The trip was everything that we hoped it would be and was well up to our expectations. I would have to say that all the arrangements we made before we left, and all the emails and tweaking of the itinerary that you did for us, worked out perfectly. At the very beginning I was choosing between you and another company, and it soon became apparent that you were far more professional. As for Yousef, he is a wonderful ambassador for his country, and without doubt is very proud of it. At the end of the trip we probably had an overload of information! He was great company and also is a very cautious driver, which is a blessing on some of the roads!
The accommodation was fine, and met our expectations for the grade we chose. Some were far better than others, but none so bad as to be dropped from your list. By far the best was Noujoum Medina at Fes, which was a pity as it was the first and raised our expectations! The only downside was that it was well into the Medina and not really suited to walking out at night if we wanted to eat elsewhere. Riad Mimouna at Essaouira was the next best. We did not sleep out in the desert in the end as Christina was having a bad time with mosquitoes. As a result we stayed at Dune D’or which was the most basic of all of them – but given the location not surprising I suppose. (Lack of alcohol was a shock!). Riad Alida at Marrakech was probably the least best – excluding Dune D’or for the reason stated – with a poor breakfast and minimal TV reception. An in-room safe is always a plus. Only two had one.
I am not sure that there was any one place which stood out from all the others. We have camels and deserts in Australia and so that was not quite so novel to us as perhaps to other travellers, but that said, the Sahara is pretty spectacular. Marrakech was interesting as it is featured endlessly on TV travel programmes, particularly Djemaa el-Fna square, and it was great to be able to see and feel it first hand.
The main thing which shocked us, given Morocco’s status as a third world/emerging/developing – whatever term you like to use – country was the astonishingly high cost of things. I can accept that alcohol might have a premium given the Muslim environment, but food at anything other than a street stall was European prices and therefore 50% more costly than Australia. Equally shopping, and looking at the fixed price places, there were no bargains to be had; everything was fully priced. And the outdoor show in the evening at Marrakesh was a rip off. I have thought about this a bit and the only reason I can find (as Yousef gave an indication of what wages are) is that by far the most visitors come from Europe. They do find it cheaper and thus do not complain which means the prices have found a natural level.
Another disappointing thing was that little seems to be done to preserve the ancient history, which really is all the country has to offer to visitors. I realise that UNESCO is putting in a lot of money to try and remedy this, but far more can be done, and cheaply, by the Moroccans themselves. The best example of this are the Roman ruins at Volubilis. There was an entry fee – I don’t know how much – but certainly not one cent was put back into the area. It was all overgrown with weeds, and the mosaics on the floors of a lot of the houses, which are an integral part of the ruins, have had nothing done to protect them and in a few years will themselves be ruins. It may be that company’s such as yours, which rely on the way these areas are presented, can make representations to the government with the aim of getting something done.
Anyway – enough of that. One of your questions was whether we would recommend Experience It Tours to others, and the answer is a definite YES.
Mike & Christina.