PLANNING YOUR TRIP TO MOROCCO
BY PLANEIn 2006, the Moroccan government, in conjunction with Mohammed VI’s desire to increase tourism arrivals to 10 million by 2010, invoked an open-skies policy on the country’s air transport sector. Several low-cost European airlines leapt at the opportunity, resulting in decidedly more flight arrivals, especially into the tourist hubs of Agadir, Fes, and Marrakech.
Scheduled international flights fly directly into a number of airports in Morocco: Agadir (AGA), Casablanca (CAS), Fes (FEZ), Marrakech (RAK), Ouarzazate (OZZ), Rabat (RBA), and Tangier (TNG). Casablanca is the country’s major airport and hub for the national carrier, Royal Air Morocco. If you’re flying from anywhere other than Europe, then more than likely your flight will touch down here. Domestic connections are plentiful, and the airport is connected to the national rail network. North American flights, as well as those from Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, operate from Terminal 3, a short shuttle ride from terminals 1 and 2,where all domestic flights are operated from and where the main arrivals and departures buildings are located.
If you’re departing from Europe, then flying directly into one of the country’s other airports is definitely possible, and the decision whether to do so comes down to which destination you wish to begin your journey and the frequency of flights available. All the airports mentioned above are located out of town, but taxis are usually always parked outside to meet incoming flights, or transfers can be prearranged with your hotel. When departing Morocco, the departure tax is already included in the cost of your ticket, and most airport bureaux de change will change your dirham (notes only) back into euros or sometimes U.S. dollars.
There are duty-free shops past the immigration counters, but they won’t accept dirham, only euros, British pounds, and U.S. dollars.
The national air carrier is Royal Air
Morocco ( 09000/0800 toll-free in
Morocco; www.royalairMorocco.com), which
has offices in most major Moroccan
cities, as well as in the U.K., Langham
House, 32–33 Gosfield St., London,
W1W 6ED ( 020/7307-5800), and
the U.S., 666 5th Ave., New York, NY
10103 ( 800/446-726 or 974/385-
053). Since 2004, Royal Air Morocco has
also operated a subsidiary low-cost international
airline called Atlas Blue (0820/
09090 within Morocco, or 020/7307-
5803 within the U.K.; www.atlas-blue.
OFFICE NATIONAL DES AEROPORTS: Tel: 212 (022) 543 58 58
En voiture, en train et en bateau : A partir d'Algésiras en Espagne vous traversez le détroit de Gibraltar en car-ferry jusqu'à Tanger (2h30) ou Ceuta (1h30). Egalement, départ de Sète (France) vers Tanger (le voyage dure 36heures) et d'Almeria vers Nador ou Melilla.
TOURING CLUB MoroccoAIN 3, avenue des FAR Casablanca Tel: 0522 26 52 31 Fax: 0522 26 23 86
Self-drivers are best advised to make their
way down through Spain to the southern
ports of Algeciras or Tarifa, from where
there are vehicle ferries making the daily
crossing across the Straits of Gibraltar to
Tangier (from both), and the Spanish
enclave of Ceuta (from Algeciras only).
Ceuta is the best port of arrival if you want
to head straight into the Rif mountains
and across to Fes, while Tangier is a good
(and the only) point of arrival for the
Atlantic Coast and inland to Marrakech.
Remember that the Spanish-Moroccan
border is about 5km (3 miles) inland from
Ceuta port. Current costs for your vehicle,
depending on the size.
To enter Morocco, you’ll need your vehicle’s registration papers and a Green Card (carte verte in French) insurance document from your insurer. The Green Card proves that your vehicle is at least insured against third-party damage. Some companies won’t insure your vehicle for travel in Morocco, so it’s best to check beforehand and shop around if you need to buy some. You can also purchase temporary third-party insurance at Spanish and Moroccan ports, but it really is best to arrange this beforehand so you’re sure of the coverage you’re paying for. A Carnet de Passage (issued by motoring organizations worldwide to allow your vehicle to enter most countries without any customs or import fees) is not required for your vehicle to enter Morocco, but you’ll need one if you’re traveling farther into Africa.
Upon arriving in the Moroccan port, you’ll need to complete a Temporary Importation document, which is usually available on the Tangier ferries or otherwise at the Ceuta-Morocco border post. Your vehicle will then be “stamped” into your passport, allowing the vehicle to stay in Morocco for 6 months (but remember that you are only given 3 months; see “Entry Requirements” earlier). The vehicle can only leave with you, proving to Moroccan Customs that it hasn’t been sold, and therefore no customs or tax on the sale is due.
Casablanca Tel: 0522 30 30 12 - 0522 30 20 06 Fax: 0522 30 84 55 - 0522 30 61 38
Tanger Tel: 0539 94 23 50 - Fax: 0539 94 35 70
Casablanca Tel: 0522 29 33 29 - Fax: 0522 29 32 89
Tanger Tel: 0539 32 58 84 - Fax: 0539 32 59 00
- LIMADET: 13, Av. Prince Moulay Abdellah Tanger - Tel: 0539 93 36 25/26 - Fax: 0539 93 29 13
* PORT DE BENI-ANSAR NADOR - Tel: 00-212-556 60 38 15 - Fax: 00-212-556 60 27 55
- TRANSMEDITERRANIA Tanger Tel: 0539 93 53 07 -Fax: 0539 94 38 63
- INTERCONA Tanger Tel: 0539 32 22 53/58 - Fax: 0539 94 38 63
Traveling by sea is a wonderful, almost spiritual, way to arrive in Morocco. When sailing from the Spanish port of Algeciras—the most popular point of departure—the Rock of Gibraltar is visible for quite some time before finally fading away into the Mediterranean mist. However, it’s not long before the silhouettes of Tangier’s minarets appear in the distance.
The state-run Office National des
Chemins de Fer (ONCF; & 090/
203040 within Morocco; www.oncf.ma)
operates a safe and comfortable rail network
connecting most cities west of the
Atlas Mountains, including Fes, Meknes,
Tangier, Rabat, Casablanca, and Marrakech.
ONCF’s subsidiary, Supratours
(see below), runs buses linking some
other destinations to the rail network,
such as Essaouira. Rail travel in Morocco
is quite cheap when compared to that in
Europe and North America. A first-class
ticket on the network’s longest journey—
the 15-hour, 825km (510 miles) trip from
Oujda to Marrakech.
Timetables rarely change, although
special schedules are arranged during
Ramadan and the two subsequent festival
times of Eid al Fitr and Eid al Adha.
Timetables are usually posted within the
station, or can be viewed on the ONCF
website (horaries for schedules, tarifs for
the fare). Station counter staff can also print the schedule between two particular
stations. Punctuality and reliability can
be hit or miss on the network, with trains
operating with Swiss-like precision at
times, and other times running frustratingly
late. There are two types of trains,
Train Navette Rapide (TNR), also called
ordinaire, and Train Rapide Climatisé
(TRC), also called train à supplement or
train noble. Almost all intercity services
are TRC trains, which are air-conditioned
and offer both first- and second-class
travel. Drinks and snacks are available on
the train, and smoking is (theoretically)
not allowed in compartments, just the
carriageway.- SNCF France Tel: (1) 545 82 50 50
- ONCF Morocco 98, Boulevard Mohammed V Casablanca Tel: 0522 27 71 60
- Fax: 0522 22 05 77 RABAT Tel: 0537 77 47 47 Fax: 0537 77 48 98