Morocco Experience Trip Notes

Travel to Morocco and experience a dazzling tour from Casablanca to Marrakech via Volubilis, Chefchaouen, Fes, the Sahara, Todra Gorge and Ait Benhaddou.

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Last Modified: 14 Jan 2013
Morocco Experience
Trip code: XMKP
Validity: 01 Jan 2012 to 31 Dec 2012
The colour and commotion of this enchanting land will dazzle travellers looking to experience a way of life suspended in time. Travel from Casablanca to Marrakech through the moody desert landscape, passing kasbahs and villages. Picnic in tranquil mountain gorges or investigate the labyrinth of souqs in the cities, giving plenty of opportunity to haggle with traders. Learn the secrets to perfect couscous and discover the ruins of a city built by a sultan looking to create his own version of Versailles. The sights, sounds and smells of the cities, and the aromatic flavours of the cuisine will infuse your memories of Morocco for many years to come.
Table of Contents
StyleDeparture taxEmergency funds
ThemesImportant notesVisas
MapGroup sizeIssues on your trip
ItineraryYour fellow travellersWhat to take
Also available to purchaseSingle travellersHealth
We also recommendAccommodationSafety
Itinerary disclaimerMealsTravel insurance
Culture shock rating TransportResponsible Travel
Physical ratingGroup leaderA couple of rules
Included activitiesJoining point descriptionThe Intrepid Foundation
Optional activitiesJoining point instructionsResponsible Travel projects
Money ExchangeFinish point descriptionCarbon offset
Spending moneyFinish point instructionsFeedback
TippingEmergency contact
Style
Comfort
  • Comfort is your style of travel if you want the whole grassroots experience with more inclusions, meals and creature comforts. While accommodation is predominantly tourist class (3-4 star), on some itineraries there is the opportunity to stay with a local family, spend the night on a train or camp out in exotic places (without putting up your own tent of course). Along the way, you'll really experience the destination up close. You'll mingle with locals, enjoy a taste of their way of life and gain special insights from your leader. This is not luxury travel, but real world experiences - just with a softer landing!
Themes
Explorer
Map
Morocco Experience
Itinerary
Day 1 Casablanca
Salaam Aleikum! Welcome to Morocco.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Modelled after Marseille in France, the bustling port city of Casablanca is now the undisputed economic capital of Morocco, with one of Africa's largest ports. The architectural style of the city is curious - famous for its art deco French-colonial buildings and Mauresque governmental institutions, an old medina and the phenomenal modern-day masterpiece, the Hassan II Mosque.
A pleasant way to spend the day exploring Casablanca is to wander the old medina and the city walls, then jump in a taxi to visit the Quartiers des Habous - the new medina full of shaded squares and narrow streets, lined with arcades that lead from one souk to another. This is a great place to enjoy a Moroccan coffee and maybe start improving your bargaining skills. Finish the day with a walk along the Corniche, watching the locals enjoy sunset football on the beach.
As there's not much time to explore Casablanca on this trip we recommend you arrive a day or two early to see the sights.
Included Activities
  • Complimentary airport arrival transfer
Optional Activities
  • Villa des Arts - art gallery & museum - Free
  • Jewish Museum - MAD20
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Meknes
Take a guided tour of the Hassan II Mosque (approx 45 mins). This extraordinary monument was completed in 1993 after years of work by around 30,000 craftsmen and has now become one of the country's most recognisable images. The mosque was the late king's most ambitious project and his legacy to Casablanca. An $800 million construction, only the mosques of Mecca and Medina are bigger, while its 200m-high minaret is the tallest in the world.
Travel by mini bus to Meknes (approx 3 hours).
Meknes was once an imperial city of Morocco and the capital of one of its most colourful eras, when the Sultan Moulay Ismail (a contemporary of Louis XIV) set out to build his own version of Versailles, constructing walls, gates and over 50 palaces with an unstoppable labour force of over 25,000 slaves.
Severely damaged by an earthquake in 1755, relatively little of the compound remains intact today. There are however, enough surviving vestiges from Moulay Ismail's rule to keep you occupied - from the imposing Bab Mansour, a beautiful city gate, to the Habs Qara, a huge underground dungeon in which the Sultan kept his prisoners. You can also pick up a souvenir or two from the small covered souqs in the city - prices in Meknes are among the most reasonable in Morocco.
Included Activities
  • Guided tour of Hassan II Mosque
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 3-4 Volubilis/Chefchaouen
Travel to nearby Volubilis via picturesque rolling hills dotted with olive groves (approx 1 hr).
Volubilis was one of the Roman empire's most remote bases, which remained affluent until the 8th century. The main structures remained intact until they were damaged by an earthquake in the 18th century, after which much of the marble was taken for construction in nearby Meknes.
A local guide will take us on a walk back in time as we explore this ancient hilltop city.
Travel north to the charming isolated town of Chefchaouen (approx 4 hrs).
Set against a gorgeous wide valley and surrounded by the stunning Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen may take you by surprise. Its medina has been lovingly cared for with striking blue and whitewashed houses, sloping red-tiled roofs and superb artistic doorways protecting the secrets of its curious inhabitants. Much of Chefchaouen was recreated by Andalusian refugees escaping the Reconquistia and you could be forgiven for thinking you were somewhere in the hills of Spain when exploring its cobblestone streets. It's an evocative atmosphere and a wonderful place to reduce the pace and enjoy the romantic and somewhat bohemian ambience.
You have a free day to explore Chefchaouen. The many options include walking in the surrounding hills through olive groves and fruit orchards, exploring the myraid small alleyways and shops in town, or simply relaxing by the pool.
Included Activities
  • Entrance and guided tour Volubilis
Optional Activities
  • Walking tour with local guide - MAD300
  • Picnic lunch for hike - MAD70
  • Medina visit with local guide - MAD300
  • Kasbah (closed on Tuesdays) - MAD20
  • Hamam (public baths) - MAD100
  • Henna tattooing - MAD50
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 5-7 Fes
Take a public bus to Fes (approx 5 hrs).
Fes is the most complete medieval city in the Arab world. The most ancient of Morocco's imperial cities, it exists suspended in time.
Descending into the labyrinthine alleyways of the Medina is like taking a giant step back to the Middle Ages. Preserved by the French for its historical value, this preservation also led to the decline of the city's importance, as both government and financial centres were set up elsewhere in the country. With the Jewish population moving away in 1956, and too many rural poor moving in for it to handle, this ancient centre of learning is only a shell of what it used to be. Still, it remains a fascinating living museum where getting lost is half the fun.
Enjoy an amazing dinner including Moroccan specialities like harira (chickpea soup) and chicken-stuffed pastilla with couscous. We may also head to the Palais Jamai for an evening drink. Watching the sun set over the huge Medina while a dozen prayer calls vie for attention is an experience you are likely to remember forever.
Take a guided walk to discover the treasures of the Medina, a living monument to an ancient past and still very much alive with the many craftsmen, markets, tanneries, ceramics and mosques. Look out for the Medersa Bou Inania, one of the city's most beautiful buildings which has recently been restored and is now open for visits.
We'll also visit the famous tannery, known for the iconic view overlooking its dye pits, and a ceramic factory where you can see potters working in the traditional way.
You have a free day to explore at your leisure. Why not try a hamam (local-style bath house) for an unforgettable real-life experience.
Included Activities
  • Guided walking tour Fes
Accommodation
Riad (3 nts)
Day 8 Midelt
Board our private minibus and head towards the fabulously scenic Middle Atlas Mountains (approx 4 hrs). This territory is populated with wandering nomadic shepherds attending to their flocks. Our route takes us through cedar forests - home to the Barbary apes, North Africa's only monkey - and on to our destination, Midelt.
Nestled in the picturesque valley between the Middle and High Atlas mountain ranges, Midelt boasts a dramatic setting surrounded by farmland and orchards.
Stretch your legs, explore the nearby village of Bremmem and take a closer look at local farming life.
Visit Kasbah Myriam, a carpet and embroidery workshop run by Franciscan nuns with the aim of providing sustainable employment and education to local Berber women. The wares they produce are beautiful and of high quality, so it's the perfect place to buy a memorable souvenir.
Included Activities
  • Walk and visit of Bremmem village
Optional Activities
  • Folklore music performance - MAD300
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 9 Sahara
Take a stunning drive towards the mighty Sahara Desert (approx 5 hrs). We have many opportunities to stop and admire the panoramic views of the Kasbahs and palmeries (valleys lush with date palms, fields and orchards) en route, since we have the convenience of our own private minivan (there are not many options for public transport in these parts). We can pause in some of the frontier towns such as Erfoud and Rissani before we reach the end of the road and the small Saharan settlement of Merzouga.
The Erg Chebbi dunes are the most stunning in the country and an experience essential of any visit to Morocco. An erg is a vast sea of shifting wind-swept sand that's formed into picturesque undulating crests and valleys, and the Erg Chebbi is one of the world's classic landscapes of towering dunes, up to heights of over 150 metres. Located at the end of the sealed road and just 20 kilometres from the Algerian border this is wonderful frontier country.
In the late afternoon, board camels for a short ride over the dunes in time to catch the sunset from this fairytale landscape before returning to our hotel, perched at the foot of the dunes.
Included Activities
  • Sunset camel safari
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 10-11 Dades Gorge
For the early risers the morning begins with a sunrise over the majestic dunes before breakfast.
It's another classic drive with dramatic changes of landscape to Todra Gorge (approx 4 hrs).
Stop en route in a small town called Tinejdad (approx 2 hrs from the desert) and visit the interesting Museum El Khorbat, which has a great collection of rural and historical Berber artifacts, clothing, jewellery and tools. It's housed in three restored homes of a Ksar and provides a wealth of information about Berber people living in the area.
Todra Gorge is a spectacular canyon with sheer rock walls up to 300 m high, now gaining fame as a rock-climbing destination.
After lunch, we make the short drive to the equally spectacular Dades Gorge (approx 2 hrs).
Flanked on both sides by high limestone cliffs, Dades Valley features bizarre rock formations with picturesque kasbahs dotted amongst the crops and palms.
Drive into the gorge for a walk along the valley and picnic lunch in one of the shaded palmeries.
Included Activities
  • Museum El Khorbat
  • Gorge walk and picnic
Optional Activities
  • 4WD journey to Dades Gorge - MAD1500
  • Guided trek - MAD250
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 12 Ait Benhaddou
Say goodbye to the Gorges region and travel further south towards Ait Benhaddou (approx 3 hrs). This scenic drive offers a glimpse of times gone by via the ruins of ancient kasbahs, former colonial military outposts, austere mountains, wide-open spaces, and valleys of palm trees and irrigated fields. En route we can pause for lunch in Ouarzazate.
The film capital of Morocco, Ouarzazate is the location where productions such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Sheltering Sky and Black Hawk Down were filmed.
Time permitting, you can take a tour of the Atlas Movie Studios.
Make a short visit to Project Handicapped Horizon, an organisation dedicated to the rehabilitation, health and empowerment of people with disabilities. Some of the amazing services they provide include the building and fitting of prosthetic limbs, custom-made wheelchairs, and physio and social therapy for sufferers of accidents and illness. They also operate an artisans workshop which trains local people in trades such as pottery, weaving, metal work and jewellery making. This is a wonderful visit and we're very proud to support this project through The Intrepid Foundation.
Centuries ago, Ait Benhaddou was an important stop for the caravans passing through as they carried salt across the Sahara, returning with gold, ivory and slaves. Today, its grand kasbah is still one of the most beautiful in all of Morocco and a World Heritage site. This fortified village is a fine example of clay architecture and is also famous for its role on the silver screen, featuring in numerous films such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Jewel of the Nile and Gladiator.
Included Activities
  • Cooking class and dinner
Optional Activities
  • Atlas Movie Studios - MAD50
  • Kasbah Taourirt - MAD20
Accommodation
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Days 13-15 Marrakech
Travel to the majestic city of Marrakech (approx 3 hrs).
Marrakech is a feast for the senses. Be enticed by the alluring scents and brilliant colours of the spice markets, the sounds of the musicians, the rich folds of carpets, delectable foods, acrobats and perfumed gardens.
Join the thronging crowds and enjoy dinner at the infamous Djemaa el Fna - the ultimate el fresco experience. This is undoubtedly an unforgettable introduction to bustling Marrakech where we can wander though the singers, drummers, dancers, snake charmers, fortune tellers, tooth pullers, storytellers, jugglers and even old medicine men, who all make up what has been dubbed the 'greatest spectacle on earth'.
Take a guided tour of the Medina and its seemingly endless mosaic of souqs. Each devoted to a separate trade: pottery, woodwork, copper, leather, carpets and spices. A wander amongst them is a sensory delight.
The monuments of Marrakech are numerous and range from the well-known Koutoubia Mosque and its superb minaret - famous throughout the Islamic world and the 'sister' to the Giralda in far-away Seville, to the lesser-known tropical gardens of the French painter Jacques Majorelle (now owned by Yves Saint Laurent). There's the Palais Bahia, a superb example of Muslim architecture, and the ruins of the Palais Badi, reputedly one of the most beautiful palaces in the world in its time. The Saadian tombs are a recently uncovered gem of the Medina. All of the above can be a challenge to locate, but that's all part of the experience of exploring the phenomenal medinas of Morocco.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
Included Activities
  • Dinner at Djemaa el Fna
  • Guided walking tour around Marrakech
Optional Activities
  • Koutoubia Mosque and minaret - Free
  • Marjorelle Gardens - MAD50
  • Palais Bahia - MAD10
  • Palais Badi - MAD10
  • Saadien Tombs - MAD10
  • Medersa Ben Youssef - MAD40
  • Museum of Marrakech - MAD40
Accommodation
Riad (2 nts)
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
  • XMKP Single Supplement (XMKP)
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
  • Casablanca (XMAD-C)
  • Casablanca City Break (XMAD-C)
Itinerary disclaimer
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
Culture shock rating

Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
Morocco is a country which may be very different to anything you have experienced before. Heat, pollution, poverty and the crowds can result in initial culture shock but should be seen as an exciting new challenge. During our time here we have come to love this wonderfully different country but we know that we should always expect to encounter some difficulties along the way. In Morocco there are very different attitudes to time keeping, public cleanliness, privacy and service. If you are able to travel with a lot of patience and a sense of humour, then we know that you - like all of us - will be captivated by Morocco.
Physical rating

Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
Included activities
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
Optional activities
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
The receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops or services is ingrained in the culture of the tourism industry. Rather than turning a blind eye to this unavoidable issue in some areas, Intrepid has established a centralised fund whereby contributions from recommended suppliers are collected and distributed back into the business. Intrepid aim to provide the best value trips in the market, and this fund assists in keeping operating costs and trip prices low to you.
A priority in establishing this fund is that the experience of our traveller - you - is not compromised in any way. Please let us know via the feedback form completed after your trip if we are successfully meeting this objective.
Money Exchange
MOROCCO
The official currency of Morocco is Dirham (MAD).
Moroccan Dirhams cannot be purchased outside of Morocco, but it is easy to get cash on arrival.
The most convenient and cheapest way to acquire money is by Automated Teller Machine (ATM). Check with your bank for information on international fees. There are now ATMs (which accept both Visa and MasterCard) throughout all Moroccan cities.
There are few problems changing money. There are many banks, all operating with equal exchange rates, and without commission. Cash in EUR, GBP and USD dollars are favoured for exchange. Please note that Australian Dollars (AUD) are not accepted in Morocco.
Travellers' cheques are not recommended in Morocco. While some banks and 5 star hotels will change travellers' cheques this is rare and the process is very time consuming, and commissions can be high (up to 10%).
For money safety we recommend that you carry your cash and credit cards in a secure money belt or pouch concealed under your clothing.
Spending money
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
Tipping
If you are happy with the services providing a tip is appropriate, although not compulsory. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.
The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - leave the loose change. More up-market restaurants we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest MAD20-30 per person per day for local guides.
Drivers: You may have a range of private drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however MAD10 per person per day is generally appropriate.
Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline MAD30 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
PRICES IN MOROCCO:
Morocco is often misjudged as being an inexpensive destination. With tourism booming, the influx of cheap flights from Europe, prices for some items are becoming more equivalent to prices you would be used to at home. Eating in local restaurants, road side stalls and from markets can be inexpensive, but for nights out at tourist friendly restaurants you can expect to pay much more. With drinks, tipping and of course - shopping, it can all add up. Budgets are a personal choice but please bear in mind that you should not expect Morocco to be a budget destination.
BARGAINING:
In Morocco some services and products are not a fixed price which means that your bartering skills will be tested from hiring taxis to buying a souvenir in the Medina. This can be challenging for travellers who have not experienced this before. Ask your leaders for advice when you arrive however the best approach is to smile and have fun as this is an entrenched part of Moroccan culture.
Departure tax
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
Important notes
RAMADAN, EID UL-FITR and EID UL ADHA FESTIVAL 2013:
In 2013 the important month of Ramadan will be in progress fromTuesday 9th July and will continue for 30 days until Wednesday 7th of August and the Eid ul-Fitr festival will be held directly at its conclusion for 3-4 days. Ramadan is a festival of sacrifice where the devout refrain from eating or drinking during daylight hours. During Ramadan business hours are shortened, including opening hours at some tourist attractions. Alcohol is not permitted during daylight hours and many restaurants will be closed. While you should expect some delays and inconveniences during this period, the month is a fantastic opportunity to travel in a Muslim country and witness this unique period, particularly the nightly celebrations when the sun sets and the fast is broken. Please note that although the Eid ul-Fitr festival can also be a fascinating time to travel it is a period of National holiday. Most government offices and businesses will be closed and some tourist site opening hours may be effected.
Eid ul Adha occurs approximately 2 months after Edi ul- Fitr, in mid October 2013.
Group size
Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
Single travellers
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
A Single Supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information.
Accommodation
Hotel (8 nts), Riad (5 nts), Guesthouse (1 nt)
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
HEATING:
Some of our guesthouses/hotels are unable to supply heating as this would be a major financial and environmental strain. It's also a case of energy supply and timing provisions, which is limited in some places. Please be prepared for cold showers, which are a pleasure for most of the year. Air-conditioning systems (if available) don't always function.
Meals
13 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 5 Dinners
Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
EUR 375.00
Transport
Private Bus, Bus
There are some long travel days and some rough travelling in areas away from main tourist routes. High passes, windy roads and rough surfaces make for some challenging travel experiences. On some long travel days we depart early in the morning to ensure we optimise our time at our next destination. If you experience travel sickness we recommend you consider medication to help ease the discomfort. The best part about all of these long drives are the spectacular views and fun stops en route such as mountain passes, kasbahs, palmeries, sand dunes, goats up trees etc.
Group leader
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Joining point description
Moroccan House Casablanca is centrally located right near Place Zellaga. The hotel consists of 46 rooms all with en-suite bathrooms, A/C, telephone & TV. With three restaurants serving Moroccan and International cuisine, there is also internet access available
Joining point instructions
If you have a complimentary transfer included in your trip, you are met on arrival at Casablanca airport and transferred to your starting point hotel. Complimentary transfers are only applicable if on day 1 of your Intrepid trip or if going to pre tour accommodation booked through Intrepid (please advise flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to departure if you wish to have this transfer provided.
Please make your way to the information desk in Terminal 1 near the entrance to the train station. Your transfer driver will be waiting for you there with a sign with the Intrepid logo on it.
If for any reason you should not make contact with the transfer driver please locate a public phone in the airport and call the following number:
Travel Expert (0) 661315626
If you are calling from abroad you will need to add the Morocco international prefix of '+212' and drop the first '0' from the above numbers.
Our local operator, PEAK Adventure Travel’s Office can be reached on Tel: +212 (0) 66192 2693
In the unlikely event that this process fails, make your own way to the hotel and inform your Group Leader.
If arriving independently taxis are easy to locate outside of the airport for the 25km journey into Casablanca city centre. The Taxis are large Mercedes vehicles and have no meter. You need to agree on the price before you get in. Aim to pay MAD250. Alternatively, you can take a train from the airport into the central station (Casablanca Voyageurs) and then take a taxi into the hotel.
Trains run every hour from 6:00am untill 10:00pm, takes 35mins and costs MAD40.
From Casablanca Voyageurs station take a taxi to the hotel and aim to pay MAD25.
If your flight is going to be delayed or cancelled please try to call in advance on the above numbers to explain the situation and advise alternative flight details.
Finish point description
The Riad is categorised as first class and is extremely quiet and peaceful. With modern comforts and traditional style, it's in one of the best districts of the Old city close to the entrance to the bazaars and a five minutes stroll from the celebrated Jemaa El Fna square.
Finish point instructions
Marrakech Menara Airport is approx. 5km from the city centre. Petite taxis (small cars which are light brown in colour) can easily be hailed from the street, or ask the hotel to assist. Negotiate the fare before getting in and aim to pay no more than 100MAD (150MAD at night).
Departure from Casablanca:
For those of you that are flying out of Casablanca: Trains from Marrakech to Casablanca, depart on the hour every 2 hours between 5:00am and 9:00pm and cost EUR8 for 2nd class and EUR12 for 1st class. The trip is scheduled to take 3 hours & 10 minutes and is subject to frequent delays.
From Casablanca Voyageurs Station, trains run to the Casablanca airport every hour at 5 mins past the hour. First departure is at 5:00am and the last departure at 10:00pm. The trip takes 35 minutes. Check the useful website (in French) for more information - www.oncf.ma
Alternatively, from Casablanca city the 25km taxi ride to the Casablanca airport costs MAD250 (EUR25)
Emergency contact
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's Morocco / Europe Office can be reached on Tel: +212 (0) 66192 2693. For further contact details please use the following page:
Emergency funds
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
MOROCCO:
Australia: No - Not required
Belgium: No - Not required
Canada: No - Not required
Germany: No - Not required
Ireland: No - Not required
Netherlands: No - Not required
New Zealand: No - Not required
South Africa: Yes - in advance (in general, visa processing can take approximately 20 working days)
Switzerland: No - Not required
UK: No - Not required
USA: No - Not required
Those who do not require visas to visit Morocco as a tourist, are stamped in on arrival for 3 months.
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT:
It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary to store your luggage separately (and unattended) from the group. The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers, for when it comes to travelling on local buses and trains it's often only the smaller bags that will fit into the storage areas. If your bag does not fit in these areas then often the only place to put it is on your bed or seat. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.
Where Intrepid covers the cost of luggage storage for included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense.
CLIMATE & CLOTHING:
Please note that as a desert country, Morocco can have extreme weather. Summer (approx June to September) can be very hot everywhere we travel & winter (approx November to February) can be very cold. It's recommended to bring a good sleeping bag, thermals, scarf, gloves and a warm jacket for travel in winter.
WATER BOTTLE:
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
Health
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
DRINKING WATER:
As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water, even in hotels, as it contains much higher levels of different minerals than the water you may have at home. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for visitors drinking the tap water can result in illness. Generally this isn't serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it's enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday. Bottled water is widely available and your leader can recommend safe alternatives when available. Water consumption should be about 3 litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies.
ASTHMA:
For some travellers, the Sahara sands can bring on bouts of asthma. If you suffer from asthma even occasionally, we recommend you bring your medication as it can not be administered by your group leader and may not be readily available while you are travelling.
Safety
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
BALCONIES:
Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
SEAT BELTS:
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
SCAMS:
When walking through touristy areas of cities you may be approached by 'helpful' locals who want to show you where to go or take you to a local spice shop. They will either ask to be your local guide for the day or expect money when you arrive at your destination. Please note these people are not registered guides and will try and get as much money from you as they can. A friendly 'no thank you (or 'la Shukran') should suffice.
MOROCCAN TAGINES:
Moroccan ceramic tagines bought in the souks or other shops in Morocco may contain high levels of lead. We strongly recommend you have any tagine you buy in Morocco tested before cooking with it or buy for decorative purposes only.
Travel insurance
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
Responsible Travel
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
Morocco can be considered a liberal Muslim country as many Moroccan women do not wear headscarves. However, Morocco is very conservative when compared with standards you may be accustomed to at home and you should dress accordingly. As a general guideline, shoulders, cleavage and knees should be covered at all times. Wearing shorts (men and women), low-cut tops, and showing midriff is not recommended as it will restrict your entry into buildings of a religious nature and family homes, and is considered disrespectful to the local culture. Long, light-coloured, lightweight sleeved shirts, trousers and skirts are respectful, cover your body, keep you cool in the heat and protect you from the harsh sun.
In Morocco we have built strong links with local communities, craftspeople, animal hospitals, artists, and the handicapped - all of which directly rely on the assistance of donations and products purchased by our travellers and other visitors. We offer Intrepid travellers an opportunity to interact with locals, to value their activities and crafts and help towards sustaining their livelihoods.
While on our trips in Morocco you'll have opportunity to meet plenty of local people. Depending on which trip you choose there's a chance to enjoy a meal in a local family's house in Ait Benhaddou, spend a night in a family guesthouse in the High Atlas Mountains or in the pilgrimage village of Moulay Idriss, or share a camp with a nomadic family in Dades Gorge. These experiences will give you a better understanding of the way of life for a rural Moroccan family. You'll also have some fun by learning how to make Morocco's most famous dish, couscous.
Wherever possible, we contract local Moroccan suppliers and assist them to improve the quality of their services. By booking this tour, you'll be helping us to support service providers, artists, small businesses, guesthouse owners and the disadvantaged in communities throughout Morocco.
We use local guides with wide experience and knowledge of cultural traditions and an ability to interpret the cultural heritage of the people in the places visited.
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Responsible Travel projects
Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Morocco include:
* Project Handicapped Horizon has assisted with the rehabilitation, health and empowerment of more than 3,000 disabled people. With two major departments, one is dedicated to the design, building and fitting of prosthetic limbs and other orthotics, footwear and mobility aids. While the other focuses on training local artisans and selling their products.
Intrepid Travel also supports the following non-profit organisations:
* Kasbah Myriam is a carpet and embroidery workshop run by Franciscan nuns with the aim of providing sustainable employment and healthcare to local Berber women.
* The SPANA animal hospital in Marrakech cares for the health and welfare of donkeys, dogs and cats.
Carbon offset
Carbon Offset C02-e 618.00 kgs per pax.
Feedback
After your travels, we want to hear from you! This is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next trip if your feedback is completed online within 4 weeks of finishing your trip.