Frequently Asked Questions

What is Morocco like as a country?

Beloved by artists and photographers, Morocco is a beautiful, welcoming country with a wealth of heritage and cultural diversity. The official languages are Arabic and Berber, but French is also widely spoken and, in the south, Spanish too. In regional areas a traditional way of life continues, and with the help of our Berber drivers it is possible to get an inside view of Moroccan culture, music, cuisine, and the wonderful hospitality of the Moroccan people.

The country itself stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Atlas and Rif mountain ranges to the Sahara desert. This geographical diversity is reflected in our tours, where you experience the jaw-dropping heights of a steep mountain pass, visit tranquil towns nestled among the cedar forests of the High Atlas, travel along luxuriant valleys and scale the searing dunes of the Sahara.

 

What can you tell me about eating and drinking in Morocco?

Eating in Morocco

  • Moroccan food is very tasty and fresh, and mostly organic.
  • Moroccans use warm spices — cumin, coriander, cinnamon — rather than hot spices such as chilli.
  • A restaurant meal often begins with a salad, followed by a tagine, couscous, brochette (meat skewer) or special main dish, and ends with fresh fruit for dessert.
  • Cheese, except for processed cheese, is rarely available.
  • Bread is served with every meal, and traditionally replaces cutlery (although as a westerner you will be given it). It is generally white rather than wholemeal.
  • For anyone with a gluten allergy or intolerance, we recommend bringing your own supplies of gluten-free bread to enjoy with meals, as it’s not readily available in Morocco. Or bypass bread altogether.
  • Morocco caters to vegetarians, with veggie cous-cous and tagine options on most menus, and breakfasts generally being vegetarian.
  • Breakfast usually consists of bread and homemade pancakes, yoghurt, fresh fruit, and an omelette. Moroccan omelettes are usually made just with eggs (not stuffed with filling).
  • Most auberges, riads and hotels serve meals, including for non-residents.

SUGGESTION: Your driver may be able to arrange a picnic lunch if you ask in advance.

Drinking in Morocco

  • It is unsafe to drink tap water in Morocco. Bottled water is readily available at all hotels and eateries, as well as corner stores. Always make sure that the lid is sealed before drinking. We also recommend brushing your teeth with bottled water, to be on the safe side.
  • Most restaurants and cafes serve soft drinks. Some also serve milk shakes made with fruit such as bananas or dates.
  • Mint tea is a very popular Moroccan drink. It’s made (and tastes best) with quite a lot of sugar, so be sure to brush your teeth regularly!
  • The coffee standard is usually quite good in Morocco.
  • As Morocco is a Muslim country, alcohol is generally frowned upon. Only the more upmarket, western-style restaurants or cafes serve alcohol, and select shops.

SUGGESTION: Ask your driver where to purchase alcohol.

 

Is Morocco safe?

Collectively, the Aussies in Morocco Tours team has travelled to Morocco over 20 times in the past 15 years, both as solo female travellers and with friends and family, often for several weeks at a time.

During our time in Morocco, we’ve been fortunate enough not to experience any serious incidents or had our personal safety compromised. Given our personal experience, we’ve always felt that Morocco is a relatively safe place to travel, if you practise caution and stay alert and aware of your own personal safety.

We are sensitive and aware, however, of recent unfortunate events attributed to terrorism, in Morocco. You can learn more about travelling in Morocco, including safety issues, on DFAT’s Smart Traveller website. We recommend registering your travel to Morocco with Smart Traveller (you will need to log into an existing account or create an account to do this).

We trust our drivers to look after you as best they can, while you’re on tour with us. If you’re ever feeling uncertain or would like them to accompany you (to an ATM or shop, for example) just ask.

In terms of insurance, it’s a requirement of booking with us that you take out adequate travel insurance, and provide us with your policy information before departure. We also have crisis management insurance through Gow Gates. This covers 24/7 security consultant advice and emergency necessities costs, including mobilising specialists and expenses of family and friends, for all of our tours.

To find out more about this, get in touch. You can also ready more about safety on our Morocco Insider blog .

 

When is the best time of year to visit Morocco?

High seasons for visitors are from March to May and September to mid-November, when the weather is mild. There are other pleasant times to travel, when it is quieter and the landscape has particular charm. In December, it is usually warm and sunny during the day; you just need warm layers of clothing for the colder nights – Morocco is a great place to spend the Christmas holidays! February is also lovely, when the almond blossom is out and there is still snow on the mountains. In the summer months of July and August, the mountains are much cooler than the cities, and there is often a cool breeze.

It is worth checking the dates of Muslim religious holidays and feast days in Morocco before planning your trip. Most Moroccans are Muslim and observe Ramadan (a month of fasting from dawn to dusk). In particular, book well in advance or avoid travelling around the religious holiday of Eid Al Hattr (La Fête des Moutons or the Feast of the Sacrifice). This is a big family celebration when many businesses are closed and transport is fully booked as people travel to spend the feast day with relatives. Ramadan and Eid generally occur in summertime, but exact dates change each year.

Here are some events on the Moroccan cultural calendar* to plan your trip around:

  • February: Almond Blossom Festival,
  • March: Marrakech Biennale, Marrakech.
  • April: Sufi Music & Cultural Festival, Fez. Marathon des Sables, Sahara Desert
  • May: Rose Festival, Valley of the Roses.
  • June: Gnaoua World Music Festival, Essaouira. World Sacred Music Festival, Fez.
  • July: Timitar Music Festival, Agadir.
  • August: Tafraoute Summer Music Festival, Tafraoute.
  • September: Berber Marriage Ceremony, Imilchil. Tanjazz Festival, Tangier.
  • November: Moroccan Independence Day (18th November)
  • December: Marrakech International Film Festival.

*Event months are subject to change. Customers are advised to check and confirm that the event is taking place before booking, in case of any cancellation or change in event dates.

SUGGESTION: Book an Easter holiday with us as early as possible, as this is the peak tourist season in Morocco.

SUGGESTION: If you’d like to plan your holiday to coincide with one of the cultural events above, we recommend booking your tour well in advance.

 

What is a bespoke tour?

We’ve created a range of Essential Tours  that offer you the perfect introduction to Morocco, for 4 or 7 days.

If you’re looking for something different we offer a range of bespoke tour options, to suit your special requests, interests, party size and more. These customised tours might include:

  • Accommodation at the start and/or end of your tour
  • Increase in luxury level of accommodation (from our standard 3 star to 4/5 star)
  • Travel to more cities than included in our standard tours, or more nights in any of our tour stops
  • Creation of a unique itinerary for you and your party, to suit special interests and requests
  • An officially-accredited guide to accompany you on the entire tour, in addition to your driver
  • The presence of an experienced, Australian tour coordinator with specialist knowledge

Bespoke tour options and extras such as these will lead to an increase in price from our standard tours. The price increase will vary depending on the type of bespoke tour or extras. Get in touch to find out more.

 

Should I travel to Morocco during Ramadan?

While travelling during Ramadan in Morocco is certainly possible, it comes with its considerations.

  • Ramadan falls on different dates each year, so you’ll need to plan ahead. In 2019, Ramadan will take place from Sunday 5th May until Tuesday 4th June, and in 2020 it’s Thursday 23rd April until the 23rd May.
  • The locals will fast sunrise to sunset (including liquids), so you may experience a slower pace, lower energy and potentially shorter tempers from locals. Patience is key during this time!
  • You may notice more limited opening hours of businesses, for example opening later in morning, and closing at sunset, to allow for them to break their fast. Locals may also shut shop in order to take a much-needed siesta in the afternoon.

 

How tolerant is Morocco?

While Morocco is an increasingly modern Muslim country, there are harsh penalties for sexual relations out of wedlock and homosexuality.

Please let us know if you identify as homosexual couple or you are a couple who is not legally married, so we can assist you in navigating the local laws and penalties safely.

Morocco is a country that has so much to offer everyone, and want to make sure you feel as welcome and as safe as possible without exclusion.

 

What do I need to wear in Morocco?

In the main cities like Marrakech, Fez and Casablanca, many people dress in Western style, as in London or Paris, but in the countryside we recommend that both men and women wear long trousers or skirts and a top covering the upper arms to the elbows.

In the mountains and the desert, you need a hat to protect you from the sun, and a warm fleece or jumper and long trousers for the evenings. For camel trekking, loose long trousers are the most comfortable. In winter, you need warm layers, including hat, scarf and gloves – temperatures can be nice and warm in the daytime, but really drop at night.

Once you book your tour with us, we’ll share with you our extensive guide on how to pack and what to wear in Morocco, for every season.

 

Do I need a visa to visit Morocco?

As of 2018, holders of a valid Australian passport do not need a visa to enter Morocco for a stay not exceeding three months. However, all visitors to Morocco should check with their local Moroccan embassy or consulate for up-to-date information about visas and entry procedures well before departure from their home country. For Australians, New Zealanders and Pacific Islanders, this is the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in Canberra, Australia, http://www.moroccoembassy.org.au/ .

SUGGESTION: As with many countries, is it essential that all travellers arrive with a passport that is valid for at least six months from the time they enter Morocco. A return ticket may also be required.

 

How about vaccinations for Morocco and health while visiting?

Check that your protection from tetanus, polio, diphtheria and hepatitis B is up-to-date.

You may wish to be vaccinated against typhoid and hepatitis A 15-21 days before departure.

One serious health risk is that of bilharzia, a disease found in stagnant or slow-moving water in oases. Do not swim or paddle in such places, or in rivers downstream from them.

First-time visitors may experience diarrhoea. To help prevent this:

  • avoid ice cubes made with tap water
  • avoid salad and unpeeled fruit which have been washed in tap water
  • avoid drinking tap water
  • avoid unpasteurised milk and dairy products
  • drink mineral water, which is inexpensive, or processed drinks, making sure the lid seal is unbroken.

SUGGESTION: If you do get an upset stomach that does not clear up, visit a pharmacy for advice and appropriate medication without a prescription.

SUGGESTION: Take plenty of bottled water in the car with you on your tour, especially when the weather is hot.

SUGGESTION: Make sure you have adequate travel insurance for health and accident cover. If you are booking your holiday with us, it is a requirement of our Terms and Conditions that you arrange such cover prior to the holiday.

 

What is the plug/voltage in Morocco?

The electricity in Morocco is the same as in Continental Europe: 220 volts AC, 50Hz.

SUGGESTION: If you want to use British, US or Australian appliances, take adaptors for two-pin European plugs.

 

Can I use my mobile phone in Morocco?

Mobile phone coverage in Morocco is extensive as most people rely on mobiles for communication. There is network coverage almost everywhere, except remote areas and the desert.

Roaming can be expensive, especially when it comes to using data, so if your phone is unlocked we recommend purchasing a Moroccan pre-paid SIM card, from a local provider such as Maroc Telecom.

You may be able to find a shop or outlet at the airport upon arrival, or once you’ve arrived at your hotel you can ask staff to direct you to the nearest outlet, shop or kiosk. Your driver should also be able to assist you to find a place to buy a SIM.

 

Is there internet access in Morocco?

WiFi is almost everywhere, although it is a bit of a problem in remote desert and certain mountainous areas. Ask your driver for access to his telephone WiFi whilst travelling – particularly if you plan on Googling information about specific aspects of your trip on the move.

 

What about banking and credit cards in Morocco?

Banks usually open from 8.30-12.00 and 13.30-15.00 or 14.30-16.00 Monday-Thursday, and 8.30-12.00 on Fridays. Check dates of public holidays, when banks will be closed.

There are ATMs and currency exchange offices in most towns and tourist destinations in Morocco.

Credit cards are only accepted in the more expensive hotels, shops and restaurants in large cities and in petrol stations, and rarely elsewhere. Aussies in Morocco accepts payment by EFT for the deposit, and thereafter payment is made in cash to our local service providers once you are in Morocco.

Euros are often accepted by hotels and excursion operators – but check their exchange rates.

SUGGESTION: Notify your own bank of the destinations and dates of your trip before you leave, or your cards may not work overseas.

SUGGESTION: If you feel uncomfortable withdrawing money from an ATM in public, ask your driver to accompany you.

 

What do things cost in Morocco?

In regional areas, the price for personal services, such as having your hands painted with henna or getting a scrub in the hammam, is often left to your own discretion. If in doubt about any prices, ask your driver.

Here is a very rough guide to some items and services, based simply on our own experience of 2018 prices:

  • a woollen djellaba for winter: 500 dirhams
  • a day walking with a local guide, for example in a particular town: 300-350 dirhams
  • a light-weight djellaba: 200 – 300 dirhams
  • a linen shirt/blouse with hand-embroidered seams and buttons: 150-200 dirhams
  • a pair of leather babouches (Moroccan slip-on shoes): 75-100 dirhams
  • Moroccan pastries: 70 dirhams per kilo — considerably more in Marrakech
  • meat: 60-70 dirhams per kilo
  • hairdresser or barber: 30 dirhams
  • henna painting: around 30 dirhams per hand or foot
  • fruit and vegetables: around 4-10 dirhams per kilo.

SUGGESTION: In large cities like Marrakech, prices for henna painting may be extortionate. Arrange with your driver to get it done in regional areas.

 

How should I tip in Morocco?

The culture of tipping is very strong in Morocco. Many people do not earn a proper wage, and make a living mainly from tips. Tips, according to the quality of service, are expected by:

  • hotel and restaurant staff
  • anyone who washes your clothes for you
  • tour and excursion drivers
  • camel and mule drivers
  • musicians
  • hiking guides
  • hammam attendants who give you a scrub or massage.

Also give a small tip to anyone who carries your bags, shows you the way if you are lost, or offers any other small service. If in doubt, ask your driver how much to tip. An appropriate tip for your driver is 100-200 dirhams a day, depending on satisfaction. This is about 10‑20 Euros, or roughly 15‑30 AUD.

SUGGESTION: When you arrive in Morocco, make sure you get plenty of small change and small-denomination dirham notes from a bank to have handy for tipping and bargaining.

 

Moroccan souvenirs – how do I shop and what can I buy?

How to shop

Many tourists are nervous about shopping in Moroccan shops and markets (souks), where it is unusual to see fixed prices displayed and where bargaining for items worth 100 dirhams or more is the norm. If in doubt about how to bargain, ask your driver, but remember that saving 50 dirhams means very little to a tourist, but can make a big difference for the Moroccan seller. For more information, head to our Morocco Insider blog.

As with any tourist location, you have to be wary of fakes. For instance, imitation Amazigh (Berber) jewellery may be made of plastic, whereas true artisanal Amazigh jewellery is highly decorative, symbolic, beautiful, and often inlaid with semi-precious stones. If in doubt, ask your driver where you can buy the genuine article. We can also advise you where to buy authentic souvenirs and Moroccan products.

SUGGESTION: Once in a particular town or city, you may be able to hire a local guide through your driver or hotel, but be sure to ask for someone honest. Because of the culture, all guides are likely to receive some sort of commission in relation to any purchases you make whilst with them, but if you have an honest guide, they will not only take you to the shops which give them the most commission.

What to buy

As well as popular items such as carpets, pottery and leather goods, there are other very nice smaller souvenirs to buy:

  • rose products – toiletries, face creams, rose water and perfumes
  • argan oil products – there are very effective creams for the treatment of skin complaints such as eczema and psoriasis, as well as face creams and perfumed argan oil
  • argan soap, which has a slightly nutty scent and makes a great present for men
  • local crafts such as woodcarvings
  • Moroccan spices
  • fossils from the desert
  • bric-a-brac.

Learn more about shopping in Morocco and more on our Let’s Talk About blog.

SUGGESTION: Before returning to Australia, check out http://www.agriculture.gov.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/arriving-english-factsheet.pdf for information on which products to declare to Customs.

Interested in a tour?

Simply send a booking enquiry, call or email us to find out more.