Camel Safari in Morocco

This is a quick overview about a packaged camel safari in Morocco with logistical details and facts as well as links to a full written narrative, photos and videos. This is a guided cultural experience on a shoestring. Follow the links to dig deeper into the article.
Difficulty Level:

This is an Easy ActivityAbout Morocco

Morocco is situated on the north west of Africa. The Atlas Mountains run down the backbone of the country, from the south west to the north east. Most of the south east portion of the country is in the Sahara Desert and as such is generally sparsely populated and unproductive economically.
Jbel Toubkal is the country’s highest point at 4165 meters above sea level.
The main rivers of Morocco are the Sebou which runs into the Atlantic and the Moulouya which runs into the Mediterranean.

The capital city is Rabat on the Atlantic Coast. Casablanca also on the Atlantic coast is the country’s chief port. The city of Fes is the spiritual and cultural centre of Morocco, famous for its ancient university. Marrakesh, an oasis at the edge of the desert, is also an important trade centre and the main city of southern Morocco.


cost range

Total Cost Range of this Activity is: $$

Details:

Airfare Return from Pisa Italy (Ryan Air)
Hotel Medina (7x $10 per night – double room)
Camel Safari Package (3 day, 2night, trans, all inclusive, less lunches)
Lunches & non-safari meals
$60
$70
$120$70
Total $320
2010 prices

Logistics

The heart of Marrakech is the open market called Place Jemaa El Fna, located in within the walls of the old town (medina). All the cheap (and best in my view) hotels are located in a pocket of tiny allies to the SE of the Place Jamaa.


Click to watch Video

Transportation

Airport taxi to the Place Jemaa costs around 60 D ($8) but a better option is the airport bus that runs every 20-40 minutes that costs 20 D one-way or 30 D round trip. It does a loop that drops you at the bus park within the old city, on the edge of Place Jamaa. From here it is an easy 100-150m walk to the Place and the cheap hotels. If in doubt you can get one of the porters (with wheel barrows) to take your bags and show you the way.

Sight Seeing Packages

There are lots and lots of packages available. The more popular one is the day trip to Essaouira that costs around 300 D. Cristina did this trip and said it sucks. It makes more sense to go to the public bus park (Gare Routiere) located just outside the NW wall. There are buses running every hour and the cost is about 40 D each way. The bus park is modern and easy to use.

Excursions

Lots of options and each hotel have a deal with one of the many little agencies. The discount in price by going directly with an agency is small, so it may be easier simply to have the hotel deal with it. Note that in the end you are herded to a collection point in the morning and mini-vans are then loaded based on turnout. In the case of the safari the vans hold 17 passengers. It seems like a lot but it wasn’t that bad actually. The vans are large and the seating is ok. Obviously if you take the front seat (as I did) it is even better. The average price for the 3 day, 2 night package is around 900 D ($120). Note that these are packages so don’t expect an authentic Sahara experience. These offer comfortable hotels, good food, short camel trips, and smiling drivers and guides. Actually a good deal and well worth the costs. The alternative is to go it alone. I met 3 women that did it that way. They took two local buses, then had to rent a taxi and guide for 100 euro each. I have done independent travel of this type, in Morocco, before and it can be quite tiring and the locals only help you to claim commissions so you never seem to get anything cheap or easily. I recommend the package excursion unless you have lots of time and speak Berber.

We stayed at the Hotel La Gazelle du Dades (A 27 Km de Boumalne Dades – Entree des Gorges du Dades Par Ouarzazate, 05 24 83 17 53, lagazellededades@gmail.com). Very nice place, good food, with camping sites.

On the second day we visited a family of carpet makers Razouk el Mahjoub (Tissage des Tapis Berbere Nomade, 212 06 42 47 85 27, 13.4km de Tinghir, 600m des Gorges Tudra). Pay the local (non-trasport) price for carpets or just have a cup of tea.

If you really want a contact with an excursion company in advance then theres Nature Dream, 212 (0) 676 472 987, Riad Zltoun Kadlm # 182 Medina, hocine.mhidi@yahoo.fr, www.circuit-maroc.org) or Imzi Tours (rue My Ali Res, Essada # 14, Gueliz, 05 24 43 39 34). Note, I prefer to simply have the hotel call in their contact since the price works out to be almost the same and it makes it easier to negotiate room rates if they know they are also getting a commission from a tour.

Accommodation (lots of alternatives)

I stayed at the same place I stayed on my prior visits, but there are lots of options in this little area next to the old town central market place. Note, that any hotel with Internet booking is probably over-priced. Even in season it is better to walk the allies and simply ask at the many old hotels. And don’t forget that rooftop (open air mattresses) is always the cheapest.

Hotel Median, 1 Derb Sidi Bouloukat Riad Zitoune Lakdim, Marrakech, 0012 (05) 24 44 29 97
I stayed here for the 3rd time. Double bed room is 100 D a night (always negotiate the price). Rooftop open air is 30 D night.

Others in the same price range and all close.

Hotel Essaouira, Riad Zitoune Kedim 3, Derb Sidi Bouloukate, Marrakech, Medina 00 212 524 44 38 05

Hotel Imouzzer, 74 Rue Sidi Boulooukate, 212 05 24 44 53 36, hotel_imozzer@yahoo.fr, www.hotel-imouzzer.com

High Price but good Value, (they also owen a cheaper hotel next door also)

Juane Mogador, 116 Riad Zitoun Kedim, derb Sidi Bouloukat, Medina. 212 524 42 63 24, jnanemogador@hotmail.com, www.jnanemogador.com
located in the hotel si the Mogador Spa. Rooms run from 29-70 euro/night low season, 36-85 euro/night high season.

Riad & Spa Bahia Salam, 61 Ave Houmane El Fetouaki, Arset Lmaach, Medina, 212 (0) 524 42 60 60, contact@riadbahiasalam.com (rooms & spa)

Places to Eat (per Cristina)

Le Bougainvillier Cafe Restaurant, 33 rue el Mouassine, medina

Cafe Arabe, 184 rue Mouassine, Medina

Link to Narrative

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