Archive for the ‘Morocco Travel Tips’ Category

Exchange Rates Favour Morocco

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Having risen against most currencies during 2013, the Moroccan Dirham (MAD) has eased by some 8% during the past few months and is currently fluctuating at around MAD 13.45* to the pound sterling and MAD 11.25* to the euro; holidays in Morocco are thus even better value, with spending money going that much further.

Cost of dining in Marrakech

Take, for example, a restaurant meal for two. Whilst a fine dining experience (and there is no shortage of opportunities for experiencing the very best of European and Moroccan cuisine) will vary between MAD 600 and 800 a meal at a midrange restaurant will average around MAD 400; if that’s not reasonable enough a street food experience can be yours for less than MAD 100!

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What’s on in Marrakech – March and April 2014

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Springtime is the ideal time of year to visit Marrakech when temperatures average an idyllic 26° with more than 8 sunshine hours per day and just the occasional light shower to keep vegetation fresh before the heat of summer.

As the air fills with the intoxicating scent of flowers in bloom throughout the city, the streets buzz with the excitement of things to come as visitors arrive to experience some of the popular events taking place during March and April.


International Magic Festival

From the 19-22nd March, the squares and streets of Marrakech, as well as the Royal Theatre, will be taken over by street and stage performers participating in the International Magic Festival.

Transmarocaine Challenge

Following on from the magic is the demanding reality of the Transmarocaine Challenge (22-30 March). This year’s running, walking, canoeing and mountain biking challenge, the ninth in the series, will take participants (and spectators) from Essaouira, a pretty coastal town on the Atlantic coast, 150 km west of Marrakech, to Tahanaoute, situated at the foot of the mighty Atlas, in the shadow of Mont Toubkal (4167m), and finally on to Marrakech itself.

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The Benefits of Hammams

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Marrakech, like most places in the Arab world, is renowned for its traditional hammams. No visit to Marrakech is complete until you have experienced the delights and benefits of these time-honoured steam baths.

What are Hammams?

The marble-clad hammam at Les Borjs de la Kasbah

The Arabic word ‘hammam’ means ‘hot water’ and the origin of traditional Moroccan hammams dates back to Roman times when they were popular both as bathhouses and meeting places. A traditional hammam consists typically of a series of two to four connected steam rooms, the temperature increasing to around 50°c as one proceeds from one to the next.

Hammam Treatments

Housed usually in marble-clad rooms, a hammam bath involves dousings of alternating hot and cold water followed by a vigorous scrubdown with black ‘beldi’ soap. Other treatments include ‘ghasoul’ or henna coatings, ‘rassoul’ hair treatments and, after a short recovery period, relaxing massages using essential oils. In addition to being wonderfully relaxing and providing welcome relief from stress, hammam sessions provide a number of physical benefits, not least improved blood circulation:

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The 7 Delights of a Trip to the Cascades d’Ouzoud

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Situated within the Grand Atlas province of Azilal, some 150 km to the north-east of Marrakech, the Cascades d’Ouzoud are more than simple waterfalls.

Surrounding Region

The journey from Marrakech to the Cascades d’Ouzoud is an experience in itself as the road takes you there via green valleys and the superb gorge of the El Abid River, passing orchards and ageless olive mills along the way to the Berber village of Tanaghmeilt, close by. Seeing the magnetic beauty of this desert region it is easy to understand why much of the area is designated a conservation site by a number of national and local organisations.

Cascades d’Ouzoud

First sight of the Cascades d’Ouzoud explains why they are renowned as one of the region’s most photographed sites. Dropping in a series of wide and narrow steps from a height of 110 m, the falls are at their most beautiful during mid-to-late afternoon when the appearance of rainbows makes the scene even more spectacular, the widest of them appearing towards the bottom of the series of cascades.

The Top of the Falls

Refreshingly un-commercialised, with just a few Berber traders selling fresh orange juice and market produce, every section of the falls offers a fascinating spectacle. At the summit you’ll find a dozen or so small mills, the last working examples of the many olive and flour mills believed to have given the site its name, Ouzoud being the Berber term for the act of grinding.

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4 Great Places for Kids in Marrakech

Monday, February 17th, 2014

While historic sites and monuments, stately gardens and the delights of shopping in the souks of Marrakech may appeal to adults, children quickly tire of admiring Berber carpets, sampling spices (however colourful and tantalisingly odiferous!) and learning about ancient history.

So here are just a few great places for kids in Marrakech to keep them busy and, more importantly, smiling.

Le Bowling

Situated in the Palmeraie, Le Bowling is a quaint, air-conditioned bowling alley. Featuring six lanes, it is perfect for keeping kids from going stir crazy in your hotel when it’s too hot to do anything else. A bar and billiard tables are also available.

Kawkab Jeux

Offering arts and crafts, workshops, games and a host of other state-of-the-art activities for children of all ages, the Kawkab Jeux on Rue Imam Chafaï in the central area of Marrakech is ideal for keeping your kids amused while you try your hand at a bit of old fashioned haggling in a nearby souk. There are video games, a mini-train, playground slides, mini foot tables and a snack bar.

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The Place Jemaa El Fna

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Like most of Morocco’s cities, Marrakech has two sharply contrasting personalities, in the shape of the modern, commercial quarter of Guéliz and the original walled medina.

One of five Moroccan medinas included for their architectural richness on the Unesco World Heritage list, the medina of Marrakech, packed with grandiose monuments and an extensive souk, is built around the celebrated Jemaa El Fna, a thronged, pulsating square in the very heart of town.

Shoppers’ Paradise

Surrounded by labyrinthine alleyways amid tightly packed houses, Djemaa El Fna is the starting point for accessing the apparently endless maze of souks selling everything from cheap souvenirs and trinkets and spices to beautiful carpets and finely-crafted wood and metal artifacts, including traditional jewellery. All day long refreshments in the shape of freshly-squeezed orange juice and delicious Moroccan dates are available from a plethora of vendors in and around the central square.

Step back in Time

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Visit the Majorelle Garden in Marrakech

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Amid the frenetic buzz of Marrakech one can still find pockets of tranquil serenity in sharp contrast to the heat and pace of the city all around.

One such oasis of calm is the Majorelle Garden, or Jardin Majorelle, one of the most popular visitor attractions in Marrakech. Named after its French-born designer, Jacques Majorelle, a French painter inspired by the Art Nouveau movement of the early 1900s, the garden in its modern form spans around two and a half acres blending nature and design.

Here, the sound of gently running water from marble pools, fountains and irrigation channels and the constant chatter of birdlife create an idyllic atmosphere of sub tropical exoticism as raised paths lead one through plantations of banana trees and bamboo, coconut palms and bougainvillea and an impressive collection of cactae.

Majorelle spent some forty years designing and sculpting his garden into a splendid piece of botanical art although, following his death in 1962, it fell into a state of neglect.

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Money exchange in Morocco

Friday, September 20th, 2013

The unit of currency in Morocco is the Moroccan Dirham – the Dirham is used in several Arab states, hence the contextual prefix. The Dirham, designated as MAD or Dhs, is comprised of 100 centimes; notes are available in denominations of 200, 100, 50, 25, 20 and (occasionally) 10 dirhams and coins are issued in denominations of 10, 5, 2 and 1 dirham, or 50, 20, 10 and 5 centimes.

The word “dirham” comes from the Greek “drachma”, one of the oldest currencies known to man, dating from the sixth century BC. The Greek drachma was circulated through trade in many countries around the Mediterranean, including Morocco, and in the 7th century the term ‘dirham’ was adopted widely throughout the Arab world.

The Dirham is officially designated a ‘closed currency’ which means that it can only be traded in Morocco – so if you have left over cash after your trip you’ll need to convert it back before you leave or you may be stuck with useless money.

According to Trip Advisor, however, Dirhams are traded in a number of travel agencies and airports outside of Morocco but only up to a maximum of 1000DH and one is likely to pay more for money exchange outside Morocco than within the country itself. It is wise to retain currency exchange receipts acquired in Morocco as they may be required when selling back surplus Dirhams at the airport prior to leaving (there is no limit to the number of Dirhams one can sell).

If you’d prefer to exchange your money in Morocco, as most visitors do, you will be able to buy and sell currency at a Bureau de Change in the airport or port upon arrival in the country and also at banks.

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How to barter in Marrakech

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

No visit to Marrakech is complete without a visit to the famous souks, a seemingly inescapable maze of open and covered markets selling everything imaginable. And who doesn’t want to obtain a few good deals when shopping for souvenirs on holiday?

We all know that stall and shop owners hike prices when they see a tourist approaching but don’t let this knowledge deter you from trying to extract the best price.

Local traders expect it. Indeed, haggling is part of the very culture in the Arab world, not least in a tourist city as popular as Marrakech.

Okay, so you’ve spotted a beautiful hand-crafted item that you simply must take home as a ‘look where I’ve been’ brag item to decorate your lounge; here’s how to barter in Marrakech:

  • Take a stroll around the shop/market and see what the general asking price is for similar items – you’ll probably find (by asking – items are rarely priced) that things cost pretty much the same but it’s good to know. (more…)

Marrakech Weather

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

“What’s the weather like in Marrakech?” It’s the question most frequently asked of those in the leisure and travel business. Seldom an easy question to answer with certainty at the best of times, it’s a query all the more difficult to respond to these days as exceptional weather events continue to occur right around the globe and climate change, whether due to global warming or not, makes itself felt.

In Morocco’s southern interior, much of it semi-desert and mountainous, extremes of temperature can always be expected. During summer, in Marrakech, it’s common for maximum daily temperatures to reach the 40’s, if not more.

Even at night it’s still hot, often over 20ºC. During winter, by contrast, the climate is agreeably mild although, even then, daytime temperatures range from 15º to 25º between November and March, falling to 5º or even less at night, due to the influence of snowfall on the nearby Atlas. This would be typical of Marrakech.

Temperatures apart, if it’s winter sun you’re after, Morocco is right up there with the best. Over 10 hours of sunshine per day, on average, from June to early September, and no less than 7 hours from October to February – quite a contrast with the gloom of a European winter. Whenever clouds and rain decide to put in their inevitable appearance, one can’t argue with statistics like that!

For Marrakech weather updates, please see our website (on the right hand side, at the top of page)