While discovering Morocco on a private tour, you may get the feeling that tipping is compulsory. Your driver will often tip local guides, parking guards, door men, cafe waiters, etc. That is mainly because a large part of the population earns the equivalent of 10 euros a day and less. Tipping is therefore largely appreciated. Some jobs, like waiters or taxi drivers rely greatly on tips.
If your expectations are exceeded, you are welcome to tip your driver- guide. Past tips have ranged from 1000 to 5000 dirhams for a multiple- day tour. Please do not give money to children, it motivates them to beg and miss school.
Most of the population in Morocco is Muslim and therefore the clothing code, albeit more formal than in Saudi Arabia or Yemen, is more restricted than in Europe or the US. T-shirts, dresses, knee level trousers are OK. You won’t get fined for wearing shorts or miniskirts, but try and fit in when possible.
Despite being in Africa, Morocco is a very tolerant and safe country. Pick pocketing and petty theft is very low and it is probably safer for your belongings to walk Jemaa El Fna square than the Ramblas in Barcelona. Moroccans are very willing to help and in general understand a few words in English, although if you can use French you are much better off. Although sharing borders with Algeria and Mauritania, there has never been any case of a foreigner being kidnapped.
FOOD GUIDELINES IN MOROCCO
– always wash your hands or use anti bacterial wipes before touching food;
– only have fish or sea food when close to the sea coast: Essaouira, Rabat, Agadir, Tangier, Chefchaouen, Casablanca are all fine. Avoid fish in and around the Sahara, Fes, Ouarzazate, Zagora, Midelt, etc.;
– when in the desert or on the way to / from the desert, avoid fresh salads and fruits. Try steamed meat ( tagine ) rather than grilled ( kebabs/ ribs). As fruits, go for oranges, pomegranates, bananas or any other fruit that needs peeling. Avoid dates, apples or melon and if you do have to eat them, rinse them abundantly with bottled water;
– always drink bottled water throughout all of Morocco. To the best of our knowledge, tap water is safe to drink but is rich in lime and other deposits and it doesn’t sit well with everybody;
– avoid too many spices if you know that you have a fragile stomach;
– avoid rice in salads. Rice is something that is cooked once, kept in the fridge and sometimes heated and reheated when served.
Ramadan is a particular time of year lasting 30 days. Most Moroccans observe it and therefore do not drink or eat from sunrise to sunset. A private tour of Morocco is still much worth doing during Ramadan but be aware that the waiter/ taxi driver/ shop seller/ guide/ hotel receptionist will not be at their 100 %. Most sites/ monuments/ activities will only be available in the morning with most of them coming to a still around 3- 4 PM. It is a profound time of year to visit Morocco during Ramadan so try and get invited over for ftour. A detailed article can be found here.
Spending a few days in Spain before or after visiting Morocco and need a local agent on the ground to recommend or help you book inspiring accommodations, restaurants, guides and activities ? In 2022 we have opened in office in Granada, southern Spain and we can easily craft a joint Spain- Morocco tour. Enquire here.
Our drivers are experts in the history and culture of the areas you will cover, the best spots for panoramic photos, the local hidden gems and will be glad to share all this with you in fluent English.
Morocco is a bargaining culture. Bargaining is part of every day’s life and should be perceived as such. NEVER pay the first price you are asked and remember that a joke always helps in the process. The final rate may vary between half the price and a fifth of the price initially asked. That depends on the seller and the item. Bargaining applies only to shopping items in the souks ( markets) or souvenirs, such as carpets, lamps, dishes, etc. and not to restaurants or grocery stores. To avoid any misunderstandings, your driver/ guide can help you with general tips on where best to shop but he will not be able to help you with the bargaining process.
tAILOR MADE ON THE GO
One of the main advantages of being on a private tour is being able to decide on the pace of the journey. The driver will accommodate as many stops as you wish and can even make detours, where possible. The only restraint is making it in time for dinner at your accommodation for the night. Suppose that you are not bothered about visiting a ksour (fortified village) and would rather arrive earlier at your desert camp for the night. It suffices mentioning it to your driver and he will adapt things accordingly.
Alcohol licenses for restaurants and hotels are hard to get in Morocco and therefore not all hotels or restaurants can offer wine, beer or other spirits. Most of the guest houses we work with offer these beverages on site and if they don’t, they are OK with guests bringing their own alcohol. That being said, Moroccan wine has improved immensely in the last few decades with some brands being exported to Canada or South Africa. Local beer is also more than decent. A word of advice: to respect local culture and customs, alcohol should not be consumed outside restaurants/ hotels.
Camel riding is very popular in Morocco and is available almost everywhere. We can arrange for a camel ride in Marrakech, on the way to the Atlas Mountains or before reaching the Sahara dunes. Riding a camel is quite easy, there is no previous practice needed. With booking a tour that takes in one night in the Sahara dunes, a camel ride is normally included and takes between 30 and 60 minutes. Anything longer would leave your muscles sore.
Morocco is above all, a culture shock. And there is no better way to portray this than witnessing the reaction of visitors arriving for the first time on Jemaa El Fna square in Marrakech at night. With a different culture comes a different etiquette. Moroccans are most welcoming to foreigners and most of them speak a few words of English but a few simple phrases in Moroccan Arabic make all the difference:
Salamu alaykum: Peace be upon you.
Metshrfin: Nice to meet you.
La, shukran : No, thank you.
Moumkin souera ? : Can I take your photo ?
Rali bzzaf: Very expensive.
Shi taman mzyan: It’s the right price.
Wesh l’kontor hrdam ?: Is the meter working ?
Mashi mushkil: It’s not a problem.
Bismillah: In the name of God ( said when you begin eating).
B’slama: Good bye.
Kulshi beher: Everything is fine.
Although Moroccans are used to tourists going around and taking photos of places and people, some of them don’t like their photo taken, especially up close. Most of them, however, are likely to agree to having their photo taken, if you ask them kindly. See also ‘ COMMON EXPRESSIONS IN MOROCCAN ARABIC’.
Meat still holds a very important place in Moroccan culture. When receiving guests, it would be considered shameful for the host to serve a meal without a beef/ lamb/ chicken dish. Hence, most restaurants in Morocco do not offer comprehensive vegetarian menus. We have had quite a few vegetarian guests on our private Morocco tours and we were always able to arrange for vegetarian dinners throughout the properties offered on tour. However, what we can not guarantee is a different 3-course vegetarian meal every evening. In larger cities like Marrakech, Casablanca and Rabat, there are outside restaurants that serve a diversity of vegetarian dishes.