Whether you are looking to retrace the route of Crosby, Stills & Nash’s Marrakesh Express, seeking a luxury break in internationally acclaimed hotels with spas and golf courses, or you are looking for a little spice and adventure, Morocco has a lot to offer the senior traveler.
Morocco is surprisingly close to Europe – around a 3 hour flight from London or Paris, yet is so exotically different. Combining elements of African, Arab, Berber and European culture, it is like no other country on the African continent. It is Africa, however, and there are some preparations and precautions that older travelers might wish to take into account when planning their trip. Here are eight top tips to ensure your trip of a lifetime runs as smoothly as a camel swaying through the desert!
Morocco is a large country of very varied geography. Roads are generally pretty good, although along coasts and through mountains they can feature some alarming climbs and bends! It is easy to under-estimate distances and parts of the country are extremely remote, so ensure you are well-prepared for your trip.
If that all sounds a bit daunting, there are many very knowledgeable and reliable drivers who can be hired for a longer excursions. The more independent traveler might prefer to travel by train or long-distance bus. Trains are not always punctual, but offer a great way to meet locals and see the country. The train company offers connections by SupraTours bus to the cities without rail links. These buses, along with rival company, CTM, offer direct connections between major cities and are clean, reliable and safe.
Be aware that most medinas (old walled towns) in the big cities are pedestrianized. Access is generally only on foot.
Morocco is not well-known for its accommodation of people with mobility issues though if you do have accessibility issues there are some accommodations that can be made. Medinas are often cobbled and potholed and townhouse guesthouses (known as riads) are often in old buildings which are tall and narrow with plenty of stairs. If you use a wheelchair or need assistance to get around, make sure you book a ground-floor room in a riad (some of which have elevators). Ensure that you alert your hotel or tour guide to the kind of assistance you need.
A trip on camel-back into the desert for an overnight camp is an unmissable once-in-a-lifetime experience. The idea of a camel ride is romantic, but not at all comfortable. If you would like to take such a trip, but anticipate issues around riding a camel or levels of comfort, book an all-terrain vehicle rather than a camel and reserve your place in a luxury bivouac camp, rather than something more basic. Even under the starry sky of the Sahara, full comfort options are available!
Morocco is a great destination for walking, trekking and climbing as well as a range of water sports. Before setting off, do ensure that the guide or instructor is aware of your level of fitness and – if in a group – that all levels will be accommodated as appropriate. Even if you are fit, in order to enjoy your activity, it is vital to conduct it at an appropriate pace.
Before you travel, do ensure that your travel insurance is up to date and your insurance company is aware of any current conditions or medication. There are no major infection diseases prevalent in Morocco, but check the up-to-date advice of your government on vaccinations.
In the larger cities, there are clinics, doctors and hospitals available; some of the private ones meet high standards. In rural or remote areas, medical facilities could be several hundreds of miles away. If you anticipate going off the beaten track, it is advisable to carry a first aid kit and any medication you might need.
Special Dietary Requirements
Dietary needs and preferences such as vegetarianism, gluten-free, nut intolerance etc. are little known in Morocco. On the plus side, most food is freshly prepared from local, seasonal ingredients; some of which are spared of chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
If you anticipate particular requirements, you may wish to bring some supplies with you. The more you eat in smaller restaurants where the chef is present, the more you will be able to explain your needs. Larger, tourist-oriented restaurants tend to cook in bulk and are not very flexible. A great way to experience authentic local cuisine is at a cooking workshop in your riad.
Parts of Morocco get very hot in summer – in July and August it can be well over 100-120°F. Although you will be offered super-sweet mint tea at every corner, the best way to stay hydrated is to drink water. While it’s available in plastic bottles, drinking from the tap in Morocco is very safe. If you want an extra layer of safety, bring along a SteriPen UV treatment light that will kill all bacteria in the water before you drink it. Keep in mind that although the orange juice sold on the street is delicious, try to pick a vendor who will squeeze the juice before your eyes to ensure it is fresh. If you are concerned about his washing-up techniques (the glasses tend to be rinsed all day long in the same water), take your own cup or bottle.
Moroccans are typically friendly, welcoming, hospitable people and in general, Morocco is a safe and secure country. Like everywhere, though, there is a certain level of petty street crime that puts and tourists – who are perceived to be wealthy – are sometimes targets.
Take all the precautions you normally would on vacation. Don’t carry large amounts of cash around. Do not visibly display your wealth by wearing expensive watches, jewelry or purses. Keep your valuables in your hotel safe and use a money belt when you are out. Be aware of over-familiar jostling in crowds and pickpockets.
If the worst happens, report the theft to the police to get a report for your insurance company. In most large cities the tourist police are very evident. Your hotel manager or guide can help you as well.
Take it Easy
Finally – and maybe this tip should have been at the top of the list – take a leaf out of the Moroccan’s book and take it easy! Moroccans are experts at taking five, chilling out and spending a few minutes or hours just watching the world go by. Give yourself time to recover from long journeys, enjoy slower moments watching the sunset or people-watching. Don’t overfill your days – this is your vacation! Try to absorb your unfamiliar surroundings at your pace and you are sure to enjoy your trip all the more. Have a great trip!
Taking It To Another Level
If you’re ready to start planning your Morocco adventure, our team at Journey Beyond Travel has more than a decade of experience personalizing custom Morocco trips for discerning travelers. To get started contact us today. Our team will be happy to work with you to create the perfect Moroccan experience.
If you don’t see yourself getting to Morocco anytime soon check out these great Moroccan recipes: