My boyfriend and I are planning a trip to Morocco in October. We want to experience as much of Morocco as possible in 7 days so were initially thinking of spending a few days in Marrakech, doing a mountains/desert trip and then chilling out at the coast for a couple of days. On reflection we decided that packing up and moving every few days would be a pain so thought that maybe a better idea would be to use Marrakech as a base for the whole week (poss in Riad Barroko) and do day trips etc instead so have been looking at excursions. Having read other peoples comments on here, I am wondering whether perhaps my first idea would be ok, as people have said they’ve done the same and left most of their belongings at their riad.
Excursions wise, we are thinking a day trip over to Essaouira, a day (maybe 4wd trip) in the mountains or ideally 2 day with a night in a tent, and prob another one (maybe Ouigane). The Lonely Planet guide recommends a few companies (gomoco, imzi, Thomson, viator, suntrails, yourmorocco, desertmajesty) which have trips for trips for £30-70 per day trip per person (depending on where/what exactly they are) but most appear to be large groups in minivans/buses which I suspect isn’t ideal. Having done some research I’ve found that there are a number of other options which include: finding a tour company once in Marrakech, booking something through the riad, book a personal guide/driver (the only I have heard of is Jalil, I don’t know how to find out about more), or (particularly for Essaouira) just go on public transport by ourselves.
However whilst we would obviously like to get the most out of these trips, neither my boyfriend or myself are particularly seasoned travellers, so I am wondering about how feasible each of these options are to a relatively novice traveller, without risking being ripped off to be stuck in a beaten up hot car with some dodgy guy who doesn’t speak any English being driven around for the day, nor caving in to temptation of just booking online (for some potentially mediocre but safe trips) before we go.
So basically I am rather overwhelmed by all the options and was hoping for some advice:
How feasible is it to leave our belongings at a Riad when we go elsewhere? Or is it only possible if you are actually still paying for a room? Is it safe?
Does anyone have any comments about any of the tour companies I have listed above? Should I avoid booking with this kind of company
How easy it is to find good tours once in Marrakech? Where is a good place to find them? Does anyone have any recommended ones?
Obviously it varies from place to place but if we did something through the riad what is the likelihood it would be any good? Or would it just be a grumpy employee who was made to take us out?
If we got a personal guide are we obliged to be spending the whole day with them or can we explore by ourselves for a few hours etc? Where do people find out about these guides? Can we just contact them with a vague idea and let them suggest the details? Is this likely to be cost effective with only 2 of us?
How easy is public transport likely to be?
If you have read this far, well done, thank you and sorry for the ridiculously long post!