate your stomach for joining the well-travelled guts around the world!
For our tour liability please see Terms and Conditions
Visit your countries' travel advisory for Morocco. Also we have more comments and opinions on FAQ's.
Great Britain: http://www.fco.gov.uk
United States: http://travel.state.gov/
We have a list of links to Hotels booked regularly by our clients.
On our tours we use smaller and locally owned (as often as possible) traditional riads, kasbahs, desert auberge, and nomad tents in our camel trek camp.
Hotels in Morocco are a matter of choice and fit every budget. Classified hotels are 1 star (simple) to 5 star (pure indulgence to "why 5*?"), and are classified as auberge, riad, rural gite d'tape or hotel. Stays usually include breakfast, and many include dinner.
Auberge are found in the country or in rural small towns, usually built traditionally with mud, many with wood burning fireplaces and small salons or roof terraces for taking meals. Auberge are comfortable, and commonly family run and owned.
In Marrakech, Essaouira, and Fes or anywhere there is a medina, small hotels renovated from old houses are called riads. Riads are usually small (about 6 rooms or less), charming, often with a walled garden where breakfast is served on an inner patio or on a roof terrace. Riads are usually too small to have a swimming pool, but may have a very small plunge pool to cool of during summer months. Some riads are in former merchant houses or palaces and may have large opulent rooms and gardens.
Gite d'tape are simple country inns hostel style, where mountain trekkers can enjoy a hot shower, a good meal, and a roof over their head for the night.
Desert bivouacs are nomadic style camps of woven wool tents furnished with carpets, mattresses, sheets, pillows and blankets.
Custom tours means we do not pre-book blocks of rooms in tourist hotels, we book mostly in small locally owned unique hotels on a first come, first serve basis. We provide examples of hotels we use regularly, and can send the complete contact list after receiving a booking confirmation (deposit) and a reservation confirmation from the hotel. Our small hotels have limited rooms available. Some hotels are exclusive to us, our Marrakech riad for example. It's taken us a long time to find and create excellent working relationships with our hoteliers and providing quality for our clients is important.
Moroccan hospitals have limited diagnostic capability. Foreign run clinics are extensive, but can be expensive. Liability laws in Morocco follow the French model, where you are expected to insure yourself for any accidents.
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In this former French colony English is spoken as the 4th or 5th language after Arabic, Berber, Spanish and French. Alongside classic Arabic, French and Spanish, English is now taught in many schools.
Films, fiction and images often depict Morocco as a Middle Eastern (Asian) country covered by sand and inhabited by dark blue-robed men who lure you to their tent to offer an exchange of gold or women for camels. Although anything might seem possible, a more authentic Morocco description should include an hospitable North African tribal people who delight in sharing their culture of fine cuisine, exotic music, exquisite crafts, and fascinating history.
The original occupants of Morocco are collectively known as the Berber tribes but over time parts of modern-day Morocco have been occupied by Arabs, Phoenicians, Romans, Vikings, Spanish, Portuguese and Nomadic peoples of Sahara to name a few.
Moroccans are a naturally curious and hospitable people who are intrigued by the outside world. They delight in welcoming you into their home which could be a black wool tent (Atlas and desert regions), a flat-roofed traditional house made of mud and straw (pise), or a medina villa (riad). Read about Ethics of Photographing People in Morocco.
We also contribute to Education for All, a Moroccan NGO starting to build and run boarding houses near secondary education colleges to allow young women from disadvantaged rural families to continue their education beyond the Primary level.
Morocco is considered one of the most moderate democratic Islamic countries. The former ruling monarchy is open-minded, peace loving, and tolerant and has recently stepped down from absolute power to allow modern democracy to become the political system. Since 9-11 foreign visitors have continued to visit Morocco and have always been welcomed with hospitality. The September 2003 and May 2007 attacks in Casablanca are rare events and retribution was swift for the offending terrorists. Foreign Embassies advise that caution should be taken in public places when confrontational situations arise, such as street fights, protest marches, etc. as is prudent anywhere. Pick pockets love to work the crowd watching a staged fist fight.
We are often asked if it is safe to travel into the Sahara and the answer is Yes! (See also FAQ's). For many the desert is the highlight of their trip. We will transport you to the Erg Chebbi sand sea as well as many varied and incredible places along the way.
The Erg Chebbi dunes at Merzouga are the highest in Morocco and climbing them is an exhilarating experience - just remember to always carry a bottle of water with you. You can walk or ride a camel to the dunes and enjoy the ever-changing colours of this remarkable landscape especially at sunset.
For those whose dream is to wander the desert like a nomad and sleep under the stars deep in the dunes you might want to experience a camel trek. For those wanting to enjoy the tranquility of the desert without travelling by camel you can enjoy the comfort of an en-suite room on the very edge of the dunes. Read more about CAMEL TREKKING.
Shopping in Morocco can be an challenge rather than a casual pass-time. A visit to the souk* (a market consisting of hundreds of tiny shops), will possibly involve sharing a glass of mint tea with the merchants while you examine variety and quality of the craftsmanship, and haggle for a bargain. All this takes time. Enjoy, it can be a lot of fun.
Please note that it is considered inappropriate to offer money (or anything else to anyone) with your left hand.
*A souk is a market in which you can find almost anything, including locally grown/made products.
The larger cities have hip and sophisticated shops that sell clothing, electronics and jewellery etc., much of it imported from Europe - and increasingly China/India who sadly now manufactures phoney Berber carpets and handcrafts. There are also shopping centres that sell brand-name food, pharmaceuticals and household goods. But more often you will buy from local merchants selling daily essentials such as mineral water (eau mineral), toilet paper, shampoo, and junk food, etc.
We advise our clients to avoid any illegal occurrences as outlined in the Geneva Convention for acquiring cultural property or endangered species. We strongly discourage from purchasing anything that compromises wild populations of plants or animals. See also FAQ's.
We employ local people whenever possible (muleteers, camel handlers, drivers, guides, guest house owners in the mountains). See also FAQ's
Visa requirements are country-dependent. An entry visa for 3 months is granted by Morocco upon arrival.
Citizens of the following countries do not need a visa to enter the Kingdom of Morocco:
Algeria - Andorra - Argentina - Australia - Austria - Bahrain - Belgium - Brazil - Bulgaria - Canada - Chile - Republic of Congo - Croatia - Cyprus - Czech Republic - Denmark - Estonia - Finland - France - Germany - Great Britain - Greece - Guinea (Conakry) - Hong Kong - Hungary - Iceland - Indonesia - Ireland - Italy - Ivory Coast - Japan - Kuwait - Latvia - Libya - Liechtenstein - Lithuania - Luxemburg - Mali - Malta - Mexico - Monaco - Netherlands - New Zealand - Niger - Norway - Oman - Peru - Philippines - Poland - Puerto Rico - Qatar - Romania - Russian Federation - Saudi Arabia - Senegal - Singapore (Singaporean nationals may stay up to one month without visa) - Slovakia - Slovenia - South Korea - Spain - Sweden - Switzerland - Tunisia - Turkey - United Arab Emirates - United States of America - Venezuela.
Citizens from countries not listed above need to obtain a visa prior to entering the country. For more information contact the Moroccan Consulate, or contact your home government office or Morocco embassy for more details.
Will it be Hot? In a nutshell, hot in summer, warm in spring and fall, warm to cold in winter. The truth is, it can vary immensely depending on where you are. Northern Morocco including Tangier, Fez and the Atlantic coast down to Casablanca has a pleasant Mediterranean climate, and does get more rain than the rest of Morocco. The Atlantic coast has steady year round temperatures resembling pleasant summer weather, but can be especially windy during the summer months. Further south it will become hotter.Temperatures in Centigrade Day/Night 24 hour average
The High Atlas mountains offer relief from Marrakech hot summers, with pleasant daytime temperatures and cooler nights. These mountains experience the full 4 seasons, with deep snow falling some years, making it a unique destination for skiing. Snowpack can stay on the mountain passes until mid-June which hampers any high elevation mule trekking. So be prepared for anything in the mountains.
Because sand does not hold any heat, the Sahara dunes can be cold at night and very! cold in the winter, with pleasantly warm sunny to very hot summer daytimes. Summertime it's especially important to drink water every half hour or so to avoid nausea and heatstroke. We do use our air conditioning in the vehicles to keep you comfortable. But please remember to still drink water often. Fruit juice and sugar based drinks are not considered proper rehydration fluids, nor is coffee or tea. Please drink water often during your summer visit to Sahara. Flash thunderstorms can be spectacular. Sand storms and mud rains occasionally last an hour or so, and make memorable experiences.
January and February can be quite cold in the mountains and in the desert, especially at night this time of year. But there are fewer tourists, and sunny warm days in Marrakech contrasting with snowy High Atlas in the distance is otherworldly.
For more information click on the icons across the top of this page. FAQ's has important information about visiting Morocco.
Contact Morocco Explored
Telephone to Morocco:
GSM: +212 66 770 5212
Telephone from Morocco:
GSM: 0 66 770 5212
Telephone Canada and voice mail:
+1 604 393 3715
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WHO TRAVELS WITH US?
Morocco Explorers have come from these countries:
Sao Tome and Principe,
US Virgin Islands,