Tipping and Gratuity in Morocco
Tipping is not included in Morocco, nor is it mandatory. However in most circumstances it is generally expected. People who work as waiters, taxi driver, and various entrepreneurs often make no more than 10 euros a day.
This salary is unable to cover their basic cost of living, so therefor much of the population depends heavily on tipping.
Note: We ask that you not give money to children whom you see asking in the streets. We believe that this encourages them to continue begging, and discourages them from attending school regularly.
Basic Etiquette and Clothing Choice
The majority of the population in Morocco is Muslim, and although it is a more liberal than places like Saudi Arabia, there are still things to consider when deciding on how you will be dress while visiting. Clothing items such as T-shirts, knee length pants, and dresses are all acceptable. Although there are no laws forbidding revealing clothing (miniskirts, shorts, bathing suit tops), to avoid unwanted attention it is requested that you refrain from wearing clothing as such, and respect the culture.
Morocco and Safety
Morocco prides itself in being an overall safe environment for tourists. The chances of you being pickpocketed, or being the victim of petty theft are extremely low, and although Morocco shares borders with Mauritania and Algeria there has never been a case of foreigner kidnapping. The second national language of Morocco is French, so if you are able to speak French you will be capable of communicating with most everyone. However, most Moroccans are able to speak and understand a few key words in English. Morocco is known for being very welcoming, so people will be willing to help you in any way possible.
Erg Chegaga VS Erg Chebbi
If a visitor hopes to experience the Sahara Desert on a 4×4 tour there are two destinations available: Erg Chigaga Dunes and the Erg Chebbi Dunes.
The Erg Chigaga is located in the Souss-Massa-Draa area and is about 100 km south of the town of Zagora. Erg Chigaga prides itself on being less frequented and more remote than its counterpart. To arrive in Erg Chigaga from Marrakech you must travel to Ouarzazette (estimated 3 hour journey) and then south to Erg Chgaga. The tarmac will stop in M’Hamid where your Saharan expedition could potentially begin.
Erg Chebbi is located abouy 60 km south of the town of Erfoud. Although Erg Chebbi is known for being more of a tourist destination than its counterpart, it is possible to find remote areas of the dunes. There is a bus that goes directly from Marrakech to Merzouga (its closest tourist enter) which can account for bringing many tourists right to the foot of the dunes. To arrive at Erg Chebbi from Marrakech you must first drive to Ouarzette (the same trek if you were going to Erg Chigaga) and then travel East. The tarmac will stop in Merzouga, from there you will be able to walk the dunes, camel trek, or 4×4 as you like.
Note: The travel time from Marrakech to each Dunes is roughly the same. HOWEVER, if you would like to take the tour of The Imperial Cities in Morocco, the dunes of Erg Chebbi are geographically easier to implement in to the itinerary.
Best Time of Year to Travel and Weather
Morocco is a beautiful country with variety of terrains, weather, and things to see. Despite what people may say there really is no bad time to come visit Morocco. Morocco is known for its year round sunshine, and that is one of its main attractions. The frigid Atlas Mountains in January and the Sahara Desert in August may be a bit harder to prepare for, but just about everything is possible. We suggest sending an email to one of our associates when you have an idea as to what you would like to-do, when, and in what time frame while in Morocco. Following receiving that email we will create a unique and personalized itinerary that is best equipped to meet all your wants and needs.
Ramadan is a Muslim holiday lasting about 30 days at a particular time of year (varies year to year). During this holiday Muslims participate in what is called a fast, not eating from sunrise to sunset. Stating this is to not deter you from traveling to Morocco during Ramadan because this is a great culturally enriching time.
However, you should expect that many locals (taxi driver, shop seller, waiter, etc) will not be at their 100% best. Most sites, monuments, and activities will take place primarily during the mornings, and will close at around 3 pm. It is also to note that for the next few years Ramadan will take place during June and July.
Choosing Driver or Guide
The drivers we have on our team are experts in all things traditional and cultural in Morocco. The drivers always know the best spots to have photo opportunities, the local beauty that is sometimes overlooked, and anything else you may be interested in. Our drivers are happy to give you any type of information regarding Morocco all in fluent English. When visiting the larger cities such as Rabat and Fes we arrange services (already included in your rate) of a local guide. The local guides are often able to give more detailed and precise information regarding the intricate histories of these beautiful cities. However, while traveling in Marrakech we prefer to use the drivers as the local guides. All of our drivers are experts on the city of Marrakech, and we do this to avoid any issues regarding sale situations that have occurred in the past. However, if you wish to do something more in Marrakech a good alternative is the cooking class that is offered there (just ask our staff regarding it) it begins with the introduction to the city, how best to approach Marrakech, and an introduction to the street food.
Best Flight Options for Morocco
Flights options to Morocco are opening up all over the world. Royal Air Maroc flies directly to Casablanca from New York City and there are vast amount of flights coming in to Morocco directly from Europe. If you are having trouble finding a good flight, or are unsure as to what is a good rate for the flight feel free to send us an email, we would be more than happy to help.
The prices of the tours varies regarding season, accommodation, extra, and length of time spent. However the day trip rates for excursions outside of Marrakech remain constant no matter season.
When traveling to the desert there are two separate sets of Dunes that can be visited (refer to Erg Chigaga vs Erg Chebbi for details). The road will end in Merzouga and M’hamid respectively which each contact guest houses. In most cases upon reaching the guest house you will have time to place your luggage there, and take a shower if so desired. After you will move on to your camel trek in your respective dune. In Erg Chigaga the dunes are about an extra 2 hours away from M’hamid, if you do not have the time to travel an extra two hours, the dunes at Erg Lihoudi make for a good alternative.
The tours we conduct are personalized and unique to all of your desires, that being said, often when planning the tours it is common to exchange 30+ emails to ensure every aspect of your tour is how you
would like. If you would like to contact us by Skype or Phone that is also an option to save time. Leave you number and/or Skype address with a time you would like to be contacted and we would be more than happy to help you plan your trip in that way.
Basic Desert Tent Versus Luxury Tent
Our “Dreamers package” offers you a basic tent option with a double bed. The toilets and showers are located outside of your tents, and the water pressure is sporadic. The food being served with our Dreamers Package is classic Moroccan. The “Luxury Tent” that comes with our Privilege/Divine accommodation option offers you a spacious tent with bathrooms and showers located within your tent. The sheets and mattress are of quality make, and the food being offered is our best imaginative Moroccan cuisine.
All Inclusive Versus Half Board
Our general Moroccan tour offers breakfast and dinner included in the rate. The guides have redetermined spots to eat these meals based on location, decal, experience, and the level of cuisine. For lunch the decision is left up to guest to pick the restaurant. If you need help deciding our guides always know of delicious and well-priced options.
If you so like, there is an option for only breakfast to be included with your package.
Accommodation for 3 or more people
Three people traveling together have the option of two smaller separate rooms, or one larger suite. Some suites are able to accommodate four people, but we do not suggest that unless there are children accompanying you. If you are planning to have more than two people in your party please inform us when you make your reservation how you would like to proceed in regards to number of rooms.
Morocco is known for its bustling souks and market places. One major characteristic of these souks is that it is a bargaining culture. It is suggested to never pay the first price given by a shopkeeper and remember it is at times possible to negotiate the price down to half the original asked price depending on the item and shopkeeper.
Although bargaining is a huge aspect of Moroccan culture it is not done in restaurants or fixed price grocery stores. Your guide will be more than happy to assist you in where to shop and the experience, but he is not permitted to assist you in the bargaining process.
Driving time on a tour
We arrange our itineraries so as to not spend more than 4-5 hours in the car in one day. We would prefer you spend your time at monuments, sites, and activities rather than sitting in the car. There are often activities at the hotels and riads we frequent, so we are requested to arrive in a timely fashion if possible.
Payments and Cancellation Policy
To secure a booking we require a 30 % deposit, which can either be paid by bank transfer or via Western Union. Should you cancel less than a month before arrival, we will keep the deposit.
Pace of Tour
The best advantage of being on a private tour if being able to dictate your own pace. The driver will attempt to accommodate all of your wishes and detours that he can, just as long as he can fit the detours in before dinner at the riad or hotel that evening. If you would like to arrive earlier to your hotel and skip a site all you must do is ask your driver and he will be more than happy to accommodate.
Availability of Alcohol in Morocco
Alcohol is a bit harder to find in Morocco than in Europe or the United States because liquor licenses are a tad harder to obtain.
Most of the riads we associate with are able to offer alcoholic beverages on site, and even they do not they are generally accepting of guests bringing their own alcohol. The alcohol sold in Morocco has improved immensely in the past few years and is available at select locations. However, remember alcohol is not permitted in the Islamic faith, so it is asked to respect the culture and only drink while in restaurants or hotels.
The four imperial cities in Morocco are: Fes, Rabat, Marrakech, and Meknes. These cities are referred to as imperial because at one time in history each they were the capital of Morocco. It is often not possible to reach all four of the cities within a guests time span, so if you are only able to visit two of the cities, we suggest Fes and Marrakech. However, if you are only able to visit one we suggest Fes.
Fes is the best preserved, has a beautiful old city which is the largest contiguous car free areas in the world, has a plethora of mosques, and beautiful markets.
A camel ride is one of the main attractions that brings people to Morocco. They are available almost anywhere for our guests. It is possible to arrange a ride in Marrakech on the way to the Atlas Mountains, or on the way to the Sahara Desert. Although many people assume it is like a horse which requires some practice and tutorial before riding, a camel is quite easy with no previous experience needed. If you choose to book a tour into the Sahara Dunes the camel ride is normally included and will take between 30 and 60 minutes.
Common Phrases in Moroccan Arabic (Darija)
Morocco has a very different culture than its nearby neighbors in Europe. With this different culture comes a unique language to Morocco. The best way to integrate in to that culture is to try to learn a few key phrases in Moroccan Arabic.
Salamu alaykum: Peace be upon you.
Metshrfin: Nice to meet you.
Labas: I’m good
La, shukran : No, thank you.
Shukran: thank you
Moumkin souera ? : Can I take your photo ?
Rali bzzaf: Very expensive.
Shi taman mzyan: It’s the right price.
Wesh l’kontor hrdam ?: Is the meter working ?(use when getting in to
taxis to ensure he uses the meter)
Mashi mushkil: It’s not a problem.
Bismillah: In the name of God ( said when you begin eating).
B’slama: Good bye.
Kulshi beher: Everything is fine.
Feen twoilet: Where is the bathroom
Feen ____ : Where is _______
Taking Photos of people and monuments
Many people in Morocco are not strangers to tourists taking photos, however there are a select few that do not appreciate, which is why we always urge you to ask before taking a picture. Asking in Moroccan Arabic gives you a much better chance of getting a positive response! Also it is important to note that there are specific government buildings where photos are not permitted.
Moroccan culture relies heavily on meat. While entertaining guests meat is always presented at the meal. Which is why most Moroccan restaurant meals will contain meat. We have previously had vegetarian guests on our tours and we have never had a problem accommodating them, and the bigger cities such as Fes, Rabat, etc. will have restaurants with vegetarian options. However, we cannot guarantee a different 3 course vegetarian meal every evening. Morocco is not strange land to vegetarians. With their wide assortment of fruits and vegetables available in all seasons a vegetarian is likely to find different options for the things that they like.