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 Mark Willenbrock, a 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.
Mark Willenbrock again:
“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.
April 03 – April 19, 2019
$8099 AUD per person on a twin-share basis. Non-refundable deposit $500 AUD dollars when you book
Full payment by 60 days before trip departure.
Single person Supplement $1850 AUD