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Morocco -April 2010
Moroccan Emblem Sahara and Tuareg

Having both lived in the Middle East for a number of years, our interest in travelling to yet another Arab country was not very great until we came across an advertisement for an escorted tour in the Caravan and Camping Club magazine. This generated a spark of interest along with reports I had earlier seen on the internet. I was certain I knew who was running the tours for the club and made contact with him to find out what he thought of having a non ambulant disabled person on the tour only to find out it was already fully booked and so was the next one he was running for the club. To cut the story short, we eventually booked direct with Desert Detours for a tour in April 2010. We fully realised Morocco probably would be one of the least wheelchair friendly place we had ever visited, but we did have an adapted motorhome which did meet our every day accommodation and living requirements and we were quite willing to accept that we could not do everything on a package tour. As it turned out there was very little we did not do, even if it did require some extra effort on my part and the kind help from those on the tour.

Morocco is a land of extremes. It can be very warm, on the coast we experienced 37C but in the mountains it was considerably cooler, 5C in the cedar forest of the mid Atlas Mountains. The landscape is very varied, fertile in the north to desert in the south with everything in between. Mountains, plains, rolling hills, forests, coastal cliffs and sandy beaches. Amongst this varied landscape are equally varied cities, towns and villages. From the ancient to the modern, from the upmarket resorts to the mud brick dwelllings and tents of the nomads. Morocco has it all. It is also a place where the culture of the east meets west but where much of the country still languishes in the past.

We drove down to Algeciras and back from Calais using the Tunnel to cross the Channel and crossing the Pyrenees via the Somport Tunnell on our outward journey and using the Vielha Tunnel on our homeward one. Our 20 day Moroccan Classic Tour started at Ceuta and took us to Martil, the Rif mountains, Chefchauen, Volulibis Roman ruins, the city of Fes, the cedar forest in the Mid Atlas Mountains, the village of Meski via the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains and then on to the most southerly point, the Erg Chebbi sand dunes on the edge of the Sahara. We returned travelling west to the coast via the Todra Gorge, Ouarzazate, crossing the High Atlas mountain via the Tizi-n-Tichka pass to Marrakech before finally arriving at tours end in Essaouira. With an open ferry ticket, we were then free to do as we pleased. We chose to quickly return to Spain via the coastal route to Ceuta to collect our dog from kennels near Malaga rather than stay on.

Whilst a route guide was provided and briefings gave more information, we took along Michelin's map, number 742 which we found very useful

General comments for wheelchair users
Morocco is not at all wheelchair friendly, although some places are much easier to get around than others. Disabled visitors do need to be accompanied by a fit and able carer to be able to maneuver around obstacles and help with using taxis and mini busses and some form of power chair which can tackle kerbs and rougher ground will greatly help getting around. Our power trike was invaluable for covering rougher terrain and the rougher paved areas. The only place we came across any wheelchair facilities was on the seafront in the tourist resort of Essaouria. There were some ramps and an accessible public toilet but we have no idea of the quality of the latter because we never used it! None of the campsites we stayed on had any disabled facilities in fact many do not even have European style toilets.

We didn't expect a lot from campsites, we were not disapointed! Most are poor by European standards but there again they are not expensive. Prices seemed to average about £5 a night with electricity. Sometimes there was hot water and good showers, sometimes not. In fact site facilities were a bit hit and miss and it appeared that if something got broken or failed to function it rarely got repaired. About the best thing I can say about electrics is to take care and take a splitter along, on occasions there are not enough plug in points to go around. Being on an escorted tour we didn't take any campsite guides nor did we need them.

I kept a blog of the trip and this and photos can be viewed >here<