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Morocco -- Her Tips for Travelling Solo

Susan Dresner is a New York travellin' woman who has experienced Morocco four times and absolutely loves it. We asked Susan about her best tips for travelling solo to this challenging part of the world. These are the female-friendly bits of advice she happily offers to other JourneyWomen worldwide...

Editor's Note: This article has been in our archives for quite awhile. That means that while the tips are probably still sound, the prices quoted probably have gone up. Please do your own pre-trip research where amounts are quoted.

 

Get a good guidebook...

S
tart with a really comprehensive, well-written guidebook. Cadogan's Morocco by Barnaby Rogerson, was my first inspiration to explore, and is (in my opinion) the classic on Morocco. This guide includes history, detailed itineraries, culture, maps, very balanced, if not unusual places to stay, eat, shop, etc.


Find safe transportation...

Inside cities, go by foot, map in hand, around the labrinthyine medina (old quarter) or (best of all) hire a city guide recommended by your lodgings until you get your bearings. Once you've had this orientation, then it's relatively safe to explore on your own; just keep looking for familiar shops and landmarks. To get about the sprawling New City, hire a petit taxi; your B&B host should, again, be able to recommend someone reliable. This type of transportation is both efficient and inexpensive. Always make sure you agree on a price before getting into the car.

For longer distances outside of the city, from one city to another, or into rural areas, treat yourself to a grand taxi, a private car - normally a Mercedes - which can run about $50-$75 a day if hired directly (get a name from someone you trust).
Arrange price beforehand, and know that you are not expected to pay for the driver's meals, lodgings or gas.

Stay firm with your itinerary; never get detoured to places the driver wants to take you. Remember a driver always gets commissions on anything you buy while you're with him so (for example) if you don't want carpets, don't let him stop at a carpet factory.

I usually avoid public buses. True, they're colorful and cheap, but also crowded, slow, hot and often, unsafe. This form of transportation is also known for the hustlers who prey on innocents from abroad. If you do take buses, be sure to watch your belongings very, very carefully.


Good guides are important...

In remote areas, hire a licensed mountain guide (lists provided by the Moroccan National Tourist Board at 212.557.2520 in NY) who can charge from $US35-$50 a day without transport. Most speak a little English or French, but rely on their Arabic and Berber. Guides can arrange for a Land Rover or a mule (for an extra fee) depending on where you're headed.

These trips to remote areas can be the most challenging, difficult excursions to arrange on your own, but the most rewarding kind of travel. Get a glimpse of Morocco fifty years ago (and perhaps centuries past). Your guide will take you into the world of the Berbers: traditional, generous, curious people. I found my first guide, Aziz, in the Office of Mountain Guides, in Kalaa M'Goun, mentioned in the Cadogan guidebook, Morocco. His e-mail address is: boullouz4X4@hotmail.com. It's important that you write in simple English that he will be able to understand.

Ed: note:
We also recently received several e-mail tips from JourneyWomen about a guide in Fez. We haven't used him ourselves but following up might be helpful to other travellers...

We found a great guide in Morocco! I just returned from travelling through Morocco with two friends of mine. We had a wonderful time and I would highly recommend it to any and all. Specifically, I wanted to recommend a guide that I found through a posting on the JW website. His name is Ali Mouni. Ali is a wonderful guide who speaks several languages fluently. Unlike another guide we used in Fez, Ali never pressured us to buy anything, nor did we ever feel like he took advantage of us. Instead, Ali offered us a rare insight into the way of life of Berbers in Morocco, particularly nomadic Berbers who live in the mountains, either in tents or in caves. Through Ali, we were able to meet some of these fascinating people and get a glimpse of what their incredibly hard lives are like. We would never have had this special opportunity without him. I highly recommend his services to other women. He can be reached at: alimouni@hotmail.com, or you can read more about him on his website at www.adventureswithali.com.
Sue, Philadelphia, USA

For another opinion about booking Ali, click here.



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