Morocco

Morocco’s colours, sounds and smells overwhelm the senses. Bustling souks, medinas and markets give way to medieval fortresses and the endless dunes of the Sahara Desert. From coastal beach resorts and snow-capped mountains to the amazing diversity of Moroccan cuisine, everyone from foodies and culture lovers to those looking for a unique experience, will find what they’re looking for. There is a magic about Morocco; Tangier, Casablanca, Marrakech… just the names stir a hint of spice in the nostrils.

When to Visit

During spring, most of the country is lush and green while the heat of summer begins to ease in autumn, making this the most pleasant time to visit. Snow-capped peaks in the High Atlas from November to July mean that the mountainous regions can experience quite low temperatures.

Highlights

MARRAKECH One of Morocco’s most important cultural centres, Marrakech is a lively former capital famed for its markets and festivals. Follow its twisting arteries to its pulsing energy source - the Place Djemaa el-Fna.

VOLUBILIS Volubilis is the site of the largest and best-preserved Roman ruins in Morocco. Dating largely from the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, at its peak, it is estimated that the city once housed up to 20,000 people.

FEZ The oldest of the imperial cities, Fez’s labyrinth of streets and crumbling grandeur add to its intrigue. The medina of Fez el Bali is one of the largest living medieval cities in the world.

SAHARA DESERT Small villages and oases dot the Sahara Desert, which is often likened to an ocean of sand. Watching the sun set over the dunes is one of the most rewarding experiences of any Moroccan journey.

AIT BENHADDOU Situated along the old caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech, Ait Benhaddou is one of the best preserved and most famous kasbahs in Morocco. A picturesque place with breathtaking views.

CASABLANCA The city that represents modern Morocco on the move; the cultural and economic heart of the country. This is where industry is, the art galleries house contemporary art and fashion designers show their wares to the world.

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Useful Information

Electricity

Electrical Socket type: European. Voltage: 220-240 volts (same as New Zealand, no voltage/frequency converter required). The old system of 127 volts may still be used in some areas. Modem type: French. To purchase electrical adapters, or for further information on this matter, please view the Korjo adapter guide at www.korjo.com.au.

Communications

Country Code for Morocco: +212 Offical Travel Advice: Visit www.safetravel.govt.nz Emergency Services: Ambulance: 15 or (150) Fire: 15 or (150) Police: 19 or (190) These emergency services numbers may not be reliable in rural areas. The emergency services may not have English speaking staff. To avoid delay it may be best to seek the assistance of an Arabic speaker to call the emergency services.

Shopping

The Moroccan working day is a combination of both Western and Eastern cultures. For example, most Moroccans eat three meals a day at the usual mealtimes of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, most will also work from 9am to 7pm, with short breaks during the day to pray and an extended lunch break. Shops in the medina will usually open at 8 or 9am and stay open until 8 or 9pm. Business hours for the country's banks are Monday to Friday 8:15am to 3:45pm, though during Ramadan these are shortened from 9am to 2:30pm, depending on the bank. Government departments work from Monday to Thursday 8:30am to noon and 2 to 6:30pm, and Fridays 8:30 to 11:30am and 3 to 6:30pm.

Tipping

Tipping is customary in Morocco but also up to you… about 100 dirhams for a professional guide per each hour they work with your group is a good starting price. However if someone shows you back to your hotel they'll probably expect a tip and you can offer them 10 dirhams. Keeping spare coins in your pocket is a good idea to avoid digging through your wallet or purse.

Getting around

Moroccan public transport is, on the whole, pretty good, with a rail network linking the main towns of the north, the coast and Marrakesh, and plenty of buses and collective taxis. Renting a car can open up routes that are time-consuming or difficult on local transport.

Language

Arabic and Tamazight are the official languages. Business and government generally use French.

Visa's

Official travel advice regarding visas is available by calling 04 439 8000 or visiting their website www.safetravel.govt.nz

Customs

When greeting one another, Moroccans usually shake hands and touch their heart to show personal warmth. Segregation of the sexes is very important in almost every social situation outside the home. Only very modern, Westernized women are active in public life. In the Berber countryside, the appearance of women in public may be slightly more common than in major cities. Traditionally, elders are respected and honored by the entire community. Moroccans have a very lax concept of punctuality. Dates, appointments, business meetings, and people tend to run behind schedule without concern. Saving face, especially in public, is of the utmost importance and may lead to white lies being told to cover any potentially embarrassing or shameful situation. When tensions do occur, yelling, expressing frustration, and generally creating a public scene is acceptable and quite ordinary.

Health

The following information is intended as a guide only and in no way should it be used as a substitute for professional medical advice relative to a travellers individual needs and vaccination history. No guarantee is made as to its accuracy or thoroughness. For further information, please contact The Travel Doctor on (+64) 9 373 3531. Vaccination against hepatitis A is recommended for travellers to Morocco. Frequent or long stay travellers should consider vaccination against hepatitis B. Vaccination against rabies (particularly if working with animals) and typhoid (particularly when travelling to areas with poor sanitation and hygiene) should be considered by travellers to Morocco. Care with food and beverage selection is recommended. There is a low risk of malaria in Morocco, as such insect avoidance measures and anti malarial medication may be necessary depending on your itinerary. Please consult a medical practitioner or contactThe Travel Doctor for your specific risk to these eventable diseases and the appropriate avoidance measures. New Zealanders travelling to Morocco should ensure that they have adequate travel insurance to cover the length of their stay. Medications that are legal in New Zealand may be illegal in other countries. 

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