By Taxi / By Petit Taxi / By Grand Taxi, Marrakesh
We were lucky one night, early in our holiday to meet Mohamed. Mohamed, like the culture of all taxi drivers in Marocco, expects to barter. But after that, during our first trip from the busy 'French' area one night to the house, he asked if we wanted to visit the atlas mountains. This is a typical request from many taxi drivers. We agreed on 500MD for a day trip. A fantastic day in a Grande taxi (there were 4 of us) and our new found friend spoke English, was helpful, stopped for photographs without even asking, stopped at a pottery, an Argon oil maker, and showed us us the various vantage points with a smile.
As he said himself 'I am the only one legged taxi driver in Marrakesh'. With the adapted car, he was THE SAFEST TAXI DRIVER IN MARRAKESH. The driving leaves a lot to be desired, but we always felt safe with Mohamed at the wheel.
This man has been driving these crazy roads for 20 years and nothing seems to phase him. What really amazed us was that one night he invited us to his house for a meal, and that was when we had a real taste of Marrakesh. A genuine local inviting us to his home. How often does a taxi driver ring YOU when you are back in the UK to ask if you are ok?
If anyone is going to Marrakesh and they genuinely want Mohamed's mobile number, email me, and I will pass it on to you. All I would ask is that you pay him fairly.
The taxis in Marrakesh are very well organised and easy to use. There are Grands and Petits taxis. The grand taxis are more expensive but can take several clients to fill the seats. You can use them for further destinations. The petits taxis are inexpensive and can be flagged down anywhere in the city. It is best to agree the fare when you enter but the rule at the moment is that they should take you anywhere in the new town or Medina for 29 Dirhams during the day and 30 Dirhams at night.
The number 19 bus to and from the airport is very good value too.
During the day the Petite taxis are a cheap way to get around, most of the sights in the city are best to be ventured on foot, but the menara gardens and the Mojerelle gardens are a little out of town. In the evenings the Petite taxis are approx double the fare to get back to your hotel so always barter on the price, we were taken to a different hotel even though we told the taxi driver he was going the wrong way. he charged us over double the price we agreed on.
These small yellow/beige coloured cars are used for shorter journeys within Marrakech. Although ‘all’ travel books say you should ask to use the meter, we didn’t find any ‘petit taxi’ with a meter switched on. And it is more or less useless to ask, because most of the trips will cost about 20 Dirham.
We always asked for the fare before getting into the taxi. Some fares:
Medina - Ville Nouvelle: 30 Dirham
Ville Nouvelle - Majorelle Garden: 20 Dirham
Medina - Menara Airport: about 80 - 100 Dirham
Majorelle Garden - trip to and through the Palmery (and parts of the city): 100 Dirham.
We had to pay in cash. Be sure you have some smaller banknotes, because the drivers can not (or at least tell they can not) give change for a 100 or 200 Dirham note.
There are taxi ranks or otherwise you can hail a taxi in the streets.
Although Marrakesh’s Medina is quite compact and best explored on foot, you will probably find yourself wanting to take a taxi from time to time, and certainly if you decide to venture into the newer parts of town. For us, with my lack of mobility, they were essential, although many parts are accessible only on foot and some of these were beyond my reach.
There are two types of taxi, grands and petits. Almost all of the former are Mercedes, while the latter are of various makes and, as the name suggests, smaller. These are better for journeys within the city, for several reasons: they are cheaper, can go down some of the smaller lanes, and are “single hire” vehicles. The grands taxis meanwhile are great for longer journeys such as excursions and airport transfers. Locals share these, hailing them like buses and hopping out when they reach their destination. A driver will assume that as a tourist you are hiring the whole vehicle so you will need to let him know if you are happy to share in order to reduce the costs.
Talking of costs, it is essential to negotiate in advance and never take the price first quoted as the definitive fare. Katy, the owner of our riad, said that we shouldn’t pay more than 20 dirhams for the ride back from the Djamaa el Fna, but several times we were quoted 40 or even 50. While we never managed to beat them down to her figure, we also never paid more than 30. If a driver won’t agree to the price you propose, walk away – almost certainly another standing nearby will have heard the conversation and will step in to accept the fare.
To distinguish the two types of taxis, the small yellow ones are the "petite taxis" and the larger '80s Mercedes are the "grand taxis".
When taking a petite taxi to anywhere in Marrakech, note that if you are being charged more than 25 Dirhams you are being ripped off. I was told this by a local.
Petite taxis can hold up to 3 people while grand taxis can hold 4 or more people. When taking a petite taxi, insist on having the meter turned on or else you run the risk of being ripped off outrageously. Taking small change with you will be very helpful as well!
The only exception is when you are travelling to/fro the airport when you might have to pay just a bit more. One-way cost of such a ride would be about 50-70 Dirhams.
If you are arriving at night, it's a good idea to have transportation arrangements pre-booked either through your hotel or privately otherwise you will be swarmed by taxi drivers (some not so honest!).
We had a nightmare of a time. Not only did we get ripped off, but the driver dumped us at the JEF with our suitcases and sort of pointed us in the direction of our riad. (We never made it!)
If arriving at Marrakech Menara airport you will be able to chose between taxi or bus for transfer to your Hotel. For maximum 3 people make sure you get only a Petit Taxi (not a Grand Taxi). The taxi fares are regulated and there are now signs up at the airport to advise of fares so tourists don't get ripped off. You should pay no more than 100 dirhams including bags. Get your dirhams cash at the airport on arrival. Make sure you agree the price with the taxi driver and give him a small tip if satisfied. If you need a Grand Taxi (i.e. more than 3 passengers) then the cost should be no more than 150 dhs. You will probably have to leave your taxi and walk through the alleys of the medina to find your accommodation...ask your hotel/riad to send somebody to meet you to avoid being hassled. Or better still, ask them to meet you at the airport and fix a price.
The transfer from airport to the medina takes roughly 15 minutes.
Within the Medina, petic taxis are the best way to get around. A trip costs between 10-30 Dirhams, depending on distance. Always agree on a price before, and always haggle. Example: At the Majorelle Gardens, a taxi driver demanded 100 DH for the return trip to the city. I laughed in his face as I had just made the journey for 30 Dirham with another cab. The next driver demanded 50 Dirham, which I haggled down to 30 Dirham. Still dirt-cheap compared to driving taxi in Germany.
Most sights within the city limits are in walking distance. For the Majorelle Gardens, Menara and the Aguedal Gardens a taxi is recommended.
Grand taxi (Mercedes) from the Airport to Jemaa El Fna: fixed prices are indicated at the exit of the airport building and should be 50 dirham, on the taxi stand itself there is a board with says it is 60 dirham to Jemaa el Fna square. Note that you always have to bargain a bit with the grand taxis as they have no meter, but they are practical if you have a lot of luggage.
Petit taxi (Fiat) from Marrakech train station to Jemaa El Fna square costs 20 dirham or less depending of how much you can bargain off the starting price of 40 dirham. With the meter on it would probably cost 10 dirham, but unfortunately in Marrakesh a lot of petit taxi's refuse to use the meter, especially when you have luggage with you. So, compared to Rabat and Casablanca, where they all use a meter, in Marrakech you have to use your bargain skills.
Petit taxis are everywhere. They are tiny and fun to ride in.
Make sure you agree with the driver on the price.
On the way back different driver wanted almost triple the price from us. We stood our ground and did not want to pay more than on the way in. It took us 5 min untill ge gave up and agreed on the same price.
So, make sure to ask at the hotel what the price should be and stand your grounds before you get into the car.
Don't be afraid! It is just different way of dealing with things! After few rides you will be a pro in paying just the right price!
As I said, it is fun!
‘Grand taxis’, most of them are Mercedes, are usually used for travelling between Marrakech and other villages or towns.
For our first day trip to the Atlas Mountains we rented a ‘grand taxi’, or better a car with a driver. We felt safer - especially the traffic in the medina is absolutely crazy - having a car with driver than driving by ourselves.
Of course it is quite relaxing and you just can enjoy the (beautiful) scenery and the villages along the road. Our driver, although he didn’t speak too much English/German, also was a kind of guide. He found a small local café for a cup of coffee and a restaurant in Ijoukak for a pleasant lunch.
The only disadvantage is the fact we were not as free as ‘normal’ for shooting pictures.
The journey to the Tizi-n-Test Pass, with visits to the market in Asni and the Tin Mal Mosque, took a whole day and we had to pay (without bargaining) 750 Dirham. Our hotel (Hotel Sherazade) made the reservation for this ‘grand taxi’. It is about the same price or even cheaper than renting a car.
We used EL GATTIOUI Abdelkbir
Grand TAXI n* 222
Cell phone 061 24 25 96
It was an old Mercedes Benz with dark blue courtains in the windows. No AC, but the guy was great adn very friendly.
He can take you to the sea or to the mountains. You can also use him for 10 Euro to get you to or from the Airport.
Marrakech is just like any other city in the world. Guidebooks and travel websites are full of cautionary tales of travellers being "ripped off" by unscrupulous taxi drivers just minutes after setting foot outside the airport.
With this in mind, I did a bit of research and found out that I should expect to pay about 80 Dhs (5 GBP) for a taxi from the airport to my hotel (Hotel Islane) near the Djemaa El Fna in the centre of Marrakech. If the taxi driver quoted me a higher price, I'd simply ask him to turn his meter on. Faultproof!
And so it was that after getting off my flight, tired, in a strange city and carrying a couple of heavy bags, I wandered into the airport's car park and made my way over to the waiting queue of yellow taxis.
"How much to Hotel Islane?"
"Can you turn your meter on?"
"I don't have one!"
And that was that! Maybe I should have paid just 80 Dirhams for the 5km journey to my hotel, but what choice did I have? Was I going to stand there arguing over 50 Dirhams (3 GBP)? Of course not, I just wanted to get to my hotel, dump my bags and start exploring the city!
Later in the week, I spoke to people who had paid 150 Dirhams for their taxi ride from the airport.
Don't let worries of being fleeced out of a few Dirhams ruin the start of your holiday in Marrakech. Keep things in perspective - a few extra dirhams on the taxi fare is a lot more significant to the taxi driver than it is to the majority of holidaymakers!
Unlike Fes or Casablanca, do not waste your time trying to find a taxi that would open the meter. It does not exist. Instead, determine an amount that you are willing to pay, and bargain for that. Just like in other forms of shopping, ask them what they want and offer half.