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first published on open forum Motorhome Facts approx 15 May 2010

Travelling to Morocco solo!
I write this as we are in the middle of Morocco and we are having a really good time and we have probably taken over 5000 photos and we still have another 10 days to go.

If you're considering travelling to Morocco and you don't know whether it is wise to go buy yourself, let me tell you, you should have no problems at all, we went through immigration and did the importation of a motor vehicle without a hitch, in fact was so fast and so easy I was half expecting someone to come running after us, but we were through with no problems.

Once across the border you can fill up with fuel almost anywhere and you'll be very pleased with the price of diesel.

Campgrounds are everywhere and all very reasonable in price. Our motorhome is self-contained, so we prefer to use our shower and never worry about how clean the toilets are in any campground, and all we use the campground for is a place to park for the night, it's a lot faster than wild camping, looking for the right spot. We have wild camped a couple of times, and felt totally safe, and I note in a lot of other blogs, others have wild camped almost all the time!

We have been over as far as the Algerian border and had no problems anywhere with police roadblocks, as soon as they see a motorhome they just wave you through.

I purchased a Maroc Telecom dongle for 150Dm and it gives me two months air time on the Internet, and so far I have used it almost everywhere with no problems.

It is probably wise to buy a map before you leave the UK and my advice is to get one with a large scale, we have one that is one to 800,000 and I would prefer one to 500,000 or less and of course would prefer an atlas type map.

I have with me a Garmin GPSs for which I purchased the Moroccan maps, and I find you have to use a lot of imagination when you're following the track of the map which is off by 200 m. However the road signs are absolutely brilliant, and I'd be quite happy to be wandering through the country without a GPS.

I been told the tom-tom Morocco maps also include the campgrounds which could be useful, but not necessary as you'll be tripping over them everywhere.

We are on our way to the second location, to view the dunes, and it is anything like the first location, there will be campgrounds everywhere including some in the middle of the dunes.

We work out where we want to go with the aid of a guidebook, we are using the Eyewitness Travel book on Morocco and have been told the Rough Guides of Morocco is also good along with Camping Morocco By Vicarious Books

We enjoy travelling by ourselves, as we can stop to take photographs whenever we wish, stop for lunch when we are hungry and feel like it, stop when we had had enough travelling for the day, and enjoy meeting new people at the campsites. We enjoy not having a rigid timetable as there is nothing worse than having to be at a certain spot and a certain time particularly when you're going through a real interesting part of the country, interesting to you, but possibly not to anybody else.

So if you want to stop for a couple of hours to examine the rock formation you can without any worries whatsoever.

We have found the Moroccan people to be extremely friendly, everybody waves and everybody tries to help if they see you looking for something. Of course there are the touts as there are a lot of these countries, and I for one just ignore them.

Whilst the French is the common language, and being from New Zealand, we only have the need of English, but had no problems whatsoever as even here English is becoming more widely spoken.

Our motorhome is not exactly a four-wheel drive, far from it as it is a Carthago Chic T47 with a fairly bad departure angle, but had no problems on any of the roads and would not hesitate to drive on any of the roads we have so far seen in Morocco. Of course we would not drive into the desert with this motorhome, in fact we would not drive into the desert, the real desert, without a lot more knowledge, and more off road vehicle. However, there are so many things in Morocco to see that camping in the desert is right at the bottom at our list.

first published on open forum Out & About Live 7 May 2010

For visiting Marrakech we used Camping Ferdauos which is on the Casablanca road (N9) around 11km from the centre.

They have a minibus service which runs in and out of the city.

There is a car park in the city, very close to the Djemm el Fnaa, where overnight stays have been possible but I must say that driving in the city is not for the faint hearted!

The main ferry route is Algeciras to Ceuta or Tangiers, the crossing to Ceuta being a bit cheaper, plus the diesel in Ceuta is cheaper than that in both Spain and Morocco (unless you are happy running on the lower grade Moroccan diesel). Best place for tickets is Agence de Viages Normandie which is adjacent to Carrefour at Palmones (exit 112 from the E-15/A7) and you can stay overnight in the Lidl car park which is nearby.

Best time of year is a difficult one, most motorhome visitors go between November and March, but many of the coastal campsites are pretty busy and overcrowded at that time of year. If I had the chance I'd go back at the end of the 'winter season', say from March to May, it's not so busy, it won't be too hot, there is less risk of snow over the mountain passes and the country is a lot greener!.

There's lots of info in the Vicarious Books Camping Morocco guide: http://www.vicariousbooks.co.uk/camping-morocco.htm

first published on open forum Out & About Live 7 May 2010

We have just returned from a 9 week trip that included 4 weeks in Morocco.

Firstly there are camp sites around Marrakech, and almost everywhere you go in Morocco.

When I say camp sites I‘m not talking Caravan Club type sites, for most you will want to use your on board facilities, but they have electric ( of a sort) some where to empty your loo and water ( don’t drink it).

The most important thing is the sense of security being with other motor homes at night, not that we at any time felt at risk. The most important thing is to make sure your vehicle is well serviced and that the brakes and tyres are in perfect order. The roads near the coast are not at all bad as far as Agadir but if you go inland it’s a different story, we took our Hymer to places I would have thought twice about taking a Land rover.

first published on open forum Motorhome Facts approx 15 May 2010

We went there in early 2008. Stayed mostly in carparks, paying a small fee to the council representative in the fluorescent waistcoat.

I really wouldn't drink the water, bottled water in 5 litre containers is cheap and available everywhere. We did use tap water for washing salad, cleaning teeth, making coffee though.

Wouldn't buy green stuff or salad, but cucumbers, tomatoes, oranges etc were fabulous, just wash everything well . . . the supermarkets are a good guide to the prices you can expect to pay, as well as useful for buying beer and wine.

By far the best guide we found was lemarocencampingcar by Emile Verhooste.
In French, and you have to send away for it, (or you might find it on French ebay?) but really detailed with places to park up everywhere, and his website is useful too.

There is another guide called something similar but the other way round (camping car en maroc?) which is not the same at all.

While we liked it enormously, and there was a lot to see, we went to Tunisia last year, and far preferred that. Far less touting, there are hardly any campsites but you don't need them, you just park up the way a lorry would. Favourite place - Carthage.

If you have calor gas bottles, you can refill them, somewhere in the North, or near Agadir I believe - better than exchanging them for the dodgy Moroccan ones.

We especially loved Asilah, Essouaira, Meknes and a campsite by a small lake in the Atlas mountains.

We also preferred the ferry via Barcelona to the long flog through Spain.


Jason writes.....
Nice post thank you!

We are pootling around Maroc at the moment, and have had similarly fab experiences!

My wife has had a few unwanted looks and comments out shopping by herself despite loose trousers, long sleeves, a scarf and hat in the heat. When she's with me it doesn't happen. She thought there would be less of it having made the effort to be as covered as local women are, respecting them and they would behave. Recently she has taken to the occasional bare arm or shorts and behaviour hasn't changed. Perhaps its just being tourists.

The one thing I didn't anticipate was salty ground water. We have a really good filter that means we shouldn't have to buy any bottled stuff, and could fill from anywhere if needed, but to take any saltyness out possibly requires a very different filter which we don't have. It makes tea horrid, so we have bought some bottled. This is from Figuig (not too bad) to Mhamid (yuk) so far, broadly along the border, no problems prior to that. Some campsites don't mind you filling up from their drinking water rather than what they often pump from a borehole, but this campsite won't as he says he has 200l per day total, from a tanker I've yet to see. They obviously don't have a lot though.

The non-drinking stuff here (Hamada du Draa) is full of sand, algae and many many swimming things. Doing some clothes washing we found more and more sand was coming from the tap, so I brought out a 50 micron filter I'd bought as an afterthought, the medium itself cost maybe 4euros? As well as catching the sand, the number of wiggling and swimming things was quite surprising. Finding the tank it was coming from, outside, open at the top and looking like it was about to fall down explained why. A pond on stilts I think! Until the sand started though you would not have noticed. The bugs were obvious against the white filter, but fill a bucket and it didn't look bad at all!

Water from a tap is supposed to be reasonably clean I thought! That filter, in the hose run pre campertank, will always be used now, and a continuous chemical dose to the tank as always Smile


Maybe we'll meet up soon?! Moglet is a big, blue and white little truck Smile

Happy travels

Jason

first published on open forum Out & About Live 27 May 2010

We used the ferry from Barcelona to Tangier Med as it was cheaper for us than driving through Spain at the time. We bought 6 months insurance from the booth at the port as our policy won't cover us. There was a cock up in lining up everyone disembarking, we were sidelined with all other 4x4s and left till last, once that had started noone would change it, or seemed to know why?

Bad weather as the boat was sailing to Italy on its Med loop meant our boarding in Barcalona was pushed back about 6 hours. This meant arriving at Tangier customs early evening, and getting out took 5 hours, noone actually looked in our camper after all that waiting. Some flashy Moroccans sped straight through with a lot of back slapping?.

Then the insurance booth was shut. We were told by the Police it would be fine to continue without insurance, if we drove slowly, to the next town with an office perhaps open the next day, but chose to wait. I suppose if we drove slowly everywhere therefore we wouldn't need insurance at all?! The port office wasn't open the next day anyway, so we waited a bit more, enjoying watching stressed locals and tourists alike

We've been here 9 weeks, and hope to pop out and back in again in Ceuta in two weeks or so to obtain another 90 days, then back via Barcalona probably again. I'm told some big campsites can get your passport stamped for you to save you the drive? We'll see on that one!

Morocco is a great and very safe country to visit with a motorhome but our mistake was going with Desert Detours. This company may have been good in the past when they took very small group but not now as most of us on the tour felt that Desert Detours did not live up to their promises. We paid Desert Detours 1,940 Euros per couple but calculate that if we had done the same tour on our own it would have cost each couple together less then 270 Euros for the same items paid for by Desert Detours.

VirariousBooks.co.uk publish a great book “Camping Morocco” that provides practically all the information required for touring Morocco, certainly better then that given by Desert Detours. Over 150,000 motorhomes go to Morocco each year, mainly French but a considerable number from the UK travelling independently. You do not need to go with an organised tour; Moroccan people are friendly and very helpful with plenty of policemen about to ask directions if required.

Costs paid by Desert Detours – Ferry 134 Euros (return Algeciras / Ceuta for motorhome & two adults); Campsites 93 Euros (all those used are in the “Camping Morocco” book and cost taken from that book, yes campsites are cheap in Morocco but not of a great standard); Meals about 37 Euros per couple (Ray provided 3 meals, one in Merzouga that was reasonable; a paella cooked by Francisco with little ingredients for the 40+ persons apart from rice; and a piece offering meal at Essouira, I had a piece of dried up fish); Guardians max of 2 Euros (campsites in Morocco include guardians); Museums fees - zero (as Ray did not include any in our tour). Total cost 266 Euros yet we paid Desert Detours 1940 Euros. All the restaurants we were taken to by Ray were all very expensive by Moroccan standards; we often pay less in France and Spain.

The tour that we were taken on was the ‘Classic Moroccan Tour’ which can be found detailed in many travel books on Morocco and the internet.

Ray’s had two Europeans assistants, Steve and Francisco, but both were without previous touring experience of Morocco and of motorhomes leaving us totally dependant on Hammid as Ray himself spoke only English.

Regarding Ray we found him to have a quick temper and at times he was very unpleasant to quite a number on our tour. Even Debbie Ray’s wife had warned Francisco of Ray’s temper before leaving on the trip.

One client of Desert Detours had to cancel his trip with our tour after paying the deposit due to his wife being diagnosed with terminal cancer but Ray refused to reimburse him his deposit.

Ray included horror stories at each of his daily briefings which we felt were included to justify our reason for travelling with him, strange how many 1000’s of others tour Morocco independently without incidents.

A number of independent British motorhome travellers we met during our tour said that they had had zero problems interring Morocco or during their travels.

Ray appeared to care more for his dog, which went on the tour, then his clients.

All these views on Desert Detours were talked about between us and even his assistants during the tour.

When the tour departed Essouira and headed back to Spain one of our group was left stranded in Essouira due to a mechanical breakdown.

Anyway had a great holiday but should not have gone with Desert Detours.

Beware – Desert Detours are also using this site to post anonymous great reviews about themselves.


first published on open forum Out & About Live 28 May 2010

I had the misfortune to be on the same DD trip as les--Wonderers and agree with most of his comments.  There is no question that Ray is passionate and knowlegeable about Morocco but his brusque manner towards clients was at times rude and unacceptable.  Also the size of the group at 19 vans was much larger than DD had led me and others to expect and as a result there were parking problems at nearly every site.

Despite DD I enjoyed Morocco and am planning to return.

 

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