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“Visit spoilt by (very potentially nasty) scam artists” 1 of 5 stars
Review of Tanneries

Tanneries
outside Bab Debbagh, Marrakech, Morocco
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Ranked #79 of 84 attractions in Marrakech
Type: Factory Tours, Neighborhoods
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Attraction Details
Fee: No
Recommended length of visit: <1 hour
Owner description: Leather tanning is the major industry in the city. It’s definitely worth a walk through this neighborhood.
Woking, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
36 reviews 36 reviews
11 attraction reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
“Visit spoilt by (very potentially nasty) scam artists”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed October 5, 2013

We had really looked forward to a visit to the Marrakech tanneries but, unfortunately, our visit was 100% spoilt by scam artists: first day in Morocco - first day in Marrakech - we were absolutely thrilled to be able to immerse ourselves in the souks. Having left the Jamaa el Fna Place, we spent the morning walking the innumerable alleyways of the city, pushing on deeper and deeper into the heart of the souks. We should have learnt our morning lesson - clearly not... (I'm reviewing the souk experience separately) as we were taken in by a young man who casually and briefly approached us, simply saying 'the tanneries are that way - it's a special day at the tanneries today but you've got to hurry 'cos they're gonna pack up soon', quickly followed by 'You're lucky [pointing at another young man], he lives there and he's going home - he'll walk with you'. YEAH - RIGHT! Note that we did not agree to being led in any way, shape or form but quickly realised that the guy who was supposed to 'live there' was in fact just a cog in a big tourist scam wheel. He was ominously there every step of the way, always just a few feet away from us and we were just unable to shake him loose. In hindsight, we should simply have given up on our intention to visit the tanneries and gone off in a completely different direction or even backtracked and gone back to the main Jamaa el Fna. Anyway we did neither as we were determined to see the tanneries and were so close - and pressed on towards the location. On arrival, the guy who'd kept a few paces ahead of us all seemed to say his good-byes - and we breathed a small, cautious, guarded, hopeful but, alas, entirely misplaced, sigh of relief. We were very quickly handed small mint posies on passing through the entrance to the yard and before we knew it, a man undertook to lead us through the actual place, quickly and ultimately taking us to (you've guessed it)...the leather goods shop. A couple were just leaving the back room of the shop and as they passed us, I heard the man say quietly to us 'good luck'. We took this as our cue and having been asked to sit down, we declined, turned and walked out - only to be confronted by the man who had marched us around the various tannery vats, flanked by the young guy who 'walked with us on his way home' and a couple of other men who appeared out of nowhere... We quickly walked out of the compound and found ourselves in a very open, and totally deserted, area, and had absolutely no idea as to where we were. The 'team' all joined forces to demand money for the 'tour' - to the tune of 200 dirhams, which we were not prepared to pay given that the whole thing was clearly an organised scam and that the 'tour' proved to be next to useless and unsolicited. In a matter of seconds, a rather unpleasant exchange took place, with my husband putting his foot down and making it clear that while he would be handing over a tip, no way was it going it be anywhere near the 200 dirham mark. All this took place as we walked away from what I took to be the back gates of the tanneries, with the 'gang' following us and at one point pulling my husband back by the arm. I experienced a few (interminable) moments of panic, I have to admit, and imagined that it could take but a split second for us to be in real trouble - as I said, there was noone else around and the situation felt rather dangerous to me. We did manage to walk and find our way back to the main square - eventually.
My recommendation: if you do want to see the tanneries, splash out on a registered guide - don't waste your time, money and peace of mind trying to do this on your own.

Visited October 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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London, Canada
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Tanneries was a rip off”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed October 2, 2013

I visited the tanneries in July, 2013. I expected to buy high quality leather items, that would last a life time. I bought a purse for $80. The lining on the purse tore in two places after one month, and after two months, the leather handle broke off. The tanneries was the biggest rip off I've ever seen. The sales pressure was awful. I would never go back or give them any of my money.

Visited July 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
2 reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Not for everyone, but I loved it!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 22, 2013

Although I had read quite a few negative reviews on visiting the tanneries - I decided to ignore these and have an explore myself. I convinced a couple of my friends to join me and initially we decided to make our way there ourselves from the souks. After half an hour of wondering the souks and only slowly getting closer to them, we asked a young man if he knew where they were and he happily offered to take us there. Although we knew we would have to pay him, we were thankful that he knew where he was going and he was very chatty with us and I felt completely safe. He took us through a maze of streets to get there, which was in itself a highlight, as there were no other tourists around and locals just going about their daily business.He showed us the market area where the leather is first delivered for people to buy before it is made into bags etc and several mini factories, where they were carving wood or making other products and the men working always just smiled and waved at us. Once we got to the tanneries, our young man handed us over to one of the "managers" there who gave us mint leaves and showed us around.a couple of the tanneries. He explained the history behind them and the traditional methods that they still use to make leather, which was fascinating to actually see in-front of you and it made me appreciate the time and effort put into this. He then took us to one of the shops, where we were given a quick tour by the shopkeeper then left to look at the products. The leather goods in the shop did look and feel amazing, but we didn't buy anything and although the shopkeeper looked slightly disappointed in this, he was not rude in the slightest to us for this. The man who had taken us around the tanneries, then expected a tip, which of course we were willing to give to him, however he did try his luck and asked for 200dirhams (about £30) which I laughed at and said I would give 40dirhams and no more. He was very pushy about trying to get 200dirhams, but I stood my ground and started to walk away. When he realized I wouldn't give anymore than 40 he took it and left. The young man was waiting for us to take us back to the main square, which he did and when we gave him a tip (50dirhams) he was very thankful for this. Regarding the smell, considering we went in August (45 degrees) and we went in the middle of day it was no worse than visiting a farm in the summer!! I would recommend this trip if you like visiting places that a lot of other tourists wont go to and as long as you accept the fact that you will probably have to tip someone (haggling will also probably be needed!) and that it does have a slight smell to it you should have an interesting time!

Visited August 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“You do have to pay to see the pigeon poop”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 17, 2013 via mobile

I am not sure you get anything for nothing in Marrakech. On arriving we were given mint leaves and shown around. We were given a lot of information about the tanneries and so learned about the process but the smell was awful. Once we had finished our tour we were whisked into a shop where we did purchase some leather goods and despite bargaining who knows how much over the odds we paid - it's all part of the game. When we came out of the shop the guy who showed us round was waiting and wanting to be paid but I think we were kind of expecting that. It was annoying that we didn't know up front that we would need to pay, but all in all visiting the tanneries was interesting and I would like to think the goods we bought were made by hand in and around Marrakech although I guess you can never be sure.

Visited September 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Marrakech
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
“If you are a sensitive wall flower, do not go, especially in the summer”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 13, 2013

This is a place for the hardened traveler with a cold.

I have read some reviews and am quite surprised by some comments. Slimey hides being scooped out of the lime is what the tanneries is all about. What did you expect? Vats full of rose petals? chlorine filled swimming pools?

This place is dirty, it is smelly and it is historically unique. The family run businesses here, go back hundreds of years, past from generation to generation to generation.

It is worth seeing solely because of it's history, ignore the false guides, or push them in a vat and imagine yourself having to do the work.

Oh and only go in the winter - smell just bearable then.

Visited May 2013
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