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MOROCCO - Trip advice for two intrepid travellers!

Hello:
I am leaving next week for a spur of the moment trip to Morocco. Starting in Marrakech and leaving out of Fez two weeks later. We are planning a couple of days in each of those cities. We are not going to the coast (I live in SF and they say it looks like Northern, CA....no need!).

There doesn't seem to be recent advice on this site for Morocco that I've seen, so I'm posting again. Any great spots that you saw or decently priced places that you came across? We are going to the Atlas mountains and want to go out in the desert. Thank you in advance for your help.

Posted by
16883 posts

It's been several years since I went beyond Tangiers in Morocco, but I've found the Lonely Planet guidebook to be quite useful. It's the kind of resource that makes these last-minute trip plans possible. Destinations that I visited with locals on my first trip were included in the book by a later edition. The Ourika Valley is a nice daytrip from Marrakech but may not be necessary if you have other Atlas stops planned. Just FYI, from Fes, locals who want to escape the city take a bus to Sidi Harazem to drink from the hot springs; not as exciting as other daytrip options, however. I have to believe that affordable accommodations are still pretty easy to come by, even if the nicer options have increased.

Posted by
8293 posts

There is a man called Darren Humphreys, who lives in Africa, who is an expert on Morocco. He occasionally posts here. If you google his name you may be able to find a way to contact him.

Posted by
1955 posts

Janet,
Since 'decent price' is a relative term, I'll go out on a limb and recommend the riad where we just stayed in the middle of March: La Maison Arabe in Marrakech. Fabulous place, fabulous staff, incredible breakfast included. If you stay there, do not miss their cooking school (if you like that sort of thing), as it is first-class in every way. And, you most likely already know that the US dollar is very, very strong compared to the Morrocan Dirham, so you will get a very good value for your dollar.

Another experience we would recommend is the hot air balloon ride and camel ride afterward with Marrakech By Air. We found them thru Trip Advisor, and it was a fun experience.

If you stay at a reliable riad or hotel, the hotel should be able to recommend reliable services/guides for going to the desert. While we did not do it, sleeping in the desert under the stars in an experience that is said to be very special and memorable.

Safe travels.

Posted by
1834 posts

Have you read the trip report over in the next right hand column?

Posted by
1955 posts

Janet,
Another riad to consider is El Finn. We did not stay there, but we did briefly visit it just to see it, and it appeared lovely...nice roof-top restaurant (that you can visit even if you don't stay there). El Finn is owned by Richard Branson's (Virgin Air) sister. Our friends loved it.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you all for responding. Monte asked if I read the trip report in the right hand column. I did not see anything, so either it's not showing up in my browser or I'm not looking in the correct place. Tip to where that is? I am looking into the hotels suggested. Thanks!

Posted by
1834 posts

Janet, I'll see if I can get you to it. Look at the Travel Forum page where you posted your inquiry about Morocco. You went to the heading "Destinations Q & A. Now move over one heading to the right and go to the heading "Tips & Trip Reports&" Click on that. Go to "Select Your Category". Click on "Trip Reports". Go down to the fourth entry which is an excellent trip report on camel trekking in Morocco. Please let me know if I can help further.

Posted by
16883 posts

The report above seems to be from a real traveler, although it's promoting the same tour company that has posted its own info here several times.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you all for your replies. Margaret I looked up the hotels you suggested. One was actually close to 2,000 US a night! Bit out of my budget. :-)

I also looked up Darren Humphrey's and read an article on him, but didn't know how to get in touch with him. Now I'm looking at hotels in Fez if anybody has a suggestion!

Posted by
3115 posts

We were in Morocco last May.

We spent 2 nights in Rabat, 4 nights in Fez, and 5 nights in Marrakech.

In Fez we stayed at Dar Fes Medina--not exactly in the medina but not so far away. At one of the tobacco shops we bought a map/ guidebook titled "Fes Guide--The Thematic Tourist Circuits" which was money well spent (about 10 Euro). We liked the medina in Fes better than the one in Marrakech.

Five days in Marrakech was too many for us--2 or 3 would have been plenty. We stayed in Riad Dar Najat--it was a short walk to the medina from there. We'd recommend a visit to Majorelle Gardens. One of our favorite restaurant meals in Marrakech was Italian--Pepe Nero--we were able to have wine with dinner there--not available at every restaurant.

We liked Rabat a lot but not everyone does--we loved our stay at Riad Dar Marhaba.

We did take a half-day trip to the Atlas Mountains but the temperature was 106 degrees so it wasn't our favorite memory. We did not take a trip to the desert.

Especially in Fes and Marrakech try to find a co-op to get an idea of fair prices for goods--bargining in the medina can be a fun challenge--knowing a baseline/reasonable price is helpful.

We took the train between Fez and Marrakech and had a driver from the hotel meet us at the train station in both cases.

Wish we had gone to Essaouira and Chefchaourn.

Have a great time in Morocco! It's an exciting destination!

Posted by
1955 posts

Janet,
I am so very sorry. I assumed pricing was about the same year-round. But, we were just in Marrakech in March, and at La Maison Arabe (which was absolutely lovely), three nights came to about $750 US, and that included a huge delicious breakfast each day and a very nice afternoon tea.

El Finn (when I checked) was about the same price range.

Possibly, the more standard rooms were already booked for the time you are traveling and only the high-end large suites were left. But, shocked, I just checked some random dates for April/May, and they show three nights for less than $300 a night. They are showing the price in MAD (Moroccan Dirham) even when you click English on their site, so just divide the price by roughly 10, and that will be the conversion price to the US Dollar.

They really do offer a very good value (considering the strong US dollar conversion) and the lovely breakfast buffet and afternoon tea that are included. It really is a lovely place.

Take another look at their web site and see if the pricing has MAD in front of it....you may be pleasantly surprised once you convert to US dollars..

Posted by
8 posts

Thanks for your response. They might have been showing Dhm in the amount, but with a dollar sign!
We found a nice place in Marrakech that unfortunately I don't think we can cancel. I will still check this one out time permitting. Any suggestions for a place in Fez? We are renting a car and know we've heard it's a little bit hard for driving, but getting a driver from the bids we were given was quite high at almost $200 a day. Did you find anything different? Thanks again for the help.

Posted by
29 posts

Sallam 'lekum Janet,
It's always wonderful to read of intrepid travelers coming to Morocco, and my apologies for not joining your post/conversation earlier as I have been on a short, rare family holiday that (even rarer nowadays) 'offered' no cell/mobile reception.
You seem to have sorted out your time in Marrakech and are now looking at Fès. Depending on your budget, may I suggest you consider staying at Josephine Kwan's Dar el Hana, Kleo Brunn's Dar Attajalli, or Alaâ & Kate's Dar Seffarine. Each of these establishments may also be able to meet you outside the medina and guide you to a parking lot.
Darren Humphrys

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you for the reply...I'm on the plane right now! We are still looking for info of where a good place to stop on the wsy to Merzouga from Jebel Toubkal. Also we are wondering about a well priced driver...first price we were quoted was out of our range by far. I've booked a car, but we can cancel if necessary. The driving seems a bit crazy even though we are both city drivers!

Posted by
29 posts

Hi Janet,
Merhaba and Welcome to Morocco!
Between Jebel Toubkal (presuming Imlil?) and Merzouga/Erg Chebbi, perhaps look at a stopover in the Skoura Palmeraie (stay at Dar Ahlam if it's affordable) or Todra Gorge (stay at Auberge le Festival, eat at Restaurant le Petit Gorge and give my regards to Chez Hassan). Both Marrakech and Fès are navigable by self-drive but it can certainly be a little stressful and geographically challenging. Contact Felicity (feel free to mention my name) at Desert Majesty and see what daily rate she can offer for a driver/vehicle to take you from Marrakech or Imlil to Fès.
Happy travels, Darren Humphrys