Morocco Country Guide | Brownell Travel

Morocco Country Guide

With abundant history, culture, and adventure, it’s no surprise that Morocco is top on most travelers’ must-see lists. Whether you want to experience Morocco’s design and fashion scene (it was the second home of Yves Saint Laurent, after all!), sample mouthwatering cuisine, immerse yourself in the friendly culture, or explore the mountains and deserts, your Brownell Advisor can design a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Morocco. Working closely with our partners at Heritage Tours, your advisor will create an itinerary tailored to your unique preferences and interests. And with Heritage Tour’s exclusive connections, your trip will not only showcase authentic Morocco but also include exclusive experiences you can’t find anywhere else!

Learn more about this incredible country with our Morocco Country Guide.

GENERAL TRAVEL INFORMATION

Documents needed: Valid Passport with at least one empty page.  No tourist visa required.

Language: Arabic, French, and multiple dialects of Berber.

Currency: Moroccan Dirham (approx. $1 = 9.4 MAD).

WHERE TO GO

Casablanca:

Stay: Four Seasons Casablanca, Sofitel Tour Blanche, Hotel Le Doge.

Don’t Miss: Visit the Mosque Hassan II, dramatically sited at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Built by the late King Hassan II at the end of his 40-year reign, this astonishing edifice is larger than Saint Peter’s in Rome and capable of holding 80,000 worshippers.

Fes:

Stay: Riad Fes, Palais Faraj, Hotel Sahrai, Palais Amani, Riad Maison Bleue.

Don’t Miss: The Bou Inania Medersa (koranic university), the shrine of Moulay Idriss II, countless souks, and Fes’s famous tanneries.

Heritage Tours Exclusive Experience:  Enjoy a tour of the medina with a young designer, raised in Fes. Head off to the medina and visit artisans who are keeping their traditions alive.  Learn about his approach to fashion and design – inspired by age old techniques, natural dyes used in Berber motifs, and contemporary abstraction. Visit the designer’s atelier, as well as other designers’ workshops, and get a unique look at the evolving culture of design in Fes.

Sahara Desert:

Stay: Our private desert encampment “Thaalab Sahara” near the village of Merzouga and the legendary dunes of Erg Chebbi.  The encampment is comprised of three private tents, each with en suite bathroom. The encampment has a common dining tent, an excellent English-speaking staff and electricity via solar power.

Don’t Miss: Try sand-boarding on the dunes!

Heritage Tours Exclusive Experience:  Astronomy workshop under the brilliant Saharan sky.

Marrakech:

Stay: Royal Mansour, La Mamounia, Mandarin Oriental, Amanjena, Four Seasons Marrakech, Villa des Orangers, L’Hotel Marrakech, Riad El Fenn.

Don’t Miss: The frenetic Djemaa el Fnaa, the greatest square in all of Africa, the Koutoubia mosque, the colorful souks, the tropical Majorelle Gardens and the newly opened Yves St. Laurent Museum.

Heritage Tours Exclusive Experience:  Through special arrangements between the Yves St. Laurent Foundation and Heritage Tours, we are able to arrange access to the private villa, Villa Oasis, and its gardens. They are adjacent to the open-to-the-public Majorelle Gardens. As you can imagine, the villa is considered by many to be the most stunning privately owned home in Marrakech—a reflection of its owners’ taste and influence.

High Atlas Mountains:

Stay: Kasbah Tamadot, Kasbah Bab Ourika, Domaine Malika.

Don’t Miss: Visit a local Berber village where you will find a weekly souk.

Heritage Tours Exclusive Experience:  Private outdoor cooking class in a local visit.  Your will learn about Moroccan spices, bake bread the Moroccan way, using a traditional earthen wood-fueled stove, and prepare a vegetarian tagine, a version of the classic Moroccan stew.

TIPPING

  • Dining: It is common in Morocco to leave a 10% tip on restaurant bills, however please check your bill to make sure that it has not already been included.
  • Hotel: (porter, housekeeper) We recommend using the same standards that you would in the U.S. or Europe.  $1-$2 per bag and $2-$4 per day for your room at the hotel.
  • Cab: Negotiate a pre-determined flat fee.
  • Private driver: (Starting point for 2 PAX) $20 to $30 USD (or more if you choose) per day
  • Private guide: (Starting point for 2 PAX) $30 to $50 USD (or more if you choose) per day

DINING

Tangine, Couscous, Tangia (famous in Marrakech), fresh-squeezed orange juice Moroccan mint tea.

PACKING TIPS

Bring layers and options, and dress with respect for local traditions and sensibilities. Most Moroccans will have both their knees and shoulders covered at all times, especially in more religious cities like Fes and rural parts of the country. However, you will often see tourists wearing both shorts and sleeveless t-shirts. If you do choose to wear shorts, we suggest as close to knee-length as possible. If you do choose to have your shoulders exposed (and chest area), have a wrap just in case.

BEFORE YOU GO

Watch: Casablanca, of course!

Read:
  • Eyewitness Traveler as a guidebook.
  • Paul Bowles (noted American writer who lived in Morocco for over 40 years): The Sheltering Sky, The Spider’s House, The Delicate Prey and Other Stories
  • Elias Canetti: Voices of Marrakech
  • Paulo Coelho: The Alchemist
  • Tahar ben Jelloun: The Sand Child
  • Amin Maalouf: Leo Africanus
  • Edith Wharton: In Morocco
  • Elizabeth Fernea: A Street in Marrakech
  • Fettouma Benkirane: Secrets of Moroccan Cookery

WHEN TO GO

Best Time To Visit: Fall (mid-September through mid-November) and Spring (early March through late May).

Worst Time to Visit: Summer (it’s brutally hot) and Winter (it can be a bit rainy).

Know Before You Go

  • Morocco and Moroccans function on their own sense of time and their own cultural constructs, which may not always seem the most efficient to a Westerner. Some travelers may find this frustrating. But, a sense of humor, a bit of patience, some French and a smile will go a long way.
  • Ramadan is approximately May 15- June 14, 2018. Touring and tourism continue as normal. You’ll find that some markets and restaurants open later than usual.  Ramadan evenings are a joyous end to the day of fasting for Muslims! The facilities and restaurants at your hotel will remain open and at your disposal.

TRAVEL PLANNING TIPS

  • Most trips average 10 days in length, especially if you are going down to the Sahara
  • For peak season, planning should begin 4-6 months in advance; for festive season (Christmas and New Years) 6+ months in advance.