Morocco travel is at its peak. It appeals to travelers who like to get a taste of an exotic destination, but also like to feel the familiar Westernized culture, and the fact that the country was over 40 years a French territory and the French is an official language helps. This Spring, my husband and I took advantage of an opportunity and traveled to Morocco in a small group tour, organized by Canadian tour supplier G Adventures. Here are a few insights:
(1.) We chose the G Adventures "Morocco Kasbahs and Desert" 8-day tour that was their best seller. It was a fast-paced itinerary that covered a vast territory and you do see quite a lot. Expect daily early morning start (between 7:30-8:30 am) and longer hours (between 4-6 hours per day) spent in a comfortable, 16 people air-conditioned Mercedes minivan.
(2.) G Adventures' primary focus is on local experiences, not on pampering: The accommodations used are locally run, 3-star hotels and guesthouses which in certain cities (like Casablanca), can be somewhat dated. In general, this tour is not suitable for travelers used to staying at luxurious hotels and taking the day at a slower pace but rather caters to budget-minded people seeking authentic and/or "adventurous" experiences. Also, keep in mind, that the daily breakfast included is basic, lacks variety, and it's based on heavy bread.
(3.) G Adventures tours are maximum of 14 travelers, on our tour date (during the shoulder months) it was just eight of us. The small size of our international group had many benefits -- we quickly connected with each other and it was easier to get around. One-third of the group were single travelers, they get a complimentary roommate match or there is an option to get your own room.
(4.) In Morocco, tipping is part of the culture. Every person who provides a service to you is expected to be tipped (from the hotel bellboy to the G Adventures CEO and our minivan driver) On an 8-day tour, you should budget appx. $80-100 per person for tips, apart from the cost of the tour itself.
(5.) If you'd like to purchase locally made goods and souvenirs, don't wait until the end of the tour in Marrakesh, where you fill find poorer quality and higher prices. Overall, Morocco is not a budget destination- expect to pay Western prices for dining at clean restaurants and shopping at local Co-Ops (not exactly part of the itinerary, but your G Adventures CEO will take you there anyway). You might find the prices quite high ($15 for a ceramic soup bowl), but remember that the majority of the goods are handcrafted and the cooperative often provides employment to the entire village.
(6.) If you'd like to reserve G Adventures optional activities, plan on it once you arrive in Morocco. Some of the tours take place at alternative hours and if you are the only person in the group that has opted-in, it can result in changing of the original time/schedule/ indicated in the itinerary so it can suit the entire group.
(7.) Pack light: This faster-paced tour involves changing of five different hotels, some of them without elevators and mobility is key.
(8.) If you travel in the Spring, don't rely on AccuWeather, bring an extra layer of clothes. Morocco is approximately the size of California and there are numerous micro-climates. Within less than 24 hours we traveled from Sahara desert to High Atlas Mountains where we encountered snow.
(9.) G Adventures as a business model is a fine example of Sustainable Travel. Their foundation "Planetera" supports and provides employment opportunities for local communities. Every time you book one of their tours, a portion of the cost goes back to the local people.
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