Roads & Sat Nav
Before you come to Morocco ensure you do two things, 1: buy a paper map (the newest edition you can find). We bought the Michelin 742 from Amazon. It’s not great for small detail in towns and cities, but has definitely been needed for route planning and to ensure our GPS mapping sends us on the right route. 2: download the Maps.me app and the Morocco map before travelling, once downloaded this is an offline mapping system so it’s a good way of routing once here. A lot of sat navs don’t offer Morocco as an option, our Aguri doesn’t. The downside of maps.me is that it that there isn’t an option to enter vehicle size hence following the route on a paper map is always a good option.
The roads here vary immensely, generally roads shown as red and yellow on the map are ok to travel on, those shown as white are not, as they are mainly unpaved. The weather can have a massive impact on road quality though, as we’ve already found out, often washing away the road surface leaving huge pot holes behind. They seem to be working on the roads constantly, so most journeys will involve a detour or a stretch of unpaved road to navigate. Don’t forget to forward plan journeys by also checking the weather forecast. We have just made a dash over the mountains ahead of schedule as there was snow coming, this means we’ve had to miss certain places out this time, but has also meant we didn’t get stuck up north for a long period of time.
Drivers here generally ignore solid white lines and so can overtake at anytime including on blind bends and hills. You just kind of get used to it, even though it makes you clench your butt every time.
Police checkpoints are commonplace especially on entering and exiting towns. Signs indicate you should stop, but so far when we’ve slowed down we’ve just been waved through.
Fuel stations are pretty commonplace near major towns and routes. Just ensure you fill at every opportunity if you’re doing a long drive especially into less built up areas. The fuel here is cheap at around 9.80 MAD per litre which equates to around €0.98. The fuel stations all seem to have attendants and so have some small change for a tip. A couple of dirhams is the going rate. If you want to pay by card, just check that they take accept them first as the signs don’t guarantee it.
Cash is King
Other than large supermarkets and some fuel stations everywhere else in Morocco you will need cash (including on campsites). You may have to visit several ATM’s to get cash out as they don’t always carry enough cash. We requested 2000 MAD (€200) from a couple and only got 1000 (€100). Maps.me will show you where ATM’s are located which is very handy just either use the search function or select ATM in categories. We have a card from starling bank which gives us a really good exchange rate.
There are known to be a couple of refillable gas plants here (one near Marrakesh and one near Meknes) although we haven’t tried these, instead we have purchased a gas bottle and have connected this to our external gas BBQ point to feed our motorhome. These can be bought in all towns from small grocery stores (you will see them outside). Just check the quality of the bottles as some have been very well used. We paid 100 MAD (€10) for a 11kg bottle. The stores will give you a price for the bottle and a price for the gas, so ensure you ask for a full one. You will also need a regulator which you can source from the same place.
Supermarkets & Shopping
Shopping in Morocco is fast becoming one of my favourite pastimes. The souks in conjunction with the small grocery stores have just about everything you will need. Fresh produce at the markets is wonderful, you just fill a bowl with your entire pick and they will weigh it and tell you the price. There are also butchers at the markets where you will see the meat hanging, again it’s very cheap, we paid 70 MAD (€7) for a kilo of lamb a couple of days ago. You will also see livestock such as rabbits, chickens and pigeons that they will kill for you and prepare. We haven’t brought ourselves to do this yet (hypocritical I know). When by the sea, keep a look out for local fishermen bringing in their catch of the day as they are more than happy to sell to you. We did barter the price down on the fresh fish as felt it was a little high and it was an easy negotiation which tells us that they were perhaps trying it on a little (who can blame them). If language is a barrier, don’t worry as there will always be someone nearby that they can call on to translate.
There are large supermarkets here too in the bigger towns namely Marjane and Carrefour which are very well stocked and although it’s perhaps necessary to visit for some staples, it’s certainly less fun than at the souks.
If you are buying goods other than food, always, always, always barter. If they don’t meet the price you want to pay then walk away. If they can meet the price they will soon come after you when you do and let you know. We’ve already bought a tagine, a small burner to cook it on along with a mat for outside the motorhome. In the mountains and desert you can also barter with goods. When we stopped at the side of the mountain road to take pics a man selling fossils was soon at our door. He had a stunning amethyst which we purchased giving him part cash, part clothes and even a box of wine!
Wild camping and campsites
There are some options for wild camping in Morocco although we haven’t done it to date as the one’s we’ve spotted required a 4×4.
The campsites are cheap but can vary in quality. On average we are paying around 80 MAD (€8) per night including electricity. Some have hot showers, some don’t, but as we are self contained this doesn’t really matter to us. The electric supply can be a little temperamental, but we are in Africa so this is something we expected.
Some sites also have restaurants and offer either a laundry service or a washing machine. Sites are very relaxed here and so don’t seem to mind what time you arrive or leave, they also don’t mind if you sit outside and build a fire to sit around.
Near big cities there is often also an option to use guardian parking, which is generally just a car park with a guardian who minds your vehicle. There are no services, but it does mean your vehicle is safe. These tend to be cheaper than sites at around 40-50 MAD (€4-5).
If you pull up in a town there will often be a guy appear from nearby who will watch your vehicle for a small fee of just a couple of dirhams. It’s a good investment to keep your vehicle safe. We always pay them when we return to the vehicle, that way we know they will hang around.
Water & Waste
Water is available at campsites and is considered safe to drink (although we have opted for bottled currently, but before our next visit will look at the option of installing a water filter). Most campsites do not have anywhere to empty grey waste so generally this can be emptied into buckets and then onto plants or a drain, some sites just tell you to empty it on to pitch (after all pitches here are generally just patches of dirt anyway). Black or toilet waste is catered for on sites.
Almost all of the toilets we have used even in coffee shops have been a hole in the floor type and as these places are almost always frequented by men, it’s not the most pleasant experience but needs must.
Eating out in Morocco is a delight and it’s generally inexpensive to do so. If’s there’s no menu always check the price first, otherwise you may just have a surprise at the end, and however tasty the meal is this can leave a nasty taste. We tend to look for places where lots of locals are eating as you really can’t go wrong.
There is no recycling in Morocco, but as a very industrious nation they really do not waste much at all. Westerners throw away much more in a day than the average family here would throw away in a week. There are bins along the roadside or at petrol stations as well as at sites.
Wifi is available in some cafe’s and on a lot of campsites. Signal strength on sites can vary and mostly can only be used around reception. It’s best to get a local sim as well as back up. You can either install this in a mifi device or a mobile phone. We brought a spare mobile with us so that we can both hotspot from it. That way we still have our English numbers active on our phones in case we need to be contacted from the UK. The best coverage is with Maroc Telecom. You will need to go into a Maroc telecom store (these are orange and blue) to buy your sim. We paid 20 MAD €2 for our sim card and 100 MAD (€10) for 10gb of data which lasts one month. When you need to top up you can either do this at any general store that displays the Maroc Telecom sign or on line at recharge.com. If you download the Maroc Telecom app you can then track how much data you have left, once downloaded you need to set up an account by registering on line first, you cannot do this via the app.
Ancient sites and visitor attractions
Morocco has some fabulous ancient sights and although entrance fees vary they are relatively cheap at around €7. There will always be guides at the entrance if you want one, don’t forget to negotiate the price. The sites we’ve visited so far have been virtually deserted. Maybe we’ve been lucky with our timing.
The Moroccan People
The Moroccans are a warm, friendly, helpful and industrious race. Mostly they will talk and welcome you without ulterior motive. They are one of the most industrious nations we have come across on our travels and certainly know how to make do and mend. It can be very tough here to make a living and so some will befriend you with making money in mind, so you have to be firm if you are not interested as they can be very persistent. If you need anything the locals will be able to get it for you, just make sure you negotiate the price first.
Morocco for us feels like proper travelling, couple this with the luxury of being able to do it with our own accommodation. We have definitely fallen for this magical country.