/ Morocco

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TobyA on 18 Oct 2016

I may be putting this in the wrong forum as I'm not intending to do any climbing (and, sadly, probably not even much trekking) there, but I'm off to Morocco at the weekend for a week's "family adventure holiday". I've not been to Morocco before, indeed I never been anywhere in Africa, and we've not done a semi-package trip like this before so lets see how it goes, but it seems like loads of climbers are going to Morocco these days so I'm looking for any tips.

We are doing a loop from Marrakech east into the Atlas, we will be there for a couple of days before then down to the sea at Agadir, up to Essaouria, then back to Marrakech. I think it should be pretty warm a lot of the time but I guess inland, in the mountains, even if we aren't staying particularly high, it could get reasonably cold at night.

Any experiences? Recommendations for things to eat? Things to do etc.? General advice on you found Morocco? Cheers all,
Post edited at 20:15
Steve Broadbent - on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to TobyA:

Sounds like a great holiday. We frequently take the kids for family adventures in Morocco and they absolutely love it. Great scenery, lovely people, and generally fun places for the kids to explore... camel trekking is still on our daughter's wish list though...!

Our top tip would be to avoid driving in Marrakech if possible - it's a nightmare, as is parking!

Have fun
HeMa on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to TobyA:

Sari was there (for climbing) a bit over a month a few years back. They also did some touristy things. Drop her a line and see if she can recall what they did...

My advice would be to visit the Star Wars sets, but then again I'm a nerd ;).
Jimbocz - on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to HeMa:

Are you sure you aren't confusing the Star Wars sets in Tunisia? Or are there some I'm Morocco I don't know about?
Jimbocz - on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to TobyA:

My advice would be to be extra careful and aware of what's going on. I found my visit to Morocco tough because I always felt on edge like I was being scammed or ripped off. In Essaoria I could relax a lot more since it was considerably more low key.

I carried a bunch of low value bills in my pocket and attempted to use them on anyone who was hassling me. I tried as hard as I could to stay cool, and remember that a few quid is not worth a fight, or even yelling at the person attempting to steal it from you. Especially if it's a kid.

On a positive note, one of the best times I had was just getting away from the tourists and eating beans with the locals at a roadside cafe.
BobtheBagger on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to TobyA:

I've been to Morocco several times, including twice with my daughter; first when she was about 5, trekking in the Atlas, then when she was about 11, trekking in the Sahara with camels. October was when we took her both times as it is so much cooler and therefore more pleasant for walking. She loved it and I'm pleased to say still loves trekking and climbing with us, even though she is now of an age to start rebelling and wanting to do her own thing.
Usual rules apply about being sensible and sensitive when meeting the locals, especially in the souks in Marrakech. Don't carry too much cash and don't flash it around. The Moroccans are family orientated so will be pleased to see a British family visiting, and will probably try to spoil you kid(s) rotten. In all my visits I've never had any problems in Marrakech, the mountains, the desert, or at the coast.
I've not tried to drive there and really wouldn't want to, travel is pretty cheap and efficient so there is no need to drive oneself.
Having time out in Essaouria is definitely a good thing, there is a far more relaxed vibe to the place, far easier to browse the handicraft shops etc, without being dragged bodily in and if you say ┬┤No' then that's it, they leave you in peace.
Have a great time.
HeMa on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to Jimbocz:

It seems I was... albeit they seemed to also filmed in Morocco...
TobyA on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to all:

Thanks very much for everyone's thoughts - really interesting. I've traveled a fair amount in South Asia and SE Asia so have experienced the hard sell and begging you get there so expect Morocco might not be so different to that, but it will be interesting to see if people react differently when we are a family. We won't need to drive anywhere as transport is part of trip we've booked.

Thanks again.
Sealwife - on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to TobyA:

It's been a while since I was in Morocco, but I did a similar trip to yours, split my holiday between Agadir and Marrakech, with trips to Essouira, Ouarzazate and Immouzer des Ida Outenane. The drive between Agadir and Marrakech is fairly interesting - there are two ways you can go, unfortunately we didn't get over the very high pass, as we were there in winter and it was blocked with snow.

Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech is worth a visit, it's the garden of Yves St Laurent's house, and it's lovely.

Eat at the Djemma al Fnaa in the evening. It fills with lantern lit food stalls. Everything available from fried fish to entire goats heads, complete with eyes.

Yes, there is a fair bit of street hustling, best dealt with firmly but with good humour. Didn't feel at all threatened at any time by anyone although it does get a little tiring sometimes.


BnB - on 20 Oct 2016
In reply to TobyA:

Hi Toby. I've been with family a couple of times to the same region. Absolutely fantastic. We hired a car and enjoyed the mayhem. In fact that's probably my best advice: embrace all the hassle and haggling. Accept the offer of a local "guide" to the souk and you'll immediately be free of more "offers" and you won't get lost (easily done). No trip to Morocco is complete without three hours spent drinking green tea while arguing over the price of an upturned slipper. Then reward your guide with a well-earned tip.

The anti-Atlas is stunning. Palm trees and snow, though I suspect you're going at the wrong time of year for that. We went in March/April. Agadir is the one place that has a nasty edge to it. Street criminality is more evident here.

Youll have a great time. The overwhelming impression is how "eastern" a place on the same general longitude as London can feel.
Gazlynn - on 20 Oct 2016
In reply to BnB:
I have to agree.

I've been to Morocco a few times..

Embrace the different culture and you'll have a great time.

The hussle bussle of the Medina and souks in Marrakech is a great experience especially at night.

Street crime is not tolerated and rare although you will get very pushy sellers.

You probably wont pay the same price for a cup of coffee, sometimes you'll get change other times you won't but try not to lose any sleep over a couple of dirhams.

Enjoy

cheers

Gaz
Post edited at 10:26
cousin nick on 20 Oct 2016
In reply to TobyA:

My wife and I did a package trekking trip 3 years ago. Advantages included that (reliable) transport was organised together with guide and muleteers (we only had to carry daypacks). All this was contrary to my normal do-it-all-yourself approach, but I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was much more relaxing and we learned loads from our local team, besides seeing and experiencing things that we would likely have missed on our own. In addition, camping and bivvying in the hills with no light pollution means that the starscapes are not to be missed.
We also stayed in Essouira for a few days after 10 days trekking and it was a perfect spot to chill-out. You can get beer and wine at many of the restaurants, but you may have to ask for it, and it'll probably come in a jug or a mug (non-conspicuous alcohol!). Fish is good, but we found that the many BBQ stalls on the quayside were rather poor and not worth the hassle that you get from the guys running them.
Lots of small nik-naks to buy from local makers - wood is big in Essouira, but SWMBO also bought hand-dyed scarves, bangles and dried saffron from womens' coops at villages in the hills.
Kids in the hill villages hassle trekkers for sweets, but some cheap colouring pencils and paper are probably a better option for their oral health.
We found Morocco a wonderfully welcoming, friendly, magical and mad (5 people on a moped?) place.
Have fun.

N

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