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Kasbah du Toubkal

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Other information

This section covers traveller’s information (see below) plus more general information categorised as follows:

Traveller’s information

Travel in Morocco is an adventure that provides a cultural and geographic diversity that is possibly unequalled anywhere within a 3 hour flight of most European cities.

For a really in-depth travel guide perhaps the best there is the Cadogan Guide by Barnaby Rogerson and probably the most up to date in terms of restaurants and places to go is Time Out. Marrakech & the best of Morocco that covers much more of the country than just Marrakech.

Culture and Islam

Dress

In the big cities, the dress code is very relaxed and more European but in the countryside this is not so. Short skirts and sleeveless tops for ladies (and men!) are frowned upon outside of the big cities and is disrespectful even in the cities so best avoided. To dress correctly is to show a mark of respect.

If you are travelling in the summer months do carry a hat or cap as in some areas the temperature rises to 40°C +

Ramadan

This is a month long religious festival that occurs every year (28 June 2014 to 27 July 2014); numerous web sites will give you the dates (e.g. Wikipedia). As this is a period of strict fasting for the locals when no food or drink can be consumed between sun rise and sunset. Be prepared for the pace of life to be somewhat slower than normal. In most areas and cities restaurants are open for tourists. As a mark of respect you should not smoke whilst walking about and refrain, if you can, during daylight hours, smoking in any public places. Once the Imam has declared that the day’s fast is over, you will notice a sudden exodus of just about everybody in shops, bars, restaurants etc as the locals hold parties and eat. Shops, taxis and bars all get back into action about an hour after sunset.

Shopping

This is an adventure as it requires great powers of resistance. Time Out and other guide books will tell you more about this. If you do not want to shop and are approached by a salesman just smile and say “non merci” and walk on. Strict controls have been brought in where being hassled by a salesman is illegal and the tourist police are constantly on patrol to ensure this is adhered to.

If you have a guide and you do not want to buy a carpet tell him at the outset. If you do want to buy a carpet be prepared to 1. Spend an awful long time in the shop and 2. Drink gallons of mint tea.

Medical

This really is down to normal and sensible precautions.

Only drink bottled water or from a known safe supply. Mains tap water in the towns is officially of drinkable quality but is heavily chlorinated. Bottled water is nicer

Carry Imodium or a similar product for travellers tummy.

On the coast and in the mountains where it is cooler, beware as the sun is very strong and even if there is a cold wind blowing, sunburn or worse can happen. Sun block is very important.

Most Moroccan doctors are well trained and well versed in tourist ailments.

Mobile phones and Internet

Morocco has excellent coverage for mobile phones on the GSM system and you will be surprised where they do work. Naturally there are areas with no signal (parts of the mountains and desert). Most villages also have payphones where there is someone in attendance and with vast piles of coins to feed into the phone.

The internet is very well served in the big cities with Broadband systems and there are internet cafés all over. An hour in an internet café is about 1 euro. Outside of the cities you will be surprised by where you will find access to the internet. In keeping with Europe etc, modern hotels can charge large sums to access Wi-Fi so ask for the rate first.

Alcohol

Although an Islamic country, alcohol is available but respect has to be shown by not overdoing it or making a big show of it. Drunkenness is dealt with very severely and can result in big fines or worse.

In the big cities there are plenty of bars and all modern hotels sell alcohol. In the Marrakech Medina (old walled city) licensed bars are very rare. In the new quarter there are numerous bars and clubs where alcohol is served. Here you find the “off-licences” and most people will tell you where they are. Moroccan wines are very good.

Outside of the cities, apart from tourist hotels, alcohol is almost impossible to locate so stock up at the off-licence before you set off.

N.B. The Kasbah does not have an alcohol licence. However, guests staying at the Kasbah are welcome to bring their own alcoholic drinks.

Driving in Morocco

Self drive. This is not for the faint hearted and nearly all the guide books on Morocco state this. During daylight hours self-drive is not too much of a problem but beware of speed traps. Radar is a new innovation in Morocco and the police make full use of it!

At night it all becomes quite different. Donkeys, goats, camels etc are one of the hazards as they tend to have little or no road sense and do not carry lights. Most bicycles, motorbikes and some cars are not lit up either, as one expects at home and another hazard is black robed pedestrians who walk close to the road edge. Our advice is to spend a little more of your holiday budget and use the expertise of a local driver to whom these hazards are a part of life. We seriously do not recommend self-drive unless you are an experience driver able to cope with mountain roads and the unfamiliar. If you decide to self-drive you need to understand the very unpleasant implications of any accident – even if it is not your fault re administrative formalities and the delays that might occur depending on the gravity of the incident.

For further advice on visas, passport and health information, visit the UKFCO (United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office) website.

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