Probably very unconventional but i and others after me have highly enjoyed it! Marjane is a supermarket chain around the cities in Morocco and are rather huge and with pretty much everything from food, drinks and alcohol to fresh and frozen foods, bread, and household goods and clothing - electrical goods and beauty products including the international brands and stuff like camera film and music cds can all be useful reasons to shop there.
We have found Marjane particularly helpful when touring or travelling by car to save money and carry with us supplies for along the way such as water, longlife/UHT milk, coffee, diet coke, our red wine, beer and vodka supply - there are some excellent red wines made here in Morocco! there are a few shops such as Ouarzazate, Er Rachidia and Merzouga where alcohol is still reasonably priced but otherwise tends to double in price away from the cities.
Ive also got toiletries cheaper here rather than carting them from London such as toothpaste and shower wash esp argan or almond moisturising lotion particular to Morocco - which also becomes gift sort of stuff when visiting or staying with friends or family. ..and loo paper! Toothbrushes to include as hgienic packs to give to families in remote areas are much cheaper in London but are still reasonable prices, toothpaste is only about £1 a tube or sometimes packs of 2 for price of 1.
Out in the small towns or remote areas where stuff like coffee is more expensive i reckon its handy to buy the 60g nescafe sachets they have in Marjane for only 6 dirham - good also if you are going to be staying in apartments during your travels.
Also buy good honey here - out in the remoter areas its often only a honey concoction made of sugar or glucose and water added to honey that is available! so real honey can also be a nice gift of thanks for any families you meet along the way..
or if you want washing powder, shampoo, argane moisturiser or even some good quality cumin to travel with or take home. Memory cards and used to always find camera film eg 36 exp 200 asa fuji film is only 29 dirham - one hour processing here, including enlargements, is pretty cheap too. Washing powder and shampoo can be bought at any of the small corner shops that you find in towns and villages all over Morocco too for low prices though.
and not a bad place to grab something for lunch, theres a fast food such as pizza department or grab some rolls or baguettes and add some cheese, salami, olives, and whatever else interesting you find. also canned food such as tuna, sardines, and peas might be tantalising to take travelling with you!?
We often buy olives here from the huge range of flavours and mixtures available.
anyway its all here and , along with the lovely airconditioning that when here during the hot summer days we come for daily respite in, its another off the beaten path place to check out the locals.
Marjane takes credit cards and no longer has been requiring passport for ID check past couple of years...apparently you need to show it if you are buying alcohol during Ramadan to prove you are not Moroccan!
There is a couple of ATMs, a small McDonalds just near the supermarkets checkouts which you might want to grab a coffee at, toilets and photo shop. Lots of parking and Afriquia service station that takes credit cards and the Speedy tyre place is a good place to buy tyres in case you need to know!
Another visit to Merzouga and again reminded how you need time when you do this trip - generally 3 days is fine but often people write here in the forums asking about doing it in a day or 2! - as experienced in other trips I have had we had high rivers, such as happens after heavy rains in the mountains that come down through the Dades Valley area, that we had to do some extra driving to bypass by going via Er Rachidia but then found more problems with a bridge out and the detour very deep with water and a long string of traffic waiting - so in the end had to go back to the rivers that are between Tinejdad and Erfoud, just sleep in the car for a few hours and then cross when the waters had subsided enough (not the first time or visit Ive experienced this_- and it can happen any time of year) so even more so if doing as a trip from Marrakech a 3 day trip is better to take the jolt of any unexpected delays such as this.
..but Merzouga and its dunes is definitely worth it - have a good read here in my tips and other vters tips, pre-read and prepare so you know what to see and even where to stay to maximise your time and your experience - as it makes such a difference to be with the right people, the right transport to get out and see the dunes - such a satisfying 4x4 trip or camel trip with people that are interested in giving you a good experience of what is special about being in the sahara desert!
Or go in your own car so you can go where you want to go within reason - Merzouga could be easily almost a non event if you just have public transport or a driver that takes you just to the village of Merzouga and back to Rissani for example!!...the landscape could end up looking to you to be just some rocky plateau with sand dunes behind and an old sandy village of mudbrick buildings....and miss the realisation that the magical highest dunes in Morocco are just here!
You need a way of doing at least the length of dunes between Merzouga and up to Erg Chebbi or even better right up to say the Yasmina auberge or right around the entire dunes and visit the mines that are still being worked there, 100 year old villages no longer being lived in, see where the fossils are being extracted from and see nomad families that live in the desert - or take a trip into the dunes such as by overnight camel or 2 hour camel from a a good hotel (they will pretty much provide these for you - but some do communal bivouacs and if you prefer to have a more private trip out then check thats what they offer).
Or walk up the huge dune at Merzouga for the amazing views over the whole area - especially in time for sunrise or sunset.
And also for some local culture a visit to the locally named 'black people' village of Khamlia just south of Merzouga where you can make a visit to the Gnaoua Association who will perform and also give you the opportunity to buy some of their music.
The dunes south of Zagora are closer in a way from Marrakech but it is only the small and almost superficial dunes that are accessible when you have only limited time or transport - the significant dune to be found in that vicinity is Erg Chigaga which requires 4x4 to travel heavy sands for about 40 km to be able to visit whereas Merzouga's dunes are accessible by ordinary vehicle off the bitumen road from Rissani....you still need 3 days really if going out to the big dunes of Erg Chigaga or 2 if you are just making do with being in sandy stoney terrain with maybe a couple of small sand dunes and a few camels.
A day trip to Essaouira, a quaint little fishing village on the coast should be on your 'must see' list when visiting Marrakech.
Have you see goats in trees?... You will see this on the way.
Essaouira is great for shopping too.
Pease check out my travelogue and Essaouria page for more information.
So by now I am sure that you have read my travelogue on our fantastic 5 day Desert Trip with Sahara Dreams Maroc. If you haven't then please do so NoW!! :o)
This Company will taylor your trip to what you want to do. And you could not ask for a better guide and Company owner Habib to take you around. Habib was born in the desert and grew up as a Berber Nomad. The blue clothing that he wears with pride attests to his heritage. Along with Hayat who looks after the administration and will help you plan your trip.....you could not ask for better.
If you do decide to do a similar adventure, please give my love to Habib and Hayat and tell them that I referred you. I promise that you will come away with some awesome memories...and will want to do it all over again! I know I do!! :o)
hi, a couple of times Ive used a faux guide when been approached to get to the tanneries and different souks and one for the back part of the souks when trying to find my way to some particular places that were hard to find.
I would definitely recommend a guide if you want to pay for one but you can follow your maps and guidebooks to get around without too much difficulty really.
Official guides are usually available via the tourist offices and the bigger hotels.
a half day shouldnt cost any more than 300 dirham or perhaps 500 dirham for a whole day - and this is a generous amount - I paid 50 dirham each time to a faux guide for one and a half to a couple of hours each time - even when theyve moaned this is a good rate that is being generous to them.
Marrakech is often the starting point for excursions into the Atlas mountains. Most visitors head for Toubkal National park, which is about 60 km south of Marrakech, and contains Jebel Toubkal, the highest mountain in Morocco, at 4,167 metres.
Imlil is the usual trailhead for anyone planning to climb Toubkal and departures from Marrakech go from the station on route 501, about 800 metres from Bab er-Robb, a southern gate way into the city. The taxis no longer leave from Bab er-Robb as many guidebooks and even a few locals suggest. From the station there are grand-taxis to Imlil or buses to Asni, a village 17km north of Imlil.
Marrakech's tanneries are located in the far east end of the medina, near Bab Debbagh. If you've seen the large and colourful tanneries in Fes, you'll be less impressed by the ones here. Marrakech's tanneries are spread out over a greater area than those in Fez, and while you can walk in and get quite close to the tanners, there is no one place to survey it all from.
The tanneries are easy to find. Bus number 5 goes from the Koutoubia mosque directly to Bab Debbagh. Alternatively, from within the medina, the easiest route is eastwards along rue de Bab Debbagh. You'll smell the tanneries before you see them. The entrances are behind marked doors which are often open, and you can wander in and look around, though you will probably be approached by guides as soon as you show an interest. Informal guided tours are available and it’s up to you what you pay.
Another site in this area, close to the tanneries, is Bab Debbagh, an Almoravid gates with three chicanes.
The town of El Kelaa des Srarhna is 75kms (47 miles) north of Marrakech and you will pass through it on the way to Meknes or Fes. There is a local market which is quite popular in the region by several towns in the province. The name means ‘Citadel of the Srarhna’ which comes from an earlier time when this area was an ancient capital of the Srarhna tribe of the Berber-Arab people.
While wandering around the Mellah and Medina one afternoon, I came across this man and his shop- on the pavement were displayed various terracotta products, including tagines.
I'd been thinking of purchasing a tagine during my trip, but the ones I'd seen were glazed and patterned in souvenir shops. The rustic nature of the ones on sale appealed to me.
This man and his colleague didn't speak any English, or much French, but they were very friendly, giggling like 2 school boys, when I asked if I could take their photo, after I'd purchased my tagine for about 65 pence!!!! plus they sold me some black olive oil soap, and a terracotta foot scraper- all together, my purchases cost less than 1GBP !!
Afraid I can't remember exactly where this shop was, but I remember it was very close to the city walls, probably heading towards the tanneries.
Essaouira is a good choice for an overnight trip from Marrakech. You could, at a push, make it a day trip but as it's such a nice town, it's worth staying overnight or longer. It's a laid back town, with a nice beach and port and it provides a striking contrast to the bustle of Marrakech. Buses run from the Supratours station, just beyond the main train station on Avenue Hassan II and the journey takes about three hours
An often overlooked sight in the medina, near the Dar si Said museum, is Maison Tiskiwin, a beautiful Marrakech townhouse with displays on the culture and history of people who inhabit the Sahara.
The exhibits are in French and Arabic and the guidebook we were given was also in French but we were able to understand enough of it to make the visit worthwhile. The museum’s exhibits are a diverse collection of artefacts, ornaments and clothes and jewellery. Each room features displays and exhibits from different parts of the Sahara.
There was a friendly guy running the place who, when he found out I was Irish, told me he liked Chris de Burgh and Riverdance! The museum is at 8 rue de la Bahia, off rue Riad Zitoun el Djedid on the way to Dar si Said, and it cost us 15 Dh each to visit.
Souq Sebbaghine or Souk des Teinturiers is the dyers' souk. It is a colourful place where sheets of freshly dyed material hang down all around you. You will probably invited in by one of the shops to watch the dying process, where they might then try to sell you something, like an indigo blu Berber headdress. But, the sales pressure in this little souk is nowhere near as great as in some of the bigger souks surrounding it. You may also be invited to climb up to a roof terrace to get an aerial view of the souk. If you take any photos there though, they will expect a tip.
La Criee Berbere, or Souq Zrabia, is the old slave market. Black African slaves, mostly from Guinea and Sudan, were sold here until the French took over the city in 1912. Slave markets were held at auctions here on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. In the early 1900s prices here ranged from £5 for a small boy up to £150 for a beautiful woman.
Today the market has been taken over by carpet salesmen. There are still auctions here, but they are held by Berbers, who bring their hand-made carpets and kelims in from the surrounding villages.
As our friend is a football referee and he had to supervise a match in Marrakesh (Marrakech-Fès) while we were there (fantastic coincidence!), we went to see if he did a good job!!!! And it was really great! Kamal told us that the entrance was free for women (there are no woman in it in fact!) but if fact the police guy was not really OK to let us it... We explained the whole story to a more friendly policeman who let us in and led us to sitting place near the supporters of Fès !!! We were treated there like princesses ! The match was great... there were 4 goals during the match! A lot of suspense!
Majorelle Garden in Marrakech
Majorelle Garden, an oasis of calm and cool, fresh air in the heart of the city of Marrakech. The garden has gained in notoriety over the last few years, and it was about time! The garden is named after its designer, Jacques Majorelle, a painter and amateur botanist. He came to sunny Marrakech in 1917 because he had tuberculosis. He planted his garden around his studio. It's the ideal spot for lovers of cacti and rare essences. The garden's beautiful bougainvilleas make the entire property smell heavenly.
The garden was completely abandoned when its owner died. But thanks to Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, its new owners, this beautiful garden has a new lease on life. The garden where Majorelle loved to paint and admire his own botanical masterpiece, is now a gathering spot for tourists, couples, and people out for an afternoon stroll, wanting to escape the noise and dust of the city and to experience a moment of calm in one of the most famous gardens in Morocco.
The painter's studio has been transformed into a small museum of Islamic art where you can admire beautiful rugs, Berber pottery and a few paintings and drawings by the artist.
The bright blue color that you'll find in Jacques Majorelle's garden has its own patent.
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