Figuig Things to Do
JUST LOOKING OUT OVER FIGUIG
Guide books mention 'La Platforme' in the ksar of Zenaga (the southernmost ksar, on the plain near the Algerian border) as a place to see the whole of Figuig from. I couldn't find this, nobody seemed to know about it & I would expect an elevated viewing-platform to be moderately visible.
However, a great view can be obtained from the minaret of the old mosque. You don't even get hassled for a donation. To my shame, I had nothing on me but large-denomination notes when I did this, & was not feeling flush enough to give DH100.
The mosque itself is interesting: it's very old , with an unusual tapered rough-stone octagonal minaret. (different sources give different dates, further confused by the use of the Islamic & Christian calendars)Related to:
Figuig is emphatically not a gastronome's destination. In fact, your choice is limited to the Hotel Figuig (if you order dinner in the morning) and a handful of cafes. There weren't even any vendors of street food, apart from a single bloke selling (gristly) brochettes: he was around the evening I arrived, near Les Palmeries, but I imagine that was at the end of market day: I didn't see him again during my five or six days here.
The favorite cafe withe the locals seemed to be the Salon du The 'les Palmeries' at the top of the main street, near the bus garage. Other than that, there's a cafe down towards the bottom end of main street near the bank & a cafe in the public gardens in the administative centre, which is a very pleasant and peaceful place. In all of these, you'll be lucky to get much beyond a cake or an 'omelette sandwich'. The omelette sandwich is definately the tourist's diet staple around here: after that down to it's self-catering. And the shops are fairly basic, although all the necessities are available.
Figuig can be reached by bus from Oujda or Er Rachidia, either way via Bouarfa, 100 or so km to the north. Some of the Oujda buses run all the way: others, and I think all the er Rachidia services, involve a change of bus at Bouarfa. Either way it's a day's travel, approaching 400 km either way.
Expect a lot of security checks on the Figuig-Oujda route: my bus was stopped four or five times by the gendarmerie, who each time wanted to take down the particulars of me and my travelling companion. Heigh-ho, provides a chance to stretch to legs & take a photo of the increasingly empty landscape.
The reason for this attention is the proximity of the Algerian border: still not demarcated, and sensitive.Related to:
Figuig is small enough to explore on foot. But the favoured local means of transport is the bicycle. The main street is thick with them, and the local custom sems to be that only the really timid use the handlebars. Hands are stuck in pockets. Of course, there's virtually no motor traffic, so it's not that suicidal. I didn't see anybody fall off.
I even saw steel reinforcing rods being transported by bike, dragging after the rider like a mad bride's train!
I didn't inquire about hiring a bike but this is Morocco, I'm sure it could be arranged if the price was right.Related to:
0 Hotels in Figuig
Figuig is not a shoppers paradise. The shops that line the main street sell all the basics (including film) but choice is limited. I did discover the cheapest and roughest of Moroccan cigarettes (Kasbah, cheaper even than Casa Sports) for the first time in Figug, though.
There is a co-operative-run crafts shop in the administrative centre, where handicrafts can be bought. Apparently Figuig textiles are renowned, although I didn't see much on sale here.
Next time I vist Figuig I'll stock up on goodies such as candy and olives in Oujda.
Figuig Warnings and Dangers
The border with Algeria is closed: and although it's the subject of a treaty agreed in 1972, there are still issues and the border has never been formally delineated. There's nothing to tell you that you're approaching or crossing into Algeria. As the police checks on the buses indicate, this is a serious matter for Morocco. Wandering out into the desert southwards is not recommended: if you want to do this (and those mountains look inviting) I'd strongly recommend enlisting a local as a guide or checking with the police.
Duh, it's the edge of the Sahara, its hot. This you know. Rough Guide describe it as like being inside a fan heater in summer, I'll believe them. I was there midwinter, saw in the new year there. What you also have to be prepared for is COLD At night the temperature drops abruptly. Half an hour after sundown I had two pairs of trousers on, all layered up on top. And a medium-weight djellaba. And I was still cold..Related to:
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Figuig Tourist Traps
There simply aren't enough tourists passing through to make trapping tourists an even half-way decent living, unless thee local scam artist was out of town for some reason, & so missed me.
Fun Alternatives: If it's hustlers you want, try Marrekesh.....