Questions and Answers about Morocco
Q: Why go?
A: Culturally, artistically, historically and scenically it’s incredibly diverse and rich. At its heart Morocco is essentially a feudal Berber culture, fused with the cultures of sub-Saharan Africa and other disparate elements. For example until the second half of the 20th century every Moroccan city had a large Jewish quarter. Decorative arts in particular are refined and intricate and rooted in the artistic precepts of Islam. In an area twice the size of the state of Victoria, Morocco packs in the snow-capped peaks of the Atlas Mountains as well as the red dunes of the Sahara. In those mountains are villages that are still unconnected by road, where the population still lives in kasbahs, fortified high-walled houses that hold several generations of an extended family.
Q: Is it safe?
A: Based on my own travels around the country, I give Morocco a tick. Realistically, this is the only Islamic country in North Africa where you can travel without fear. There is no apparent danger from Islamic extremists, the security forces are a strong and visible presence and personal security does not appear to be an issue. For women the situation is slightly different. Women occupy a different space from men in the Moroccan spectrum and a foreign woman traveling alone and without a guide is more difficult.
Here are some thoughts from a British guide and movie fixer, who has lived and worked in Morocco for 20 years
“Morocco is incredibly safe. The late King Hassan II, allegedly said “look after the security forces and they will look after you.” Morocco has a police force and a gendarmerie, and both are very evident, no matter where you are in the country. Statistically, levels of crime are better than southern European countries. I certainly never worry about leaving valuables in a car in Morocco – something that would be unwise in Spain.”
Q: Do foreign women need to wear head covering?
A: No. Moroccan women mostly wear head covering but covered faces are rare. Some cities are more liberal than others, and there’s a difference between what women wear in the more liberal-minded cities north of the Atlas Mountains and the conservative-minded towns and villages to the south. Foreigners are not expected to comply, although bare shoulders and short shorts will attract attention.
Q: Do I need a guide?
A: Yes. Even if you have conversational French, the main European language, you’ll struggle unless you’re on a guided tour, and you’ll miss much. Having said that, you don’t need a guide all the time. Wandering around in Fez and Marrakech on our own was a delight, although in both places we had a guide show us the highlights when we first arrived.
“Guides in Morocco may insulate you from some of the more persistent beggars and shopkeepers, but their purpose is more to open doors into the private areas of this still sometimes conservative country, and to get you beyond the souks and tourist trinkets. It’s a complex country and the real gems are often hidden – how many visitors to Fes see the Mokri Palace? How many tourists get beyond a Saharan camp to sit and chat with a genuine nomad family about their hopes for their children?”
Q: How do I access cash?
A: ATMs are readily available in the cities.
Q: Will I get lost if I wander into the souks in Marrakech.
A: Probably, but do it anyway.
Have a look at the itinerary.
Sept 08 – 25, 2020
― S Byrne Melbourne
Despite the dire warnings and concern about safety from those who dare go there” and notwithstanding my own trepidation about a tour group having only ever travelled solo, I took the plunge.
Result; an amazing journey with nine fellow travelers, expert local guides the principals of very skilled, fun and professional Australian tour (tripwired.com.au)
From the moment I was so warmly welcomed in Casablanca by Tripwired’s Michael and Liz, any apprehensions I had dissipated in Morocco’s balmy air.
Tailored to accommodate no more than ten travellers, the seventeen day revealed the diversity of this remarkable country with its ancient history many influences, evidenced by Roman ruins, Portugese , French, Arabic and Moorish aesthetics the vanishing nomadic lifestyle and the indigenous Berbers’ love of its own traditions and culture.
Tripwired Tours are knowledgeable, flexible, efficient, empathetic and passionate about providing their clients with the ultimate experience in the country in which they’re travelling.
― J Luck & D Coleman Melbourne
On the basis of our April 2019 experience in Morocco with Tripwired Tours we are more than happy to recommend their 2020 tour. Morocco is a fascinating country with spectacular scenery, and friendly people who value the benefits of tourism.
Our 16 day itinerary covered the highlights of the country — medinas full of spices, fresh food and many handcraft items, Berbers among the Saharan dunes, small villages of rust-mud construction, the snow-covered Atlas mountains, the historic seaport of on the Atlantic as well as the fabled cities of Casablanca, Fes and Marrakech.
The itinerary was well-paced and varied, allowing time for individual activities. The Moroccan accommodation was diverse in character, often in riads or kasbahs repurposed as quirky but quality living quarters. The small bus was comfortable, the travel legs between lodgings not demanding. All in all, a most satisfactory tour.
― S Adams Five Dock
Thank you for a wonderful Moroccan tour. We saw so many interesting and diverse aspects of the country, from snow to desert, to fertile valleys, old towns and buzzy cities.
Even though we covered so much ground it didn’t feel a slog, the times we spent two or three nights in one place were great and the afternoons we had free to pursue our own agendas added to the relaxed feel.
I loved the funky bedrooms in new and old riads, they were beautiful and comfortable, essential after busy days. The food was delicious and really healthy too.
Thanks for seeking out such great venues.
All up it was a fabulous trip, one I’ll always look back on with pleasure.
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