Though independent travelers may find it easy to get around Morocco’s major cities, seeking out the highlights in the remote rural valleys, mountains or desert may pose challenges for someone unfamiliar with the area. Hiring a guide to take you to these places allows you to see and learn about sites tucked off the tourist trail.
If you opt to hire a guide for part or all of your trip, consider these suggestions:
1. Ask for what you want.
If you spot a breathtaking view you’d like to photograph, ask to stop for a moment. If you’d like to shop for souvenirs, speak up. If you need a toilet, mention it sooner rather than later.
Many travelers shy away from making basic requests like these, but remember, it’s your trip, and you’re most likely to enjoy it if you’re comfortable and spend time on what interests you.
2. Request light lunches.
Many hotels include a multi-course, delicious dinner as part of the nightly rate. Similarly, many of the tourist-oriented restaurants a guide might suggest for lunch also offer large and tasty (and often pricey!) meals. To save room for your evening feasts and save a few bucks, ask your guide to take you somewhere with lighter fare, perhaps somewhere locals frequent.
3. Withdraw cash in advance.
The further you venture from cities, the fewer cash machines you’ll find. This isn’t an issue for a day tour in the city, but you need to plan ahead when touring less populated areas. Vendors in rural communities are also less likely to accept credit cards.
4. Bring motion sickness relief.
Winding mountain roads can be rough on your stomach. While taking a break can help, the journeys between remote destinations can seem long—and even longer if you don’t feel well.
5. Use the opportunity to practice your Arabic or Berber.
Learning the language can feel satisfying and offer you a way to connect with locals. Even those who speak English appreciate efforts to speak their language, regardless of whether it’s limited to phrases like please and thank you. Practicing one-on-one with a guide can help you perfect your pronunciation and pick up useful expressions.
6. Snap group photographs.
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!
7. Get to know your guide.
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.
8. Ask all of your questions.
Questions about culture, landmarks, agriculture, history … whatever comes to mind, ask your guide. Most guides take pride in their heritage and love to discuss it with visitors, so take full advantage of the opportunity to learn everything you can.
For more information on hiring a guide through Journey Beyond Travel, feel free to browse our Morocco itineraries.
Written by Shelley A. Gable, instructional designer and freelance writer.
Photo by Scalino / On The Road Again