Morocco is a beautiful country but it is one where you need to have your wits about you. About yourself, your possessions and your money. A guided tour is the best way to see the most of Morocco and safely.
I did the Adventure Morocco tour with Travel Talk Tours with 25 other travellers. Even though I’ve done other tours in the past and read all the documentation, I still don’t think I was prepared enough for the tour itself.
Here’s some tips and things I wish I knew before my Morocco trip.
MONEY MONEY MONEY
Even though the conversion rate is 1-13 for GBP and everything is pretty cheap, you’ll find the international sport of Morocco is ripping off tourists. Haggling is your best tool but first you need to be 100% on the conversion rate.
You’ll know straight away if your being ripped off. When you want to buy something, ask “How Much?” and quickly work out how much that is in your own country. Never take the first offer! You’ll find that merchants will drop the price if you start to walk away. 350 – 200 – 100! DEAL!
CAMEL RIDING CREW
Riding a camel through the desert is a bucket list item for most people. A few things you should know about camels. They stink, they bite and they’re not comfortable to ride on. Most of our group had bruised and battered groins. Those wearing the wrong underwear, came off the worst and trips to the pharmacy were on the cards.
Do yourself a favour, bring an extra blanket to put between you and the camel. Wear the right underwear. Normal cotton briefs will be find. Don’t wear knickers with sticky lining to stop them from riding up or leotards. Boys, your just in trouble full stop. Get one leg over that camel to give yourself a little comfort.
HELL YES H2O
Your in a ridiculously hot country so you’ll need to hydrate! Seriously. Always have to 2 bottles of water with you. This will keep you hydrated if there are no shops for a while. You also need them for the desert, for obvious reasons.
You’ll need a full bottle for the camel rides alone and the long drives. Stick to the 2 bottle rule and you’ll be fine.
WORK THE SCARF
Scarfs are not only great Moroccan fashion accessories and a beautiful souvenir to take home but they are also a necessary Moroccan item of clothing. Not just to keep in with the culture but to protect yourself from the sun and sand.
You’ll all go grab your choice of scarf before you head towards the Sahara desert. There is no wrong choice. Long or short scarf, or the colour. Pick one and work it with your outfits for the desert.
THOSE LONG DRIVES
I’m an expert at preparing for the long drives on trips. Not just for my travels but living in London and the long journeys back up north to visit family and friends.
My biggest tips are to make sure you are comfy. Bring a travel pillow and have a blanket. The longest drives are about 2 hours and everyone usually tries to get some kip on the coach.
Also, download as many Netflix movies or TV Shows as possible onto your phones. There are TVs on the coach and they will put movies on but it’s nice to have your own selection ready. Try to keep to the Moroccan theme. Gladiator, Babel and Sex and the City 2 are great picks and are filmed in some of the places you visit on the trip.
THE WINDIEST ROADS IN THE WORLD
I got horrendously travel sick in the Atlas Mountains. Do yourself a favour, if you have travel sickness take those tablet before getting on the coach on the first day….and when you go back after the Sahara Desert.
Most locals really don’t like getting their photos taken, especially the women. They are very protective of their faces. It’s their face and they don’t want to share it with the world. The men are a different story. If they catch you taking a photo of them, they might ask you for money.
The markets are very unphoto friendly. They really don’t like you taking photos of their merchandise, them or the stalls. Don’t think you can’t take photos. Just be respectful of the culture and peoples privacy.
AVOIDING CUSTOMS DRAMA
Marrakesh Airport has the WORST CUSTOMS EVER. Honestly. Why? Firstly, it’s very disorganised. As I am British, I can say we love a good queue. We are experts at the queuing system. Morocco, not so much. They really haven’t mastered the art of queuing. The lines don’t make sense. People push in front and the security really don’t care. You also have to queue up a lot for random things. In total, there were about 4 different queuing systems to get from my plane to Marrakesh and 7 queues to get back on the plane to go home. Horrendous.
The airport is also really hot. One girl actually passed out in front of me and again the security really didn’t care. Make sure you have some water. Make sure you fill out the form they give you on the plane and you’ll need to grab another copy for on the way home. You’ll need the hotel address so make sure you have it handy.
Make sure you arrive at the airport 3+ hours before your flight. Nothing less or you won’t make it with all the ridiculous queues.
SLEEPING BAG OR NO SLEEPING?
The itinerary says you need a sleeping bag. You don’t. You stay in lovely 4* hotels throughout the trip and when you get to the desert your basically glamping. You have 4 poster beds in your tents with lots of blankets to keep you warm. You might want to double up on those as it does get cold at night.
I’m slightly OCD so I wasn’t super keen on the blankets but they were completely fine.
CAMP FIRE FUN
During your 2 nights in the desert, you’ll have a campfire before hitting the sack. You’ll drink a few beers, dance around the campfire, sing songs and go back to your tent stinking of smoke.
Don’t wear jeans. The smell will stick. Also, try to wear the same clothes for the campfire 2 nights on the trot so you don’t ruin your clothes.
I’ve never seen a market like the Marrakesh Markets. I had various warnings about the Merchants before attending the tour but nothing could prepare me for what I heard and witnessed. Firstly, the markets are great. There’s so many different stores to grab any last minute souvenirs or gifts before going home. There are also lots of different stalls and restaurants to go eat at so you can take your pick. One last Tarjine before going home.
Now, the markets might be intriguing but you do need to keep your wits about you. Stay together and try not to listen to much to some of the comments you get given. Yes, you will get shouted at and called names. I was called Lady Gaga and Shakira which was quite amazing but my group were also called lots of vulgar names and told how much we were worth in camels. Nice.
WHERE’S THE TRANSFER?
After you get through the worst customs in the world, you’ll probably think you’ve missed your airport transfer to the hotel. Most people on our trip thought this. Not the case for all. Unlike most airports, your transfer isn’t waiting for you at baggage claim or after your clear Duty free or the after you get get out of the nothing to declare lanes. You’ll find them outside the airport.
Most of our group didn’t realise this and started ringing the emergency number. Set outside the airport and you’ll be greeted by lots of shouting people. Look for the travel agency’s sign. If you can’t find the transfer or think you have missed the transfer, either ring the emergency number or grab a taxi to the hotel. It’s only 5-10 minutes away and it shouldn’t cost you more than 100 Dirham. Don’t let them rip you off!!
NO SECRETS MOROCCAN MASSAGE
The massage was offered to us as an option activity on one of the last days of the trip. You could book it after the Argan Oil shop where they even show you the products they sell. I didn’t book the massage but it was all the girls could talk about afterwards.
It was described as a great bonding experience for all the girls. If they weren’t friends before, they are now. It was a bare all situation with only some tiny briefs to hide your business. Warning your breasts might get tampered with unless you tell them where your no no areas are.
USING THE HOTEL POOLS
I brought 3 bikinis with me and I didn’t use one. We had some amazing swimming pools but we would arrive late and leave early so there wasn’t much pool time to be taken advantage of. If you really want to get your tan sorted, arrive early and leave later. The start and end hotel is pretty amazing.
WHEN TO TIP
You will tip a lot more than expected on this tour and for random things. Obviously, you might want to tip for service in bars and restaurants but you will also tip to use the toilet. Yes, tipping to tipple. Quite a lot of the toilets you use will have an attendant on duty. They will clean the toilets and provide toilet roll. Yes, that’s right. There won’t be toilet roll unless you tip. Have some coins handy. 10 Dirhams is more than enough.
Don’t forget to tip your Tour Leader at the end of the tour. Most tours I’ve been on ask for $5 a day. For the whole trip they only asked for 50 Dirhams for the driver and 100 Dirhams for the Tour Leader. Personally, I doubled that. Our driver and tour leader was amazing. They deserved every penny.
Want more? Check out my Morocco travel vlogs on my YouTube channel:
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