Tourists who bring their families on vacation will find a special entry into Moroccan society. Moroccans love children and much of Moroccan society is focused on the family and their offspring. Children are warmly welcomed and treated with every consideration in Morocco. Teaching children a few words of Arabic before they come to Morocco can be very rewarding. Children are a tremendous icebreaker and waiters, maids and shopkeepers will be far more attentive when there are children around.
Bringing your children to Morocco will introduce them to a magical world of vibrant and colorful souks, Ksours and Kasbahs, mountains and countryside. When traveling with children in Morocco there’s more to explore such as long unspoiled beaches, various regions of the Sahara desert and camel treks. The sights and sounds of Morocco offers a completely different society to children and one that is accessible and fun. Morocco offers the opportunity for family adventure holidays and flights from Europe which are only three and a half hours with airports in many cities and excellent rail and road links. Morocco is the ideal family vacation destination.
A few precautions are necessary, Morocco’s sun is deep and penetrating and the light is very bright. Wearing a hat, sunglasses and sun block cream are important and in the evening when temperatures can drop a sweater is also a good idea. Some medicines for tummy trouble are also a good idea although if you eat fruits that you peel and wash and drink bottled mineral water this greatly lessens the risk. It is important for children to drink lots of water and carrying a small bottle with them helps to remind them of this.
Many hotels and Riads in Morocco are children friendly and you can check this out with your travel agent before booking. Extra beds and babysitters are available in a number of establishments. Some riads are more adult orientated but those who welcome children advertise the fact on their websites.
Club Med in the Palmeraie in Marrakech has excellent children’s facilities and is very family orientated and you can also use the facilities at Club Med next to the Djemma El Fna square, it helps if you can speak a little French. Other child friendly establishments include; Les Deux Tours in the Palmeraie which has extensive gardens and the Gulf Palace Hotel which has a special children’s park. It’s also possible to book the whole of a smaller riad for your stay or self catering apartments. It’s a good idea to book accommodation with a swimming pool . There are also numerous establishments outside Marrakech like the Oasiria waterpark and the very splendid Beldi Country Club amongst a number of others.
Visits to the souks in Marrakech, Essaouira and Fes are a must as children will be fascinated by the rich and abundant displays of artifacts and the medinas area magical world of ancient buildings. It is perhaps best to avoid the very crowded times and small children should be carried or at least have a lead. Baby carriers and buggies are not a good idea in a crowded and narrow souk and if you use them make sure they have good sturdy wheels and can fold up easily.
Visiting on Saturdays or off peak times is possible. For your first visit to Morocco consider booking through a private travel agency and let the agency handle choosing a guide that will be family oriented and also allow them to arrange for activities which can make the vacation planning less taxing. Other options are to take a guide recommended by your hotel or riad, or the Office of Tourism can also provide English speaking guides.
The Djemma El Fna square has snake charmers, monkies and story tellers. In the medina you need to be prepared for motorbikes and mopeds coming round the corner, sometimes at speed so it’s best to walk close to the walls rather than the centre of the narrow street. An effort is being made by the authorities to ban motorbikes and mopeds being ridden in the souks and signs are in place, but old habits die hard. The message that a pedestrian area is for pedestrians is slowly getting through. Great care needs to be taken crossing roads in the medina and the modern part of town, the Géuliz. Crossing at traffic lights when cars are stopped in one direction, pedestrians need to be aware that traffic on the other side still flows despite the red light. Pedestrian’s rights and safety still have a way to go.
Morocco is not a society ruled by health and safety and you will see motorbikes with four family members mounted on them without a helmet in sight but life seems to carry on perfectly happily.
When planning a car trip to Ourika , Imilil or Ouarzazate via the Tizi N’Test pass it is advisable to hire a car with driver recommended by your hotel. English speaking drivers are available. You can of course hire a car and drive yourself, but on your first visit it’s best to play safe and enjoy the scenery. Morocco does not have a particularly good road safety record and the roads particularly in the mountain areas can be quite challenging.
Moroccan and international food is available in restaurants the cities. Marrakech has Macdonalds and pizza restaurants are now quite common. For snacks and other child accessories the Marjane supermarkets in Marrakech and Casablanca have a wide selection of products available and pharmacies have a wide range of medicines available. It’s a good idea to check out lists of doctors in each city provided by your embassy on line before you arrive, as a precaution.
Outside Marrakech rafting along the rivers and trekking in the Atlas Mountains and visiting old Kasbahs like Telouet and Ait Ben Haddou are highly recommended. Children can explore the winding streets which are still inhabited and enjoy the excitement of discovering a film location which was used for Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator amongst others. A trip to Merzouga and a trek with camels is also very popular. It’s important on a first trip not to try to do too much travelling. Another option from Marrakech is to visit Essaouira which has been made much easier by the newly finished motorway . You can even take the Supratours bus which operates several services to Essaouira and back to Marrakech daily. Children will love the long beach which offers surfing, swimmers should be aware that there are strong under currents and care should be taken on Morocco’s many fine Atlantic beaches. Essaouira has fine battlements and ramparts with ancient cannons, excellent souks and a variety of restaurants . The busy fishing port is a great draw and fishing trips and boat trips to the Isle of Mogador are also possible. Riding in the surrounding countryside around Essaouira and trekking trips are also available.
Morocco is a year round destination but July and August are exceptionally hot and this needs to be borne in mind if you are planning on bringing children. It’s best to avoid the desert at this time and a hotel with a swimming pool is a must.