Morocco

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Morocco is a wonderful place to be a nomad. Everyone is multilingual, everything is reasonably cheap, the weather is good and hospitality is abundant. It is important to understand that there are two very different sides to Morocco. There are the cities, from the modern industrial metropolis of Casablanca, to the crazy, filthy, magical streets of Marrakech. The beating hearts of Morocco, fuelled entirely by tourist dollars, some people hate the cities, others never want to leave them. The other side of Morocco is the countryside, the mountains and farmland, largely populated by ethnic Berbers, for whom hospitality is sacred. In the cities, people expect payment for nearly everything. By contrast, in the little mountain villages you would offend someone if you offered him money for his hospitality. If you are friendly and speak a little French, you can expect a cup of tea or even a meal at almost every Berber village. Keep a notebook to write Facebook addresses and phone numbers in! You will also have many interactions with European tourists if you stick to the main tourist routes. Camping is tolerated everywhere, although not technically permitted. The police are supposed to tell you to pack up your tent and find a hotel, but this never really happens.

In the cities, everyone speaks French and almost everyone speaks English. Spanish, Italian, German, even a little Japanese are often spoken to some degree by shopkeepers. But if you plan on exploring outside the cities, you will have a much better time if you speak a little French. It is often essential for hitchhiking and asking directions.

Morocco is super touristic, so its nice to be double aware of this when making friends, because the nicest guy sometimes turn out to be an asshole. Besides this its a beautiful place full of wonders, tiny and large ones! You can have a lot of fun in the atlas mountains and in the desert, meet some authentic people there, including the real nomads. If you are into surfing you can go to a small village just outside Agadir, direction north - Taghazoute. Marrakech is packed with people but still nice to see for a day or two.

Moroccan's currency is the dirham. 1€ = 11 dirhams.


Transport

Find info on hitchhiking at Hitchwiki.

Hitchhiking

Hitchhiking is easy and quite common among locals and really fun ! Moroccans use the index finger instead of the thumb, but you can use the thumb and everybody understand. From time to time people expect payment. Usually it's easy to tell if someone is expecting money, but if you want to be sure, tell them you can't pay before you get in the vehicle. 10 dirham is usually enough for rides under half an hour, 20dh for an hour or more. A rather filthy trick is to only flag down new-looking cars. These will usually be middle class Moroccans from the northern cities who will not expect payment, or European tourists with rental cars who will often speak English and even buy you lunch. Another thing you'll have to endure while hitchhiking is taxis stopping and trying to lure you inside. You'll get used to shouting "Non, merci!" and giving them a lazy wave. If you decide to hitchhike in Morocco you will have a lot of fun. Pick-up, on back of the truck, on top of some cars. Even the bus stop sometimes, and if you tell them that you don't have money, they can take you for free. It's so easy in Morocco you don't need a hitchhiking spot, just walk in direction of the exit of the city, with your thumb in the air, and prepare yourself for a lot of fun.

Taxis

Taxis are the most popular method of transport.

There are two types of taxis - petit (small) and grand (large). the petit taxis seat 3 passengers and the grand seat 6 passengers. It is very common to get a taxi collectif (shared taxi), and for other passengers to be picked up when you're in the vehicle already. Always try to get a shared cab; they can be extremely cheap since the driver will try to cram in as many people as he can possibly fit. When getting into a cab, ask the driver to turn on the meter. He may be reluctant to. Some drivers do not have meters. In this case, always agree on a price BEFORE getting in the vehicle. Taxis to and from airports are usually complete rip-offs. From the Marrakech airport to the city they will try to shake you down for 50 to 100dh; a fair price would be 10-20. A good way to estimate the fair price of a cab is to figure a base rate of 5 dh, and then 1 dh for every mile.

Buses

Buses are by far the best and cheapest way to get long distances, and are more comfortable and often faster than trains. The only problem is it is easy to get ripped off. The rule for buying bus tickets is to only buy from the driver, or from someone behind a desk. People stand around bus stations preying on people unfamiliar with the bus system. Ignore them; even if they aren't successful at overcharging you, they will expect a tip. Do note that some of the bus routes are not the most direct, and that the busses will not leave on time. They leave when they are full. To know if you're being cheated you should know typical prices. Depending on the bus company, you should be charged 20-30 dirham per hour. So if they ask for 100dh, the bus ride had better be several hours long. They will usually charge you 10 dirham extra for your baggage. Sometimes this is legitemate, sometimes not. Marrakech’s main bus station is notorious for hustlers. A better station is just around the corner from the YHA hostel, near the French consulate.

(As of January 2014) Marrekesh - Essouria - 60Dh Marrekesh - Erreshedia - 100Dh Chefchaouen - Rabat - 50Dh Rabat - Casablanca - 30Dh

Trains

Moroccans say that they are dirty, uncomfortable, and excruciatingly slow, since they stop at every tiny village. They are a good way to get to the Casablanca airport from the city.

Check http://www.oncf.ma/ for more information.

Companies


Accommodation

Find info on hosp ex at Couchwiki.

Accommodation is very affordable. 100 dirham (9 euro) seems to be the standard price for a hotel room in the cities, but it is easy to find cheaper. The YHA hostel in Marrakech is 70 dirham/night, and is clean and comfortable, if a bit hard to find. If you feel like spending more, 200 dirham, roughly the price of a hostel bunk in Europe, will get you a nice Moroccan B&B room with dinner and breakfast included. It is unusual to haggle for the price at hotel reception, but when someone approaches you on the street and invites you to a hotel, you can negotiate for a lower price. You can usually find hostels with place on the terrace for 40 dirham.

Meet fellow travellers on hospitality exchange networks: Trustroots, BeWelcome

Food

Find info on dumpster diving at Trashwiki.

Food is also very cheap. The staple of the Moroccan diet is their white, circular loaves of bread, which can be as cheap as 1 dirham -- practically free! Cookies, cheese, sandwich meat and tinned sardines can also be purchased from little corner shops for very little; this will be your diet if you're really trying to save money.

There are not so much supermarket in Morocco. But market (called Souk) in every town. Fruits, vegetables, dattes, dry figues, olives, ... It's very cheap, and the quality is great.

Restaurant meals in a touristic city range from 40-50dh (4-5 euro). In towns outside the tourist route you can get bread, salad, meat tagine, and a drink for 30dh. Restaurant food can often be very bad, so you should also try the street food in the cities; kebab meat fried with onions on a bun for 10dh, or a delicious handmade donut for 5dh.

Connectivity

Internet cafes are easy to find in cities, and there is usually one in large towns. Visit the botanic gardens in Marrakech for free access to the touch-screen internet kiosks. Mobile phone coverage across the country is reasonably good.

Busking

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Visa

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Cities

Chefchaouen, Essaouira, Fes, Imlil, M'hamid, Marrakech, Marrekesh, Medhina, Ouarzazate, Sidi Ifni

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Travel destinations

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