Morocco questions

Old Aug 28th, 2021, 12:47 PM
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Morocco questions

Morocco is a place that has piqued our interest for years. For one reason or another, we've not yet made it to the North African kingdom. Morocco is one of the destinations under active consideration for us for a 2-3 week trip in late-November and early-December, public health conditions permitting and access allowing. What draws us to Morocco are the Fez and Marrakesh, the Atlas Mountains, the deserts, and other natural wonders.

1. For a 2-3 week trip, we would think about allocating 3-4 nights to Fez and Marrakesh. Should we think try to give more time to one or the other?

2. Both Todra and Dades Gorges look and sound appealing to us. We would love to enjoy some day hikes - is one better than the other for hikes of 2-6 hours? Given that we would be looking at the last week of November or the first week of December, are the trails typically covered in snow and / or ice at this time or could we expect it to be relatively clear?

3. Similar question about typical ice and snow cover for the Atlas Mountains just outside of Marrakesh. We would be interested in 1-2 nights to enjoy some day hikes if the trails are relatively clear. I know it may vary from year to year, which is why I ask for typical experiences for those who are familiar with it this time of year.

4. As non-drivers we would be taking trains, buses, and possibly taxis between urban areas. To get from Fez to Marrakesh via Erg Chebbi, Todra and Dades Gorges, and the Atlas Mountains, we would be hiring a driver. Given the pandemic, I would assume that there is a mix of ones that are still in operation, those who are waiting until things open up more, and others that have closed for good. If there are any agencies that you've used and know remain in operation, I would love suggestions.

Thank you.
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Old Aug 28th, 2021, 01:17 PM
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We did a ten day tour of the imperial cities of Morocco by train and bus. the cities were Marrakesh, Meknès and Fez. We landed in Marraesh, took the train to Meknès and then Fez, and from Fez we took a long distance bus back to Marrakesh to fly back to France and then home. At that time the cheapest flights to Morocco started in France and it gave us the opportunity to see our Parisian friends.

We hired a guide for Meknès who also took us to the Roman ruins of Volubilis and the closed (no foreigners at night) city of Moulay Idriss. From Fez we took local buses to Azrou with its large open market (check the dates) and Sefrou. I believe that the only reservations we had was in Marrakesh, but that was in 1993; things may have changed.








and here is the entire album:

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Old Aug 28th, 2021, 02:39 PM
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I found Fez more interesting than Marrakesh, but that could be because Marrakesh came almost at the end of my time in Morocco. I spent most of the trip with a small Intrepid tour group, although I visited Casablanca, Rabat and Essaouira on my own. I was there in November and I think the only snow was around Imlil.

My photos are here: https://kwilhelm.smugmug.com/Travel/...d-Morocco-2008

It was a while back, so don't know whether my TR will be helpful, but it's here: Tasty tagines and mobbed medinas - a Moroccan medley
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Old Aug 29th, 2021, 04:52 PM
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@Michael and @thursdaysd, thank you for the information and your first-hand experiences.
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Old Sep 4th, 2021, 01:15 AM
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1. Fez has the more interesting medina, Marrakech has better museums and places to visit. On balance I prefer Marrakech.

2. Due to 'season lag', snowfall in Morocco tends to be after Christmas and the worst affected area tends to be the Middle Atlas around Ifrane and Azrou (south of Fez). Both gorges are interesting, but you have to know where exactly to hike. Addi, the owner of Auberge le Festival in the Todra gorge, has many mapped walks, if you google for hotels in either gorge you will find many offer hiking. And the cave rooms are a real experience, https://www.aubergelefestival-todragorge.com/

3. For the High Atlas south of Marrakech I would head for Imlil which is the trailhead for many loops and also ascents. The chance of snow and ice is minimal and even if there was some, it would be unlikely to affect trails under 3,000m.

4. I rarely use guides or tour companies as I tend to have my own wheels in Morocco, but one of the companies I feel happy in recommending is Desert Majesty run by Fiona and Abdulhadi. Their web site has many suggested tours, all of which are priced which is a welcome change in Morocco, and of course the tours can be customised as needed. See https://www.desertmajesty.com/trips-at-a-glance/
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Old Sep 4th, 2021, 08:49 AM
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@TimCullis, thank you so much for this information. Auberge le Festival looks awesome - and exactly the type of accommodation that I enjoy. Appreciate your recommendation of Desert Majesty; will take a look. Also appreciate the advice about the general weather conditions on the trails; looks like we may be able to enjoy some of the outdoors if we make it to Morocco later this year.
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Old Sep 5th, 2021, 05:17 PM
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Here's my current thinking of a Moroccan itinerary. We're looking for a mix of medieval cities, desert sand dunes, oasis, mountains, and Arab and Berber culture. What do you think?

Casablanca, 2 nights
Rabat, 1 night
Fez, 3 nights
Erg Chebbi, 2 nights
Todra Gorge, 2 nights
Imlil, 2 nights
Marrakech, 3-4 nights
Essaouira, 2 nights

Also, a few questions:

1. Given that Rabat to Fez is a short trip, we will have close to 3 full days in Fez. Is it enough for a day trip to Volubilis and Meknes or do we need an additional night in Fez?
2. Is Fez to Erg Chebbi doable in one day or should we break it up with an overnight in Midelt?
3. Is French or Modern Standard Arabic more useful on the Moroccan street? How different is Moroccan Arabic from MSA?

Thanks.

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Old Sep 7th, 2021, 03:44 PM
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"3. Is French or Modern Standard Arabic more useful on the Moroccan street?"

Most of those you'll be coming into contact with speak English. French was the 2nd language of an older generation but the younger people in tourism jobs speak English.

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Old Sep 9th, 2021, 02:03 AM
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MSA is used in official documents, news broadcasts and (the rarely seen) newspapers, but the population's native language is either Darija (Moroccan Arabic) or one of the Tamazight (Berber) dialects. French and Spanish were the languages of the 'protectors' during the French and Spanish protectorates and you find many older people in the north retain their Spanish. French continues to be taught at schools but English is recognised as the way forward.

Morocco questions-rosetta-stone.jpg

Here's a street sign showing Berber in blue (reading left to right), Arabic (right to left), plus the French transliteration
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Old Sep 9th, 2021, 07:27 AM
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I checked the itinerary & as Chefchaouen wasn't on the list didn't mention Spanish, which is useful there I've found, quite true.
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Old Sep 9th, 2021, 08:11 PM
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@TimCullis and @MmePerdu, merci beaucoup. Very helpful information on the languages. A couple of us are very comfortable in French and I’ve studied MSA, but it sounds like English will be fine in most instances.
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Old Oct 4th, 2021, 05:43 PM
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From the limited information available online, it seems that a good number of the sights that would be of interest to tourists - medersas, tombs, museums - in Fez, Meknes, and Marrakesh, especially in Fez, are still closed. Would someone who has recently visited or is familiar with the situation on the ground able to confirm? Thanks.
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Old Oct 5th, 2021, 04:22 PM
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Most of the signage we saw was in French and/or Arabic.
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Old Oct 7th, 2021, 09:13 AM
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@tripplanner: a contact who lives in Morocco reports, "Now that the curfew has been relaxed from 9 to 11pm, you won't miss much at all. Most attractions, restaurants etc are open and the main square is buzzing until curfew. The only thing still closed is night clubs - some bars are open until 11pm though."
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Old Oct 7th, 2021, 10:49 AM
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@TimCullis, shukran jazeelan.
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Old Oct 24th, 2021, 12:28 PM
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Thanks to everyone who've offered their help and suggestions. Now that our travels are confirmed, we are planning and reviewing our logistics. Does anyone know where in Marrakesh we are able to obtain antigen tests? I've bookmarked a few places for PCR tests but have not come across a place that offers antigen tests yet.
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Old Nov 13th, 2021, 06:34 PM
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I just read about the Branson place in the mountains..high priced but think it won "best" of
Conde Nast in Middle East for a few years running...very $$$ but they might have some deals.....I think the name is Tamadot......

Yes, Fez over Marrakech but your trip sounds great...have not been in many years but longing to return.....

OOOH..the main square in Marrakech...for anyone been recently, it that a still good place to eat????

So little time eft for big trips....so many more places to go...!!!!!

Last edited by ekscrunchy; Nov 13th, 2021 at 06:38 PM.
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