I'm leaving for Morocco in the end of this week and found myself having a few questions... maybe someone here could help...
Money matters - I have realized that both tipping and bargaining is part of everyday life, but I'm unsure about when and how much to tip and bargain... How much are you supposed to tip for small services, and what exactly is a small service? Is it "rude" if I prefer carrying my own luggage for example (i.e., not contributing to local enterprise)? Is there some standard percentage that is added to the price (that could/should be bargained down)?
Second thing, I read the Morocco guide on this site and got interested in the described homestays around the Atlas Mountains... is there anyone who knows about this and could give some more detailed information? The same goes for desert tours - I was thinking about doing a one day tour and would very much appreciate a tip or two on reputable (and safe) operators. Also, how cold does it get in the desert areas? Camel tours - is that something that is recommended?
I would very much appreciate your help!
It's very hard to spell the rules for tipping in Morocco,but in general, if someone picks up your luggage you tip 10 to 20 dh. If you eat in a fancy restaurant an dthe bill amounts to 70 euros leave 5 euros as a tip.
As for day trip to the Atlas mountains, it again depends on your budget. You can stay at a decent hotel in Ouirgane for 55 euros; or a cheap hostel in Ouirika or Imlil ofr 15 to 20 euros. If looking for a host family it's better to orgainse it through guides' association in Imlil. You can do some trekking an dspend the night in gite( hostel) You'll need to agree on a pacakge( trnasportation form MArrakech to Imlil then guide , host family and trekking)
If you like to go to the desert the closeet is Zagora - some 400 kilomters from Marrakech. It takes 2 days and overnight sleep on the dunes. If You travel witha group you cut the cost. If you have money and want to travel on your own expect at least 250 to300 euros( transportation in aprivate car, board and camel ride and night in a camp
I fyou go witha group you can get it for 100 euros. Some of the travel agencies that organise it from Marrakech are Sahara expedition and Camel trekking
hope this helps
If you are staying in the medina and use a handcart to transport your luggage, expect to pay at least 20dhs in Marrakech. If it's a real trek because you've started from the wrong gate or something, it might be more, maybe up to 50dhs.
For carrying bags up to a room 10dhs is fine (as long as you aren't in the Mamounia!). Sometimes it's nice to tip the staff of the riad in general at the end of the stay, though this won't get you extra service whilst you are there! My parents often give 20dhs to the ladies who clean the rooms and make the beds, and they are often rewarded with fruit and rose petals etc. Everyone forgets the cleaning ladies, so they appreciate it more.
10% is a normal restaurant tip; perhaps slightly more if you are delighted, less if it's average and nothing if they don't deserve it! Tips aren't automatic here.
Never ask 'how much'; simply give what you feel appropriate (or can afford) and move on. Very often the tip is pocketed without even being counted (remember it's not you that gives; you are merely a conduit for Allah's will...). Asking how much is inviting a bargaining session.
Beggars, incidentally, are happy with 1dhs (still enough to buy a loaf of bread). There are, however, still a few centime (copper) coins in circulation which are virtually worthless - even the beggars look a bit askance at them.
I'm going to disagree with 'Best' on the homestays, sorry... if you are looking for a genuine homestay you'll have to get away from the area off the Tiz n Test and go further afield (with the exception of the wonderful Ayisha in Ourigane). I'd head further north in the High Atlas, using Demnate as your point of access (get there by taxi or bus from Marrakech). People are incredibly friendly; Lonely Planet does a good Moroccan Arabic phrasebook with a Berber section.
You cannot do the Sahara in a day, even with a rented 4x4. Absolute minimum is two days; the minimum if you are going to enjoy it is three days. Four days is great, but better still is to continue on from your stay in the High Atlas and head out into the Sahara without wasting a day returning to Marrakech (possible from the Tiz n Outfi or Tiz n Tichka passes, much harder from the Tiz n Test). Personally I don't think much of the desert near Zagora. Much better to head to Merzouga (though it's a bit busy these days) or, preferably, M'hamid and Erg Chegaga.
Camels are great, but they are slow. To reach the dunes from M'hamid a camel trek will take three days. A Landcruiser does it in two and half hours. Better to hire a camel once you are there - and cheaper. I can send you the telephone number of a wonderful guide in M'hamid, if you wish.
Organised tours are always a bit dumbed down unless can hire a good, dedicated driver/guide. I'd jump on the bus to M'hamid or Merzouga. Morocco is a genuinely friendly country and you'll be amazed how many people you meet (though obviously girls traveling alone need to be as sensible as they do anywhere in the world).
The worst of the cold is behind us, and night time temperatures shouldn't fall below 10˚C at the moment.
Best and markwillen - thanks a lot for your information and tips (I really appreciate the detailed examples on tipping)!
Just one other question about traveling with buses in Morocco... I lived for a while in northern Peru and over there, bus trips were always a bit of a risk - you couldn't really count on the time tables, and at times the buses didn't leave at all (due to frequent flooding and strikes and similar). How about buses in Morocco - can you count on the time tables (more or less) and are drivers, vehicles and roads in good conditions (generally).
welcome to Morocco and have a safe enoyable and happy trip.
some of local buses are not comfortable so i recommend the CTM and Supratours buses as they are mostly in time and comfortable too.
enjoy your time and have a nice trip over here and in the case you need anykind of help drop me a line and i'll be happy to help you out.
greetings from Morocco
peace & hugs
PS: be careful with the weather too