Q1: Is Morocco safe?
Q2: What can I expect while touring Morocco?
Q3:
What does a tour with Morocco Explored cost? What about
Q4: What should I bring on a camel trek?
Q5: What kind of food do you provide for your tours? What about the safety of drinking water?
Q6: Are American Express travellers cheques accepted in many places? What credit cards are good to bring?
Q7: How much and who should I tip or give money to? How are guides trained? Which days will we need to hire drivers or guides?
Q8: It seems there are days where it might be necessary or is it easy to get around without a guide?
Q9: What type of clothing is appropriate especially outside of Marrakech? Could you wear hiking clothes?
Q10: I understand that on the overnight trip to the desert, sleeping bags and sheets will be provided. Is that correct?
Q11: How are women treated in Morocco?
Q12: What kind of accommodation do you use?
Q13: Do I need travel insurance?
Q14:
Do you employ local people wherever possible? And when visiting rural areas, do you also employ rural guides? Under what circumstances do you employ non-locals?
Q15: Do you ensure that the local people are given a fair price for their work or service?
Q16:
Are you able to ensure that the local people whose villages/homes are visited are happy about tourism?
Q17:
What is your recommendation to clients about giving money or presents to local people?
Q18:
Do your guides have knowledge of local languages/dialects of any local people? Is this sufficient for them to be able to translate for clients if necessary?
Q19:
Do you allow clients to buy illegal artefacts, or wild animal products?
Q20:
Do you try to minimise any impact the clients and your staff have on the environment e.g: not leaving rubbish; not overusing resources such as water?
Q21:
What is a Kasbah?

 
Q1: Is Morocco safe?

Morocco's economy is very dependent upon tourism and continues to be a favourite destination for Europeans (3rd favourite in France), and over 17,000 foreigners are registered homeowners in Marrakech alone. In recent years reforms have been put in place to make the visitors experience in Morocco as carefree as possible. All guides must be registered and trained. Tourist Police Offices are in every major city. The crime rate is very low, usually limited to petty thievery, most often on trains and buses. Aside from this, Moroccans are experts in taking you out of your money during bargaining with a smile and a glass of mint tea; they are renouned for their hospitality. Please read morethey are renouned for their hospitality. Please read more about women travelling in Morocco Q11 below.

The political situation is stable and Morocco has very strong diplomatic and trade associations with Europe, especially France; and increasingly the USA. Islamic extremism exists but is rare as most Moroccans practice a very moderate form of Shiite Islam. Read more about Islam here.

Q2: What can I expect while touring Morocco?

Romantic meanderings aside, Moroccans work very hard to make visitors feel welcome and provide what you need, but patience and understanding is needed as well. It is a developing country, and modern amenities are still being built, or are non existant in many places outside the cities. Sometimes visitors expectations are not understood by a culture that has little or no direct experience of them, so instead you will receive an interpretation of your request. Life moves a lot slower than what Westerners are used to and this must be taken into consideration. Sometimes visitors become frustrated when something is taking too much time. But life is slow by nature, and things do get done eventually. So Morocco should be approached with an appreciation of cultural differences, sounds, smells, language, expression, light, relaxing, enjoying and accepting. Remember laughter speaks the same language everywhere.

Q3: What does a tour with Morocco Explored cost? What about cancellations? Do you have references?

We have camel treks with 3, 4, and 5 day desert tours, and one day tours from Marrakech. Custom tours are priced individually. Reservations, cancellations and all booking policies can be found on Book a Tour.
You are welcome to contact recent clients who kindly offered references for Morocco Explored.

Q4: What should I bring on a camel trek?

Find out what to bring at About Morocco and Trekking. When we receive a deposit for a Desert Tour we send a list of what to bring and what to expect.


Q5: What kind of food do you provide for your tours? What about the safety of drinking water?

Click the link Food on About Morocco.


Q6: Are American Express travellers cheques accepted in many places? What credit cards are good to bring?

American Express and Thomas Cook travelers cheques are welcome in Morocco. Cash in Euros, US, Australian and Canadian dollars, and GBP Sterling are accepted at every money exchange. Change tellers are also located in some hotels.

Bring some Euros in the smallest bills you can buy. Euros are always good in Morocco just about anywhere. And they are easy to change into dirhams and you will save a lot of time by bringing Euros cash, therefore don’t have to rely on banks and long slow lineups or non-active cash machines to get dirhams in Morocco.

You can also use your bank card at bank machines in cities in Morocco. There will be a charge for overseas transactions from your bank and we advise travelers to take out large sums at a time. But first PLEASE CHECK that your bank doesn't charge huge transaction fees for overseas withdrawals; if not, bring your bank card.

If you have registered with Visa for withdrawals, Visa cards are also accepted at ATMs and is accepted in the bigger shops and restaurants. Normally other credit cards are not accepted.

Dirhams are a closed currency which means you must exchange foreign currency into dirhams inside Morocco. You can buy dirhams in some foreign exchanges outside of Morocco, but you must sell your dirhams before you leave Morocco, (at a lower rate than you bought them) because you cannot sell them outside the country. There is no black market in Morocco.

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Q7: How much and who should I tip or give money to? How are guides trained? Which days will we need to hire drivers or guides?

Tipping is up to you… but please remember that if someone does you a service, they expect a tip. For instance if someone on the street shows you back to your hotel, you can give them 10 dirhams.

As for trekking each person may tip one extra days pay, that is 250 - 300 dirhams; or if you really enjoy your driver or guide, think about what they might deserve in your own country. Please tip when deserved!

All guides in Morocco must complete a two year Government training course and carry a certificate and badge that qualifies them as a professional guide.

Hired drivers are not allowed to act as official guides. They can help you and inform you on your journey, but cannot engage your services outside the car. He can however, help you find and hire a local (and better informed) guide if needed. Travelling with a hired driver and a guide is not practical, as guides tend to specialise ie: trekking, camels, city tours etc.

With petit taxis in the cities you can pay the tariff up to the next round number. Always negociate a price if the taxi is not using a meter, before you go anywhere.

Grand taxis run from town to town and have a set price per person up to 6 passengers. You can rent the car for yourself if you pay all 6 places. No tip is required.

Otherwise 10-15% is the standard but as always it is up to you.

You also might consider that part of the social support system of Islam is to give alms to the poor. That said, you may want to assess how needy someone really is before tipping and give a few dirhams to elderly beggars on the street instead.

We discourage giving anything to children, no matter how needy they appear; it turns them into professional (and very persistant) beggars. See Q17 below.

Q8: It seems there are days where it might be necessary or is it easy to get around without a guide?

Many people love to find their own way around the cities and Marrakech is wonderful to explore by foot. We suggest you bring a good guide book with you if this is what you want to do; Rough Guide is our choice for accuracy, good advice, great maps and cultural details. Lonely Planet is ever popular but reports from our clients claim it tends to be misleading.

Otherwise we can recommend guides who speak English. You might pay 250 dirhams per half day, 100 dirhams per hour. See also About Morocco.


Q9: What type of clothing is appropriate especially outside of Marrakech? Could you wear hiking clothes?

You can relax and wear whatever is familiar and comfortable. Morocco is very tolerant and welcoming to visitors, you are not expected to act or look like a Moroccan. Hiking shorts and t-shirts are fine for men. For women it is a good idea to bring a scarf to cover bare shoulders in the rural villages. Shorts are not really acceptable for men or women unless they are below knee length.

If you choose to dress with skin showing, the rural people are basically embarrassed by this, and will react with a muffled laugh or cover their eyes. City dwellers often dress as we do.


Q10: I understand that on the overnight trip to the desert, sleeping bags and sheets will be provided. Is that correct?

A blanket and a sheet are provided, but winter nights (November to March) can be very cold in the desert and a blanket is not always enough. Visitors should bring a sleeping bag during the winter months (November to February) if they can.

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Q11: How are women treated in Morocco?

From the city of Marrakech, where almost anything goes, to the Saharan village where Moroccan women dress in black from head to toe and one eye showing, Morocco is a country of many contrasts. Foreign women can travel freely and it is quite safe, but you will always attract attention everywhere, most often to sell you something, or offer a "service" (especially in the big cities, take that offer as you may!). As Muslims, men should not touch a woman he doesn't know. If a foreign women wants respect, she should not tolerate his long handshake or his lingering hand on her arm or anywhere else. In contrast, on public transport the elderly and mothers are offered seats by young men, and respect is the norm. Dress conservatively, and you can demand respect. Foreigners are treated with the duality of wonderful hospitality or as a chance for financial gain. The invitation to visit and have tea, or dine with a family is a treat and a memorable experience. But measure invitations with obligation! Traditions are strong and old ways still practiced. A good attitude and a sense of sharing and humour go a long way to breaking down preconceptions about you as a foreigner, and is always appreciated by Moroccans. For more about cultural differences, read 12 Good Things about Morocco. See also Q17 below about giving presnts and gifts.

Q12: What kind of accommodation do you use?

The desert bivouac is quite comfortable with matresses and sheets and blankets, and carpeted tents.

Otherwise we use 3 star level hotels or medina riads, and desert auberge (small country inns).

Hotel stays include breakfast and many include dinner. You will stay in traditional mud (kasbah) style buildings, many with wood burning fireplaces and air conditioning, with salons or roof terraces for taking meals and relaxing. They are very charming and comfortable but tend to be cold in the winter. In Marrakech, Essaouira and Fes we use small hotels renovated from old Merchant houses (riads) in the old medina. In Casablanca we use a small modern hotel downtown.

We can send hotel details once a deposit is received and booking confirmation is sent by the hotel.

Q13: Do I need travel insurance?

Travel insurance should be obtained before leaving your country of origin, but we do not force anyone to purchase it. Local hospitals have limited diagnostic capability. Foreign clinics can be expensive, evacuation can cost thousands, luggage can disappear, so insurance is a good idea. We recommend World Nomads for good deals and excellent service for medical and personal property insurance while travelling.

Q14: Do you employ local people wherever possible? And when visiting rural areas, do you also employ rural guides? Under what circumstances do you employ non-locals?

Yes! We employ local people (muleteers, camel handlers, drivers, guides, guest house owners in the mountains) and have forged multiple relationships that translate into employment for many people. Sometimes it is not possible to guarantee a guide who speaks English - especially with late bookings in high season, as they are in high demand. Most riads are run by Europeans.
 
Q15: Do you ensure that the local people are given a fair price for their work or service?

Local people are sometimes badly paid. For example a porter or a muleteer with a mule gets the Moroccan Ministries' recommended minimum. We strive to pay higher than this. Also your tip is important to support their livelyhood. Please tip when deserved!
 
Q16: Are you able to ensure that the local people whose villages/homes are visited are happy about tourism?

People are happy to have visitors because tourism helps support the local economy with cash, spreading wealth from small local artisans (often women), shopkeepers, cafes, guides (often young men supporting their family) and beyond. Many rural economies are still based on the barter system.

Q17: What is your recommendation to clients about giving money or presents to local people?

We don't recommend clients give gifts, money or sweets (bonbons) to anyone - especially children - without good reason i.e. when visiting a family, or appreciation for a service rendered. For donations we recommend supplies to schools (not cash) and medical supplies to community development projects. We can help visitors buy supplies and distribute to needy and remote areas - but please let us know if you wish to do this ahead of time. Trekking guides and muleteers often appreciate practical outdoor clothing. We particularly recommend clients give a more helpful gift to consider important development projects such as JustGiving Morocco.
 
Q18: Do your guides have knowledge of local languages/dialects of any local people? Is this sufficient for them to be able to translate for clients if necessary?

Our mountain guides know local Berber languages and Arabic, as well as French and English, and often some German, Japanese, Dutch and Spanish as well.
 
Q19: Do your guides allow clients to buy illegal artefacts, or wild animal products?

Our guides watch over our clients to avoid any illegal occurrences as outlined in the Geneva Convention for acquiring cultural property or endangered species. As well we strongly discourage clients from purchasing anything that compromises the wild population of plants or animals in Morocco.
 
Q20: Do you try to minimise any impact the clients and your staff have on the environment e.g: not leaving rubbish; not overusing resources such as water?

Click the link Environment on About Morocco.

Q21: What is a Kasbah?

In Morocco you will see kasbahs and ksours throughout the Atlas mountains and the desert. A kasbah is a mud and straw fortified structure that would have been typically inhabited by a sultan and his wives and their extended family; ksours (also called kasbah's) are fortified dwellings that sometimes house 100's of families, and their livestock.

 

We have a lot more information About Morocco.

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iinfo@morocco-trekking.com

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