Travelling to Morocco

Language

Arabic is the official language but French is widely understood in Morocco due to its history as a French protectorate, and it is the most useful non-Arabic language to know. Almost all locals are bilingual in Arabic and French.

You will also find people who speak English and Spanish in tourist centers. Our Surfinn staff in Morocco speaks fluently French, English, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic.

Climate

We can't define a single climate to Morocco because it is such a big country with a big diversity of geographical regions.
Although, the northern Moroccan coast down till Agadir and central areas have a warm,Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and mild wet winters with an average temperature of 21°C (70ºF) in the winter.

Further inland areas have continental climate with more extreme temperatures from cold winters and very hot summers. The Atlas Mountain offer you a great scenery with peaks normally covered with snow most of the year. Occasional rain falls occur between April and May, and during October and November.

The southern part of the country and the semi-arid areas on the perimeter of the Sahara desert, the weather is very hot and dry throughout most of the year, though temperatures can drop dramatically at night, especially in the months of December and January.

Cuisine

Moroccan can be considered a fusion cuisine widely appreciated by many foreigners due to it's diversity of influences from colonial French, Mediterranean, Arabic, Jewish, Persian, West African and Berber.

There is a big difference in prices and menu between eating in a traditional casual Moroccan restaurant and an European style restaurant or hotel. You can have it incredibly cheap how more casual or inner country side that restaurant is.

Normally, everything what you can find in restaurants is seasonal, grown locally and typically without chemical pesticides or fertilisers. Local specialities are often grown in small quantities, so the fresh cherries you may enjoy in Sefrou might be impossible to find in Agadir and don't expect fresh fish inland.

Some of the national specialities are:
  • Harira - a spicy tomato-based soup.
  • Brochettes - meat kebabs often served with harissa - hot pepper sauce.
  • Diffa - an elaborate multicourse feast featuring elegantly presented couscous and grilled meat.
  • Pastilla - a pigeon-meat pie layered with flaky dough and dusted with cinnamon and sugar.
  • Merguez - quick bites of sausages and shwarma (spit-roasted lamb sandwich) at a curbside snak, or casual restaurant.
  • Couscous - a savoury semolina dish cooked with local vegetables and/or meat.
  • Tajine - a rich, fragrant stew, with some combination of lamb, chicken or fish with onions, olives, almonds, tomato, herbs or dried fruit.
  • Mechoui - slow-roasted stuffed lamb or beef.
  • Mint tea (aka 'Berber whiskey') - is strong green 'gunpowder' tea mixed with fresh mint and heavily laced with sugar.

Laws on alcohol are fairly liberal (for non-Muslim visitors only) and bars in most tourist areas stay open late. Wines, beers and spirits are available to tourists but tend to be expensive. By law, no-one is allowed to drink alcohol in view of a mosque or during Ramadan, although tourist establishments sometimes flout this rule.

Tips range from a few Dirhams for cleaning service to 5-10% of total meal cost. Tipping of taxi drivers is not expected, but local guides rely on this source of income.

Time

Local time is GMT (same as UK).

Electricity

Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. outlets will fit the Europlug - round two-pin plugs.

Health

No particular inoculations are needed for Morocco under normal circumstances. As with most travel, it makes good sense to have a recent tetanus immunization.

Malaria is not a major problem but if you are really worried see your doctor about anti-malarial medication before your departure.
Although there are some daily precautions to be aware of like avoiding uncooked fruits and vegetables that you can not peel. Usually fried and boiled foods are safe.

It is advisable to drink bottled water (check that the cap is sealed - some people might try to sell you tap water in recycled bottles). Be wary of ice or cordials that may be made with tap water. Some hotels provide free bottled water to guests and its wise to keep a supply in your room so as not to be tempted with tap water.

It is advisable that travellers obtain a valid travel insurance or a medical insurance or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before travel.

Safety

Like any country, Morocco has its share of problems, but they can be easily avoided should you follow common sense. Hustlers can be quite annoying for people travelling to Morocco, offering to give you directions or sell you anything. The best thing to do is to politely refuse their services and keep walking. If it doesn't work, a firm "No" should be enough.

In big cities women can expect a certain level of sexual harassment when travelling alone in Morocco. It is normally nonstop greetings, leering and other unwanted attention, but it is rarely dangerous. It is best to avoid overreacting and to ignore this attention but in case of particular persistence, threatening to go to the police or the brigade touristique is amazingly effective. Women will save themselves less annoyed by using dark sunglasses to avoid eye contact. However, women should always dress conservatively (no low-cut tops, midriffs, or shorts) out of respect for the culture they are visiting.

Duty Free

Travellers do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 400g of tobacco; 1 L of liquor and 1L of wine; 50g of perfume.

Entry requirements - Visas

All visitors to Morocco require a valid passport for at least six months beyond your date of entry. Visitors from the following countries do not need to obtain visas before arrival and are allowed to remain in the country for 90 days: Schengen member states, Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Republic of Congo, Guinea, Hong Kong SAR, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Kuwait, Libya, Mali, Mexico, New Zealand, Niger, Oman, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela.

For tourists from countries that need a visa to enter Morocco, go to the Moroccan Embassy for information. They charge the equivalent of €20 for a single entry and €30 for double or multiple entries. (Double or Multiple entries will be issued at embassy discretion). Visas are usually valid for 90 days and take around 5-6 working days to process. Visa requirements are completed application forms, four passport-size photos taken within the previous six months, Valid passport with at least one blank page, and with a photocopy of the relevant data pages; Fee, payable by postal order only, a photocopy of all flight bookings and a photocopy of hotel reservation.

Tourists can stay for up to 90 days and visa extensions can be a frustrating and time-consuming process. (You may find it easier to duck into the Spanish-controlled Ceuta orMelilla and then re-enter Morocco for a new stamp).

Anti-cholera vaccination certificates may be required of visitors coming from areas where this disease is prevalent and pets need a health certificate less than ten days old, and an anti-rabies certificate less than six months old.

For those who are planning for a longer stay in Morocco or obtain more Morocco Visa information, you must inquire at nearest Moroccan Embassy or Consulate.

How to get there

You can get to Morocco by plane or ferry if you're considering driving from Europe.

Many flight companies, including low-cost, operate more than one daily flight to Morocco. There are plenty direct flights from almost all countries in Europe and overseas to Casablanca, Marrakech, Agadir,Dakhla, Errachidia, Essaouira, Rabat, TanTan, Tangier and Fez.
Canary Islands also have regular flights to Marrakech. You can check here all the flight companies flying to Morocco.
The last way from the airport to the surf camp can be done by Surfinn transfer which is included in most of the packs. We always send to costumers all customized info about "how to get there" between the arrival point and the selected surf camp.

Since the frontier with Algeria has been closed for ten years the only way to get in by car is from Mauritania at Dakhla or from ferry connection to Europe. There are plenty daily ferry connections between Morocco and Spain.
Algeciras is the main port and serves Ceuta (Spanish territory in Morocco) and Tangier. Aferry between Algeciras and Ceuta takes 40 minutes, and less than 2 hours to get to Tangier. Other european ports that have connections to Morocco are Malaga and Almeria in Spain, Montpellier and Perpignan in France, Genoa and Naples in Italy and British Gibraltar.

It might be hard to get into Morocco with a commercial vehicle. Camper vans are also getting less and less acceptable because of the over crowded parkings in many places along the country.

Communications

The international access code for Morocco is +212. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). Morocco GSM mobile telephone network can be accessed via one of two major operators: Meditel or Maroc Telecom. Prepaid cards are available and are very cheap. The SIM card (carte Jawal) costs only 30 DH (3 €) with 10 DH (1 €) airtime. National calls: 3-4 DH. Europe calls: 10 DH, SMS 3 DH. The card is valid 6 month after the last recharge. This means that if you're thinking to stay for one week or more, you might want to buy one local SIM card.

Internet cafes or private telephone offices (also known as teleboutiques) are quite common and available in most towns, looking almost like part of the landscape.

Useful Contacts

  • City Police: 19
  • Coutry Police: 177
  • Fire Service: 15
  • Highway Emergency Service: 177
  • National Information Service: 160
  • Service Call for International Assistance: 120
  • National calls to be paid at the destination: 120
  • Intercity Train: 100
  • Post Office: 140
  • Tourist Information: +212 7 681 532