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Day trip to Tangiers from Spain

During a trip to Spain, we scheduled a day trip to Tangiers from Tarifa. Following the advice of the 2019 Steves Guidebook for Spain,we booked ahead of time with Aziz Benami (www.tangierprivateguide.com) for a tour in French. We were extremely disappointed and found it unduly expensive.
Steves suggested that the price for a full-day minibus and walking tour was €35 per person. In fact, because we were only two people, it was €71. In addition, Benami charged us €45 per person for the ferry, although the regular price is only €35. Camel rides, lunch and tips brought the total to over €300 (or about $350 U.S.
But the real problem was that we didn't get to see Tangiers. We were met at the ferry landing and whisked away to the hills to see the international neighborhoods and the Caves of Hercules. The high-class section of town is beautiful, but we might as well have been in any other European city. All this time, I had the impression that the guide was trying to slow down as if he didn't have enough things to show us. He took us to the Kasbah but explained nothing until I asked him. He didn't take us to the Kasbah museum although Steves said it was closed on Tuesdays - but Benami didn't warn us or substitute something else. After lunch, we walked down through the Medina to the port. I wanted to look at shops but the guide kept telling me he would take me to an artisans' cooperative and not to buy elsewhere. The artisans' cooperative did have a lot of stock but not the kind of modest things I was looking for for presents. The salesman was extremely persistent and I eventually did buy three small leather purses for my grandchildren. Although I bargained him down from €75 to €60, I still had the impression of paying too much. But the worst part was we didn't see any of the souks, very little of the Medina, none of the synagogue, although I explicitly asked to see it. So after spending more than $300 for one day, I get the impression of not having seen Tangiers. My advice is to go well prepared ahead of time as to what you want to see and override your guide if you have to.

Posted by
18922 posts

I'm sorry you had such a disappointing day. It does sound as if your guide let you down. However, many of us on the forum strongly discourage day-trips to Tangier. Morocco is a fascinating country, but Tangier is nowhere near the top of the best-destinations list. It takes a lot of time to get there from the usual tourist stops in Spain, and you end up in the North African equivalent of Tijuana.

Tangier caters to folks wanting to see Africa in a half-day, only a tiny percentage of whom will ever return to the city. I'm sure the attitude of many of those is the tourist industry is, "Why not rip them off?"

It is far better to use that day in Spain and return on a later trip to see some of Morocco's worthwhile cities at your leisure. Fes and Marrakech, among the most interesting, have flights from many cities in Europe.

Posted by
4370 posts

You've described pretty much the average tour in Tangier. Yes, it did feel that the guide was slowing you down because there isn't much to see in Tangier! We too were whisked straight away to the exclusive, clean and beautiful part of the city and I'm not surprised why!

It's unfortunate that you took advantage of the camel rides. Those camels are kept in very poor conditions and treated abominally, their sole purpose is to spend their lives lugging tourists around on their backs.

Posted by
2 posts

Taking a camel trip into the Moroccan desert was always on my bucket list. However for reasons of age and health, it is not in the stars. Therefore, this one day in Tangiers with the, admittedly questionable, five-minute camel ride was a kind of farewell to more exotic trips. My husband and I will not have a chance to get back to either Morocco or Spain. That's all the more reason to be disappointed with the Tangiers tour, with this particular guide service, which was so highly recommended by Rick Steves. My purpose in writing this review in the forum was to let Rick Steves know that his recommendations were less than stellar - and to warn other unsuspecting tourists. I will also write to Benami expressing my disappointment.

Posted by
681 posts

Thank you for the information and I am sorry to hear how disappointed you were.

Posted by
2597 posts

I'm sorry to hear of your disappointment with your tour and also to hear that age and health are impacting future travel plans. Certainly I see how the latter makes your disappointment deeper.

I think a broader warning for those reading your experience is to be cautious with Rick Steves's recommendations. A few years back, I used a RS-recommended guide in a German town, and she was a complete dud (though a guide he recommended in another town was awesome).

Posted by
18922 posts

But in the case of Tangier, it may be difficult to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.