Morocco is located in the North-West of Africa. It is demarcated in the North by the Strait of Gibraltar and the Mediterranean Sea, in the South by Mauritania, in the East by Algeria and in the West by the Atlantic Ocean. The Moroccan coast spreads over 3500 km. Surface: 710. 850 km2
Morocco’s great diversity of habitats is reflected in it’s more than 400 listed species of birds. Mountains, coast, forests, valleys, deserts and plains provide Morocco with an ornithological wealth that makes visiting this exotic North African country quite irresistible to the ornithologist.
Depending on personal interests this can vary widely but in any case a camera, binoculars and a bird guide are a minimum essential. For this country we recommended the Collins Bird Guide (Svensson, Mullarney, Zetterström and Grant) as it includes all the birds of the region.
Temperatures in Morocco are generally high, particularly during the summer months (May to September), when the sun can be fierce and temperatures are at industrial levels, so take plenty of sunscreen, cover up and drink lots of water! n winter (October to February), it does become cooler, especially in the evenings - so take a jacket, long-sleeved tops and trousers. In the High Atlas and the desert it can become very cold in winter, especially at night and some peaks can remain snow capped from November to July. Pack plenty of warm clothes.
The official language is Classical Arabic but Morocco has a distinctive Arabic dialect called Darija that is widely spoken throughout the country, while most of the words find their root in Standard Arabic, some words are borrowed from Spanish, French and Berber. French, Spanish and English are spoken in many cities and towns popular with tourists. You can usually find someone who understands enough of your own language to get the information you need. Moroccans are very friendly and hospitable, so try saying "salamu 'aleykum" (peace be upon you) and "insh'allah" (God willing).
Islam is the official religion in Morocco, but the coexistence with other religions is perfect (besides the practice of the other religions is guaranteed by the constitution). The day is tapped out by five calls to prayer. They are announced by the muezzin from the top of the minaret. During the month of the Ramadan, Moroccans fast, stop drinking and smoking from sunset to sunrise. Obviously, their daily life is affected. Most administrations, public services, monuments and shops adjust their opening hours. However, non-Muslims find food in some restaurants, especially in hotels. The days drag, but how beautiful the night are !
Moroccan cooking subtlety combines vegetables and sun-kissed fruits, rare and perfumed spicies, delicate fish and tasty meats The best of cuisine, famous all over the world, arouses your taste buds. Here are the main Moroccan courses that must be tasted.
Kebabs: at the entry of a souk, on a square, on the side of a road, delicious kebabs are cooked right in front of your eyes: a treat, cheap and fast.
Couscous: it is the traditional family meal on Friday, but you can find it every day in restaurants. During your trip, you may taste one thousand different couscous, since they vary depending on the areas and the creativity of the cook. Try not to use your cutlery to eat, rather use your fingers, like Moroccans do:
Mechoui: spit-roasted lamb (or in oven). Meat melts in your mouth!
Pastilla: a thin flaky pastry stuffed with pigeon and almonds, that is the famous Moroccan sweet-sour. There are variants with fish, chicken or even milk for dessert.
Meals of the Ramadan: at sunset; people break their fast (f'tour) with the rich and tasty harira (soup made with meat, lentils, chickpeas), with the beghrir (small honeycomb pancakes served with melted butter and honey) the shebbakia (cakes fried in oil and coated with honey). This a light snack enables to wait for the real dinner which takes place later in the evening.
Tajine: this word both means the container (ornate terracotta dish with a typical cone-shaped lid) and the contents (meat, poultry and fish stew with braised vegetables). Taste and you will understand why tajine is the national meal in Morocco.
Mint tea: it is thirst-quenching, it warms, it picks you up, and you can drink it in the morning, after meals or at any time. It is not the kind of pleasure to pass up.
Pastry: honey cakes, horn-shaped cakes, feqqas with almonds or raisins, ghoriba with almonds, sesame... Irresistible!
Passport holders from Australia, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom do not need a visa to enter Morocco. For passport holders from other countries check http://morocco.visahq.com
Morocco voltage is 220V, 50 Hz (two pin round plugs). Always check your laptop or electronic items to make sure they can handle 100-240 volts
Morocco has excellent coverage for mobile phones on the GSM system and you will be surprised where they do work. Naturally there are areas with no signal (parts of the mountains and desert). Most villages also have pay phones where there is someone in attendance and with vast piles of coins to feed into the phone.
Email and Internet
The internet is very well served in the big cities with Broadband systems and there are internet cafés all over. An hour in an internet café is about €1. Outside of the cities you will be surprised by where you will find access to the internet. In keeping with Europe etc, modern hotels can charge large sums to access Wi-Fi so ask for the rate first.
Ramadan is in the 9th and most important month in the Islamic Calendar. During this time Muslims abstain from eating, drinking or smoking until after sundown on each day. As a traveller of course you don't need to follow this, but some Muslims appreciate that you don't take meals or smoke in public places. Many restaurants and cafes won't open until after sundown and public transport may be less frequent, shops close earlier before sunset and the pace of life is generally slower. Check the dates for ramadan and other Muslim holidays http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_holidays#Calendar
You will see people begging on the streets and you should consider giving your loose change. Persistent begging is not encouraged, and once you have refused, if the requests continue, it is OK to ignore them and move on. We do not encourage giving money or sweets to children as this may encourage them to beg and become too trusting of strangers.
Most services are performed with the aim of getting a few dirham, but aggressive hustling shouldn't be rewarded. Generally a tip of 10 to 20 dirham is suitable for porters, direction givers and photo posers. Restaurants, bars, clubs and coffee shop staff expect tips from tourists and Moroccans. Assuming satisfactory service, this is usually 2-5 Moroccan dirham for small checks, and around 10% for larger checks. Most hospitality staff are not paid very well, so they rely heavily on tips for their income. A tip of 10 to 20% is usual practice for drivers and guides.
Shopping in Morocco can be an challenge rather than a casual pass-time. A visit to the souk (a market consisting of hundreds of tiny shops), will possibly involve sharing a glass of mint tea with the merchants while you examine variety and quality of the craftsmanship, and haggle for a bargain. All this takes time. Enjoy, it can be a lot of fun.
Moroccans are very skilled salesman - if you do not want to buy something from every shop that you enter you must learn to say no. If you do not want to buy anything and are approached by a salesman just smile and say “non merci” and walk on. The shopkeepers will offer you mint tea and to sit in the cool of the shop, they will offer you a very good price. the last price and the best price. Keep in mind that it is unlikely you will get any real bargains, the salesman are very practiced. It is good fun to bargain but you should only bargain for items that you are willing to buy and you should know how much you are willing to pay and keep to your price.