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Ahh, Europe: the continent where you could eat pizza in Italy, relax on the beach in France and drink a beer in Germany … all in a day’s work. Unlike Europeans who have the luxury of hopping on a plane for an hour and being in a different country, we Australians must travel huge distances and do a lot of preparation for overseas trips. But once you’re in Europe, short getaways are easy, cheap and the destinations are endless. After enduring the 24-hour journey to Europe, you might as well spread your wings and explore its surroundings a little –after all, you’re already in the neighbourhood.

A map displaying how close Spain’s mainland (and Europe in general) is to Morocco. Many of us drive further each day to get to work than the 14km distance between the Spanish mainland and Morocco at their closest point. We say “Spanish mainland” rather than Spain here because there’s also a bit of Spain on the African continent adjacent to Morocco. That is a story for another blog post.

 

Morocco is the Perfect Complement to a Bigger Europe Trip. Why?

 

Because you’re already there and it’s so close

Did you know that at its closest point, Morocco and Europe are only separated by 14.3km? In fact, on a clear day, you can see Morocco from Spain and can travel there in as little as one hour by ferry. Cheap flights are available from almost all major European cities, and if you book in advance, you can find some real bargains. Some hotels, particularly in Spain, will even let you leave your luggage with them while you visit Morocco, giving you the freedom to take a small bag. This means you can travel light, or fill it with an abundance of bespoke Moroccan goods to bring home. Some of our favourites are genuine rose products, Moroccan hand-made jewellery, leather bags, and colourful, hand-woven carpets.

It’s cheap

Speaking of shopping, most things are much cheaper in Morocco compared to Europe (although your bargaining skills may influence prices somewhat). The shopping is unique, so it can be tempting to buy more than will fit in your suitcase. However, you may struggle to find anything similar in Europe, so we say go for it. If you find something extra special, you can easily use an international carrier such as DHL to ship your items back to Australia. Accommodation and cost of living are also considerably less in Morocco unless you want to go luxe, in which case prices approach European ones. Aussies in Morocco Tours ™ has listed a range of commonly bought items and their general prices on the FAQ page

 

Colourful shopping in Morocco

Fez is the capital of ceramics but they are ubiquitous in Morocco. There’s an artisanal cooperative just outside the Fez Medina, selling amongst other things, ceramics, to which the local guide can take you if you mention it to him. It has the imprimateur of the King. Ask us for more details.

Euros are accepted and people speak English

Because Morocco is so close to Europe, travel there is actually much simpler than you would imagine. Even though the currency is Moroccan dirhams, euros are widely accepted. Just be careful not to underestimate the exchange rate and pay more in euros than you need, when the price is in dirhams.

Although the official languages are Arabic, Berber, and French, many people also speak Spanish, and increasingly commonly (although not as widely), English.

 

It’s quite safe – no really

Any worthwhile adventure involves an element of risk. If you didn’t want to take any risks in life, you would never get out of bed! Nevertheless, Morocco is commonly reported as a safe country to travel to, provided you use a little common sense. Making sure you respect local customs, dress modestly, and stay away from drinking tap water is a good start. Of course, your security is further guaranteed if you travel with a driver from a reliable tour operator, especially for women. On top of this, respected guides and drivers can lead you away from dangerous places, offer advice about hidden local gems and inform you about Morocco’s customs and expectations. At Aussies in Morocco Tours™, we handpick our guides/drivers and the first criterion is trustworthiness.  If you are interested in finding out more tips on safety check out our blog post about it here.

Also Aussies in Morocco Tours™ is looking into offering a bespoke safety mobile app, with features that take it above and beyond what is generally offered in the travel industry space, to all clients. Once details are confirmed there will be a media release about this. We are aiming for December 2020 – January 2021 for the media release.

 

Moroccan Children

Remember the cultural sensitivity of many Moroccans to having their photographs taken. In the list of tip amounts that Aussies in Morocco Tours™ provides upon booking, there will be a recommended amount in relation to asking people for their photograph. This “Tip List” will be on a laminated card that you should be able to fit into your wallet or money purse.

It’s unique and there’s something for everyone

Do you want to explore the desert, shower under waterfalls, trek through forests or see goats and monkeys in trees? Maybe you would prefer to go shopping in bazaar markets, admire historic architecture, or treat your senses to rainbows of colourful spices. In Morocco, the possibilities are endless. If you are accompanied by our Berber drivers and local, certified guides, these experiences will be greatly enriched through their familiarity and connection with the land.

Let’s say you visit the Erg Chebbi dunes on one of our tours. Our local suppliers know the desert as their home. They know exactly how to drive you safely through it, where to take you and the secrets behind what makes it so special. As they have all the local connections, you won’t waste time trekking to attractions only to be denied entry to (or a photo opportunity of) a place that you had been looking forward to exploring. Ask Aussies in Morocco Tours™ for some specific suggestions too about where to go and what to see while you are there.

 

Moroccan tourist culture is quite attuned to western sensibilities

Moroccan attitudes to time are different compared to those of western society. The priorities and freneticism of our modern life can be somewhat foreign concepts to many Moroccans. This can be frustrating when western expectations like punctuality, promptness, and accommodation are important to you – sometimes you just need to use a western-style toilet! Having said that, the desert tourist culture in particular and the Berber guides and drivers who come from that are well attuned to western tourist sensibilities and will do everything they can to make you feel comfortable.

 

Which tour is right for me?

Australians tend to travel overseas mostly in December, January, April, July, and September. Unless you are visiting Morocco in July, we would recommend one of our signature tours outlined here during these months. As Morocco experiences extremely hot temperatures in July, we suggest you contact us about a bespoke tour that includes the coastal cities of Essaouria which is a former Portuguese port and home to many artists, Agadir which benefits from a year-round Mediterranean climate and the famous fishing village of Sidi Ifni. Another fabulous option is our Moroccan mountain and river tour, especially popular in summer due to the cooler climates at higher altitudes. We give you more detail about this particular tour here and here.

 

The time is now

Life is so short, and the world is only getting smaller. While it still remains very traditional and raw, Morocco isn’t exempt from the inevitable encroachment of modernity. Moroccan tourism is becoming increasingly regulated and the liberties a tourist currently enjoys there, like exploring wilderness areas freely, may not last forever. The time to visit Morocco is now. Book either a signature tour (see here) or a bespoke tour as outlined here with us, and experience the real Morocco before traditional eateries morph into McDonald’s, spices are bought in shopping centres and cars replace camels.

 

Camels not Cars

Desert people love their camels and treat them well. You can learn more about this when you visit the desert.

 

Refreshed and updated November 2020