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Recent adventure to Morocco; our thanks to Trip Advisor!

Houston, Texas
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Recent adventure to Morocco; our thanks to Trip Advisor!

My daughter, her partner and I just returned from an amazing adventure in Morocco. Trip Advisor was enormously helpful in our planning. Great ideas from the forums as well. So here's some advice re: travelling there. If you are thinking of doing Morocco on your own, think again. Unless you are young, completely open to chaos, have lots of time to waste time finding what you're looking for, consider using a guide......particularly in the countryside. At first it seemed expensive to us; but when we crunched the numbers, and considered our priorities re time, we changed our minds. ( Please note that 2 of us are over 60; and one of us 46....in good physical condition for our ages. AND under the best of circumstances, this trip requires lots of energy.) Though I've driven rental cars in the US, Europe, and the UK, we decided we would not want to do that in Morocco. The desert experience (we loved Erg Chebbi near Merzouga) is a magnificent highlight. And I'm not even a desert person. I would suggest that any time frame less than 8 days in Morocco, unless you're planning to do only Marrakesh, Essouria and day trips from there, would be difficult. We took 2 weeks, and I'm VERY glad we did. Here's the good news: the guide recommended to us via the forums, Ali Oussou, was absolutely amazing in every way. He worked with me tirelessly via e-mail over a year's time, helping to co-create the best itinerary. Dependable, kind, knowledable and calming, Ali made what could have been a very gruelling trip MUCH easier for us. And his driver, Youssef, was excellent and delightful to travel with. Not much bad news about travelling in Morocco, but Some cautions: If what you require is unrelenting convenience, luxury travel and total control over your environment, this is probably not the country for you. And it's a wonderful country in many ways. Re: the ATMs......we had great difficulty getting them to give us money, despite our having told our banks ahead of time we would be travelling there. My card was captured twice, for no good reason, and it took over an hour each time to get it back. I'm told it's the system there; not here. So I strongly advise you take cash with you; euros preferably, or dollars. They don't seem to love traveller's checks either. The American Express office in Marrakesh was completely ineffectual; don't count on them to do anything quickly. RE: food in Morocco....fairly interesting, but be VERY careful. Though we were careful, 2 of the 3 of us got sick, and we almost never get sick, even in Mexico. Drink and brush teeth only bottled water; be cautious about (or don't eat)any raw vegetables and fruits; wash hands or use anti-bacterial hand-wash often. We heard that about 2/3rds of travellers have tummy troubles at some point during their trip. So take some meds with you. Suggest you not travel there during Ramadan, as it seems to change everything from banking hours to eating options. Also, it is hot in the desert areas and in Marrakech, even in late September, early October. I am open to answering further questions via this forum, if you're considering a trip to Morocco.

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Meknes-Tafilalet Region, Morocco
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Hotel Ali
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Phoenix, Arizona
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1. Re: Recent adventure to Morocco; our thanks to Trip Advisor!

Thank you for the insightful comments about travel to Morocco. We will be four 60 year old women from Arizona traveling there in October 2008. I will contact Ali Oussou. I read about him from some persons who post on the Fodors forum. Is his e-mail address still: erb(underscore)chebbi42@yahoo.fr?

Can you tell me which auberge or provider you used for the night in the desert? We are looking for a provider who has a toilet tent, as I know some have. Did you ride the camel or use a 4X4 to get to the desert camp?

Would you be willing to share the names of the hotels/riads/auberges you stayed in at each location on your trip?

Your interests and age demographics sound like ours, so I am very pleased to "meet" you here on this forum.

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Hotel Ali
Hotel Ali
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Marrakech, Morocco
Marseille, France
Destination Expert
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2. Re: Recent adventure to Morocco; our thanks to Trip Advisor!

I'm surprised you had trouble with the ATM's. I live in Morocco and have for a number of years and other than one or two banks that don't accept international cards, I've never had a problem using my VISA debit card in any ATM in the country even in the smaller villages (if you can find them there).

I don't recommend large amounts of cash though. It's just too risky in a poor country with a moderate to high petty theft rate. I suppose fully reimbursable traveler's checks would be the next best option, but using them can be a challenge as smaller boutiques won't generally accept them at all. Banks and hotels I would imagine would be happy to change them for you.

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Houston, Texas
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3. Re: Recent adventure to Morocco; our thanks to Trip Advisor!

To Marthaqaz......Re: the desert info you asked for......Ali Oussou made all those arrangements for us. He grew up in that area, so he can certainly help you with that. I found him to be very generous and forthcoming about answering all my questions. Also about helping us save money! He has a second e-mail besides the one you mentioned: Mroccan_land@hotmail.com. The first one you have is also current. Re: our riads, etc. Again, Ali helped us with some of those. Although we used Dar Soukaina in Marrakech and we liked it very much. In Meknes, the Riad Bahia. The Dar Kartoba in Fez. Kasbah Asmaa in Midelt. Can't recall the name of the one in Merzouga (edge of the dessert); Ali booked it and it was excellent! My daughter and her partner rode camels into the desert and spent the night which they LOVED! Ali advised me against that, though, because I have bad knees. He was very concerned about my climbing the high dunes on foot to get into the campsite. And he was RIGHT! I did ride a camel into the dunes to see the sunrise, and even climbing a 40 foot dune was extremely difficult for me. And, it was a great experience. You can, however, sleep out in the desert, as you know, and get there on wheels. I'm happy to answer other questions you may have, but sometimes it takes me a while to respond. Hope this is helpful.

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Meknes-Tafilalet Region, Morocco
Houston, Texas
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4. Re: Recent adventure to Morocco; our thanks to Trip Advisor!

to morroco traveller.......I used every kind of debit card imaginable, as I have 5 different ones. Including 2 VISA debit cards. I had notified them, and my bank, that I would be in Morocco. Tried over a dozen different banks, including the street in the new town that you mentioned. It was like getting blood out of a turnip. Eventually I was able to squeeze out JUST enough to pay our guide and leave the country. It occupied HOURS of our time. That was the only part of our trip that wasn't absolutely GREAT. So maybe I'm just jinxed. However, I'd never take that chance again!

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Manchester
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5. Re: Recent adventure to Morocco; our thanks to Trip Advisor!

To Gypsy savage,

I can 100% sympathise with you over ATM's, as regular forum readers will know I have always adviced travellers to Morocco to be armed with cash (for U.K travellers naturally sterling which is our currency) as I have personally on several occassions had major problems drawing money from a debit card, and one imfamous occassion I think April 2005 Visa had not renewed the contract with Morocco and NO machine in the whole of Morocco would accept any card from VISA during the whole three weeks that I was there. It can be very frustrating especially when you are running out of money and need to pay for services. Do be warned it CAN and DOES happen.

Regarding tummy upsets, I would also strongly advice to be very careful of eating any cooked leafy vegetables, do remember that all cooked food is cooked in tap water, even in the most luxurious establishment, and that is the most common reason for upsets, i.e. salads. ice and tap water plus cooked leafy vegetables and limit the amount of tea and coffee you drink as once again tap water is used, and is not normally brought to boiling point.

Glad you had a very successful holiday.

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Miami
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6. Re: Recent adventure to Morocco; our thanks to Trip Advisor!

This message is for an expert in morocco.

I'm planning going on february, but to be honest I don;t now how to start.

Doing it by myself, stay in a tour I have not decided yet, please help me !!!

I'm planning to stay there for 10 day and I really want to experience morocco, for sure I want to have the dessert experience at least for two or three days!!!! also id ont; know whcih cities are a most go in Morocco.

I appreciate your help planning this wonderful trip

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Queenstown, New...
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7. Re: Recent adventure to Morocco; our thanks to Trip Advisor!

Hi XimeMiami,

Keep reading. We are planning to do the same sort of trip as you.It's by taking notes and reading the reviews that you will get a feel for what you want. Simply handing the planning over to someone else will take away one of the interesting parts of travel from you. That being getting to know the country and people. You have lots of time.So keep reading reviews like this one of gypsysavage.

Happy planning

Marseille, France
Destination Expert
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8. Re: Recent adventure to Morocco; our thanks to Trip Advisor!

Your problems with ATM cards continues to amaze me. We have over 2000 corporate visitors a year to Morocco with whom I work and the only ones who have trouble are sometimes those whose banks are very small credit unions in smaller cities in the US. We have never had anyone have problems with ATM cards when they are using cards from major well known banks with international connections. I still strongly recommend that visitors DO NOT arrive with large sums of cash. It is a disaster waiting to happen.

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9. Re: Recent adventure to Morocco; our thanks to Trip Advisor!

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