Wanderlynn International Travel Information By Country
Morocco Travel Tips
Visited in October 2012
Thank you: Merci!
Currency: Moroccan dirham
First night, my arrival in Marrakech, I had no phone signal and no visible pick-up as arranged. The only pay phone was at the top of the stairs and I had one large bag that would require dragging to the top. But when a man saw me wandering around the arrival area, he asked if I was looking for his group - Club Med. Maybe 18 years ago. Since he spoke English, I explained that I was supposed to have a ride, that I could not locate, and I was supposed to call, but I had no phone signal. He quickly offered to call the number for me and after some additional calls, he finally found out that someone was in the arrival hall for me. We called that person and a man emerged from the waiting crowd holding a sign with “Preacher” written on it. That was for me. And my name is Doerr.
What to experience:
- Marrakech - You will want to wander through the souks and visit the museums and mosques. Also, visit the spectacular and colorful Jardin Majorelle with its striking cobalt blues and daffodil yellows.
- Fez - You will probably want to hire a guide to take you through the confusing maze of the medina but be forewarned that they seem to take everyone to some requisite places - a pottery place, a rug place, a small spice store, and the leather factory. It is still worth it to wander through the dark cool alleys and see the daily life.
- Merzouga and the Sahara - This area has been the setting for such films as Lawrence of Arabia.
- Agdz - A small city with great appeal because of the ancient kasbahs.
- Dades and Todra Gorges - A good place to go for a few hikes and enjoy scenery such as the giant “monkey fingers” in Dades Gorge. It’s easy enough to find a local guide for your hike. Suggestion for hotel: Auberge Le Festival in Todra Gorge. Some rooms are caves with all the modern conveniences of any other hotel room. We had one of our best meals here prepared with vegetables and spices grown in the owner’s garden.
- Atelier Kasbah Myriem in Midelt - A workshop run by the local convent and monastery where women are taught to embroider linens which are sold along with other textiles such as carpets and blankets.
- Volubilis - an ancient Roman ruin and UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Skoura - We stopped here for a few days, enjoying a bike ride around the town and the local kasbahs.
- Lodging: We stayed in various riads and small hotels. We booked the first week in advance and the second week, we booked a day or two in advance according to what we decided over breakfast. We used the Lonely Planet guide for Morocco for recommendations and were not disappointed.
- Buy a rug/carpet: Buy a rug but be prepared for a very long transaction. Don’t pay more than you want. You can always walk away.
- Eating: Tangines, kebabs, olives, bread, and fresh yogurt. There is no shortage of sweets drizzled in honey. Overall the food was good but there was not great variety. Don’t worry. If you need a break from tangines, you can almost find a pizza place.
How I traveled: I arranged to meet with a couple of friends from the UK that I had met in Nepal several years ago. Helene and I coordinated most of the schedule via email and then made adjustments to our itinerary once we were all together. She arranged for the car rental in Marrakech and they did the driving.
Flights: I used miles for the roundtrip to London Heathrow (taxes are horrendous for “free” flights into London, but it was still the cheapest option) and then bought a separate roundtrip (RyanAir) from another airport in London to Marrakech. I booked a National Express airport bus between airports in London.
You need to be aware of luggage restrictions on budget airlines. Some, such as Ryanair, will only allow ONE carry-on bag.
Memorable Moments: While we were staying in Merzouga, Erg Chebbi, there was an incredible rainstorm that knocked out the power. Incredible because we were sitting on the edge of the Sahara and they had not seen a storm so severe in almost 20 years. It effectively cancelled our plans to camp in the desert that night. When we left the next morning, there were small ponds and lakes everywhere, transforming the desert into an entirely different landscape.
While in Dades Gorge, we met a man named Mustapha, who played the drums for us one night and then again the following day after taking us on a beautiful hike through the valley.