Morocco: Car Rental
North Africa's Arabian Arcadia
Local Travel Info in Morocco
Internal Flights and Major International Airports in Morocco
Morocco has three main international airports: Casablanca, Tangier and Agadir. You can also fly direct to Fez, Marrakesh and Oujda from Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin and other European cities. Most long distance flights will arrive in Casablanca, which is a modern airport with plenty of transport options to take you in to the centre of the city, or to other destinations in Morocco. You can also take a train from there to the city centre or grande taxi to the centre of Casablanca. (This will cost about £20). Most major European airlines fly to into Morocco including British Airways, Lufthansa, KLM, Air France, Alitalia, Sabena and Swissair. There are also several budget and charter airlines operating from Europe to Morocco, including Ryanair and Monarch.
Getting to and from the Airport at Casablanca Mohammed V Airport
Casablanca Mohammed V Airport is located 19 miles (30kilometres) south of the city of Casablanca, but it has easy transport connections with the City and other destinations in Morocco. There is a shuttle train service that runs from the airport Arrivals Hall to Casablanca port and the city centre; the journey takes about 45 minutes. There is also a shuttle bus to Casablanca's CTM bus station and the journey time is about 1 hour. If you prefer to travel by taxi, there is a taxi rank immediately outside the arrivals area. The journey to the city centre by grand taxi costs about £20. There is one information desk in the Arrivals Lounge and one in Departure area (tel: (022) 539 040). If you are driving to the Airport from the centre of Casablanca you should take the motorway towards Settat. The airport is signposted and you should have few problems finding it. You will also find parking your car at the airport relatively trouble free in that there is a long and short-term car park with 1,600 spaces outside the departures lounge and another with 880 spaces outside the arrivals area. If you want to rent a car, you will find offices for Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, National, Sixt and Thrifty at the airport, as well as several local operators.
Travel Costs in Morocco
Generally speaking, the costs of travel in Morocco are relatively low compared to the United Kingdom. For example, travel by train is very cheap, especially compared to the UK. A single ticket from Tangier to Marrakesh will cost you about £16 second class, or £24 in first class. However, until recently domestic flights have not been popular option because Royal Air Maroc, the national flag carrier, has had a monopoly of the market. There are now several budget airlines offering internal flights in Morocco, which should make flying an option, even for budget travellers. Bus travel in Morocco is relatively cheap, especially when you consider the distances between the main cities and towns. Some typical long-distance bus fares are: from Casablanca to Marrakesh £6, Casablanca to Fèz £6.50 and Casablanca to Tangier £9. If you do travel by bus, you may be charged for handling your luggage, a charge of 40p is not uncommon. If you decide to rent a car in Morocco you will not find it cheap. Prices usually start from about £260 per week or £37 per day for a basic car with unlimited mileage. Most hire companies demand a returnable cash deposit (£220 to £370) unless you pay by credit card.
Renting Cars in Morocco
Although hiring a car is not the cheapest travel option in Morocco, you will find that there are plenty of opportunities to do so. The best cities in which to hire cars are Casablanca, Marrakesh and Tangier, where the competition is greatest and prices are lower. Even so, it is usually cheaper to arrange car rental in advance through a travel agent or international agency. Most worldwide rental networks have offices in Morocco and there are several local rental companies. They offer lower prices, but you should ensure that the vehicle's condition, spare tyre, jack etc are all in working order before you hire it. By law, insurance must be sold along with all rental agreements. Prices for hiring a care usually start from around £260 per week, or £37 per day, for a basic car with unlimited mileage. Most hire companies will also demand a returnable cash deposit of between £220 and £370 unless you pay by credit card. The Moroccan hire companies may be less proficient in English, but if you negotiate with them you may find that you can strike a bargain. The multinational companies seem to share cars with each other (although prices and service level may vary), so if your company of choice doesn't have what you need they may obtain one from another company. You should also check with the hire company where you can drive, as some rental companies will not allow journeys on unmade roads. During the low season, in November, you can expect at least a 20% discount from the list price if you come without a reservation. This applies at least for economy class (eg Peugeot 206, Renault Logan Dacia). Deposits are usually taken as a paper slip from your credit card if you have one. Please note that some economy class cars may be 4 years old, with a mileage 80,000 miles or more (120,000 kilometres), if you hire a car from a Moroccan company.
Drivers License Requirements in Morocco
In order to drive a car in Morocco for a period of less than six months, you simply need to bring your UK driving licence with you. If you are thinking of taking a car into Morocco, you will need: an International Certificate of Motor Insurance (green card) valid for Morocco, a current driving licence, the car's registration document and a lettered nationality plate of the country in which the vehicle was registered. When you arrive in Morocco by car, the car's details are entered in the driver's passport. Driving safely in Morocco takes practice and patience but can be very rewarding too. If you are planning to drive to rural and more remote areas, you need to stock up on fuel, because it is not so common in the countryside. You will also need a good map. Roads are varied and mixed, with many cyclists, pedestrians and horse-drawn vehicles. Vehicles are driven on the right-hand side of the road in Morocco, road signs are in Arabic and French and the traffic law is as in much of Europe. However, be very careful as many drivers respect signs only if a policeman is nearby. There are numerous Police checks on the main roads where you must slow down to allow them to see you. The speed limit is enforced especially the 40 kilometres per hour in towns and on dangerous intersections where fines are imposed on the spot. The general rule is that vehicles larger than yours should be given priority. Urban driving presents its own challenges. The centre of Marrakesh can be a scary place to drive. You will be constantly beeped at, regardless of how well you drive. Marrakshis like to beep their horns at anyone they feel to be holding them up. You also need to pay very close attention to your wing mirrors and your blind spots. The two lane roads often become free-for-alls, up to the point at which you may see four cars wing to wing at a red light. One of the major hazards on the roads in Marrakesh are the mobilettes, which are bicycles with engines. They will zig-zag around you and generally make themselves a nuisance, however, on longer stretches of road, they tend to keep to the right. It is best to drive with caution, and to keep your speed down, so any accident causes minimum damage. Do not be intimidated by other drivers. Make sure that you drive predictably, and don't do anything rash. On rural roads, there is a national speed limit of 100 kilometres per hour and one of 120 kilometres per hour on the motorways. It’s compulsory for drivers and passengers to wear seat belts in cars. Driving safely in Morocco takes practice and patience but can take you to some really beautiful places.
Morocco by Bus
There are bus services to nearly every part of Morocco and nearly every Moroccan city has a central bus-station where you can buy tickets to travel from region to another. In fact, there are many private companies competing for business alongside the main national carrier. There are also many bus services aimed specifically at the tourist market. These buses usually have air-conditioning and are equipped with video and other comfortable features. The cheaper option is to travel on the “local” buses, which are generally 25%-50% cheaper than the tourist ones, but can be more fun. However, what you may gain in terms of price, you will probably lose in terms of comfort, but travelling on local buses will give you a flavour of Moroccan life and you will learn a lot about the country. Local buses often take more round-about routes than tourist coaches, so you can see villages you would never get to as a "normal" tourist. You may be better taking the air-conditioned tourist coach, however, if you are at all sensitive to the heat. The “local” bus route from Rissani, Erfoud, and Er Rachidia to Meknes and Fez, while long, runs through the Middle and High Atlas and is especially scenic. Some typical “local” bus fares are: from Casablanca to Marrakesh £6, from Casablanca to Fèz £6.50 and from Casablanca to Tangier £9. If you do travel by bus, you may be charged for handling your luggage, a charge of 40p is not uncommon.
Hitch Hiking in the Morocco
Hitch hiking is not recommended in Morocco. Even though the risks may be low, you would be putting yourself in great potential danger. If you do decide to go hitch hiking, it is perhaps best to do so in pairs thereby minimising those risks.
Morocco by Taxi
Travel by taxi is common in Morocco. There are two sorts: the petit taxi is used only within the area of any one town, or city and the grand taxi can be used for trips between towns, and for larger groups of people. You will find prices for petit taxi journeys are reasonable and it's Moroccan law that taxis in town should have a metre. However, you will find that they are not always switched on. If this is the case, you should insist that the driver starts the metre when you get in. The other option is to agree the fare before getting in, but this will undoubtedly be more expensive. An average petit taxi ride within a Moroccan city should cost about 80p to £1. Grands taxis are shared long-distance taxis, usually for long-distance journeys. They generally have a fixed rate fare for a specific route, along which the driver will stop and pick up passengers rather like a bus. You usually will find grands taxis near the main bus stops. If you want to travel in a grand taxi alone, it is always a good idea to negotiate the price with the driver. The fare will be based on distance travelled and on whether you are returning. If you are sharing the grand taxi with others, the driver may try to cheat you if you look like a tourist, by charging you a higher fare. In this case, notice how much the locals are paying for the same journey. Grands taxis are usually old Mercedes, which you will find are shared between up to 6 passengers. The front seat is normally occupied by women (Moroccan women are not allowed to be in contact with men and rarely take rear seats). It is not uncommon to pay for 2 seats that remain unoccupied to travel with more space and comfort inside. You can also hire a grand taxi for about twice the price of two petites taxis for shorter journeys. This is useful if you are travelling in a group of four or more. You may also find that some taxi drivers will not start the journey until the taxi is full. You can sometimes also hire a grand taxi, for example in Marrakesh, for a whole day for a relatively reasonable sum. This would allow you to to explore outlying districts, such as the the Ourika valley. Moroccan taxi owners often compete with each other to add extras, such as sunshades. As a general rule, a clean vehicle and smart driver is usually a good sign of a well maintained vehicle. Some examples of locally agreed council grand taxi fares from Casablanca Mohamed V Airport various destinations are: Casablanca city centre: £18, Rabat El Jadida £51, Beni Malal £71, Marrakesh/Meknes/Safi £79 and Fez £10.
Cycling in Morocco
Even though Morocco has 16,000 miles of paved roads. road conditions are not ideal for cycling. There are no special road rules pertaining to cyclists and they are not given much consideration by Moroccan drivers and you should be to be wary of them wherever you meet them on the road. To Moroccans, especially in congested areas, sharing the road with cyclists is a totally alien concept. In addition, the distances are between Moroccan cities are large and, as a cyclist, you will need to carry all of your supplies with you, including any spare parts you may need, food and plenty of drinking water. However, you are allowed to take cycles both on buses and trains. Having said all this, Morocco does offer a wide range of challenging and not so challenging cycle routes, the best of which are away from the regions with the heaviest traffic. One such route would be over about four weeks, cycling in a loop from Casablanca through Meknes, Midelt, Er-Rachidia, Ouarzazate, Marrakesh, Safi and returning to Casablanca. If you decide to go on a guided cycling holiday in Morocco, for example through the Atlas mountains, a typical 8 day cycling holiday would cost from £1089, including accommodation and meals.
Water Transport in Morocco
There are very few opportunities for water travel in Morocco. The country's extremely dry and arid climate means that rivers are often dry for much of the year, making them unnavigable.
Train Travel in Morocco
Although Morocco's rail network is not extensive it is relatively cheap, efficient, clean, reliable and punctual. There are two lines that carry passengers: the line from Tangier in the north down to Marrakesh, and the line from Oujda in the northeast, also to Marrakesh, joining with the Tangier line at Sidi Kacem. There are three daily departures from Tangier, bound for either Oujda or Marrakesh, although all of them can be used to reach either destination as there are corresponding trains in Sidi Kachem using the opposite branch of the train coming from Tangier. The night trains between Tangier and Marrakesh have couchettes, which you can rent for about £8 in addition to the fare. Apart from anything else, travel by train is a wonderful way of meeting Moroccan people, who are extremely friendly and sociable. The Moroccan train network is operated by Office National des Chemins de Fer (ONCF), which, in addition to single journey tickets, issues several types of train passes, making rail travel even cheaper. Some examples of typical 2nd-class train fares are: Casablanca to Marrakesh about £6, a journey of three hours, Rabat to Fèz about £5.50 a journey of 3½ hours and Tangier to Marrakesh about £14 a journey of 9½ hours.