A trip to Morocco cannot be missing from your Bucket List! Its varied geography, its dynamic people, its characteristic cuisine, and impressive architecture make this destination a must-visit. Here we share 9 things you should know before starting your trip to this colorful and hospitable country:
1. Dressing modestly is better
It will always be better to dress conservatively. Especially for women, it is more prudent to be as little exposed as possible, since the natives usually cover themselves from knee to elbow, and rarely do you see women dressed in something less conservative than this, except perhaps some Westerners in Marrakech. It is also good to walk with a scarf, in case you happen to visit a mosque or tour the desert.
2. It is a land of many languages
Due to their geographical location, colonial background, and religious history, Moroccans speak many languages. During the reign of King Hassan II, Arabic and French were the official languages, but when he died in 1999, his son Mohammed VI became king and made Arabic and Berber - his mother's language - the official languages of the country. As this change occurred in the last 18 years, many locals speak all three, if not more, and today, students learn Arabic and Berber at school, while having the option to study a third language of their choice, which is typically French or English.
3. Many religions abound
Although Morocco is considered a majority Muslim country, there is a rich diversity of religions practiced and you can see both mosques, temples, and synagogues in all major cities. In addition, about 40% of Moroccans identify themselves as Berber, an ethnic group native to North Africa that pre-dates its Arab inhabitants - their religious beliefs are found in nature and their symbol, as seen in the Berber flag, is the free man.
4. Everything grows in Morocco
Apart from the arid climate of the Sahara desert, Morocco's agricultural industry is very prosperous thanks to the fertility of its soil. Driving through the countryside you will find orchards of cherries, dates, peaches, strawberries, figs, apples, oranges, grapes, bananas, olives, lentils, and of course Argan, along with rows of roses, saffron, mint, rosemary, and thyme. Although it is illegal to sell alcohol to Muslims, Morocco is also a wine-producing country for export - with vineyards and wineries operating mainly in the Meknes region - and some options can be found in supermarkets and tourist-oriented restaurants.
5. The Hotels
You can experience splendid luxury treatment at relatively reasonable costs in hotels such as El Royal Mansour, La Mamounia, the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech, and the Four Seasons Marrakech, designed in elegant Arab architecture, with enormous gardens and swimming pools and impressive spas. Our consultants can help you find the best rates in these and other hotels. Marrakech is mentioned because it is the most common city where tourists start their Marrakech desert tours.
6. How do I tip?
How can you compensate the locals for their services or advice? The recommended tip is typically 10%, and it doesn't matter if you spend little time with a tour guide, at least a small tip is customary. The same applies to restaurants and for anyone who usually stops on their way to help you. When it comes to an artisan -someone you would meet on a visit to the tanneries in Fes, for example- buying their merchandise is preferable to a tip, however, if you don't finally want to buy, they will be happy to explain their creative processes to you and some remuneration will always be appreciated.
7. Go beyond Marrakech
If you only get to visit Marrakech, your trip is still worthwhile. However, there is much more to see in Morocco, and to immerse yourself in the Berber culture we recommend spending a night or two in Merzouga - a city on the edge of the Sahara desert dunes. To experience a bustling medina, head to Fez, where you can buy everything from Berber rugs to mosaic pottery and authentic leather goods. You should also visit the dazzling blue city of Chefchaouen, and enjoy a sunset over the Rif Mountains from the rooftop of your Riad.
8. How to book a tour in case of need!
Morocco is a country where there are many travel agencies offering tours around Morocco, but how do you actually choose the right one? The best-believed way is to check reviews. Therefore, head over to TripAdvisor and check the agencies' testimonials. Contact several agencies and bargain with them, plan your itinerary with them, and ask other agencies for prices. Not to mention, It is best to look for travel companies that are based in Marrakech. With that being said, if you are traveling from Marrakech to the highlight of the Morocco tour, which is the desert experience, you can do it in three days. Ask agencies to give you a Marrakech 3 day itinerary, they will plan it with you and give you prices that reach around 800 USD.
9. Buy your spices in a Berber pharmacy
In every medina, in every city, you will find rows and rows of colorful spices. Your first inclination will be to take a picture! Before doing so, it is respectful to ask the store manager if he or she will allow you to do so. Important notice! Some may want you to pay a small fee for doing so, or they may allow you to take the photo in exchange for buying something. Your second inclination will probably be to buy some of these spices to take home. Instead, we advise you to buy them in Berber pharmacies because, unlike the spice towers so photogenic that abound in the markets, these spices are kept in sealed containers and are not exposed to air pollution.
At Travelwise we have personalized packages and itineraries to Morocco throughout the year, if you wish to undertake this adventure, one of our experts can contact you! Fill out the form below and we will be in touch with you or call us at (809) 562-3000.
10. Be aware of the heat in summer, especially in the desert
Morocco is the country where you can experience all 4 seasons in one day. The weather in Morocco changes fast, you can drive from Marrakech with cold weather to Merzouga desert with really hot weather. It once got to 55 °C 131 °F in Erg Chebbi dunes, where many tourists do the camel ride in Morocco. Therefore, it is better to be prepared with winter and summer clothes.
Company: Marrakech Camel Trips
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