We want our guests to be informed travelers, with clear expectations of the location they are traveling to. Therefore, we have compiled a list of important things for you to know during your retreat. Please read this page in its entirety.
The main currency in Morocco is the Moroccan Dirham (MAD), so you will need to exchange your US dollars to Moroccan Dirham. This can be done at an ATM or a money exchange store in Marrakech. The conversion of USD to MAD is usually around 1:8 — meaning 1 US dollar equals 8 Moroccan dirhams.
Typically, the rate at the ATMs are better than the rates at an exchange center. If you have Dirhams left over at the end of your trip, you will have the opportunity to exchange them at the airport before your departure.
You can expect strong, stable WiFi at almost every establishment that we will take you. However, to have guaranteed WiFi when traveling around Morocco, you will need to either get a mobile hotspot with your phone provider, purchase a portable WiFi modem, or purchase a SIM card and insert it directly into your phone. You will be able to stop at a local cellular service store to purchase the personal modem and the sim card.
To make international calling/texting as inexpensive as possible, we recommend downloading WhatsApp. WhatsApp uses your phone’s cellular connection or Wi-Fi network to send and receive messages and calls. As long as you’re connected to a free Wi-Fi network or you haven’t exceeded your mobile data allowance, your mobile provider shouldn’t charge you for messaging/calling over WhatsApp.
If your phone is roaming, data charges might apply. Contact your mobile provider for more information about roaming in other countries.
We will be out and about a lot, seeing all that Marrakech has to offer. Therefore, we recommend bringing a good portable charger to easily charge your devices without worry.
The power sockets in Morocco require a Type C power plug
PORTABLE CHARGER/ UNIVERSAL OUTLET
There are limited outlets around the palace. Therefore, we recommend bringing a good portable charger to easily charge your devices without worry. The power sockets in Morocco require a Type C power plug
While the internet is strong and consistent at Mwasi we encourage purchasing a private internet signal for when on the road and outside the internet range which is not uncommon. We recommend purchasing the INWI Mobile Internet plan for 499MAD which gives you unlimited WIFI for the duration of your stay. These can be purchased at a local INWI store in Casablanca or Marrakech and upgraded as needed. If you need guaranteed internet in all areas of Mwsasi you will need to purchase a personal hotspot modem before arriving. Please ask your driver to stop at an INWI store to purchase a personal modem and a sim card. The sim card and modem will cost around 600 dirhams (about 70USD) and will provide you with unlimited internet for one month and can be upgraded as needed. Wi-Fi routers.
Remember to check with your cell phone provider about coverage in Morocco to avoid unnecessary fees.
JOURNEY TO THE SAHARA
The luxury desert camp is located in Merzouga, Morocco — a small town in the southeastern side of the Sahara Desert. Merzouga is known for their luxury desert camps and dinosaur fossils, but also for being the gateway to the vast Erg Chebbi dunes.
Merzouga takes roughly 10 hours from Marrakech. During this road trip our drivers will be giving you a tour of the historical landmarks and geographical features that you will witness along the way. Before leaving Marrakesh, you will have an opportunity to purchase water and snacks for the road. Please make use of that.
You will be able to take bathroom breaks at designated areas. We encourage participants to bring toilet paper as many public restrooms in remote areas do not always have it. Be patient and enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the Atlas Mountains along the way.
Morocco is the country of men. Keeping that in mind, often men and women exist in separate spheres. Expect to see more men than women. often the men and women are kept separate. As a woman, your presence will be recognized. As an American or foreigner, expect to be noticed. Women are allowed on the street of course, but local women tend to not be involved in business affairs and are often seen in public as part of the entire family unit.
WHAT TO WEAR
While Morocco is one of the most liberal of all Islamic nations — giving tourist space to dress how they please — we believe you will be most comfortable dressing conservatively (i.e. Men: pants/jeans over shorts; Women: long dresses/pants over short skirts). Below are some specific suggestions on how to pack and dress for your stay in Morocco.
- Dress for the Weather
Morocco enjoys a hot, semi-arid steppe climate. In the winter, you’ll find daytime temperatures ranging from 40˚ to 70˚ Fahrenheit, and in the hottest months of summer, days range from 70˚ to above 100˚. Regardless of the season, the desert has a tendency to get very cold at night. It is important to bring a good jacket and clothes that can be easily layered to ensure your comfort.
- Bring Practical Shoes
Closed toes and comfortable shoes are a must-have for long days of exploring. It’s also handy to have flip-flops for when you want to run around the riad or campgrounds.
- Think Loose and Flowy for the Summer
All things lightweight and full coverage is ideal — loose trousers or maxi skirts are perfect. A tunic shirt with leggings or a full kaftan is perfect too. Not only does full coverage allow you to dress conservatively in Morocco, but it will also protect you from the sun.
- Wear a Scarf
Whatever you wear, have a lightweight scarf with you. You can use it to cover up before going into a mosque or just keep the sun off your skin when you’re overheating. You will need it during a sandstorm as well. Moroccan scarves are also gorgeous souvenirs. You’ll find them in pretty much any city or town, so you don’t need to bring your own if you don’t want to.
Not only is the air in this region of Morocco incredibly dry, but dust is also inevitable. Solid creams and moisturizers are the best way to combat this.
For those with seasonal and environmental allergies, we suggest you bring allergy medication.
Insects are not uncommon. Bring sprays that repel mosquitos and flies.
Use Sun Protection
The sun in Morocco can be intense throughout the year. Bring sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen
Sandstorms may happen, particularly between the months of May-July.
When you’re withdrawing money from the ATM, you will be presented two conversion options. With both options you will be charged withdrawal fees, however one of the options charges you less than the other. The following instructions will help you pay less money with your ATM withdrawals:
COVID-19 IN MOROCCO
The king of Morocco has been swift and diligent in his response to COVID-19. For this reason, the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths have been on the lower end. The CDC has categorized Morocco as a low, level-1 country because of its low number of COVID-19 cases.
To enter Morocco, you must be fully vaccinated with proof of vaccination or you must have a negative PCR test for COVID-19 no more than 48 hours (2 days) before your flight into Morocco.
To return to the U.S., you must have a mandatory negative PCR test for COVID-19 no more than
24 hours (1 day) before your flight into the states. There is also an option for people who have documented recovery from COVID-19 in the past 90 days.
Learn more about the country-specific entry and departure requirements here.
We work closely with a COVID-19 diagnostic laboratory in Marrakech. COVID-19 testing is not included in your package, so be prepared to pay out of pocket. A PCR test usually costs 700 MAD per person (around 70 USD).
- Not only is the air in this region of Morocco incredibly dry, but dust is also inevitable. Solid creams and moisturizers are the best way to protect your skin.
- For those with seasonal and environmental allergies, we suggest you bring allergy medication.
- Sandstorms may happen occasionally but they are harmless.
Moroccans speak a mixture of Arabic, Berber, English, and French. You’ll be fine with English in most of the larger cities, but you’ll probably need a translator in the rural parts of the country.
Here are some basic Arabic words that came in handy:
- Hello (Peace Be With You): Asalaamu alaikum (As-sUhlamu A-Laykum)
- Thank You: Choukran (shokran)
- No Thank You: La Choukran (la shokran).
- Watch Out: Balak.
- Although you may not use these phrases yourself, you’ll most likely hear this in the medinas or souks (outdoor markets). Locals will say balak if coming by with a mule, motorcycle, or cart to warn you to move to the side .
EXPLORING THE SOUK
ASK BEFORE TAKING PHOTOS (AND YOU MAY HAVE TO PAY)
When you’re walking through the markets, be careful when taking photos of people and shops. Unless you are purchasing something, they may get angry at you and even demand money for the photos. it’s good to first establish a price before taking a photo.
LEARN TO HAGGLE
If you’re shopping in the markets or medinas, you will have to learn to haggle. selling is like their national sport and haggling is an integral part of their culture. More likely than not, they will still get the better deal, but keep in mind if you are willing to spend the time, you can get items for at least 25-50% of the starting price.
We recommend tipping whenever someone services you. Generally, at hotels you would be expected to tip the bellboy, the housekeeper, and any restaurant waitstaff if you dine-in — the same applies to Morocco.
Below, you will find the suggested tipping information. Please note: these are only suggestions as we cannot presume to know your budget or comfort level with tipping. However, great service and care is always to be acknowledged.
Spa & Hammam
• 50 to 100 dh (equivalent to $5-$10 US dollars for each person who gives you a service)
• Bellboy: 10 to 20 dh (equivalent to $1-$2 US Dollars)
• Housekeeping: 100 to 200 dh per day (equivalent to $10 to $20 US dollars)
• General Assistance (Carrying shopping bags, maintenance, helping with physical task, etc.): 10dh (equivalent to $1 US dollar)
• Waiters: 10% to 15% of bill for your lunches/beverages
• Daily Driver: 100dh (equivalent to $10 US dollars collected at the end of the retreat)
• Tour Guides: 50 to 100 dh per person (equivalent to $10 US dollars)
• Camel Ride Guides: 10 to 50 dh per person (equivalent to $1 – $5 US dollars)
• ATV Staff: 10 to 50 dh per person (equivalent to $1-$5 US dollars)
Desert Camp Staff
• Staff: 100 to 200 dh per day (equivalent to $10 to 20 US dollars)
Expect to eat lots of Tajine-style food. Tajine is the name of the pot that this Moroccan dish is prepared in. It’s an earthenware pot that houses the very popular Maghreb dish. Maghreb’s common ingredients are either wheat or couscous and can be vegetarian or filled with halal meat, such as beef, lamb, or seafood. It usually has some combination of dates, almonds, olives, and dried fruits. This will be the staple type of food, please come prepared for that, there will be little substitutions along the way.
There are several good hospitals in Morocco that have attained JCI accreditation and are equivalent to major world hospitals in the main parameters. JCI or Joint Commission International is a body that is credible and is unmatched in the experience of appraising healthcare organizations in Morocco.
Your passport should include at least one empty page for a stamp. Also, it should be valid for at least six more months after the end of your trip. Morocco does not require a tourist visa for up to 90 days from many countries, such as the EU countries, the UK, and the US. Also, Its always a good idea to have a photocopy of your important documents (Passport, DL, Medical Insurance Card) just in case.
Register with the US Embassy
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Secure Travelers Insurance (Mwasi does not recommend companies. It is a personal choice. However, travel insurance is required.