Morocco

morocco

The border with Algeria has been closed for years. Otherwise Morocco is fine.
Updated January 2017

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Money Moroccan dirham exchange rates. In some places you can pay in euros.

Price of fuel 8.35dh for diesel (59p), 9.25dh (65p) for unleaded 95-octane petrol – a drop of some 20% in early 2015. Western Sahara (south of Tan-Tan): diesel 6dh; leaded about 9dh (no unleaded down here yet, but it’s coming). At the last fuel station on the Mauritanian border the price jumps back up to northern Moroccan prices (but still cheaper than Mauritania). In the Spanish port enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla the price of unleaded in euros is about the same as Morocco, diesel probably a bit more.

Costs Moderate. Easy to get a hotel down south for 200 dirhams half board per person. At that price don’t bother with camping on a moto.

Languages French, Arabic, English

Visas In most cases not required in advance. New Zealand and South Africa are among the exceptions.

Border formalities Relatively straightforward from Spain or Mauritania. See getting there and immigration procedure (from the north).

The border with Algeria has been closed since 1996 and although Morocco may wish otherwise, it’s unlikely to open anytime soon, despite talks. And if it does, it may well be limited to locals and not foreign tourists. Plus there’s still the Algerian escort business to get round.

morocco22sDesert pistes Morocco is more popular than ever these days and rightly so; it’s the best place to explore the fringes of the Sahara without a trans-Saharan commitment. And while not long, some of the routes are as impressive in as anything elsewhere in the Sahara. It’s all in Morocco Overland II.

bermThe ability to roam the pistes through the ‘Western Sahara area south of Tan-Tan is limited, but occasionally off-roaders do go there. The coastal highway transits past Layounne and Dakhla to the Mauritanian border north of Nouadhibou; mostly cliffs but a bit more interesting and with easier beach access after Cape Boujdour (fully described in the book).
There are pistes inland until you come across the militarized Berm (wall, right) which separates the Moroccan-controlled coastal portion of Western Sahara from the Polisario Free Zone inland (see p.260 of the book or this). Some ideas for inland WS here and here and here (with maps) and here, but be aware there are landmines in this area which are not always clearly marked.
In the Western Sahara (coast road or elsewhere) checkpoints are frequent and handing out a pre-printed form with your details saves time. You’ll also need them to hand out in Mauritania so make at least two dozen. You can download a Word template by clicking this.

From Morocco to Mauritania There is a fuel station right on the frontier at N21° 21.8′ W16° 57.6′, 80-odd kms south of Motel Barabas where there’s also fuel and food. The next fuel is up to double the price on the road south to Nouakchott. Because of this the Mauritanians may not take well to Moroccan fuel in jerricans.
As you near the Mauritanian border you pass the fort and then get to the actual border compound itself (N21° 20.0′ W16° 56.8′). Park up and go to the police (last on the right) to fill out an exit card and get passport stamped, then go to the Customs next door who’ll come to your vehicle and take the green part of your TVIP off you (you keep the white bit). Then drive forward to the gendarmerie who will check your passport and docs and let you out onto the winding rubble road which ends in 5kms at the Mauritanian frontier.

For full details on the Moroccan-Mauritanian border see the bottom of the Mauritania page.