Can a woman travel safely alone in Morrocco and Tunis? traveling from Spain and just for a few days. Asking this for a 40 year old. Is a guide needed? thanks for your replies
The US State Dept. is a good resource for this type of info. You might get anecdotes from two or three people which are very different but the State Dept has a good description of the general conditions.
I am not familiar with Tunis. We do have staff who were in Morocco last year and found it just as safe and friendly as ever. You don't need a guide for the whole country, but you might want one to help explore the dense medinas of Fes or Marrakech or to drive into the Sahara where there aren't many signposts. I would also use the Lonely Planet guidebook.
Morocco is about as safe as most places in Europe (so, probably as safe - or perhaps safer - than most US cities). Of course, use some common sense as you would traveling anywhere. Nothing special to worry about.
Do you feel you need a guide to explore Paris, Barcelona or Rome? If not, then you probably don't need one for major tourist cities in Morocco (Marrakech, Fez, Meknes), either. I strongly disagree with the widely-offered advice that you need a guide to the medina (old city center) in these places, and that you will become hopelessly lost and in trouble without a guide. Don't be afraid to plunge into the medina on your own. Sure, the streets are confusing and maze-like, but it's not difficult to maintain a general sense of direction...well, that depends on how much of a sense of direction you have elsewhere - can you point to north, or what direction your house is, while walking around in your home town? If so, then you will do fine in the medina.
Here are some real-world tips on finding your way around (and back out of) the medinas in Morocco's big cities without a guide: If you have any doubts about your ability to navigate twisty, narrow streets sometimes clogged with people, goods, and donkeys, then there's a simple solution: bring along a compass. Yes, a compass - a cheap little 5 dollar one from REI or other outdoor store is all you need. Just something that can give you a rough pointer to N, S, E or W. Be sure you take this with you. Upon entering the medina, just note which way is "out" (the general direction, doesn't need to be precise). Then go in and have fun - it's probably like nothing else you've ever experienced. Every time you reach some major "intersection", courtyard or other prominent feature, just pause for a moment, take a look around, note which entryway you came through (so you know the way back). Every once in a while as you walk along, note some prominent feature and say it out loud to yourself so you will remember it an hour later: "there's a giant pyramid of sheep heads", "there's a huge heap of donkey poo", "there's a shop selling James Brown cassettes", "there's a fountain where there's a line of people brushing their teeth", "there's that old man who is rocking back and forth praying" (don't worry about him moving - he'll probably be there 2 hours later - we had a crazy-looking old man rocking incessantly who worked as a perfect landmark for me in Fes even after 3 hours wandering - he was in the exact same spot, so we turned right!). You get the idea. Basically, with a compass to tell you the general direction you want to head, and your observations/recollections of various memorable "landmarks" you may become gloriously lost for a while, but you can easily find your way back out the way you came in. Really.
Tunisia may be a bit more dicey right now. I have not been, but you should follow the news closely. Currently things seem to be going sideways in neighboring Libya, and news reports tell of most border crossings being sealed (Egypt has closed their border), the Tripoli airport may be closed, and the last remaining way out of Libya right now appears to be one border crossing with Tunisia, and Tunisia has started tightening that crossing. Apparently lots on non-Libyan nationals are trying to leave now, and having some difficulty. These things might not have any impact on Tunis itself, but I would pay attention to such developments if I was planning a trip there now. The US State Dept website is often a bit alarmist (they seem to be easily spooked/sometimes overly cautious) but it's worth a look.
Hope the above is helpful.
Your Department of State has an excellent intelligence system.
If you read their country-specific information you'll find that you'll be earthquaked in Italy, demonstrated upon in France, and subject to mass transit attacks in the United Kingdom.
This brought to you by the same crowd that couldn't protect their own goods in Beirut, Tehran, Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, and Benghazi.
That being said, their Alerts and Warnings are worthwhile -- if you never read a newspaper. The problem is that they address the general status of what's going on in a nation, and not the effect upon a specific gender.
Maybe Christi's anecdotal experience is different, but in my family: two wives (sequential, not concurrent), two sisters, and two daughters have all spent gobs of time in Morocco, often alone. They wander the souks until they close and then dawdle around in the medinas feeding their faces until well after dark. They've all come back alive.
Baby Sis ( young, stunning, blonde) has been in the outback of Tunisia for the last couple of months working on a project, mostly alone. I'll take a wild guess and assume she's been into Tunis a couple of times. I blinked when she said she was going since there is a bit of bedevilment around - - especially with Libya coming unglued again and the mess along the border - - but when I called a few days ago she answered the phone and didn't appear to be in any distress.
For some odd reason these questions seem to especially pop up concerning the predominately Muslim nations. The twerp above spends more than half her life in the Middle East and the Northern Tier. I'll stick with her anecdotes since I'm not a broad,
Ed - all I meant was to get information from all sources. I never said I had any anecdotal experience. That just because a few who answer her here say they had no problems does not mean there are NO problems in either country.
It is like me saying I have never had my pocket picked in Europe so you don't need to be aware of any circumstances where yours might be.
I don't think you can have too much information
Were you aware of this - I was not aware of this and did not learn it from your post, but I did learn it from the State Dept. site.:
"Religion and Proselytizing: Islam is the official religion in Morocco. However, the constitution provides for the freedom to practice one's religion. The Moroccan government does not interfere with public worship by the country’s Jewish minority or by expatriate Christians. Proselytizing is, however, prohibited. In the past, U.S. citizens have been arrested, detained, and/or expelled for discussing or trying to engage Moroccans in debate about Christianity. Since March 2010 and as recently as February 2014, several U.S. citizens have been expelled from Morocco for alleged proselytizing. Many of those expelled were long-time Moroccan residents. In these cases, U.S. citizens were given no more than 48 hours to gather their belongings or settle their affairs before being expelled."
Check - no cultural exchange on that subject.
"Photographing Sensitive Locations: Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in problems with the authorities. As a general rule, travelers should not photograph palaces, diplomatic missions, government buildings, or other sensitive facilities and, when in doubt, they should ask for permission from the appropriate Moroccan authorities."
Silly me - I would have certainly gone for a photo of a palace. At least now I would know to ask or look around and see if this is a rule not generally enforced & there are many people about taking photos.
This site is NOT the be all and end all resource for traveling but is one of many resources for travelers. If you want to take on the responsibility of being the sole information provider for people who ask here that is your prerogative. I would just hate to have someone come back and post that ED assured us we would be fine and we weren't!
If that is not your intent then please refrain from mocking someone else's suggestions.
Iam asked a question of a forum. One would assume she wanted personal experience rather than something she could have googled herself. I'm not a woman, thus I responded based on the experience of a half-dozen broads I know well. Anybody's free to disagree with me - - so far no one has. I don't post on places I don't like or haven't been - - in only rare cases will I post on places I haven't been a bunch of times and this wasn't one of them.
The link was empty in that it addressed neither nation that Ima inquired about nor does State often offer gender-specific advice. Would the implication be that since neither Morocco nor Tunisia are on the crap list that they are totally safe?
In response to your direct question: Yes, and I could elaborate upon and criticize both quotes in detail, but Iam didn't ask about those things.
You are right Ed - I never should have given the OP credit to have enough brains to find the specific country information on the State Dept site.
There is information regarding women traveling alone on both country's information pages.
But we should all feel blessed that you have all the info needed here - because I am certain you know what it feels like to be a woman walking down a street alone and have a man fall in behind you!
I know you are "done", Christi, but just out of curiosity, have you been to Morocco or Tunisia?
No disagreements. Any and ALL info is welcome and food for thought. Thank you all so much. I am thinking Tunis goes on the back burner for now.
i am... lady j
One last bit of advice: skip the ferry ports. Going to the ferry ports - where all the western tourists pop over from Spain for a few hours - is like going to Tijuana and thinking you've been to Mexico. Skip the ferry trip and make better use of your time: fly to Marrakech or Fes (flights are crazy cheap), it's quick and easy (discount flights from multiple cities in Spain), and that's where you want to be anyway. If you just have a few days, pick Marrakech or Fes (both if you can swing it - fly in to one, take the train from one to the other, then fly back to Spain). Both are worth a visit and can be "done" (just scratching the surface, of course) in a day or two. You spend 4 or 5 days this way and you will get soooo much more than you can get with a ferry trip. Good luck!
I say go to Tunis and enjoy. There's plenty of Western tourists there all the time, including solo women. It's in general quite a moderate and Westernized country.
I really enjoyed my two days there a few years ago- a great mix of histories and cultures. On a couple hours walk I went from the ruins of ancient Carthage, past the tennis club, a huge modern mosque, the remains of a 6th century Christian basilica, to the American military cemetery.
If I'm concerned about the security and safety in a particular country, I generally check several government websites (typically Canada, U.S. and Britain). While the warnings are generally harmonized, there are often some differences. For example......
Your decision to skip Tunisia this time may be prudent. According to the British site....
"Harassment of foreign women, including uninvited physical contact, appears to be increasing."
From the Canadian website.....
"Women travelling alone may be subject to certain forms of harassment and verbal abuse."
"There is a general threat of terrorism and kidnapping in Tunisia. Maintain a high level of vigilance at all times."
While you could travel there and have absolutely no problems, I believe it's worthwhile to at least consider the warnings.