We wanted to see Morocco while we were visiting Gibraltar for a few days and had limited time to research & organise our own trip so the tourist information centre recommended we try Blands Travel, who are located on the way into Irish Town.
Excellent advice - we were warmly welcomed into the office and sold an £85 per person trip to Morocco which turned out to be very good value.
We were collected at 0650 from the central bus station (the minibus went on to collect guests from some of the larger hotels) and transferred at the border onto a Spanish coach for the 40-50 minute journey to the small sea port at Tarifa almost directly opposite Tangier. Our guide accompanied us throughout the day and she took care of everything - wizzing is through borders, by-passing some of the queues by taking all the passports and getting them stamped en masse etc.
The boat to Tangier was a modern high speed catamaran with a decent café to make up for the early start & the sea crossing only takes about 45 minutes. There’s a small observation deck to take in the views of shipping and coastal scenery as you speed across the Strait of Gibraltar.
At Tangier we were quickly ashore and met by Ahmed our local guide, an engaging and very knowledgeable man who’s been guiding visitors for 30 years and seemed to know everyone we met!
The little bus we traveled on in Tangier was modern with USB sockets to recharge phones & cameras (remember to switch off data roaming if you’re from U.K./EU as the Morocco price per MB is very high) and we travelled first though the city, having the different areas explained to us, then a drive to the coast to see where Mediterranean & Atlantic meet. Regular stops for photos of course. Then a brief stop for a camel ride - very short but fun - then down to see the “cave of Hercules” - nice photo spot.
Then back into town to start walking for the afternoon, though you can leave bags on the bus if you want. First stop a delightful restaurant at the top of the kasbah for lunch of olives, bread, soup, kebab, couscous and a pastry (with veggie option) which was delicious - worth a separate review - La Terreza de la Medina. Only one drink included, plus sweet Moroccan tea, but it was enough.
I must add that the lunch, guide services, camel ride etc were all included in the price of the tour - apart from any souvenirs we didn’t need to pay for anything on the day.
After lunch we had a walking tour through the medina, souk, a couple of calls into shops (the ‘art gallery’ isn’t a public gallery, it’s a smart art & local crafts shop
where they’ll try and sell you things) and some free time to explore. Euros are welcome, indeed any paper currency seems to be accepted.
Please be aware that you will be a magnet for street vendors, who are VERY persistent and follow you around all day, right up to the point where you enter the bus back to the port. The guides will shield you to some extent but can’t completely keep you free from attention - it’s all part of the Tangier experience!
As the day ends you say farewell to the local guide & driver, board the fast catamaran back to Spain, pass through customs & immigration back into EU then a bus transfer to Gibraltar.
My wife and I thought that it was extremely good value - there are cheaper tours available but this included the lunch, camel ride, expert guides, high quality air-conditioned buses and attentive service throughout. An excellent, safe, introduction to North Africa that will leave you wanting more, and we were impressed by Blands.