Our trip to Morocco required the use of many more different transportation modes than we usually enjoy. Here are the totals:
- Plane: 4
- Bus: 8
- Train: 5
- Petit Taxt: 10
- Camel: 4
- Grand Taxi: 3
- Land Rover: 1
- Galloper: 1
- Metro: 13
When Mohamed VI became king of morocco he was keen on improving things for his people. In order to improve the economic outlook, he took an active role in providing safe reliable transportation systems in Morocco for locals and tourists. The Moroccan government has made tourism in Morocco a high priority and as a result the country is very safe and easy to get around in.
Here is a run down of the modes of transportation in Morocco, all notably friendly and easy to secure for non Arabic speaking foreigners. NOTE: that doesn’t mean you won’t get ripped off, they’re just really nice and non-threatening about it.
Trains of Morocco
The only train line is operated by ONCF, a state owned rail service that runs freight and passenger lines that hit all the imperial cities of Morocco.
The trains are pretty nice for the most part, though they aren’t labeled and figuring out which one you need to be on is difficult. Fortunately, we found the locals very happy to help.
One gentleman helped us find the right train, then we sat with him and chatted on the way to the airport where he was an air traffic controller. He was having problems with his computer. So I helped him set up Firefox so his outlook web access would work right.
Automobiles of Morocco
AKA: Voiture, Grand Taxi, Petit Taxi
In Morocco there are a couple kinds of passenger cars and taxis. Most common is the sub-compact car. From a number of manufactures, most commonly, Citroen, Peugeot and VW, they are small with 4 doors and a hatch-back. These are the petit taxis and the most common passenger car in most areas.
The other common car in Morocco is the Mercedes 240 sedan, or Grand Taxi. These are a bit more expensive than the petit taxi, but as usual, you can bargain. These are comfortable and a testament to German engineering. Not a one has a working instrument cluster however. Believe it or not, there’s a facebook group for them.
In the desert there are also Toyota Landcruisers, Land Rover Defender 110s, and other similar light 4×4 trucks like the “Galloper.”
AKA: CTM, Supr@tours, Car
Companies: Supr@tours, CTM, SATAS,
CTM and Supr@tours are legit and should be pretty safe and comfortable, though the seats on one side can be tighter than seats on the other. Most of the buses have an aft door and the seats on the right side seem to be more cramped because of it.
CTM is a government run bus line and they have baggage check, uniformed drivers, and a good relationship with the Gendarme so you never get stopped.
The buses of Morocco are either FAR better than what you are used to in the US, or FAR worse. We rode some REALLY nice Volvo fully automatic buses that were air conditioned, comfortable and clean.
We also rode a few Man coaches that were super sketch. Some of the cheaper bus lines use older buses from the nicer companies and the seats are sketchy, poorly bolted down and are jointly used for passengers and smuggling cheep consumer goods in from Spain.
Moroccans don’t travel much, I’m guessing, because as soon as the bus starts to rock on windy roads the lunch comes up. The nicer buses will provide plastic bags for vomiting and then kindly toss them out the window onto the road for you. The cheaper ones will conveniently allow you to yak on the floor and then clean it up with newspaper.
Buses usually stop at the driver’s cousin-in-law’s roadside restaurant for lunch halfway through the trip. This is hit or miss at best.
Camels and Donkeys
In the Desert the locals use camels for transport. They generally don’t ride them, rather they walk and lead the loaded animals. African camels are actually dromedary, or a one-humped Arabian camel.
Donkeys work along side modern vehicles in every Moroccan city. They use them to carry tools, supplies, cement and water. In Meknes we saw a donkey hauling a load of LCD widescreen TVs!
In the Medinas donkeys are used to haul carts and large saddle packs through the narrow crowded streets that are too small and winding to allow vehicles.
Scooters @ Mopeds
Scooters are everywhere and are loud, noisy and fast. In the tight Medina streets they wiz through the throngs and never hit anyone or run over a toe. They are available for rent in dense tourist areas such as Djemaa el Fna in Marrakesh.
Typically the outdoor seating at a café is flanked by a row of mopeds and scooters and you’ll usually see a Moroccan man or woman come out, hike up his or her jalabie, hop on, start pedaling, rock off the center stand and zoom away.
Bicycles in Morocco
There isn’t anywhere we went in Morocco where we didn’t see bikes. We even saw shops filled with bikes, bike parts, tubes and men repairing bikes. They are generally 1 speed, or converted to 1 speed, or have no derailleur and so are only able to use one speed. Bikes in Morocco are used for transportation, recreation, and cargo.
We saw a total of 10 full on spandex roadies, a handful of Euro bike tourists and 4 genuine Moroccan urban bike hipsters. I shit you not.
See this Flickr set for more photos of Moroccan Transportation.