While many African countries can be a bit tricky to visit and travel within, Morocco is fairly straightforward being well-used to dealing with westerners keen to explore it.
Nonetheless, knowledge is power and here are a few hints & tips that might come in useful.
Morocco’s climate is surprisingly benign, and while it can be intolerably hot in mid-summer (generally June to September), the other seasons are lovely. Winter nights will be, quite literally, freezing in the desert but pleasantly warm the rest of the time.
You’ll find snow in the Atlas Mountains in the winter, and temperatures of up to 40°C in the desert in the summer. Sand storms are a frequent occurrence too and while rain is uncommon, when it does comes it can be Biblical. But there’s little we can do to avoid them and trials like that are what make for great dinner party stories, aren’t they?
We will advise you the sort of personal equipment you need to bring, but a general guide is shorts and a t-shirt in the daytime, and long trousers and a fleece in the evening. Some hotels, depending on the time of year, are so efficient in keeping the rooms cool, it could be considered cold! Something to wear in bead at night might be required.
Morocco is a politically stable country, and so there is little to fear. However, we regularly monitor the UK Government’s website on the country and will advise you if there are any significant changes or precautions you need to take before your overland expedition .
Terrorism is a threat, albeit a low-level one and the risks in Morocco are broadly in line with those you would face in London or any other major UK city.
In the event of a problem, please follow the advice given by your guides. They are very experienced and will lead you to safety in the event that an incident takes place. But, please remember that most Moroccans are happy, moderate people whose only aim in life is to live peacefully and to welcome strangers with offers of hospitality that would shame most Brits.
Moroccan road safety can be problematic. The average Moroccan driver displays scant regard to the usual norms, and will happily drive on the wrong side of the road, or take his donkey and cart on a fast-moving motorway. The best suggestion is to drive defensively in the expectation that the vehicle, bicycle, or animal in front of you may do just about anything, including turning in front of you without signalling or checking to see if the road is clear.
If you keep your wits about you then the chances of you having an accident are slim. If you do have one, you should pull into the side of the road and radio the convoy leader to tell him what has happened. The ‘sweeper’ at the rear of the convoy will pull in with you and help manage the situation.
Driving at night presents the highest risk, mainly due to the Moroccan’s somewhat lackadaisical approach to lane discipline, vehicle lighting, and speed limits. For this reason, we will endeavour not to drive at night.
The currency in Morocco is the Dirham. There are roughly eight Dirhams to one British pound, but because we’re simple folk most of us here prefer to assume that it’s ten for ease of calculation: just divide the price in Dirhams by ten to see how much it is in pounds!
You can change your money at Tangiers port, or cashpoint machines are widely available in the major tourist areas. However, while most large petrol stations will accept a credit or a debit card, a lot of the smaller ones won’t. Small cafes and shops will only take cash too, so most of us carry £250-worth of Dirhams as a contingency fund.
Haggling is widely practised for everything other than food and petrol. If you’re haggling for gifts, then you should aim to pay about 25% of the asking price.
The majority of fuel stations in Morocco will fill your car for you. The attendants are very friendly and helpful, and you will almost always pay them at the pumps rather than inside as you do in the UK.
Tipping them 10 or 20 Dirhams is good form, although not essential; you may find that they try and squeeze in the appropriate amount, so that they put in, say, 480 Dirhams of petrol or diesel in the hope you will just give them 500!
Ensure that your tanks are brimmed to avoid later embarrassment.
Receipts for fuel are not usually given outside of the major urban centres.
You can buy a Moroccan SIM card at Tangiers port, and if you have an unlocked mobile phone or wi-fi dongle, then that is a far cheaper way of doing it than using your UK network provider.
The staff selling them will fit them and check that they are working for you, very easy at Tanger - med port.
To increase the chance of your UK mobile phone working whilst in Morocco, it is strongly recommended you speak to your provider and advise them of your travels before your departure.