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Advice on two young females driving in Morocco

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Graz, Austria
posts: 2
Advice on two young females driving in Morocco

We are two female university-students in our early twenties and will be spending 2 weeks in Morocco. We have given ourselves 3 to 4 days to travel from Marrakech to Khamlia/Merzouga through the Atlas mountains. Our plan was to rent a car in Marrakech and share the drive between us.

There are two factors, however, that make us slightly hesitant about driving ourselves. Firstly, we do not have International Driving Permits (although, we read on another thread that this is not such a problem). Secondly, we are used to driving on the other (left) side of the road.

We have both travelled quite a lot, and are not scared about adapting to new environments or rules. We are native English speakers, will have basic Arabic and one of us speaks very good French.

We have seen other options advertised about hiring private drivers or taking group tours, however, we would prefer to have the freedom and reduced costs that come with driving ourselves.

Are we naïve in thinking that, with the help of a good map, we can drive this route by ourselves? We've read other TA threads, and there has been a suggestion that the trip is doable. For those with experience on Morocco's roads, do you think driving is a sensible and feasible plan for two girls in our situation? Do you have any recommendations?

London, United...
Destination Expert
for Morocco
posts: 5,364
reviews: 36
1. Re: Advice on two young females driving in Morocco

If you don't have the time to undertake basic research, don't feel you could follow road signs, don't wish to drive or can't handle a manual gearbox, want company, etc., then having a driver is a good idea, but many of the Morocco regulars including me would prefer to drive ourselves. I first drove in Morocco when in my 20s.

Others will argue the opposite view. There is no right or wrong, it's something that only you can decide.

You don't need International Driving Permits so long as your national licence includes a photo. If you are lucky enough to be under 25, check that the hire company will accept you.

Morocco doesn't have a huge road network and is well signposted, so as long as you know the name of where you are headed, navigation is fairly easy. Road signs (give way, stop, etc.,) are the same international signs as elsewhere. Try to avoid driving in major cities in the evening (it's mayhem) and do not even think of driving at night time. Yes, you will have to get used to driving on the other side of the road, so I suggest you get some practice whilst in Austria. ;)

Other than that, get a good map (National Geographic Adventure , Reise Know How or Michelin 742 are my recommendations, in order of preference) and aim to drive on side roads where possible, especially those with green edges on the maps which indicate scenic routes.

Graz, Austria
posts: 2
2. Re: Advice on two young females driving in Morocco

Thank you for your good advice Tim, it has all been written down!

Any advice on which companies with whom we should 'try' hiring a car (although given our age and lack of IDP, it might be more a matter of where we can get a car)? Are there any cars that you would recommend for the roads (as Australians, we are used to manuals, so no problem at all!)?

Hertford, UK
posts: 9
reviews: 8
3. Re: Advice on two young females driving in Morocco

I'm just back from morocco. We hired a car from marakech airport and returned it to fez via skoura, mergouza and midelt.

We had some interesting experiences, which might make your own trip a little easier...

1. Even if you hire a car through one of the international agencies, don't expect the vehicles to be as new or well maintained as they are in (for instance) western europe. Ours certainly wasn't and talking to others this seemed to be fairly normal.

2. Its really important to check that you have a spare with good pressure/tread. That you have a working jack and a lever to remove/replace wheelnuts. Plus some spare nuts. Punctures are common, distances large and it is often remote. It is handy to be able to change a wheel yourself, you'll feel better for it.

3. Having said that, most moroccon villages have small garages which can pretty much perform most basic mechanical tasks/repairs.

4. Diesel is a lot cheaper than petrol if you have the choice.

5. Road signs in towns are shocking. I'm not stupid (honest) but to get from the airport to the road to Ouzazate was almost entirely by guesswork. A lot of towns don't have useful signs, tho in the sticks the junctions seem to be better indicated.

6. Be really careful when slow things come towards you. We just missed a horrific crash where someone overtook a lorry on a blind bend and wiped out a car coming the other way. After this, I spent almost as much time watching oncoming traffic as that coming the other way. Once you get the hang of it, you get better at anticipating the trouble.

7. Make sure your intinery is not too tight. Traffic is really slow in towns, and even if it isn't , driving slowly through towns with all the people/bikes/donkeys etc is the only way to stay sane. On the open road, other slow moving vehicles and accidents may delay you more than you expect. The country is amazing, give yourself enough time to enjoy it properly.

8. Despite all this, I can't emphasis what a FANTASTIC place it is to drive round. The scenery is amazing, and providing you don't rush, driving outside towns is on mainly well surfaced good quality roads. The country on the far side of the Atlas with mountains, deserts, gorges, oasis etc etc is the most memorable I've encountered. It was an amazing experience.

9. One very unpeasant incident we had - following a restaurant stop in the high atlas, we drove off. A few hundred metres later one of our wheels fell off. (really !!) Coincidence ? I think not, but who can say. Luckily all unscathed and I was able to jack it up, put on some more nuts and proceed. There were a couple of guys who drove past to help. It's easy to be paranoid - where they helping or just extracting cash ? I gave them a bit for their help, kept a beady eye on them and got out. So always check the car over if you've left it somewhere out of sight.

Hope all this helps. Have a great time.

d

El Jadida, Morocco
posts: 20
4. Re: Advice on two young females driving in Morocco

hello you will be welcome in morocco . you now that there is one route from marakech to merzoga really the route so so deficult you should keep your eyes on the ball all the time zig zag zig zag and specially in winter time but you can take other route beni mellal to errachidiya then merzouga it's easy way .

Ljubljana, Slovenia
posts: 5
reviews: 1
5. Re: Advice on two young females driving in Morocco

Hi there!

As I wouldn´t open new post on this, can anyone advise prices for car rental in Morocco?

We´re arriving in 3 days and informations on car hiring prices/costs/expences are so diferent, I´d prefer fair first-hand info.

What we´re looking for is cheapest car for 12 days rental.

Thank you for any info in advance!

Take care,

D & M

Columbus, Ohio
posts: 6
reviews: 12
6. Re: Advice on two young females driving in Morocco

Any advice or recommendation on hiring a car and a driver to drive us around for 10-11 days. We too are 2 girls traveling on our own in morocco for the first time. Starting in Casablanca and ending in marrakech. Will appreciate any advice you can give.

7. Re: Advice on two young females driving in Morocco

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London, United...
Destination Expert
for Morocco
posts: 5,364
reviews: 36
8. Re: Advice on two young females driving in Morocco

"hiring a car and a driver"

This thread is about a different topic, so suggest you start a new one.

Marrakech, Morocco
Destination Expert
for Marrakech
posts: 3,924
reviews: 8
9. Re: Advice on two young females driving in Morocco

why not consider the option oftakingthe supra tours bus. It's comfortable and cheaper?

Marrakech, Morocco
posts: 31
10. Re: Advice on two young females driving in Morocco

I would agree with Truebeliever and encourage you to take the Supratours bus. As he says, comfortable, cheaper...and always on time. What realy scares me about your idea of driving yourselves is the left versus right side of the road issue! The roads in the Atlas Mountains can be treacherous -- narrow with lots of curves -- and often without guard rails -- with trucks coming out of nowhere at top speed at times. Is this the ideal place to be driving on the right side of the road for the first time? However, if you do decide to go forward with your idea of renting a car and driving yourselves, please note the following:

1) Do a thorough checkover of the car before leaving the rental office -- including the windshield wiper rubber blades. A friend didn't check these -- they were missing altogether . That same day he was caught in a downpour in the middle of the Atlas Mountains and had to pull over for 2 hours.

2) Don't leave your car unattended. Twice people have siphoned off the gas from my car while I was eating at a roadside restaurant. Friends recently had their car broken into while on a roadtrip through Morocco and had all their luggage stolen.

3) Avoid driving at night.