GENERAL INFORMATION

To go Morocco you need a valid passport. Marrakech airport is modern and very well conceived but there is not enough police gates which means that you often see long queues and police formalities may last more than one hour.

Marrakech airport has a very interesting duty free shop in the arrival part of the airport as well as at the departure. Prices (especially for cigarettes are very interesting -cheaper than on planes).

The airport is very near the town of Marrakech itself but there is no shuttle ; therefore if you come on your own, you will have to get a taxi.
Be careful as to the price : the normal price from airport is approximately 80 Dirhams to the centre of the town and 150 Dirhams for the Palmeraie. Therefore BEFORE hiring a taxi, make sure that the taxi driver utilises the counter or arrange the price with him, otherwise you may well be charged up to 600 Dirhams!

At night, the prices are increased by 50%.

Should you have a problem with a taxi driver, keep smiling, try to arrange the problem with him or call for a policeman or the hotel concierge who will settle the matter for you.

If you so wish, please contact us and we can arrange your transfer to one of our riyad for 15$

Exchange march 2006

100 EUROS 1075 Dirhams 120 $US

The Dirham is an "internal" currency - you cannot exchange this currency outside the country. Therefore if you have Dirhams left at the end of your stay, you can exchange them by showing your exchange slip at a bank counter. Please don't change too much at a time. You can get currency with your international credit card at a cash dispenser.

HOW TO TRAVEL IN MOROCCO TRAINS

The ONCFM railway network is relatively important in the north of Morocco (Casablanca - Oujda - Tangier). There is only one line from Casablanca to the South, 270kms to Marrakech.
Marrakech is the end of the line. Should you wish to go further south, you will have to go by bus.
The trains have 2 classes. The journey from Casablanca to Marrakech lasts from 3h30 to 4h15. A single way ticket costs about 100 Dirhams in First class.
It is a good way to go and visit Casablanca from Marrakech.

You find timetable of Moroccan Railways on www.oncf.ma

To organize a trekk in desert or Atlas Moutains or informations - don't hesitate to take with Kim Vaughan by MOUNTAIN SAFARI TOURS   

BUS

There is a very large bus network in the South of Morocco. There are several companies for the same destination and we recommend that you utilise the CTM for the South part of Morocco and the SATAS.
These two companies have modern buses, often air conditioned, and with a rather good punctuality. On the CTM company, the luggage are registered prior the departure for a few more Dirhams.
In general, it is better to book your seat one day in advance and to check on the time.

The CTM ticket office is Avenue Zerktouni, next to the BMCE agency. All the CTM buses start at the "bus station" situated at Bab Doukkala. It is the place where the buses for Ouarzazate and Agadir leave.

One way ticket to Ouarzazate (204kms) costs between 40 and 50 Dhs (depending if the bus is air conditioned or ot).

TAXIS

There are two categories of taxis.

The small taxis who stay in town only and can only accommodate 3 persons maximum. In Marrakech there are a lot of small taxis (Fiat and Peugeot 205). Generally they have counters and you only have to ask the driver to start it when you board it. A small taxi boarding a tourist will never board someone else. On the other hand, if a taxi boards Moroccans, he will board several persons, acting as a mini bus!

Generally speaking, it is possible to hire / charter a large taxi on a price basis of 300 Dirhams per half day if the taxi stays in town or 400 Dirhams for a half day if you go outside town, on top of this price you must pay for the fuel.

RENT A CAR

There is a large choice of companies who deal with car rental. However, most of them sub rent cars and it is better to avoid very small companies as well as international ones such as Hertz, Avis etc. It is advisable to rent a car via an independent company which will have new cars.

(Having experienced this field, we can advise you on the choice of independent companies - we can arrange the rental for you if contact us in advance)
See the special page

HOW TO DRIVE IN MOROCCO

It is common to say that the Moroccans drive as mad people. In fact, most accidents are due to the non respect of traffic lights (they are often so dirty that you cannot guess if they are red or green!). It is also due to the fact the driving licence is not only attributed with regard to the capacity of the driver, but also that there are lots of pedestrians, animals etc. on the roads and that the cars are in a poor state of repairs. It is also to be mentioned that bicycles fail to have lights : it is therefore not recommended to drive at night.

In Marrakech, there are no paying parking lots, all the streets around Gueliz and the Jemâa place are granted to Moroccans who act as parking keepers. The usual fare is about 1 dirham for a few minutes to 5 dirhams for 2 hours and a bit more for half a day. It is usual to give your keys to the keeper and he will park your car correctly if you have no time to do so ; he will also move it to a shadowy place when one will get free. These keepers have often 40 to 50 keys with them. They often leave their place at the end of the day, between 10 and 11 pm and keep the keys of the cars if the owner has not returned in time.

There is a "fourrière" in Marrakech and if your car is taken away, you will have a terrible moment going through administration to get it back ! at least 3 to 4 hours of your time ! it is therefore recommended to utilise a parking keeper as mentioned above.

GENERAL INFORMATION

DRINKS / ALCOHOL

The Marrakchis drink tap water without problem, the water in itself is potable according to local norms. However, even if you can utilise tap water to wash your teeth, it is advisable to drink mineral water SIDI ALI our SIDI HARAZEM or Oulmes and Bonacqua sparkling waters. All kinds of sodas are sold in mini super markets and small shops.
On the other hand, beer, wine and alcohol can only be bought in few shops and they will never be shown outside. As in all other Muslims countries, a Muslim cannot have a licence to sell alcohols. Officially, these shops are always run by Christians or Jews.

PRICES AND CLAIMS

Except from public tariffs (telephone, busses ….), goods sold in mini supermarkets and some so called "luxury shops" located in Guéliz, all goods are subject to negotiations!!
Bargaining is a culture as long as the buyer remains polite. A moroccan will appreciate if you bargain during a long time with lots of patience.
In the SOUKS, there is no price mentioned. The price depends on….. "your face" !
therefore it may represents 3, 4 even 10 times the real price of the good.

Never think that you have made a good bargain even if you pay half the price. On the other hand, you will never get a good at the same price as a Moroccan would get it! Therefore, even if you very much wish an object, never buy it at first sight, at the first shop, continue your visit and check the price with other shops before making your choice.

ELECTRICITY

It is mainly 220 volts.
Be careful, if your equipment is based on 110volts you will burn it off.

POST AND TELEPHONE

There are several post offices and a central one in Guéliz.
The mail to France takes about 5 days, to USA 7-8 days.
In hotels, using the telephone is really much more expensive than anywhere else. It is a very importance source of revenues (as well as the bar) for the hotel which charge extra costs (3 times the normal price).

Therefore, if you don't want to be over charged, avoid phoning from the hotels and utilise the phone points operated by private companies whose cabins called "AVEPHONE" are spread all over the town.
You must then buy a card and when phoning you will be able to check how much you spend.

The code number of Marrakech is from the 27th of marc 2006 the
"2" - instead of the "4".

To call inside Morocco : you make 8 figures and start with "0"
To call abroad your dial 00 212 2 and then 6 figures
If you call a handy phone, dial : 00 212 6 and then 6 digits

EMERGENCIES / MEDICAL CARE


There are good hospitals in Marrakech. The two main ones are the IBN TOFAIL (tel. 44 43 80 11) and the Polyclinique du Sud (tel. 44 44 79 99).
Please make sure that you have the necessary medical insurance BEFORE going to Morocco.
When a doctor comes for a visit to a tourist in a hotel, he generally charges 400 / 500 dirhams (which is 10 times more than what he would charge to a Moroccan) but this will be covered by your insurance upon your return.

PRESS

You can get international newspapers in Marrakech.

TV

Hotels are linked with a parabolic system. Apart from the two main national channels, you will be able to catch the international channels in hotels.

CULT and RAMADAN

Morocco is a Muslim country. It is not however an "integrist" country. Therefore there is an easy co-existence between the different religions.
On fridays, the Muslims go to the Mosquee. You cannot enter the mosquees if you are not Muslim.

Probably dates of ramadan in year 2005 : 04 of October to 02 of november

BUDGET / EXPENSES

The cost of living is not too expensive. In a restaurant you will pay about 4 $ in a snack bar and about 10$ in a proper restaurant.
The traditional diners in good Moroccan restaurants in the Medina will cost you about 50-60$  per person.
Petrol is at 80cents per litre.

CLIMATE / TEMPERATURES

During day time, the temperature is from 10°C in January to 40°C in August.
During the night you have from 10 to 15°C less.
Heating is very rare - generally between 15 December to 15 February.

Even when temperature is at its peak, you will find it fresh and cool in hotels and in riyads where there is air conditioning. In riyads, the air conditioning is not necessary on the ground floor where the thickness of the walls prevents from the heat.

The climate is very dry and good. It rarely rains or showers not lasting long.

GUIDES / VISITS WITH GUIDES

There are two categories of guides :

a) the only guides who won't be controlled by the police if they walk along with tourists are the OFFICIAL GUIDES. These guides are only men, are agreed by the Moroccan Tourism Office and bear an official badge on their djellaba as well as a card attesting their qualification.

These official guides speak at least two foreign languages and know very well the history of the town. Their role as guides don't make for a living, they don't earn money and their only wish is to make you understand/visit their town and show you to shops where they will get a commission on your purchases.

As soon as he has finished with you, he will go back to the shops where he shows you and get the commission out of your purchases.
A guide will therefore NEVER HELP YOU BARGAINING in the medina (otherwise it would cost his commission!).

b) The "false guides" are either children or teenagers who know the old town and the souks as well as the official guides but they cannot give you the information about history as the official guides.

When you arrive next to the Place Jemaa, you will find a lot of these guys who will offer you their services. It is, of course, illegal but one of them will guide you through the souks for a small amount of money. Then again, he will make you visit special shops where he will get a commission on your purchases.

Therefore, for the visit of the historic parts of Marrakech, use the service of an official guide who will give you all necessary explanations and when going through the souks only for pleasure, an "unofficial" guide is OK.

POLICE CONTROLS

There are policemen everywhere in Marrakech. Therefore you feel safe even during the night. The tourism represents about 10 to 15% of the income for Morocco, therefore the tourist is very much looked after.
When driving, you have an average of 2 controls between Marrakech and Essaouira.

A Moroccan girl cannot travel with male foreigners. She would have lots of problems with the police.

Should you be stopped by the police for a real (or not real) infraction to the road rules, stay POLITE, keep calm and smiling. Thank the policeman for warning you, tell him that you have not done it on purpose and generally speaking, especially if the policeman is ALONE, you will have no problem going through the difficulty with a smile and a note of 20 Dirhams discreetly handed to him with a cigarette/cigare!!

We hope that these information will prove useful and we are always at your disposal in the riyad, to help you and arrange your stay so that you get the best service.