Personal Evaluation of Our Pre-Trip: Marrakech, Morocco with Overseas Adventure Travel
My wife and I were part of the OAT Tunisia trip that was a scheduled to begin on March 15. We took the Pre-Trip to Marrakech, Morocco that began on March 10. As we have been on 14 OAT trips, we had very high expectations as we had heard good things from friends about these two North Africa countries.
Our flight schedule by OAT had us going from Denver to JFK and then on Royal Air Moroc to Casablanca and then a short hop to Marrakech. Royal Air Moroc was an average airline at best. The flight was full with no extra seats available. When I sat down I noticed there were several broken aspects. The worst was the lights above the seat. At first it did not work, and then it was on for the rest of the flight. Disconcerting as it was an overnight flight. The meal served was quite poor.
Once we got to Marrakech, everything was quite good. Our tour guide Jamal was there to meet us, had a very friendly and warm personality and greeted us enthusiastically. We quickly drove to the hotel that was only 10 minutes from the airport but right in the middle of the city. The hotel was very traditional; we were upgraded to a “suite”. Jamal gave us time to unpack and wash up and then we were on the go for the full time in Marrakech. We did all the OAT scheduled activities and he also enriched our experience by providing us with discoveries and explorations. We had full and exciting days. Jamal was certainly one of the best guides we have had in our OAT experience.
This pre-trip had us stay in Marrakech for 5 days, one extra due to flight arrangements. As OAT had the last two days as an On Our Own we asked Jamal if he would consider providing us with some activities and we would pay for his services. He was very amenable and scheduled Day 4 for the city of Essaouria on the seacoast and Day 5 for the Atlas Mountains. Once again, he gave us his all; transportation, admission fees, and his knowledge and expertise. We stopped at villages, visited local street markets, were given a tour in the local industry and at the coast, we visited the walled city, old town and the fishing port where we saw the fish being brought in.
On Sunday when we traveled to the Atlas Mountains we had a 4X drive vehicle for our comfort and security. We visited a local family where we were served a mid morning breakfast and then voyaged over some very primitive roads to see the countryside, the people and the mountains. We also had the opportunity to be involved in a gigantic traffic jam and see/hear the natives try to maneuver a large bus through an extremely narrow street that was made for carts and people.
As we had an early departure on Monday morning, Jamal was right there at 4:30 AM to take us to the airport. He personally filled out our exit paperwork, handled our luggage to the check-in desk, asked for and go us better seats on the flight to Casablanca.
In conclusion, our pre-trip experience was fantastic. First, because Jamal is a seasoned OAT Tour Director who knew the expectations and requirements of the job. His knowledge of the country, Marrakech and the Muslim faith provided us with the depth that we have come to expect from OAT Tour Director (TD) over the last 5 years. Secondly, Jamal was very well organized. He could and did call on his resources to provide us with the two extra days. His charge was quite reasonable and we reciprocated by buying him and the drivers lunch every day.
If anyone happens to travel to Morocco and has the good fortune to have Jamal as his/her Tour Director, you will have a wonderful experience in a beautiful country. Highly recommended.