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Trip report: Fes, Erg Chebbi, Ouarzazate

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Katonah, NY
posts: 678
reviews: 304
Trip report: Fes, Erg Chebbi, Ouarzazate

We just returned from 8 nights in Morocco. We are a family of four with two teens. We organized everything independently, from rental car, to hotels, to guides. First, while they are generally helpful, I believe some destination experts are a little off-putting with their advice. I posted many enquiries on the forum and was told by several people that we didn't need a guide in Fes, that we couldn't stay less than three nights in the desert, and so on. Anyone considering a visit to Morocco should just go for it, no matter your time constraints. There are world-class things to see and do all over the country, and even though we only had eight nights, we felt that it was perfect. Our experience was that having a guide in Fes was great, and so was exploring on our own. Our two nights in Erg Chebbi were worth every penny and the long drive. Driving around Morocco was pretty easy and interesting. Only one person offered us drugs, and he was just a dumb kid who offered them while we were with our teenagers. People were really friendly and talkative. Food was generally excellent. Ouarzazate wasn't at all as we expected and we ended up being really glad that we spent three nights there. It was attractive, clean and lively with great food and shopping. Moroccans are generally quite educated and speak French as well as they speak Arabic. Fes is the best place to buy your souvenirs, big selection and good prices. Fes is also super interesting and we are very happynwith our choice to go there rather than Marrakech. The palmeries are fantastic and everyone should make an effort to explore them. Ait Benhaddou was incredible. Other kasbahs pale in comparison, but are still worth seeing. The drive from Fes to Er Rachidia was actually super interesting and made a long drive worth it. People either drive like tortoises, or like maniacs. Lots of police speed checkpoints, so be on the lookout. While in the desert, try to do a dune drive in a 4 x 4, super fun. Try not to go to the desert on a full moon, can't see the stars so well. On the other hand, it is fun to walk the dunes at night under a full moon. Be prepared to see a lot of stray cats and dogs, very sad. We all disliked that aspect of Morocco, as well as WAY too much LITTER on the sides of the roads, as soon as you leave the towns. The towns are really clean in contrast. It is a bit of a downer to be on your camel in the Sahara only to see water bottles tossed everywhere. The attitude to trash really bugged us. If anyone reading this lives in Morocco, please try to help change this attitude. Sorry this is so rambling, I am just writing as I am remembering. Overall, we had a fantastic time and would love to visit again.

6 replies to this topic
Taroudannt...
posts: 934
reviews: 3
1. Re: Trip report: Fes, Erg Chebbi, Ouarzazate

Linda, regarding street animals in Morocco:

internationalanimalrescue.org/news/help-stre…

Watch this little video: http://vimeo.com/91815651

The woman who made it, Anne Heslop, lives part time in Azemmour, Morocco.

Katonah, NY
posts: 678
reviews: 304
2. Re: Trip report: Fes, Erg Chebbi, Ouarzazate

I felt quite sick at times with the condition of some of the animals I saw.i am glad someone is trying to,help. I really wish someone in Morocco would try to do something about the trash too. A far easier task, I think.

marrakech
Destination Expert
for Morocco
posts: 7,336
reviews: 62
3. Re: Trip report: Fes, Erg Chebbi, Ouarzazate

Hi,

Glad you enjoyed your visit but wonder if you actually came to Marrakech in order to say you are glad you went to Fes instead?

Taroudannt...
posts: 934
reviews: 3
4. Re: Trip report: Fes, Erg Chebbi, Ouarzazate

I know what you mean, Linda, especially in hot weather I see the caleche horses with their tongues hanging out for want of a drink and a bit if a break. The treatment of work animals varies though, and not all men mistreat their horses and donkeys.

London, United...
Destination Expert
for Morocco
posts: 5,373
reviews: 36
5. Re: Trip report: Fes, Erg Chebbi, Ouarzazate

Much of the litter on the sides of the roads is wind-blown plastic bags from the weekly markets that are held on the outskirts of towns. Water bottles tossed aside on the dunes are presumably from tourists. Generally though the situation has vastly improved in recent years and many towns now have purpose-built refuse collection vehicles purchased second-hand from Europe.

Most of the stray cats are feral, but are fed by the townspeople. Dogs are viewed differently from the 'western world' and are not allowed in houses, so roam around all day long. People can't afford vets bills to get animals neutered. Ever so often there's a round-up of the strays with predictable results.

You don't need a guide for Fez especially if you have a copy of the excellent 'Bab to Bab' Fez guidebook, but if you have one it will likely enhance the experience, especially for a first-time visitor to Morocco.

Ait Benhaddou is actually a ksar (fortified village), rather than a kasbah. Much of it was built either for specific films, or to attract future filming, so it's a bit artificial. And of course 40 years ago there wasn't the tat hotels and souvenir shops on the western bank of the river.

Glad you enjoyed your trip. Morocco has a lot more to offer in the Anti Atlas, Middle Atlas and the Rif areas so it's worth considering another trip at some time.

Katonah, NY
posts: 678
reviews: 304
6. Re: Trip report: Fes, Erg Chebbi, Ouarzazate

Shimmin, what do you mean? We had to choose, and based on many forum posts and lots of research, we chose Fes. I am not implying Marrkech isn't good, but we were happy with our choice. Maybe on another trip we will get to Marrakech. And Tim, regarding trash, I don't doubt much of it is blown by wind, but we saw people who were clearly locals toss trash out of car windows at least twice. You are probably right about tourists tossing water bottles in the dunes. Perhaps tour operators should do a,little more to discourage people from tossing water bottles. Realistically, most people throw,them out either when on a camel or in a 4 x 4.

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