Horseback riding in Morocco

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Equestrian tours in Morocco

Morocco Mini Guide
   Source: World Travel Guide

Overview

Morocco is a heady mix of cultures, religions, ancient traditions, and modern sensibilities. It conjures up images of mint tea and tagine, date plantations and minarets, labyrinthine medinas and pungent spice stalls.

One of the more liberal countries in North Africa, Morocco's biggest drawing card is Marrakech, a giddying and grandiose city that Winston Churchill described as "simply the nicest place on earth to spend an afternoon". This sentiment rings true for many travelers today.

Each city has a distinctive and different character. Tangier, in the north, is the getaway to Africa, and is characterized by its white-washed buildings, sandy beaches and burgeoning cultural scene. Further down the coast lines cosmopolitan Casablanca, the faded coastal town of Essaouira and the lively beach resort of Agadir, favored by sun-seekers and surfers. Inland Fez captivates travelers with its dusky souks, high-sided streets, and maze of stunning riads (traditional houses built around a central courtyard).

The blend of ancient and colonial architecture that characterizes Morocco's main cities makes them beautiful propositions: Marrakech, Essaouira, Fez and Tetouan are all on UNESCO's World Heritage list and are home to an increasing collection of cultural attractions. And when sightseeing begins to pall, visitors can retreat to a  traditional hammam, sample the country's delectable cuisine or barter for bargains in the souks.

Beyond the cities, awesome landscapes await. Carving Morocco in two are the Atlas Mountains, home to thew monumental gorges of Todra and Dades, the palmeries of Tinerhir, and the beautiful Berber city of Ouarzazate, where active travelers will find skiing aplenty. Then, there's Merzouga, famous for camel-trekking and bird watching, and Toubkal, North Africa's highest mountain.

The epic waves of Western Sahara prove an adventure too far for most travelers. Government forces continue to occupy this disputed territory, even though Moroccan sovereignty is not recognized by the United Nations. The issue remains a sensitive subject.

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

To enter Morocco, a passport valid for the duration of stay is required by UK and US nationals; the passports of Canadian and Australian citizens must be valid at least six months past the date of expected return. EU citizens should check with the relevant embassy.

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.


Types and Cost


Tourist visa: £18. Fee varies according to the exchange rate.

 

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. The Euro and US Dollar are widely accepted, even preferred. However, you won't be able to change Northern Irish or Scottish bank notes.

Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs

Some credit cards are accepted in larger restaurants, hotels, guest houses and the occasional shop in the souks, with Visa and MasterCard being the most widely accepted companies.  Cash can be withdrawn from ATMs in larger towns, although service in smaller towns can be erratic. Most major hotels now have reliable ATMs.

Traveller's Cheques

Traveler's cheques are accepted in some areas but not advised, as the exchange can be problematic and it can be difficult to find a bank able to cash them. However, some of the main tourist hotels can cash cheques.

Currency Restrictions

Restrictions apply.

Banking Hours

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

Exchange Rate Indicators

Date April 2018
£1.00=  Dh13.00
$1.00=  Dh9.17
€1.00= Dh11.33

 

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). Other airlines operating flights to Morocco from the UK include British Airways (www.ba.com), easyJet (www.easyjet.com). Ryanair (www.ryanair.com), and TUI (www.tui.co.uk/flightl).

The busiest international airports are in Agadir, Casablanca, Fes, Marrakech, Ouarzazate, Rabat, and Tangier. July to September is peak season in Morocco, so fly outside the summer months to take advantage of cheap deals.

Approximate Flight Times

To Marrakech: from London- 3 hours 30 minutes; New York- 9 hours 40 minutes (including stopover).

To Casablanca: from London- 3 hours 20 minutes; New York- 6 hours 50 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

Included in airfare.

Getting There by Water



Ferry operators include Grimaldi Ferries (www.grimaldi-lines.com), Baleraria Ferries (www.balaeria.com), FRS (www.frs.es), Naviera Armas (www.navieraarmas.com), Grand Navi Veloci (www.gnv.it) and Trasmediterranea (www.trasmediterranea.es). 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 and to Tangier; Tarifa to Tangier; Gibraltar to Tangier; Almería to Melilla or Nador; Málaga to Melilla; Motril to Al Hoceima, Tangier, Melilla, or Nador; Barcelona to Tangier; Genoa to Tangier; and Sete to Nador or Tangier.

Getting There by Rail

An InterRail pass no longer covers Morocco, but gets you as far as the port at Algeciras, where pass holders get a 30% discount on ferry routes to Tanger Med.

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, but border links with Morocco's other neighbor Mauritania in the south are still open.

The bus company Compagnie de Transports Marocains (www.ctm.ma) operates a bus service from most Moroccan cities to destinations in France, Spain, and Italy in conjunction with Eurolines.

Driving note: The road between Morocco and Mauritania is a route only for the very determined. There are warnings of landmines and high instances of banditry in the country's far southwest, but the roads are generally well-maintained tarmac. However this turns into sandy 'piste' immediately on entering Mauritania, and with the added risk of landmines, a guide is strongly recommended. The border closes at 1800 daily.

 

Climate

Morocco's climate is very diverse, varying with the season and region. In general the country has a tropical climate, with temperatures reaching as high as 35 Celsius (95F) and as low as 5 Celsius (41F) in the Sahara. The coast has a warm, Mediterranean climate tempered on the eastern coast by a southwest trade winds whilst 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. Temperatures in the Atlas Mountains can drop below zero Celsius (32F) in winter and mountain peaks are snow capped most of the year.

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 Celsius (70F) during the winter.

Owing to the relatively high winter temperatures, and the summers that are dry rather than unbearably humid, Morocco is an all-year round destination. If you really want to avoid the heat, the best time to visit is during the shoulders season of April to May (or maybe even early June), and September to November.

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. Both men and women should be careful to wear clothing that is cognizant of cultural sensitivities- long sleeves and low hems will be looked on favourably.

 

Contacts

Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in the UK

49 Queen's Gate Gardens, Kensington, 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, Paddington, 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).

 

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).

British Embassy in Morocco

Souissi, 28 Avenue S.A.R. Sidi Mihammed, Rabat, 10105 (BP 45)
Tel: +212 537 633 333
Website: www.gov.uk/world/organisations/british-embassy-rabat
Opening times: Mon-Thu 0800- 1615. Fri 0800- 1300. 

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