Michael's tip: Independent Travel

Michael's tip: First Time

Trekking in the High Atlas

Trekking in the ravines just north of Tinerhir is one of the coolest things to do in the unbelievable Moroccan scenery. Above all it's the experiences you collect in Morocco's natural surroundings what makes this country such a worth-while destination. In the High Atlas mountains you may grasp the breathtaking scenery the first day, the second day go ski in Oukaimeden and the third day rumble round in the hectic Marrakech. Also look at images from this country in  Minaret Moroccan Vision .


The Deep South

One of the obvious touristic views are the sand dunes at Merzouga in the southeastern corner of Morocco. The area can be reached by landrover leaving from Erfoud or Rissani. A precious thing about this region is the very dry air, which is equally sensitive towards your respiratory organ as its temperature is dependent on the shining of the sun. The air responds immediately and the difference in temperature between day and night really hits you.


Bus to Sahara

With point of departure in Agadir or Inezgane you take the SATAS-bus in direction towards Tan-Tan. To go by bus in the South is something entirely different from doing it in the North. The northern companies go fast, they stick to the time table, the luggage is put inside the bus (not on the roof) and the passengers keep up a somewhat European attitude. When travelling in the South, the journey will take its time and the people are easy-going.
  The coach is passing the silver town Tiznit and if you don't want to go off here, maybe it's about time when you enter "the gate to the Sahara" - Goulimine (Guelmim). The town gives a touristic Arabian camel market and one decent hotel. From Goulimine you can reach the lovely beach Plage Blanche. If you don't want to proceed further south, there is a bus to the old Spanish town Sidi Ifni, and from there you can go on by grand taxi to the hippie paradise Mirhleft in order to finally return to Tiznit.


Les faux-guides

"Welcome! Where are you from? Today is special day..." The first meeting with Morocco is always one and the same: a youngster is approaching you when you've passed the customs in Tanger or left the boat in Ceuta. Skillfully switching between greeting phrases, tokens of friendship, local information and questions wrapped up in a shower-bath of servility, he is using the time to find out which languages you speak, what the purpose of your journey is, how much experience you do have of Morocco and what you would like to do for the moment. In a few minutes he will decide whether to leave you in order to welcome another newly arrived tourist or cling on to you. His objectives are to get you into a hotel or a carpet dealer shop, or get you into a grand-taxi, all places where he gets provision, or he wants to show you the town for some money. He's one of the faux-guides - private guides - that makes himself a living on tourists.
  These private guides (- there are official guides too -) are frankly a part of every trip to Morocco. They cannot be avoided, but they can be dealt with - more or less successfully so. There are several strategies that can be used and which one you choose depends of course on what kind of person you are yourself and upon the particular situation. It is highly recommended though, that you before leaving the ferry-boat in Tanger consider different approaches that you might use. Else the chance is apparent that you'll spend a lot of money on things and services you don't need.
  • Strategy 1: Look sour and act surly! This is a death proof method. You will get rid of the private guide, but unfortunately you must count on that you within a remarkably brief time have gotten the worst feasible reputation among all suspect elements in town. This strategy is recommended only if you are going to leave the town immediately and know that you will manage yourself without having to ask anyone for help.
  • Strategy 2: Take command and take advantage of the services offered! Act correctly and explain for the guide exactly what you want and then negotiate with him about the amount that you'll give him. This method is of course only useful if you can make use of the guide's favors, for example letting him show the way to a hotel. The benefit of using the service is that it (hopefully) will keep other guides at a distance and if you are entirely new in town a guide can bring precious information.
  • Strategy 3: Dismiss him apparently and decidedly but without expressing bad temper! This is a highly recommended method - when it works... The crucial thing is that you make a halt and don't start to walk with him. Stand still until you see that he is accepting your dismissal. The method demands a great deal of patience.
  • Strategy 4: Pretend to be experienced in the ways of the world! Boast of that you've been to Morocco many times (and do it, if possible, in French), and behave as if you are knowing your way and converse briefly (but gently) with him. This might work! Possibly the guide will instead redirect his attention to a more inexperienced tourist.
  • Strategy 5: Pretend to be his buddy! Behave as if you were already good friends and chat a little with him, but as soon as possible you should pick a moment when you make it clear that you're going to part company and by taking his hand to goodbye you smoothly walk away from him with a good smiling. If you've not taken too much of his time, he will probably accept your adieu for what it is and you'll part in a good mood. A good strategy if you manage to behave sincerely, a bad strategy if the guide realizes that the friendship is faked.
  • Strategy 6: Do it with humour! The superior method to not having to put up with obtrusive people is to come up with a killing comment or tell something that is truly funny. Unfortunately this ability is just granted a few, while it demands fantasy as well as real compassion, but if you have the gift, Morocco is lying at your feet. The Moroccan is yet to be born who will prefer a dirham rather than a funny story.
The problem with private guides is, however, limited in time. If you just can put up with this in a decent manner for a week or two, your appearance will have become so well-known in the town that the guides don't take notice of you any longer.
  Naturally you won't run into the private guides everywhere. At Agadir, for example, the police keep them under control, and Casablanca seems to be too much of a big world metropolis to let these persons get a foothold. Their favourite places are instead Tanger, Tetouan, Fz, Marrakech, Ouarzazate and other places where tourists are frequently emerging. But, please do not draw any conclusions about the entire Moroccan people on basis of the experiences you will have with les faux-guides!
Michael's tip: First time

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