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.
a good guidebook...
Start 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.
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
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
expected to pay for the driver's meals, lodgings
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.
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.
guides are important...
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
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: email@example.com, or
you can read more about him on his website at
Sue, Philadelphia, USA
For another opinion about booking Ali, click
She meets local women and more...