Travel Tips for Morocco
Morocco is a friendly and inviting country. When you travel here you will experience a number of invites for tea and food. Moroccans love hosting visitors and providing a well-cooked meal with a glass of traditional mint tea. An experience we highly advise you take advantage of. Moroccan home cooking is unlike anything you have had in your life. Generally speaking, Moroccans are very accepting people especially in bigger cities like Rabat and Marrakech however, there are some exceptions.
In Morocco being queer is illegal. Views on homosexuality are shaped largely by religious beliefs and with the Government making homosexuality illegal and issuing atrocious laws against any “display of homosexuality,” be it in physical displays of affection, or even as little as “looking gay.” Those who are caught in “queer” acts will most likely be imprisoned, ostracized from their families and communities, and sometimes even beat. Though the dialogue toward equality is slowly moving forward, there still stands a serious risk to being queer in Morocco.There have not been reported incidents of abuse of foreign travelers from the LGBT community, but DU would advise travelers to be aware of the situation.
Another issue experienced by many Asian and Black travelers is harassment associated with racial stereotypes. Often you will hear references to Jackie Chan, Bob Marley, kung fu, karate, rasta music, and so on. Travelers who have dreads, long braids, or afros have also reported experiencing a lot of unwanted touching of their hair. This occurs most often in dance clubs and on crowded streets.
Morocco is a wonderful country to visit, but it also has its annoyances. As an Islamic country, it is advisable that you dress respectfully. This really only affects females but, males be mindful of your clothing options as you could see similar reactions. Females it is advisable that you avoid skirts and shorts. Dresses should go at least past the knee, and capris are ok. Tank tops, shirts that show cleavage, and shirts revealing the belly line will warrant high levels of harassment which, leads us to our next annoyance, harassment.
Harassment will happen. There is no getting around it, you will be called upon. Harassment and catcalls happen for many reasons, you are foreign, you are female, you are walking down the street. Sometimes harassment can become overwhelming and scary but often it is simply something for people to do. In places like Marrakech, Casablanca, and Fes you will experience more frequent harassment. Be alert and trust your gut. Try to walk away because any reaction will most often escalate the situation and bring on more unwanted attention.
It can be frustrating traveling when you do not know any of the spoken languages. There are a number of English speakers in the larger cities, and treks can be arranged with English speaking companies but, if you want to travel to smaller towns or off the road places it is helpful to know some key phrases. A great way to pick up a little Moroccan Arabic is to Google Friends of Morocco: Learning Moroccan Arabic.
When it comes to religion Moroccans are incredibly proud people. This pride can sometimes come off as proselytizing and some people, will ask you bluntly to convert. A great way to handle this is either say you practice your own faith or to simply listen and then kindly say thank you but no thank you. Most Moroccans will leave the conversation at that and respect your own choices.
Climate and Best Weather Months
Morocco is a country of extremes when it comes to weather. In the summer months, temperatures can reach up to 155 degrees in the Sahara and stay around 90-100 in the northern parts of Rabat, Fes, and Tangier. Summer hot months generally run from May-September however, summer can start as early as April in the southern regions. October is an ideal month for travel in Morocco. The cold has not yet set in and the heat usually lets up around October. The winter months in Morocco are tricky. From December to April the weather becomes very damp and cold, especially in the northern regions. Most homes and hostels in Morocco do not have insulation so they can get very cold. It is advisable if traveling during these months to pack a good coat and a good sweater or sweatshirt. Our recommendation for best months to travel is April-June and September-November.
Holidays to Avoid
While the experience of the holy month of Ramadan can be an absolutely incredible one for non-Muslims who have taken the time to understand the meaning religious significances of this month of fasting, if you are planning only a vacation and are not interested in fully engulfing yourself in this beautiful tradition, it is highly recommended that you do not travel to Morocco during this month. The exact dates of Ramadan vary from year to year, so it is important that you look before booking.
The reason for avoiding the month of Ramadan, above all else, is respect for the people of Morocco, who are largely (approximately 90%) Muslim. The month of Ramadan is a month of modesty and fasting. While restaurants, hotels and even most bars will stay open, it is in poor form to be frolicking on the beach in a bikini and ordering large lunches and drinking beer. If you do choose to go to the country during this month, be sure to be respectful, particularly from sunrise to sunset, of the Moroccan people and the sacrifices they are making.