Morocco is the perfect starting point for travelers going to Africa. An easy hop across from Europe, it can be a friendly place, stimulating and full of surprises.
You need a valid passport with a minimum validity of six months from the day you enter Morocco. Europeans do not need a visa.
The legally permitted maximum stay is 90 days.
The country’s currency is the Dirham. The exchange is approximately 1 € = 11 DH.
The easiest way to get cash is to change some money in the Moroccan airport. In some hotels, and probably in some cities you can also pay by credit card.
Morocco’s official languages are: National, classic Arabic and Berber.
The unofficial languages of Morocco are: Moroccan Arabic dialect of classical Arabic. Berber languages (Tarifit, Tamazight and Tachelhit) used daily in the mountain and desert regions of Morocco. French is the language of commerce, higher education is taught in French.
The Spanish: Northern regions speak some Spanish because in the past it formed part of the Spanish Protectorate of Morocco.
Classical Arabic is the language by law but the law also accepted French and sometimes Spanish. Most of the language spoken by the population is Arabic Moroccan gradually influenced by the so-called cultural language. Actually, there is diglossia and even triglossia sometimes because the vast majority of the population understand and speak French. Berber areas, in three dialects of Berber languages (Tarifit in the north, Tamazight in the Middle Atlas and desert and Tachelhit the great atlas and the Atlantic coast) use their language daily.
No vaccinations are needed. In the big city pharmacies you can find the same medication as in Europe, in rural areas with difficult access to health services, medicines are often not available.
Because of its geography, Atlantic coast, Mediterranean coast, low mountain, high mountain, plains and desert, Morocco has many variables in its climate.
Generally it has a warm climate except December, January and February which are the coldest months of the year.
In the desert during the August temperatures reach up to 45 °.
Travelers from other countries should only drink bottled water. Green tea is the national drink and it is prepared with mint. Part of the tradition is a ritual to welcome the newcomer. They call it the Berber whiskey and it is known to be well prepared by his turban foam.
The national dishes are the Tagine: a meat and vegetable stew and couscous: cracked wheat steamed carefully, a delicious stew of vegetables and meat. The main secret of all the kitchens is a special selection of the wide variety of spices that exist in Moroccan cuisine.
Bread is unconditional since it is present at every meal.
In rural areas, every family has a stone oven where they carefully cook bread to eat fresh every day. The Harira is the Ramadan soup, nutritious mixture of pasta, rice, lentils, vegetables and spices with a strong coriander flavour.
Morocco utilizes daylight saving time.
Morocco starts Daylight Saving Time on Sunday March 27, 2016 at 2:00 AM local standard time.
Morocco temporarily ends Daylight Saving Time before Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, on Sunday June 4, 2016 at 3:00 AM local daylight time.
Morocco resumes Daylight Saving Time on Sunday July 9, 2016 at 2:00 AM local standard time.
Morocco ends Daylight Saving Time on Sunday October 30, 2016 at 3:00 AM local daylight time.
What to bring :
Sunglasses, sunscreen cream , protective anti mosquito cream, lip balm, soap, tissues, ibuprofen, aspirin, laxatives, astringents (just in case), comfortable shoes, sandals, jacket for cold nights, batteries for devices that require them (in Africa batteries are of very poor quality).
Shopping in Morocco :
At the time of purchasing something we must not forget that Morocco is still developing so everything is a little cheaper than in Europe. Even today it is marketed formerly with bartering, exchanging objects or food.
The souks are markets where you can buy almost anything, an explosion of scents and colours. It is also usual to haggle, to buy you have to negotiate the price with the seller with skill and trying not to abuse them. The idea is to start with a little less than the price you would pay for the desired object, start the negotiation with the seller to finally agree with a fair price for both.
Some typical products include orange blossom water, rosewater, argan oil, musk, dates, couscous, harissa (hot sauce), carpets, printed scarves, turbans, silver accessories, djellabas, slippers, fossils and quartz extracted in the country, Arab and Berber handicrafts, ceramics, textiles, musical instruments (djarbuca, gnawa castanets…), variety of spices such as saffron, cardamom and cumin… so valuable in ancient times they were used as currency exchange in the trans-Saharan routes.
Festivals and Events
Marathon of the Sands: One of the toughest marathons in the world, this journey begins in Ouarzazate and ends in the desert in late March and early April.
Roses Festival, Kelaat M’gouna: in the valley of roses, festivals are held each May for 3 days, with live Berber music. Early May. Gnawa Festival in Essaouira: African tribal music festival-Moroccan. In the middle of June.
Festival of Gnawa in Khamlia: meeting the people of the desert towns where the tribes of Gnawas invite you to eat and perform dances and rituals of protection. Mid July.
National Festival of Popular Arts in Marrakech: recognized since 2005 by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Takes place in the best areas of the city such as the Menara Gardens, Palm, El Badi Palace… Mid July.
Art and Music Festival of Asilah: where you can enjoy the colourful murals the artists decorate on the white houses of the medina. In late July.
Festival of the Wedding Imilchil: curious celebration with live music and songs where Berber women and men unite in a showy ritual. Mid-September.
Festival of the date : Erfoud: the people of the region meet in one of the most fascinating places in Morocco, Merzouga dunes, to enjoy traditional competition of dromedaries. Late October.
International Film Festival of Marrakech: Between November and December.
Ramadan: the month of purification. The whole country comes to this tradition for about 30 days a year. It’s a religious celebration when people stop eating and drinking from before sunrise until sunset. At the end the month is celebrated with the festival of Aït Seguir.
Festival of the Lamb: Approximately 40 days after Ramadan, every family sacrifices a lamb as an offer to God, as Abraham did in his time.