South Morocco Discovery Trip Notes

South Morocco Discovery

These trip notes are valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the trip notes for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017


Last Modified: 20 Sep 2016
South Morocco Discovery
Trip code: XMSF
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
From the colourful, chaotic Marrakech medinas to the moody Sahara desert landscape, Morocco is a land filled with wonder and rich culture. Stay in traditional accommodation and explore villages off the beaten track. Learn the secret to the perfect Moroccan couscous, visit the grand Ait Benhaddou kasbah, travel through the Sahara on a camel and relax on Essaouira beach. Abounding with myths and legends, Morocco offers a surprise around every corner - this fast-paced tour will delight travellers looking to discover all of its hidden treasures.
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodationFinish point description
ThemesAccommodation NotesFinishing point instructions
Is this trip right for you?Meals introductionEmergency contact
Why we love itMealsVisas
MapTransportWhat to take
ItineraryMoney mattersClimate and seasonal information
Itinerary disclaimerGroup leaderHealth
Physical ratingSafetyTravel insurance
Included activitiesJoining pointA couple of rules
Important notesJoining point descriptionResponsible Travel
Group sizeJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Your fellow travellersFinish pointFeedback
Style
Original
Themes
Explorer
Is this trip right for you?
- In 2016, Ramadan will take place from 7 June to 6 July. This is the holiest month of the year for Muslims around the world. Many festivals are marked as Islamic Holidays, which may cause some disturbance to your travels around this time. Some regular services may not be available or open during the daytime, such as restaurants or coffee bars. Please consider your travel arrangements carefully.
- As Morocco has a tipping culture, travellers are expected to tip small amounts for most services, so please be prepared. Your leader will suggest methods and amounts to tip during the trip, but it is left to the group to decide the details.
- A camel trek through the Sahara Desert is a highlight of the trip for many. If you're uncomfortable with this, it's possible to walk alongside the camels for about an hour to the camp. You would need to walk back the same distance the next morning, but don’t worry - it’s a gentle, relaxing walk. The opposite can be said for the hike up to Aroumd, as you'll be trekking up steep, rocky steps for around an hour. If you do decide to do this walk walk then you'll need comfortable walking shoes, but you can also hire a mule to ride up all the way. Please also note that your main luggage will be left behind, as only hand luggage can be carried up to the village for you.
- Although you shouldn’t expect any aggressive selling techniques in Morocco, please be aware that you may be approached by shop owners and street vendors offering their goods to you on regular occasions.
- The weather in Morocco can be extreme. Summer temperatures can be uncomfortably hot, especially for those who aren't accustomed to the heat, so please consider what time of year you travel carefully. If you do travel in the warmer months then pack layers to cover you from the sun, bring the necessary sun protection and drink plenty of water. The desert can also get cold at night, so remember to bring base layers and warm clothing.
- We have sourced our accommodation very carefully and picked the best possible hotels in line with the Intrepid style of travel, but please note that service and accommodation in Morocco may be different to western standards.
Why we love it
- Scale the High Atlas Mountains and trek through scenic Berber villages, spending a night in a traditional Berber homestay. Discover the culture and tradition of an indigenous population who have stood the test of time
- Negotiate your way through the winding alleys of Ait Benhaddou Kasbah, a superb example of Moroccan architecture rich in history and mystery
- Moroccan cuisine is interpreted throughout the world in different ways. While in Ait Benhaddou, master the way traditional way of preparing Moroccan couscous and tagines
- Travel through the Sahara desert in a camel convoy, sleep under the North African stars and enjoy an evening beside the campfire listening to Bedouin tales
- Put your feet up and relax in the laid-back coastal town of Essaouira. This is a good chance to recharge before heading for the colourful chaos of Marrakech
- Djemaa El-Fna isn't just a marketplace, it's a way of life. Marrakesh's largest outdoor food market is brimming with activity and is a great place to sample Moroccan delicacies while rubbing shoulders with the locals
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 Marrakech
Welcome to Marrakech, Morocco. 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. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm – check in reception for time and place confirmation. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early. 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 have these on hand. There's not much time to explore Marrakech after the meeting, but if you arrive early there's plenty to see and do. Perhaps explore the medina and the endless amounts of souqs selling pottery, woodwork, copper, leather, carpets, spices and much more. If you have time, you could also search out the spectacular mosques, tombs and ruins that are dotted around the city. Tonight perhaps head to the city’s main square – Djemaa El-Fna – for a bite of famous Moroccan pastries with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.
Optional Activities
  • Marjorelle Gardens - MAD70
  • Palais Bahia - MAD10
  • Palais Badi - MAD10
  • Saadien Tombs - MAD10
  • Medersa Ben Youssef - MAD40
  • Museum of Marrakech - MAD40
  • Hamam (public baths) - MAD250
  • Photography Museum - MAD40
    Accommodation
    Hotel (1 nt)
    Day 2 Aroumd
    Today, take a short drive up the towering High Atlas Mountains to the village of Imlil (approximately 2 hours), photographing snow-dappled mountains and valleys in full flower along the way. On arrival, store your main luggage and load daypacks onto pack mules before walking into traditional mountain village life with a one-hour trek up to the peaceful village of Aroumd. If you feel like the walk is too strenuous then there's the option of riding the mule. Perched on a rocky outcrop, the remote village of Aroumd offers stunning views across the High Atlas Mountains and a unique opportunity to experience traditional Berber culture. Spend the night in a family-run mountain home (gite) in Aroumd. Surrounded by the smell of woodstoves and bread, meet the host family and enjoy Berber hospitality and food. Facilities at the homestay are shared (both the bathroom and sleeping arrangements) but cosy, comfortable and definitely a unique Intrepid experience. Use the rest of the day to explore the village and the surrounding farmlands. If the group are up for it, there will be a chance to hike of around eight kilometres to the pilgrimage shrine of Sidi Chamharouch (approximately 4 hours return). Regardless of fitness levels, the gentle pace of Aroumd makes it a special place to explore beyond the reach of the modern world.
    Included Activities
    • Guided trek in the High Atlas Mountains
      Optional Activities
      • Mule ride - Imlil to Aroumd - MAD50
        Accommodation
        Gite (1 nt)
        Meals
        1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
        Day 3 Ait Benhaddou
        This morning journey along mountain roads and over Morocco's highest pass, Tizi n'Tichka (2,260 metres), to Ait Benhaddou on the edges of the Sahara (approximately 6 hours). Perched on a hilltop and almost unchanged since the 11th century, Ait Benhaddou is one of Morocco's most iconic site. It was once an important stop for caravans passing through as they carried salt across the Sahara, returning with gold, ivory and slaves. Today its grand kasbah has been listed as a World Heritage site, with its fortified village being a fine example of clay architecture. If you think you recognise the place, you probably do, as the town has a long list of film and TV credits, including Lawrence of Arabia, Game of Thrones and Gladiator. Enjoy a walk through the winding streets of old town, making your way to the top of the hill, from where you can enjoy the views across the surrounding plains. In the evening, why not join a simple cooking demonstration of Morocco's most famous cuisine: couscous and tagine. The locals will explain the secrets and subtleties of these traditional meals, as the ladies of the kitchen prepare a feast.
        Optional Activities
        • Cooking class and dinner - MAD100
          Accommodation
          Hotel (1 nt)
          Meals
          1 breakfast
          Day 4 Zagora
          This morning you'll journey south towards the Sahara, stopping in the regularly used film location of Ouarzazate along the way (approximately 5 hours in total). While here, make a short visit to Horizon Association for People with Disabilities. This is an organisation dedicated to the rehabilitation, health and empowerment of people with disabilities. Some of the services they provide include the building and fitting of prosthetic limbs and custom-made wheelchairs, and physio and social therapy for sufferers of accidents and illness. They also operate an artisan workshop, which trains local people in trades such as pottery, weaving, metal work and jewellery making. Since their establishment in 1994, the Horizon Association has served over 3,000 people. We're very proud to support this project through The Intrepid Foundation. Continue to travel through the lush Draa Valley to Zagora, a small oasis town on the Sahara fringe that is perfect for an overnight stop. Take a stroll through the palm groves, explore the ksars and wander around the surrounding countryside.
          Included Activities
          • Horizon Association for People With Disabilities visit
            Optional Activities
            • Atlas Movie Studios - MAD50
            • Kasbah Taourirt - MAD20
              Accommodation
              Hotel (1 nt)
              Meals
              1 breakfast
              Day 5 Sahara Camp
              Continue along the rugged and desolate Jbel Tadrart ranges and through seas of sand and past the occasional desert oasis of date palms to the township of Tamegroute. Visit an intriguing library filled with ancient scripts of science, literature, the Koran and stories of the prophet Mohammed (subject to unregulated opening times). Join a local guide to uncover the underground Kasbah and its unique ceramic pottery industry. Leave Tamegroute behind and carry on driving to the end of the road at the frontier town of M'Hamid (approximately 1 hour). From here, take a short camel ride through the dunes, where you’ll jump into 4WD vehicles. The rough track runs parallel to the Algerian border, across the stony Hamada desert, whose only populace is small scatterings of nomadic people and their camels. The group will reach the massive Erg Chigaga dunes in the late afternoon. An erg is a vast sea of shifting wind-swept sand that's formed into picturesque, undulating crests and valleys. The Erg Chigaga is one of the world's iconic landscapes, with towering dunes up to 150 metres in height. Your camp for the night is fairly basic with bedding, mattresses and toilet facilities provided. During the winter months of November to March it can get very cold at night, so it’s a good idea to bring base layers and a warm sleeping bag.

              Notes: Due to passenger feedback, all departures in the summer months of June, July and August use a slightly altered itinerary in the Sahara. We'll take a 4WD safari to the remote Erg Chigaga dunes, but instead of camping in the dunes you’ll stay at a fixed camp in Ouled Idriss. This camp is better suited for high summer temperatures.
              Included Activities
              • Ancient library
              • Camel ride
                Accommodation
                Camp site (1 nt)
                Meals
                1 breakfast, 1 dinner
                Day 6 Taroudannt
                Today rejoin the minivan and venture towards the market town of Taroudannt, sometimes called ‘Little Marrakesh’. The journey should take around six hours in total. This drive goes through desert scenery and along a route that's a reserve for the indigenous argan trees. Argan oil is highly prized for its culinary, cosmetic and medicinal uses and is only produced in Morocco, and is certainly a trademark of Morocco around the world. If you're lucky, the group might come across the famous image of goats climbing these trees in search of nuts. Please note that this is a long travel day, and you won't arrive at tonight's accommodation until late afternoon/early evening. The riad (house) tonight is 45 kilometres outside of Taroudannt and offers the chance to relax by the pool or take a steamed bath.
                Accommodation
                Riad (1 nt)
                Meals
                1 breakfast
                Day 7 Essaouira
                In the morning, take to the souqs and haggle with local traders for silver jewellery or colourful Moroccan ceramics and mosaics. Afterwards, leave the valleys of the High Atlas Mountains behind and head west to the coastal town of Essaouira (approximately 5 hours). The name Essaouira means image, which is appropriate since it's such a picturesque town. Its charm is undeniable; within the stone ramparts you'll find whitewashed houses with bright blue shutters, art galleries and wood workshops. This laidback artists' town is a former Portuguese trading colony and was once home to sizeable British and Jewish populations. The town faces a group of rocky islands, called the Mogador, and is surrounded by an expanse of sandy beaches and dunes. It's still a busy fishing port and its pretty harbour is filled with tiny colourful boats which go out early every morning for the day's catch. Visitors who have been seduced by its charms include Orson Welles and Jimi Hendrix, who (according to local legend) spent much of his time here in the 1960s. More recently, filmmaker Ridley Scott chose the ramparts as an important location for his film, Kingdom of Heaven. As you’ll arrive in the early evening, there won’t be much time to look around today. In the evening perhaps have some dinner with the group, as the local seafood is as fresh as it gets.
                Accommodation
                Riad (1 nt)
                Meals
                1 breakfast
                Day 8 Essaouira
                Today, join a local guide for a walking tour through the old medina, Jewish mellah, port and skala (sea wall). Afterwards, use your free time to get under the skin of the town. The narrow streets of Essaouira are ideal for casual exploration. Their size discourages cars, and on walk through the town it feels as though little has changed since the days of sea pirates. The fishing port is a serious commercial operation and there’s much fun to be had observing the daily catch and its subsequent auction. A freshly-cooked plate of the day's catch is highly recommended. Browse the plentiful shops and intriguing art galleries that make this little town a particularly pleasant place to unwind for a few days. It has a growing reputation for its unique art and is becoming even more famous for its burled Thuya wood, delicately formed and inlaid in tiny shops that are built into the thick walls of the Portuguese ramparts. The scent from the oils used to polish the richly coloured wood permeates the air and makes walking down the streets incredibly pleasant. If you’d prefer to relax, don't miss the opportunity to indulge in a hammam or local-style bath.
                Included Activities
                • Guided walking tour Essaouira
                  Optional Activities
                  • Hamam (public baths) - MAD200
                  • Berber massage - MAD350
                  • Horse riding - MAD250
                  • Seafood Market Lunch - Essaouira - MAD80
                  • Henna tattooing - MAD50
                    Accommodation
                    Riad (1 nt)
                    Meals
                    1 breakfast
                    Day 9 Marrakech
                    Use the morning to see the last of Essaouira, as you’ll catch a bus back to Marrakech in the afternoon (approximately 3 hours). The monuments of Marrakech are numerous and range from the well-known Koutoubia Mosque and its superb minaret 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. Explore the Medina for some last-minute shopping, where every step brings a new smell, a new sight or a new gift to buy. This evening you will likely be drawn back to the Djemaa El-Fna, and its surrounding medina. When night falls on this square it transforms in to a hive of activity. Snake-charmers, henna-painters, performers and storytellers share the square with a street food bazaar, packed with stalls loaded with Moroccan delicacies. Perhaps dine with the group here – a great way to finish your adventure.
                    Optional Activities
                    • A Taste Of Marrakech - MAD509
                    • Tajine cooking class - MAD546
                    • Cascades d'Ouzoud day tour - MAD2207
                    • Hammam & Massage in a luxury spa - MAD750
                    • Ourika Valley day tour - MAD1817
                    • Oukaimeden day tour - MAD1882
                    • Asni & Ourigane with lunch - MAD1806
                    • Heart of the Atlas Mountains cycling day tour - MAD900
                    • Medina, Palace and Tombs half day tour - MAD325
                    • Quad Biking the Rock Desert & Palmgrove - MAD660
                    • Quad biking Barrage Lalla Takerkoust - MAD1650
                    • Palmery cycling tour - MAD350
                    • Magical Marrakech City Cycling Tour - MAD350
                      Accommodation
                      Hotel (1 nt)
                      Meals
                      1 breakfast
                      Day 10 Marrakech
                      Your 'South Morocco Discovery' adventure ends after breakfast. Check out time is usually around 12.00pm, but you’re free to leave any time before. Additional accommodation can be pre-booked if you wish to spend more time exploring Marrakech (subject to availability).
                      Meals
                      1 breakfast
                      Itinerary disclaimer
                      ITINERARY CHANGES 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. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! 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. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time. 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 approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
                      Physical rating

                      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.

                      Long and rough travel days:
                      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. 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...

                      Early mornings:
                      On some long travel days we depart early in the morning to ensure we optimise our time at our next destination.

                      Physical fitness levels:
                      A good level of fitness is recommended and will certainly help increase the enjoyment of the trip and help you to make the most of the variety of optional walks and hikes around towns and villages.
                      Included activities
                      Guided trek in the High Atlas Mountains
                      Horizon Association for People With Disabilities visit
                      Ancient library
                      Camel ride
                      Guided walking tour Essaouira
                      Important notes
                      1. There is an altered summer itinerary (June, July & August). See Trip Notes for further details.
                      2. A single supplement is available on this trip with exception of nights in Aroumd (day 2) and Sahara camp (day 5).

                      COMMISSION
                      The receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops, services or activities is ingrained in the culture of the Moroccan tourism industry. In an effort to best control and monitor shopping and activities with an aim for the best experience possible, Intrepid has established a system of carefully selected shopping experiences and activities based on positive feedbacks from our previous travellers. On occasion these will be as part of included walking tours or outside of included activities in free time. Please note that if you feel that you do not wish to join in on these shopping experiences we assure you there is no obligation and if you indicate your desire to not partake your group leader will help to facilitate a suitable alternative during this time.
                      Intrepid have set up a centralised system of receiving payments from these recommended suppliers, of which are then distributed towards local Responsible Travel projects (such as 'say no to plastic' cotton bags for our travellers and drinking water refilling stations), traveller information packs, and leader bonuses. Further details of these arrangements can be provided by your group leader on request.
                      While Intrepid endeavors to ensure that these suppliers and services maintain reasonable levels of quality, please note recommended suppliers are chosen based on past travellers feedback and experiences and Intrepid cannot explicitly guarantee the quality of the product. A priority in establishing this fund is that the experience of you our traveller is not compromised in any way. Please let us know via the feedback after your trip if we are successfully meeting this objective.


                      Group size
                      Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
                      Your fellow travellers
                      GROUP TRAVEL
                      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.

                      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 accommodation (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.
                      Accommodation
                      Camp site (1 night), Gite (1 night), Hotel (4 nights), Riad (3 nights)
                      We've sourced our accommodation very carefully and picked the best possible hotels in line with the Intrepid style of travel, but please note that service and accommodation in Morocco may be different to western standards
                      OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
                      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.
                      TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
                      Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite (even if you paid for single room supplement!) and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
                      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.
                      CHECK-IN TIME
                      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.
                      PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
                      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.
                      Meals introduction
                      Moroccan food is, generally speaking, excellent though not particularly varied. Breakfasts usually consist of bread and jam with coffee or tea. Meals eaten out are reasonably priced - kebab and bread cost only about $3. In main towns it is possible to find very good French and Moroccan restaurants where a meal and French wine will cost anything from $30 upwards. Generally dinner is likely to cost between $10-15 depending on what you drink - so an estimate for food would be about $20 -$25 a day. Soft drinks are available at very reasonable prices, but generally speaking alcohol is not widely available in Morocco due to the cultural and religious reasons. Still, in some hotels and restaurants you will be able to purchase beers, wines and spirits, but you can pay western prices or more for imported alcohol. Please be aware of local laws, believes and traditions, and be very sensitive and respectful while consuming alcohol. Your leader can help recommend restaurants each evening. Vegetarians can be catered for but there is a fairly limited choice of vegetarian cous cous and tajine or omelettes. This is particularly the case in rural parts of this itinerary. Please note that if you have any special dietary requirements you should inform us prior to the trip. Vegans and those on gluten-free diets may find this region very challenging and may need to supplement meals with their own supplies from supermarkets and markets. Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for any included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may need to provide their own.
                      Meals
                      9 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners
                      Transport
                      4x4, Private vehicle, Public bus, Taxi

                      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.
                      We also use public transport on some of our trips around Morocco. Be it a train or a public bus, remember that the best part of it is the possibility to interact with local people traveling along with you.
                      Money matters
                      CURRENCY
                      The currency of Morocco is the dirham (MAD), divided into 100 centimes. Bank notes come in denominations of MAD 200, 100, 50 and 20. Smaller values are issued as coins in values of 10, 5, 1 as well as 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c. Changing money is easy and you will find banks and exchange bureaux in Casablanca, Fes and Marrakech, however, please note Australian dollars are not always accepted. In the desert and Atlas Mountains opportunities to exchange money are limited. There are ATMs in all major cities, which accept Visa cards, MasterCards and cards connected with Cirrus. Some ATMs, belonging to smaller banks, will not work so occasionally you may need to try two or three before you are successful. We would strongly recommend bringing a combination of cash and credit cards. Credit cards are useful for large purchases such as carpets or gold from a large store, but generally speaking they are not accepted in many places. Local restaurants, markets, and many hotels will only accept cash as payment for goods or services. Please ensure you only use banks, licensed money exchangers or hotels. We also suggest you keep your receipts. Do not change money with street touts. This is illegal.
                      TIPPING
                      If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's 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.
                      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.
                      Over the years we have found that many of our travellers find the need for tipping to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if they don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, we have established a tipping kitty system. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members.
                      Please don't tip with very small denomination coins, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult
                      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.
                      EMERGENCY FUNDS
                      Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
                      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.
                      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 and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. 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 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 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:

                      http://www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us/safety

                      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.
                      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 or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
                      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.
                      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!
                      Joining point
                      Hotel Le Caspien
                      12, rue Loubnane
                      Marrakech
                      MOROCCO
                      Phone: 212 524422282
                      Joining point description
                      Centrally located in the Gueliz district 5mins walk from Avenue Mohammed V, the Caspien hotel has 40 rooms all with en-suite bathrooms, A/C, TV, telephones. The hotel has a small swimming pool and 2 restaurants.
                      www.lecaspien-hotel.com
                      Joining point instructions
                      Marrakech Menara Airport is approx. 5km from the city centre. Petite taxis (small cars which are light brown in colour) are readily available from the airport. Negotiate the fare before getting in and aim to pay no more than 100MAD (150MAD at night)

                      If you have booked an arrival transfer your transfer driver will be waiting for you in the arrivals hall.
                      In case of flight cancellations, changes, if you experience severe delays at immigration, baggage collection or customs, or if you are not able find the driver, please contact the emergency phone number: 212 6 61 24 31 06 and +212 6 66 19 27 66 Or Peak Number : 212 (0) 66192 2693

                      Check-in time at our joining point hotel is 2pm. Early check-in is not guaranteed, however if you arrive early, luggage storage can be arranged. Speak to the hotel reception on arrival. Please note that luggage storage in our hotels is at your own risk and generally these areas are not locked or completely secure. Bring your own luggage lock.
                      Finish point
                      Hotel Le Caspien
                      12, rue Loubnane
                      Marrakech
                      MOROCCO
                      Phone: 212 524422282
                      Finish point description
                      Centrally located in the Gueliz district 5mins walk from Avenue Mohammed V, the Caspien hotel has 40 rooms all with en-suite bathrooms, A/C, TV, telephones. The hotel has a small swimming pool and 2 restaurants.
                      www.lecaspien-hotel.com
                      Finishing 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).

                      Pre booked departure transfer to the airport:
                      If you have pre booked a departure transfer, you will be collected from your hotel 3 hours prior to your flight.
                      Please reconfirm your departure transfers with your tour leader.

                      In case of flight cancellations, changes or if you not find the driver please contact travel company on the emergency phone numbers: +212 6 61 24 31 06 and +212 6 66 19 27 66 Or Peak Number : 212 (0) 66192 2693


                      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 4:45am and 8:45pm 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 two hours at 13 mins past the hour between 03h13 and 22h13. From Casa L’oasis (first station in Casablanca), trains run to the airport every two hours at 20 mins past the hour between 03h20 and 22h20. 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)

                      Please note that private transfer from Marrakech hotel to Casablanca airport are available for sale.

                      Emergency contact
                      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.
                      For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

                      In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's Morocco Office can be reached on the number listed below:

                      PEAK Marrakech: +212 661922693
                      Visas
                      Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

                      Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, Americans and British citizens do not require a visa to visit Morocco for stays up to 90 days. All other nationalities should check with the Moroccan Embassy or Consulate in their country for up-to-date visa information.
                      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, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes).
                      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.

                      Please follow the link for the Intrepid’s ultimate packing list. Please use this checklist as a guide when packing for your holiday.

                      http://www.intrepidtravel.com/pdf/trips/packinglist.pdf

                      TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT
                      It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary that your luggage gets stowed separately (and unattended). 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 inside the bus or your cabin. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.
                      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. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.
                      SLEEPING BAGS
                      Sleeping bags consume valuable space in your luggage and can be a pain. However in the winter months (from November to March) there may not be enough heating (sometimes none) or sufficient blankets to keep everyone warm, we recommend bringing your own sleeping bag. Unfortunately sleeping bags can not be hired/rented while on the trip and are not easy to find for purchase. Buy a small sleeping bag before you leave, it will definitely come in handy, particularly if you feel the cold.
                      Climate and seasonal information
                      CLIMATE:
                      Please note that as a desert country, Morocco can have extreme weather.
                      Winter (approx November to March) can be very cold. Particularly in the mountains or near the desert, night temperatures can drop to 5 degrees Celsius or less. Even in the hot months out in the desert it can get cold at night. It is recommended to bring a good sleeping bag, thermals, scarf, gloves and a warm jacket for travel in winter. Some of our guesthouses / hotels are unable to supply heating as this would be a major financial and environmental strain. It is also a case of energy supply and timing provisions, which is limited in some places. Please be prepared for cold showers.

                      Summer (approx May to September) can be very hot everywhere we travel, which means that it can be quite uncomfortable for those not used to the heat. Not all our hotels have air-conditioning, and in those that do, it's not always functioning. A hat is essential.

                      RAMADAN, EID UL-FITR and EID UL ADHA FESTIVAL 2016:
                      In 2016 the important month of Ramadan will be in progress from 06 June through till 05 July, 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, on 10 and 11 September 2016.
                      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 Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
                      DRINKING WATER:
                      As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water in Morocco, 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 two to three litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are recommended for you to pack in your personal first aid kit.
                      ASTHMA:
                      For some travellers, the desert sand and dust can bring on bouts of asthma. If you suffer from asthma even occasionally, we recommend you bring your medication as it cannot be administered by your group leader and may not be readily available while you are travelling.
                      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 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.

                      http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php
                      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.

                      Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
                      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.

                      http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

                      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.


                      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$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:

                      http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

                      Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Morocco include:

                      * The Horizon Association 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.
                      www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/horizon-association/

                      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.


                      Feedback
                      After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers. Below link will take you to the feedback site:

                      http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/