Morocco

Morocco

“I love Morocco – it’s a real challenge to all five senses. You think you know something, and you don’t. It’s wonderful. It keeps you on your toes that way.” –  Amy Ryan

Jemaa El-Fna
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Getting In

  • Citizens of most countries can enter Morocco visa free for under 90 days. Those that do require visas will need to get one via an embassy for around $17 USD.
  • International airports are present in most large cities with domestic airports servicing smaller cities.
  • Ferries operate out of southern Spain to northern Morocco daily.
  • A road tunnel goes under the Strait of Gibraltar from Algeciras, Spain to Cueta, Spain where there is a land border between Spain and Morocco.

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Money

  • Morocco is relatively cheap country, however there is a rich haggling culture. Prices will always be presented higher, and unsuspecting travelers may pay far more than what they should.
  • You can find fixed price markets, such as the Artisans Ensemble in Marrakech. While these are slightly more expensive than haggling, you can shop in peace at a more leisurely pace.

$1USD = 9.52 (MAD) Moroccan Dirham

A local meal will cost 30 MAD

A mid-range meal for two will cost 200 MAD

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Climate

  • Morocco’s climate is generally moderate and subtropical, but becomes more extreme the further from the coast you go.
  • Winters can get quite cold and summers very hot.
  • The Atlas Mountain can dip below freezing, even in the summer.
  • It is good practice to bring layers, even in summer, as temperature can change dramatically in the desert climate.

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History

Morocco enjoys a long and vibrant history, with human remains dating back to 400,000 BCE. The region primarily served nomadic Berber tribes – and continues to do so – until the arrival of the Phoenicians and the founding of Carthage in 800 BCE. After the fall of Carthage, the region remained until Roman rule until the Muslim conquest in 700.

Morocco would flourish under various Islamic rulers and kingdoms, but reach it’s height under the Berber Dynasties lasting from 1060 to 1549. Beginning with the Saadian Dynasty, the region transitioned to Arabic speaking rulers, claiming descent from the prophet Muhammad directly.

Ottoman rule wavered in the early 1800s due to growing European power, and in 1830, Morocco came under the interest of France. French influence continued in the coming century with Morocco becoming a French protectorate in 1912.

Opposition toward European rule began in 1921, but did not culminate in sovereignty in 1956 with the Revolution of the King and the People by Mohammad V. Rule of Hassan II was harsh and saw much political unrest. However, his succession with Mohammad VI has seen renewed prosperity and growth in the nation in 1999.

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Need to Know

  • Locals can speak multiple languages – with the native tongue being Moroccan Arabic and Berber. French is nearly ubiquitously spoken as well. Despite this, many locals in tourist spots such as Marrakech can also speak Spanish and English quite well. Brushing up on French will go a long ways, but you can get by with English better than in the past.
  • If staying in a Riad in the Medina, it is worthwhile to have your host arrange for airport pickup upon arrival as it can be very difficult to find your lodging without prior knowledge or a guide.
  • The desert is far from most cities, do not expect a simple day trip. If you are interested in visiting the dunes, leave aside at least 2 days to see them.

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Warnings

  • While there are no specific threats, tourists should maintain a high degree of caution due to the threat of terrorism. US citizens in particular are more likely to be targeted.
  • Be aware of scams, pick-pocketing and petty thievery in the cramped medinas of the cities.
  • All travel should be avoided of Western Sahara due to the unresolved legal status of the territory.

We recommend reviewing safety guidelines by various state departments: – we make no guarantees to your safety!

US State Department – Moderate to High bias, with moderate levels of broad information. We advise checking against other sources to confirm veracity of statements.

British State Department – Low bias, and very thorough information. We recommend checking with the FCO for tourist warnings.

Australian State Department – Moderate bias, but with thorough information. We advise using as an additional resource for tourist warnings.

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Explore

General

Visual Tour of Marrakech

Activities

El Badi Palace