Information for tourists Visiting Morocco


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Information for tourists Visiting Morocco

  1. 1. Mistral Travel sarl Essouira, MoroccoInformation for Tourists Visiting MoroccoMorocco is a beautiful country with welcoming people. Arabic custom is totreat the visitor as an honoured guest and children as a gift from God (Allah).Morocco is a land of contrasts, from the Ancient Cities; Rabat, Meknes, Fes,Marrakech a few of many to the incredible solitude of the Sahara Desert andthe spectacular Atlas and Rif Mountains. Morocco also has thousands ofkilometres of unspoilt coastline, from the Mediterranean Sea in the north tothe Atlantic Ocean in the west. As a holiday destination Morocco is almostunique in that the country is only a few hours from mainland Europe yetthousands of years mainly unchanged. The pace of life is different in Moroccofrom that in most Western countries. It is much slower and less frenetic. TheArabs have an expression often heard when arranging meetings oranticipating events –“Inshalla”-(God Willing). If it happens, it happens, ifnot, well next time -“Inshalla”.The following is some information for you to get the most out of your visit.It is intended only as a guide.Health and Safety :Health : Important: You should ensure that you have comprehensive TravelInsurance that covers you for any activity that you may engage in whilst inMorocco. Morocco does not have reciprocal health arrangements with theEuropean Union and many other countries. All major towns and cities havehospitals and medical staff on call. Merzouga and Zagora (Sahara Desert)have Infirmaries with Doctor’s and Nurse’s also own Ambulance.
  2. 2. Water: The tour party should drink only bottled water and/or soft drinkswhich are readily available and not tap water.Groups: Groups should buy bottled water in bulk (it works out cheaper).The Tour Manager can arrange this.Immunisation: No immunisations are required by the MoroccanGovernment for tourists visiting the country. It may however be a wiseprecaution to consult a doctor before leaving your country of origin. foradvice.Stomach ailments: As in most African countries stomach ailments cancause problems for some people owing to the different kinds of food andwater encountered. Á propriety brand of medicine e.g. Imodium canalleviate stomach upsets such as diarrhoea but should only be taken withmedical advice from your local chemist or doctor.Dogs: It is important that no one should approach or touch the many dogsthat are loose here in Morocco. These animals are wild and Rabies isendemic in Morocco.Drugs, Banned Substances: It is a serious offence in Morocco punishableby long prison sentences to use, carry or sell drugs such as Hashish and/orKif. These substances are readily available despite the penalties soeveryone should be warned that if offered these substances to decline themand leave at once.Sex: The age of consent in Morocco is sixteen for both sexes. Prostitution isagainst the law as is Homosexuality.Alcohol: Morocco is a Muslim country where the consumption of alcohol isofficially frowned upon. However, alcohol is freely available in selectedshops, in hotels and some restaurants and there is no restriction on tourists
  3. 3. who wish to buy or consume alcoholic drinks. You should however notopenly carry and/or consume alcohol in the streets or public places.Tea: Tea is very common in Morocco and is consumed in large quantities.The tea however is very different from English tea. It can be very sweet,drunk without milk and brewed with mint leaves in the pot.Bibles: There is no religious discrimination in Morocco however theauthorities take a dim view of Christian evangelical activity that activelytries to convert Moroccan Moslems into Christians. The importation ofBibles in Arabic is not allowed for this reason. You can of course bringyour own personal Bible if you so wish.Food: The main dishes in Morocco are Tajine and Couscous. Tajine refersto the earthenware pot with pointed lid and also the particular choice ofmeal it contains e.g. Chicken Tajine or Meat Tagine and so on. There aremany variations of Tajine in Morocco. but what they all have in common isthat all the ingredients are cooked together in the pot (Tajine). Manyregions of Morocco have their own speciality food e.g. in the desert regionof Merzouga, Kalia (mixture of meats and herbs) and Mishwi (oven or spitroasted lamb). “ Bstila” is a chicken and almond pie that is a great favouritewith Moroccans and tourists alike.Couscous: Semolina based, this food is steamed and mixed with eithermeats, fish or just vegetables. In the family it is presented on a large dishor plate in the centre of the table for everyone to tuck into. The Moroccanway to eat couscous is to use your hand to roll it into a ball (try it).Note: You should avoid eating from roadside restaurants where uncookedmeat is un-refrigerated and health safety standards are poor. Also. InMarrakech do not eat from the stalls in Djemaa el-Fna square for the samereason.
  4. 4. Safety:Hotels/Riads/Auberge are inspected for fire safety by the local authorityand have to be approved and registered. Mistral Travel s.a.r.l. hasconducted a risk assessment of all the accommodation and is satisfied thatfire safety precautions are taken seriously by the management.In most cases there is just one entrance to the accommodation with a“Guardian” (night porter) on duty throughout the night.You should satisfy yourself when arriving at your accommodation that youare familiar with the exits and procedures in the unlikely event of having toevacuate the building.Normal safety precautions should be observed when walking about thecities and towns.Be extra careful when crossing the road/streets. Moroccans drive on theright but can come from all directions, especially the small motor-bikes andcyclists.Don’t go out alone. Sight-See in groups if at all possible.In the Auberge and Bivouac a torch would be most useful to have.When you go out tell someone when and where you are going and expect tobe back.Take the telephone numbers given you and if lost telephone the TourLeader or Hotel. Do not ask a stranger to help you.Under no circumstances go with people who ask you back to their home oranywhere else. It is normal for Moroccans to ask foreigners to take tea butpolitely decline.Do not carry on general view expensive equipment such as camera’s etc. orshow large amounts of money when purchasing gifts etc.Sahara Desert: Under no circumstances should you wander off on yourown when in the desert. Distances can be very misleading. What appearsto be just a short distance can in fact be a long way away. There are noreference points to help you in the desert, one sand dune is very much like
  5. 5. all the rest so stay close to your companions and camp site and only ventureout with your guide. In southern Morocco the sun can be very strong.Keep your head covered, stay in the shade and don’t forget to drink plentyof water. In mid summer to consume 5 litres of water a day is notuncommon.Sahara Desert Bivouac: Things to bring:-• Sleeping Bag (optional). Blankets are provided.• Torch (spare batteries)• Sun Glasses• Anti-Bacterial Wet-Wipes (use after washing, hands/face etc.)• Light day clothes (ladies, trousers)• Soft Floppy Hat• Warm Pullover (night time)• Toilet Rolls• Insect repellantTransport:Mistral Travel s.a.r.l. operates only with modern vehicles. All our vehiclesare serviced every 5000 kms by the manufacturing agent. In addition, theyare inspected every six months for their roadworthiness by MoroccanMinistry of Transport inspectors. The vehicles are equipped with seat beltsand with a First Aid Kit and Fire Extinguisher. Our drivers are employedfor their experience and skills in transporting tourists around Morocco aswell as their knowledge of Morocco, its customs and heritage. Every yearthey have to undergo an eyesight test.Special Conditions:Photography:Do not take pictures of the Police, Gendarmerie and/or the Armed Forces.Do not take pictures of people at prayer (you will often see Moroccanspraying in the street) this to include the inside of the Mosques e.g. from thestreet.Do not take pictures of ladies and/or girls without their permission.
  6. 6. Note: Be warned that some Moroccans will ask for money to bephotographed.Currency: DirhamsCurrently (June. 2010) the exchange rate for European Union Euros is:-1euro =11.2 DirhamsThe Moroccan Dirham is divided into 100 centimes. Notes are 20,50,100,200.Dirham coins are in 1, 5, 10 and 5, 10, 20 and 50 centimes. You can use creditcards to withdraw money from cash dispensers in most large towns. Onlychange money in banks or Bureau de Change offices. Dirhams are onlyobtainable in Morocco.Note: It is illegal to take Dirhams out of the country. Keep all evidence oftransactions to change back any dirhams you have left at the end of yourholiday.Annual Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)Casablanca: December 64ºRabat: December 64ºFez: December 61ºMarrakech: December 70ºDress:Light casual clothes are suitable for most people visiting Morocco. In theevening it gets chilly so a warm pullover is recommended. A waterproof isalso useful. Ladies should not wear provocative dress e.g. short skirts,halter tops etc. in the streets as this may attract unwanted attention fromyoung men and censure from older people.
  7. 7. Friday Prayers and Opening Times:Friday afternoons in Morocco are for attending the Mosque and prayers.This means that all official offices e.g. the post office, banks etc. close andmost shops. The shops reopen late afternoon. The faithful are called toprayer by loud speakers on the top of the Mosque Mineret. You will hearthis call to prayer being broadcast in the cities and towns during the dayand at about 04.30hrs in the morning.In Morocco the day starts early, 06.00hrs until mid-day when there is asiesta until around 16.00hrs when it is business as usual until late at night.Ramadan:Ramadan Holy month is round about the second or third week ofSeptember. During this period Moroccans are not permitted certain thingslike, eating and drinking during the hours of daylight (children areexcused). The opening hours of shops, banks and post offices also change.Visitors should be sensitive to the month of Ramadan in Morocco and notopenly eat or drink in the streets.General Customs:The first languages in Morocco are Arabic and Berber. The secondlanguage is French. Most Moroccans speak French but very few speakEnglish. Morocco is a Muslim country with Islam as the official religion.Access to Mosques and holy places is forbidden to non-Muslims, althoughyou can visit the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca; the Mohammed VMausoleum in Rabat; and the Moulay Ismail Mausoleum in Meknes.When greeting Moroccans, for foreigners, it is enough just to shake hands.You will often see Moroccan men kiss each other either once or twice oneach cheek when greeting each other. This is normal. Also quite often youwill see men and boys holding hands in the street. In Morocco this is a signof friendship.
  8. 8. Begging: Morocco is a poor country compared to the West. There is verylittle social help for people who cannot support themselves, especially inthe countryside. You will often see people, old and young asking fordirhams in the towns and cities. Many will appear to you to be desperatebut you should not give them money.Shopping: (“caveat emptor”)Moroccan shopkeepers are amongst the best sales people you will find.Especially in the souks (markets) they will try many methods to get you tobuy their goods. The art of bargaining is tuned to a fine art in Morocco.Some useful hints when shopping in the souks. If you are just windowshopping, keep moving and don’t show any interest in any particular item.You can come back later.Do not be tempted to go into a particular shop unless you are seriouslywanting to buy. Many shopkeepers will ask you to come inside “just tolook”. If you do decide to go into shops, don’t be afraid to leave withoutbuying however friendly the owner is, they are used to people not buying.Be sure of how much you are prepared to spend and do not be persuaded tospend more.Price: As an obvious tourist you will be charged more than if you areMoroccan. Ask the price and insist on the shopkeeper telling you howmuch. Do not say how much you are prepared to pay.In the souks you can negotiate the price always.Just buy the item you want and not be persuaded to buy anything you didnot originally want.
  9. 9. Try and give the exact money. Check your change.Telephone Number(s):Tour Manager :-Mobile Number: (00 212) 0661397280 (Maroc)Mistral Travel (Essaouira) :-Office Number/Fax: (00 212) (0) Number: (00 212) 0670414809Police: Tel: 19Ambulance/Fire Service: Tel: 15Information: Tel: 16British Embassy (Rabat): Tel: (00 212) (37)-63-33-33The Embassy is open to the public from 0800 am to 1615 p.m., from Monday toThursday, and from 0800 am to 1300 p.m. on Friday. Visa enquiries are dealtwith from 0800 am to 1200.The Embassy operates on reduced hours duringRamadan (Muslim fasting month): From 0800 am to 1400 p.m., from Monday toThursday, and from 0800 am to 1300 p.m. on Friday.British Consulate (Marrakech): Tel :(00 212) 024-43-50-95Updated: June 2010