Highlights of Morocco AMH 21 Dec - 4 Jan

Hi there

Does anyone who is booked on this trip fancy getting in touch? Not long to go now but masses of work to get through before I can enjoy another Christmas and New Year with Exodus...  

Phil 

 

 

iowsteph

Hi Phil

Like you, we are booked on this trip but it will be the first time we have done a group tour like this, so don't really know what to expect. You sound as if you have been away with exodus at Christmas in the past. Where did you go? What were the highs and lows?

Steph

Big_Phil

Hi Steph

Thanks for getting in touch. I've done a few Exodus trips before but last Christmas was my first one away over the festive season - a similar two-week trip around Turkey. Very un-Christmas-sy, and New Year's Eve passed with barely an acknowledgement. But for all that, some very cold weather, and a nasty stinking cold that I picked up after just a couple of days, it was great fun with a really relaxed and witty crowd. If you hate the thought of Christmas, or are on your own (I realise that you are not), I think its a great thing to do! Not too sure what the weather will be like in Morocco. We had to prepare for both the cold and relative heat in Turkey (not too much of the latter, unfortunately) and I fell into the trap of taking far too much stuff. This year I am taking an Exodus kitbag in order to restrain myself. See you at Heathrow?

Best wishes

Phil 

    

 

Saffronite

Hi Phil,   I am one of two women travellers from Toronto, Canada who will be joining you on this trip.  I have been to North Africa (Tunisia, Canary Islands, Egypt) before but this is my first in Morocco, and my first trip with Exodus.  I am hoping to get some ideas from others as to what to bring for clothing??  Warm coat, mitts, hat for the desert?  Hiking boots or running shoes for trekking?  For women, we should cover up so long skirts, pants.  Any ideas are appreciated.

Looking forward to meeting all of you!

Saffronite

 

iowsteph

Hi Saffronite. Glad to see someone asking the question that has been taxing me! Have come to the decision that walking boots will be good, olthough trainers also probably will be useful. I think I will only take trousers with a variety of layers for the top half depending on where we are. It sounds as if it can get pretty cold at night when we are in the more remote areas, so will have hat and gloves too. I know that women should keep their shoulders covered, so no strappy tops. Spacewise, I think we will be quite restricted especially if we want to buy anything whilst we are there. I suspect practical rather than elegant would be the best line of attack. look forward to meeting you-not long now!

Steph

 

Big_Phil

Hi Saffronite

 

I think there must be a rule somewhere that requires there to be at least two Canadians on every Exodus trip! There were two ladies from Canada on my trip to Poland in September (one from Ontario, the other from Calgary) and a brother and sister from Vancouver on the trip I did to Turkey last Christmas. Apropos clothing, the trip notes and my Rough Guide suggest that the nights can get quite cold in winter and that budget hotels aren’t generally heated, so bedrooms can be “very cold”. Plenty of fleecy layers, hat and gloves, and a warm pair of pyjamas will be required, methinks. If not bedsocks! I can’t imagine that there will be much need for any particularly smart attire, so I agree with Steph. Best to be practical…

 

Phil.      

Saffronite

Hi Phil & Steph,

 I agree, casual and comfortable clothing.  I am bringing long underwear!!  Good grief, we are trying to escape the cold and snow here in Ontario!  I think the coastal regions should be warmer though.  My traveling companion, Patricia and I are staying on two extra days in Marrakech and are planning on taking a one day tour with an outfit from B.C. out to see these waterfalls and the famous "Blue Apes", although they are more the size of big monkeys, from what I read.  The trip info says we can only bring 26 lbs. (12k) of luggage so it doesn't allow for shopping along the way but, I plan on doing that in Marrakech the last two days as well.   Other things we are bringing are, a pillow, a sheet for inside the sleeping bags and for the hotels, and water.  See you soon!  Not sure how much Moroccan money to bring??  Any guesses?

Christine (aka: Saffronite) :)

 

Big_Phil

Hello ChristineI haven't seen any reference to 12kg in my trip notes as being the baggage allowance. Have I missed something? Or is this the limit that your own carrier (airline) imposes on your flight from Canada? The limit on most non-budget airlines is usually about 20 - 23kg, although I try not to exceed 15kg for a two-week trip. Having got quite cold at times during my trip to Turkey last Christmas, keeping warm is definitely going to be a priority for me…Phil   

   

 

Big_Phil

Me again Christine.

I forgot to mention that I think it is illegal to take Moroccan currency into the country. I shall be taking my credit card and around £500 in cash, most likely in sterling or euros. And a moneybelt of course. However, I would understand if most people thought having so much cash on one's person a little bit risky.

Phil 

  

 

iowsteph

Hi both of you!

Regarding cash, I would hope that Phil's estimate would be plenty, although you could take less and just use ATMs in the main towns as long as your card company knows that you will be taking money out in an unusual location. Apparently they have on screen English language options. Just as a point of interest, my Sunday paper travel section today said thet shop keepers usually refuse to accept dirham notes that are in the slightest bit torn or damaged. It suggested that if you find you have been given one, you should head to the nearest Bank Al-Magrhib to exchange it. It also said that hotels give a similar exchange rate to banks etc. Finally, you are advised to keep your exchange receipts handy for when you change your money back at the end of the trip. Hope you've had a good weekend! Steph

Saffronite

Hi again,

  If you read the "fine print" in the trip info pages, it says that they recommend buying a kit bag and that 12k is the weight allowance?   My airline (Air France) allows much more than that so I will phone my travel agent and see what's up with the weight restrictions.  Just the sleeping bag, pillow, warm jacket and clothing will probably weigh that!!   Also, can you use American money in Morocco?  You mention taking UK pounds so I am assuming this is accepted in Morocco too?  If so, we will change our Canadian dollars to one, or the other and carry cash. 

Cheers,

Christine

iowsteph

Hi again Christine 

Like Phil, I can't see any reference to 12kg on my tip notes. Is there any cnance you have somthing different to us? How about if you email Exodus and check with them? To keep weight down, I shall be wearing the walking boots and coat at the airport as "carry on".  I am also just taking a small inflatable pillow which can be wrappped in a T shirt or something to supplement anything provided if necessary. Also, I read that US dollars are fine.

Regards

Steph

Big_Phil

Hello again Chrsitine and Steph

Received final joining instructions today. There are 16 of us in the group. The baggage allowance for those of us flying from the UK with Royal Air Maroc is 20kg. Its website says that hand luggage should weigh no more than 5kg.

Christine - as Steph says, US dollars would be fine. Don't take bottled water with you. You will be able to buy it there.   

Yes, wear the heavy items, such as walking boots etc, on the flight.

Must start to make a list of things to take now!

Phil 

 

 

 

 

Big_Phil

Thanks Steph

The final joining instructions are quite brief and not v exciting! The BBC website also has some good pages on the weather, which include a 5-day forecast for the main cities in Morocco. Not so hot with heavy showers in many places predicted, I see.

Enjoy York. I am sure you will make time for Betty's!

Phil 

  

 

Saffronite

Hi again,

  The weather doesn't sound all too promising!  I am deciding what kind of sleeping bag to bring - for cold or medium range weather?  May take some cozy socks for bedtime. 

Also, I may be traveling solo now.  My travel partner's mother is not doing well and she had to make the decision to stay home.  I am glad I am going with a group, otherwise I would be cancelling too. 

Big_Phil

Hi Christine

Sorry to hear about your travelling partner. These things are such a worry when you reach a certain age. My trip notes advise taking a 4-season sleeping bag for all autumn, winter and spring departures.

Have you resolved your baggage allowance query yet?

Phil 

 

 

Saffronite

Hi,

 My travel partner cancelled and I am now staying in Marrakech two days more on my own.  Is anyone else on the trip staying longer?  I am not sure about going out and about, eating, etc., on my own.  Phil - you are right, the baggage allowance is 20kg.

Christine

iowsteph

Hi Phil,

Morocco will certainly be warmer than York and maybe less frantic! The queue for Betty's went on and on and....  Fortunately we treated ourselves to that delight in the past. This visit's delight was walking up and around Malham Cove in the snow!

Hello Christine

Wish we were staying on a bit longer but no such luck. we have friends who stayed independently in Marrakesh and tell us that it is wonderful. The good thing is that you will be an "old hand" in Moroccan ways by the end of the holiday. I wonder why more people don't log into this site?

Big_Phil

Hello again ladies

Yes, its disappointing that so few group members join this forum. We had the same level of response on the last trip.

Christine - there are nearly always one or two people who stay on at the end of an Exodus trip so you might be in luck. If not, as Steph says, you will at least by then know the ropes. The trip leaders are always very good and helpful in my experience so you should be able to pick up some tips from Mustapha. Unfortunately, I have to return on the 4th too.  

Steph - Betty's is a bit overrated in my view but you seem to have had a good time in the county of my birth. Its been pretty cold here too in north Wales!  

Phil

 

iowsteph

Well I just have just about managed to get everything into the backpack with the addition of some fairly bulky hand luggage (still within the limits). No room for buying too much when out there, so that should save money!! Hope you two both have uneventful journeys up to Heathrow. Maybe you are flying direct to Casablance, Chistine? We will travel by ferry, train and then airport coach from Woking. Not long to go and looking forward to meeting you both

Steph

Big_Phil

Hi Steph and Christine

Well Steph, you are way ahead of me! My packing will go right down to the wire this year, although I think I know what I shall be taking..

Safe journey to both of you. I shall look forward to seeing you either at Heathrow or in Morocco...

Phil 

 

 

 

Skyemoo

Hi Guys!

I'm not on this trip but have been on the one at the beginning of November and enjoyed every minute of it!

Christine - I also spent two days on my own in Marrakech at the end of the trip and totally agree with Phil - by the end of the trip you'll be well set in the Moroccan ways and know how to handle the atmosphere, people, etc. Our guide Mustapha recommended a riad (Riad Omar) which was 400 Dirham per night, clean, lovely room and just off the main square. There are loads of restaurants around and I wouldn't worry about wandering around on your own - I felt totally at ease and comfortable.

We were very lucky with the weather, however it did get cooler once the sun had set, especially in the Sahara, Todra Gorge and High Atlas. I recommend a thermal long-sleeved baselayer, warm jumper, fleece, gloves and hat or headscarf.

I hope you'll have a fantastic trip and if you happen to get Mustapha as a guide, say "hi" from Nina!

Any questions - fire away, I'll be logging in again tomorrow.

Take care

Nina

Big_Phil

Hi Nina

I'm taking a break from a last minute marathon washing and ironing session to thank you for your advice. Pleased you enjoyed your trip and I will certainly say Hi to Mustapha for you (he is our leader too). Hope we are as lucky with the weather although it is, of course, a few weeks later in the year.  I shall heed your advice about taking my thermals. I'm off tomorrow late morning to Heathrow via an overnight stay at my parents near Oxford, so may not see any reply.

You are lucky to live in a very beautiful part of the world!

Nadolig Llawen

Phil

 

 

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