Horseback riding in Morocco

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Equestrian tours in Morocco

Morocco Mini Guide
   Source: World Travel Guide

Overview

As you relax in your hammam (steam bath), tuck into your tagine (stew), bargain in the souks or slide into your comfy caftan (ankle-length gown)  - Moroccan trends much copied elsewhere but never equal to the originals - you may be surprised how easily you slip into another culture and another century. In these small signature moments of pleasure, Morocco warps all sense of time and place as surely as a desert mirage.

To get your bearings, just look to the horizon. You will notice refined minarets and rugged mud-brick ksour (fortifications), sparkling coastline with silken sand and striped canyons carved out of the High Atlas Mountains. Morocco has been staunchly independent throughout its history yet remained open to ideas, creating a heady mix of cultures, religions and languages with ancient roots and a strikingly modern outlook. The influence of Romans, Arabs and Europeans is spotted in monuments throughout the country. Though you will hear French spoken in city boulevards - a vestige of the 50-year French Protectorate - a half-dozen Berber languages and Moroccan Arabic are still widely spoken. So is Morocco Mediterranean, African, Arab or Berber? Correct answer: all of the above.

For centuries travellers have crossed shifting sands and braved mountain passes in search of mythic Morocco, expecting to be dazzled by its royal palaces, unexpected oases, distinctive handicrafts and spectacular feats of hospitality. Modern-day Morocco doesn't disappoint. Whether you've come to relax in family-style riads (guest houses) or stretch your imagination on treks to distant Berber villages, you'll meet Moroccans who go out of their way to exceed your expectations. The people who have called Morocco home for millennia have proved themselves adaptable to Sahara Desert silences and chatty market-day medinas (old towns), mingling in Tuareg trading posts and ancient mellahs (Jewish quarters). The greeting that reaches your ears today echoes across the centuries: Ahlanwasahlan, you are welcome in Morocco.

Passport/Visa

Passport Required?

British

Yes

Australian

Yes

Canadian

Yes

USA

Yes

Other EU

Yes

Visa Required?

British

No

Australian

No

Canadian

No

USA

No

Other EU

No

Return Ticket Required?

British

No

Australian

No

Canadian

No

USA

No

Other EU

No

 

Passports

Passport valid for intended period of stay required by all nationals referred to in the chart above.

Passport Note

Visitors should ensure that their passports are stamped when they enter the country.

Visas

Not required by all nationals referred to in the chart above for stays of up to 90 days.

Visa Note

If your stay is longer than 90 days, a resident permit is required and can be issued by the police department of your place of residence in Morocco.

Nationals not referred to in the chart are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements.

 

Money

Currency

Moroccan Dirham (MAD; symbol Dh) = 100 centimes. Notes are in denominations of Dh200, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins are in denominations of Dh10, 5 and 1, and 50, 20, 10 and 5 centimes.

Currency Exchange

Moroccan Dirhams can only be obtained in Morocco. The most convenient way to obtain Dirhams is through an ATM, where official rates automatically apply, but daily withdrawal limits can seem low for customers paying cash for rugs in the souks. National currencies should be exchanged at official bureaux de change only (identified by a golden sign); changing money in the street is illegal. There is no commission charge and visitors will be issued with a receipt which they must keep in order to exchange Moroccan currency back into the original national currency upon departure.

Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs

Some credit cards are accepted in larger restaurants, hotels, guest houses and the occasional shop in the souks.  Cash can be withdrawn from ATMs in larger towns.

Traveller's Cheques

To avoid additional exchange rate surcharges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in Pounds Sterling or US Dollars.

Currency Restrictions

Restrictions apply.

Banking Hours

Mon-Thurs 0830-1230 and 1500-1830, Fri 0830-1200 and 1500-1830.

Exchange Rate Indicators

Date June 3
£1.00=  Dh14.02
$1.00=  Dh9.66
€1.00= Dh10.95

 

Health

Vaccinations

 

Special Precautions

Diphtheria

Sometimes

Hepatitis A

Yes

Malaria

No

Rabies

Sometimes

Tetanus

Yes

Typhoid

Sometimes

Yellow Fever

No

Inoculation regulations can change at short notice. Please take medical advice in the case of doubt. Where 'Sometimes' appears in the table above, precautions may be required, depending on the season and region visited.

Food and Drink

Water sources outside main cities and towns may be contaminated and sterilization is advisable. Bottled water is the best bet and is available everywhere. Milk is unpasteurized, so boil before drinking. Meat and fish should be freshly cooked and served hot. Vegetables are typically served cooked. If eating fruit, try to stick to fruit that can be peeled before eating. Most produce is grown organically, without chemical pesticides or fertilizers but it’s highly likely to have been washed in unsterilized water.

Other Risks

Vaccinations against tuberculosis and hepatitis B are sometimes recommended. Malaria is extremely rare in Morocco and is limited to rural Chefchaouen. Travellers visiting the province between May and October might want to consider taking malaria tablets and using some form of mosquito repellent to avoid bites, especially if sleeping outside. If venturing into higher altitude areas such as the mountains, take care to acclimatise first, as altitude sickness can bring on nausea and dizziness. Visitors should wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water to avoid heatstroke and sunburn.

Health Care

There are decent medical facilities in all main cities, including emergency pharmacies (see postings in pharmacy windows listing the nearest pharmacie du garde, or after-hours pharmacy) and clinics in major hotels outside normal opening hours. Government hospitals provide free or minimal charge emergency treatment. However, do not expect Western standards of treatment – with a healthcare system that’s vastly underfunded, public hospitals tend to be run down, lacking in facilities and may not be able to provide a comprehensive range treatments. It is recommended that visitors take out travel insurance that will cover medical treatment.

 

Getting There

Getting There by Air

The national airlines are Royal Air Maroc (AT) (website: www.royalairmaroc.com), and its twin low-cost carrier Atlas Blue (8A) (website: www.atlas-blue.com).

Approximate Flight Times

From London to Casablanca is 3 hours; to Tangier is 2 hours 30 minutes. From New York to Casablanca is 6 hours 30 minutes.

Main Airports

Casablanca (CMN) (Mohammed V) is 30km (19 miles) south of the city (journey time - 35 minutes). To/from the airport: There are taxi services into Casablanca and train services available to Rabat. Facilities: Outgoing duty-free shop, post office, banking and bureau de change, restaurant, bar, tourist help desk and car hire.

Tangier (TNG) (Boukhalef Souahel) is 11km (7 miles) from the city (journey time - 20 minutes). To/from the airport: Bus and taxi services are available into Tangier. Facilities: Outgoing duty-free shop, banking and bureau de change, restaurant, bar, tourist help desk and car hire.

Other international airports include Fes (FEZ), Marrakech (RAK) and Rabat-Salé (RBA).

Departure Tax

None.

Getting There by Water

Main ports: Tangier and Nador in Morocco proper, and the Spanish-held ports of Ceuta and Melilla. Several lines from Europe serve these ports.

Ferry operators include FerriMaroc (tel: (950) 274 800; website: www.ferrimaroc.com) and Trasmediterranea (tel: (902) 454 645; website: www.trasmediterranea.com). There are cheap and regular car- and passenger-ferry links between southern Spain and Tangier and the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the north Moroccan coast. Most links are roll-on, roll-off car ferries except where shown. The routes are from Algeciras to Ceuta (Sebta) (car ferry); Algeciras to Tangier (hydrofoil and car ferry); Tarifa to Tangier (hydrofoil); Gibraltar to Tangier (hydrofoil and car ferry); Almería to Melilla or Nador (car ferry); Málaga to Melilla (car ferry); Almería to Nador (car ferry); Gênes (Italy) to Tangier; Alicante to Orán; and Almería to Al Hoceima.

There are also car ferries between Sète on the French coast (between Béziers and Montpellier on the Golfe du Lyon) and Tangier run by Compagnie Marocaine de Navigation.

Getting There by Rail

Rail links between Morocco and Algeria are currently suspended. Trains can be caught from London Victoria to Gare du Nord in Paris, and then Gare d'Austerlitz to Algerciras. From here ferries can be caught to Morocco.

Getting There by Road

The best road link is from southern Spain or France via passenger/car ferries. The road link on the north Algerian border is currently closed. Eurolines (tel: 0870 580 8080, in the UK; website: www.eurolines.com) serves destinations in Morocco.

 

Climate

The Moroccan climate varies according to season and region. The coast has a warm, Mediterranean climate tempered on the eastern coast by southwest trade winds. Inland areas have a hotter, drier, continental climate. In the south of the country, the weather is very hot and dry throughout most of the year, though temperatures can drop dramatically at night, especially in the months of December and January. Rain falls from November to March in coastal areas, and the country is mostly dry with high temperatures in summer and a cooler climate in the mountains. Marrakech and Agadir enjoy an average temperature of 21°C (70ºF) in the winter.

Required Clothing

Lightweight cottons and linens are worn during summer, with warm mediumweights for the evenings, during the winter, and in the mountains. Waterproofing is advisable in the wet season, particularly on the coast and in the mountains.

 

Contacts

Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in the UK

49 Queen's Gate Gardens, London SW7 5NE, UK
Tel: (020) 7581 5001.
Website: http://www.moroccanembassylondon.org.uk
Opening times:
Mon-Thurs 0930-1700. Fri 0930-1500. 

Moroccan Consulate in the UK

Diamond House, 97-99 Praed Street, London W2 1NT, UK
Tel: (020) 7724 0624.
Website: http://www.moroccanconsulate.org.uk/en/index.html
Opening times: Mon-Fri 0900-1400 (for visas).

Moroccan National Tourist Office in the UK

205 Regent Street, 2nd Floor, London W1R 7DE, UK
Tel: (020) 7437 0073/ 74.
Website: www.visitmorocco.org

Moroccan National Tourist Office in the USA

104 West, 40th Street, Suite 1820, New York, NY, 10018, United States
Tel: (212) 221 1583.
Website: www.visitmorocco.com

Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in the USA

1601 21st Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009, USA
Tel: (202) 462 7979.
Website: http://www.embassyofmorocco.us
Opening times:
Consular section: Mon-Fri 0900-1600; Sat 1000-1300 (only last Sat of every month).

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