Traveling with a tour guide can offer visitors a more personal perspective on Morocco’s sights, culture and history. Whether you intend to travel with a guide for an hour, a day, a week or longer, following the suggestions below can help you plan effectively and get the most out of the experience.
Confirm the itinerary and amenities in advance. What meals does the tour include in the price? What forms of transportation are provided? You should see these details clearly listed on your itinerary. If you have your heart set on surfing while you’re in Essaouira, for example, and it doesn’t appear on your itinerary, ask for it. Even if something you want to do isn’t a standard part of the tour operator’s package, they may be able to accommodate special requests if you ask in advance.
Ensure you know the cost. This isn’t only about confirming the price of hiring a tour guide; it also includes clarifying what fees are and are not included in the price. For instance, if your itinerary includes visiting a museum, clarify whether you will need to pay your own entrance fee when you reach the museum or whether it is part of your tour package. Remember to consider a tip in addition to the tour’s price.
Learn about Moroccan life. Learning about your guide’s family, hobbies and way of life provides you with a glimpse into Moroccan life. If a guide asks you questions about family, work or leisure, interpret that as an invitation to ask similar questions. Not only will it allow you to compare cultures, but you may also be surprised by how much you find in common.
Dabble in Arabic or Berber. Residents of most countries appreciate when visitors attempt to speak their language, and Morocco is no exception. Ask your guide to help you learn basic words and phrases and coach you on your pronunciation.
Know that you’re not obligated to buy. Many tour guides in Morocco are friends with shop owners, restaurant managers and other merchants. If your guide takes you to a shop or to a scenic location with street vendors, only buy something if you genuinely want to, and when you’re ready to leave, say so. After all, the tour is for you.
Get photos with your travel companions. If you travel with another person or a group, many of your photos may leave someone out (i.e., the one taking the picture). To include everyone, ask your guide to take photos for you. Even couples who have mastered the art of photographing themselves may look back and wish they had pictures that captured them with more of the scenery. And don’t be shy about inviting your guide to be in photos, too!
Ask for what you want, even if it deviates from the itinerary. If you’re getting a guided visit of Fez (see our Fez travel guide)and you pass an alleyway that catches your interest, ask your guide to detour in that direction. If your stomach is rumbling an hour before lunch is scheduled, ask to take an early break. While some deviations may be difficult to accommodate due to advance reservations at attractions later in the day, it never hurts to make a request. After all, this is your trip.
Written by Shelley A. Gable, instructional designer and freelance writer.
Photo by abmiller99.
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