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Things to know: travel policy, tips to holidays to Morocco

Travel tips to Morocco:

Telephone / Internet:

Calls from Morocco can be made from “Teleboutiques” which are to be found in all but the most remote places. From here you can make reverse charge calls and cabins are always supervised if you need any help. Cybercafés can be found in most large towns, but never in villages. Prices are normally very reasonable at about 50p/0.70EURO (7-8 dirhams) per hour.

Camera Film and photography:

Morocco is as photogenic a place as you will find, with clear light, beautiful landscapes and plenty of character. However, photographic representations of people are extremely uncommon in Islam and are usually reserved for passport and administrative pictures. Please do not take photos of people without prior permission and if someone is clearly not happy to be your subject do not persist.

Print film (Kodak,Fuji) is widely available (from 200 ASA up), but slide film of 100 ASA or less can be very difficult to find. Slide film of 50 ASA is highly recommended for Moroccan light and high colour saturation.

Electricity:

Electricity supply in Morocco is 220V, 50Hz and you will need an adaptor for the European two round pin system which is used in Morocco.

Time:

Morocco is on GMT – Greenwich Mean Time – year round. That means during winter as per the UK and in summer an hour behind.

Tipping, shopping and haggling:

Tipping in Morocco is discretional and usually amounts to about 10% of your bill. That goes for bars, cafes and restaurants. Taxi drivers will accept a tip if offered but do not feel obliged as Moroccans will rarely leave a tip.

After your trek it is customary to tip your Moroccan guide, driver(s), and/or muleteer(s) provided you feel you have received good treatment. There’s no set amount as this often depends on group size, but as a guideline around €30 (or 300 Dirhams) should cover your share of all tips for a week’s trip.

When shopping for souvenirs in the souq (markets) it is normal to haggle. Don’t be alarmed by the shopkeeper’s inflated starting price as you can usually hope to finish up at about half of this. It can be a frustrating experience but it always pays off to stay calm and good humoured and the general idea is to come away feeling that you got good value for your purchase. In other words there’s no right or wrong price, just a price that suits both parties and everyone goes away happy. In up market boutiques haggling is not appropriate.

Food :

Morocco has one of the world’s most celebrated cuisines. Typical dishes include meat tajines (spiced lamb or beef stew often incorporating fruit), couscous, spiced kebabs, briouats (flakey pastry parcels of s bowl in the centre of the table. Berber houses don’t even possess western cutlery, although even the lowest grade of restaurants will have a stock should any foreigners drop in. Note that when eating from a communal bowl it is only appropriate to use your right hand.

Moroccan food is generally heavily meat-orientated and vegetarians may find that their options are rather uninspiring and very limited. bowl in the centre of the table. Berber houses don’t even possess western cutlery, although even the lowest grade of restaurants will have a stock should any foreigners drop in. Note that when eating from a communal bowl it is only appropriate to use your right hand.

Moroccan food is generally heavily meat-orientated and vegetarians may find that their options are rather uninspiring and very limited.

Alcohol in Morocco:

Alcohol is not widely available in Morocco, although larger hotels, foreign-owned auberges and up-market restaurants sell it. Marrakech, Agadir and Casablanca are well-endowed with bars (usually of the fairly expensive variety) but small towns usually have no bars and no off-licenses. Many of the hotels we use on our tours are not licensed to serve alcohol, although we can buy wine/beer in large towns or prior to departure as you are often permitted to “bring your own”.

Dress:

No specific dress-code exists in Morocco but it is recommended that you dress conservatively and adhere to a few basic rules. Marrakech and the big cities are cosmopolitan places and you can wear pretty much what you like, although women are recommended to cover up shoulders and legs above the knee. In rural communities, vest tops and short shorts (above the knee) are regarded as underwear and may cause offence. We therefore recommend t-shirts, cotton shirts, long shorts or long lightweight trousers. Clearly, in uninhabited areas there is no particular dress code.

Security and Crime:

Morocco is generally a very safe place to visit. Criminal activity is rare and violent crime extremely rare. That said, always look after your valuables as theft from cars and hotels is not unheard of. We recommend wearing a money belt as a good way to keep your valuables on you at all times.

Hammams:

A traditional hammam (steam bath) is the perfect remedy for those seeking a truly invigorating Moroccan experience. The hammam is traditionally a place for men or womento meet (separately) and chat whilst being scrubbed clean and massaged. Hammams are a hive of activity and noise, and many exhibit fine examples of Moroccan architecture, with vaulted ceilings, tadelakt (clay) walls and elaborately tiled floors.

After spending as much time as you can bear in the steam room you proceed to a cooler room for a scrub with a coarse glove and black soap before being manipulated by a masseur or masseuse. Then it’s time for some quiet contemplation in the “salle de repos” (rest room). Be advised that at hammams males and females are strictly segregated and in female sections women usually go naked, but you can bring along a swimming costume if you prefer not to. Nudity in the male world is taboo, so men keep their trunks on! All Moroccan towns have hammams as do many hotels and auberges.

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