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  1. #1

    Default morocco

    heading to morocco in a few months time,
    anyone had any experience in shooting in morocco?
    are the people there open to being photograph?

    will be heading to the sahara desert area as well... any advice in protecting my gears from the micro sand?

    would love to hear your experience there..

  2. #2
    Member skarekrow24's Avatar
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    Hi paaoopaa,

    Unfortunately, dont have anything to share, but very interested in morocco too! Could u pls share details about Yr upcoming trip? I.e. Airline, estimated costs, driver hire etc?

    Chris

  3. #3

    Default Re: morocco

    Hi Chris, I am still in the mid of planning....will be spending 3 weeks traveling down from spain to morocco, but will spend more of my time in morocco.

    currently this is my planned route
    barcelona > grananda > tarifa (ferry across to morocco)
    tanger > chefchaouen > meknes > fes > sahara desert (erg chebbi?) > essaouira > marrakech (flight back to barcelona)

    will be traveling overland, train or bus except for the flight back to barcelona.
    not quite sure if this will be possible in 3 weeks. anyone who have been there can advise?

  4. #4

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    seems like not many people have experience in morocco. I will share more when I research and plan more.

  5. #5
    Member skarekrow24's Avatar
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    Default Re: morocco

    I've been reading up a lot since i last replied. Absolutely fascinated, and hoping to be able to travel there in December! When are you heading over? You have a pretty ambitious itinerary!

  6. #6

    Default Re: morocco

    i will be traveling during oct..
    i know my itinerary now is pretty pack.... still thinking if i should get rid of spain and fly straight to casablanca instead....
    as my main key places is chefchaouen, fes and the sahara area.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: morocco

    I have been to Morocco some years back.

    My advice is try not to take photo of the women without asking their permission first. And there will be some people, especially kids, who will come and ask you to take their photos. Then later they will ask you for money.

  8. #8

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    hi eng hoe.
    thanks for the advice. do you mind sharing your itinerary? how long were you there in morocco?

  9. #9

    Default Re: morocco

    I just went there last year Dec 2010.

    Generally street photography is okay, but try not to take photos of beggars or street performers because they will ask you for money, and they will really pester you for it. If you are big-sized or unafraid you could stand your ground and not pay - I've seen quite number of big-sized Americans who stood their ground or walked away. Some street performers won't pester you after that - they have other things to do.


    Buying things is an art - it's crazy there, much worse than Asia. In Asia they really want your money, so you have the upper hand. In Morocco they will not hesitate to chase you away or curse you if you cut it too much... At least that's my personal experience. If you don't want something, walk away, because the guy may not want to sell you anything else from their shop. Me and my other half got chased away by a store owner.

    I'd also been extorted "photography money" before too - my first ever in so many countries. And we really paid up.... sigh... on Djemma-el-Fna.



    Nothing to see at Casablanca except Grand Mosque.


    Sahara sand... Prepare for lots of sand that will enter your shoe, and that's bloody difficult to clean out. The only way to minimize the sand issue is to wear boots.

    Camera gears... I recommend getting/bringing a weather-sealed camera. And don't change lenses. Honestly, the sand is REALLY fine - you have to go there and hold it in your hands to know it. It's likely to run beneath the gaps. Had quite a bit on my SD-card slot and battery slot. Luckily my camera is a weather-sealed one... to some extent.

    If out of the budget, I suggest you could just get some black tape or something to tape the lens mount.


    A camel ride into the sunset in the desert is something you should do and not miss. It's out of this world.


    Tipping is a common practice in this country no matter the level of service. I honestly don't like it actually, makes me feel "cheated" in a way. So be mentally prepared... the guide will want tips, etc... If you go to Fes they will bring you to shops where they will get commission.. If you don't want to go to these shops do sound out beforehand and tell them you will tip higher or something.



    My itinerary was Casablanca - Rabat - Fes/Meknes/Izmir/Moulay Idris (can't remember what order) - Erg Chebri desert - Marrakech - Essaouira - Casablanca. The order is a bit wrong I think, can't remember offhand.

    Heard Chefchouen is really nice.

    Essaouira gave me the feeling of a Greek island.. a little like Mykonos. Very nice, but just good for day trip. Won't stay over.. wind blowing salt is a huge problem because lens fogs up like mad.


    Heard Tangier is dangerous... you may want to read up a little.


    Otherwise Tripadvisor is a good resource, but beware of a lot of fake reviews.. ALOT of competing companies giving fake reviews to competitors, some new signups giving reviews to their own companies... The whole Morocco Tripadvisor is laden with fake reviews and all that. You may end up getting quite shocked.


    If you want contact for the private tour operator I traveled with you can PM me.. Not too shabby la, and was quite responsible, but wouldn't know if other prices are good/better. Was quite reasonable for me and gf.



    Sorry this is all over the place, was just typing whatever came to mind. Hope it helps someway or another.

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    Default Re: morocco

    I joined this small group tour -> http://www.kumuka.com/Magical-Morocco-Casablanca.aspx. It was in 2006, I think.

    Not sure if you are traveling on your own or with guide, but it is very easy for tourist to get lost in the Medina. Good thing is, there are usually kids around who will come forward to help you, and ask for a fee of course

    On the problem of sand, I think the advice by sequitur is good. Just to add on, if your camera is not weather-sealed, wrapping some cloth around your gear may help to some extend. Like using the Moroccan scarf that can be easily purchased there.

    Quote Originally Posted by paapoopa View Post
    hi eng hoe.
    thanks for the advice. do you mind sharing your itinerary? how long were you there in morocco?

  11. #11

    Default Re: morocco

    we will be traveling on our own, dont really like guided tour.... except the sahara part, I will be planning to get a guide....

    after some more research, got a change of itinerary
    casablanca > rabat > meknes > chefchaouen > fes >
    from fes need to find a desert tour that travel through the middle atlas to sahara area and than bring me to Marrakesh
    marrakesh > essaouira > back to casablanca

    total ard 22days should be more than enough.....
    wondering any place i can slot in somewhere..

  12. #12

    Default Re: morocco

    Quote Originally Posted by paapoopa View Post
    we will be traveling on our own, dont really like guided tour.... except the sahara part, I will be planning to get a guide....

    after some more research, got a change of itinerary
    casablanca > rabat > meknes > chefchaouen > fes >
    from fes need to find a desert tour that travel through the middle atlas to sahara area and than bring me to Marrakesh
    marrakesh > essaouira > back to casablanca

    total ard 22days should be more than enough.....
    wondering any place i can slot in somewhere..
    For the benefit of all I will just post what I PMed paapoopa here, along with some other info.


    Best to take a guided tour through Morocco because transportation network doesn't seem that fine. If you're doing 22 days in Morocco, alright to travel on your own without a guide except for the Sahara desert portion. Definitely need a guide through the desert - there's completely no signs anywhere and most of the guides are locals and know their way around without a GPS.

    Me and my gf are usually solo travelers and go everywhere ourselves, but after researching and all it winds up that it's really quite impossible to not go around in Morocco by car - and usually vehicle rental alone is already very expensive, so just throw in a driver-cum-guide for a little more money, and it will all work out.


    Straight line distance between the cities look near on paper, but take quite some time to reach in real life. Roads are winding, and so-called "highways" can only be one-lane in each direction, so you may get lots of instances of being held up by slow-moving vehicles.

    Traffic Police checks are quite frequent so the driver may not be able to drive beyond the speed limit often, which can translate into a slow journey.


    If 22 days, yes, should be more than enough for you to travel on your own. I went through that loop in 11-14 days (can't remember).

  13. #13

    Default Re: morocco

    While I'm at it I might as well post some of my personal feelings here about the country as a travel destination..


    I quite like Morocco but even with just a 11-14 day trip, nearing the end I was getting quite tired and fatigued... It's a nice country, but you have to deal with a few things:

    1. Different money culture from other countries - yes everybody wants your tourist dollar, but in Morocco they seem to be very aggressive about this, especially in terms of tipping, "photography money".. kind of thing, and I don't like it.

    2. Guides under commission - I know this happens in all countries, but in this country they really bring you to lots of shops. It's quite tiring if you're the kind who don't like shopping.. but if you do, then okay la.

    3. Food is very nice... but very repetitive. After 7-8 days you'd really want to steer clear of Tajines and Kuftas because you're practically eating almost the same thing everyday... in Marrakech me and my gf had to actively seek out KFCs and McDonalds... the Angmohs there were completely baffled at why we would do so, but food taste fatigue was really getting to us. The only thing that was great was nice breakfast at Riads, especially if they serve this prata thingy with their huge spread of... different kinds of jam spreads. Moroccan mint tea is nice (and most can brew one really well), so are their coffees. Oh, just to add as well: their oranges (when I went in December) were really really nice and tasty. Very weird coz it's like half the size of what we get in Singapore, but they taste really sweet. You may want to try some.

    4. Everywhere is just red and brown... Africa, Sahara desert area... seriously it's nice at first, and because you're on the road and it's always open space away from cities, you get a fantastic sunset ALMOST EVERY DAY (which is great 'coz I love sunsets), but beyond that it's always just brown, red, sometimes green grass, etc... The soil is not suitable for crop cultivation, so really.. it does get tiring. Plan in some different "looks".. Fes, chefchaoen, essaouira... Else there's really quite a huge visual fatigue. After a while I got a little too tired to take photos... probably going to end up with 1000+ shots of something visually similar.



    Again these are personally feelings, and from someone who is more used to the more Eastern european, asian kind of culture when it comes to traveling, so your experience may be different from mine..



    And oh: I'm still gonna say, go with a guide. I recall several incidents when restaurants tried to overcharge us because we were tourists, and our guide simply took the receipt and basically went the whole "WTH is this nonsense price" thing. So in a sense we were quite protected from having to pay (sometimes almost double) more than what locals usually do.
    Last edited by sequitur; 7th July 2011 at 03:39 PM.

  14. #14
    Member skarekrow24's Avatar
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    Sequitur,

    Thanks for your comprehensive and very informative writeup on your experience in Morocco. I'm planning a 2 week unguided tour in Morocco in December too. I'm more of a street and candids person, and a major objective of the trip photography-wise would be capturing exotic-looking characters in a very different environment. The medinas of Marrakech and Fez are very well-publicized, but after some research, they seem to be overcrowded with tourists and touts. Therefore, want to ask you which areas in Morocco did u see the most interesting or exotic characters?

    Chris

  15. #15

    Default Re: morocco

    Quote Originally Posted by skarekrow24 View Post
    Sequitur,

    Thanks for your comprehensive and very informative writeup on your experience in Morocco. I'm planning a 2 week unguided tour in Morocco in December too. I'm more of a street and candids person, and a major objective of the trip photography-wise would be capturing exotic-looking characters in a very different environment. The medinas of Marrakech and Fez are very well-publicized, but after some research, they seem to be overcrowded with tourists and touts. Therefore, want to ask you which areas in Morocco did u see the most interesting or exotic characters?

    Chris

    You didn't read wrong - Marrakech and Fez are the places where you're most likely to see interesting or exotic characters... but often these interesting or exotic characters come at a price... which like I have said, is "photography money". If you're doing streets of everyday people, they're not likely to bother you, but most do not like to be photographed and will either raise their hand to block their face, raise their hand to block your camera, or in one instance that I've experienced in Moulay Idris, dash all the way out of their shop to come and argue with you (actually more like he came to argue with my guide).

    Not splashing cold water, but you may want to lower your expectations of what you want to capture for this trip... but like I said, it helps if you look intimidating!


    Marrakech and Fes may be overcrowded with tourists and touts, but that's where the action is really. Honestly I liked Fes, and I liked the bustling business of Marrakech as well... Sunset on Djemma-el-Fna is amazing, when all the stalls start setting up for business. Grab a good view by camping out at one of the cafes... you'll have to pay for an overpriced drink to enter but it's worth it.


    That said, recently there was one terrorist (?) attack on one of the cafes on the square... and that was one of the shops that I had to pass by everyday when I was there in order to get back to my riad. Quite lucky that I wasn't there when it happened.



    Oh.. if you really want some interesting street photography.. then you need to visit some of the markets that are outside of Marrakech and Fes. Those are usually in the towns while you're transiting between cities, places that tourists usually don't go. I'm not sure how possible it is to go to these areas on your own.. I managed to go because it was kind of like one of the "hometowns" of my guide. Interesting place where you can see LOTS of donkeys being put up on sale - stinks the hell out of you though.



    Just to add: when I went there last year I brought my D700. It was big, it was noticeable, it was loud, mirror slap and all.

    If you are an M-user.... I wouldn't know how noticeable you will be. I know I'm a lot less noticeable with my M, in Singapore at least, but whether or not you will be less noticeable overseas with an M is still a question mark. I only got away with the "he's shooting a old film camera" thingy, and so people didn't bother me (in Vietnam at least).
    Last edited by sequitur; 7th July 2011 at 09:16 PM.

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    Default Re: morocco

    Ah morocco..beautiful country.
    Went there in Nov 2009 for about 9days, mainly just marrakech and few days guided tour to the western sahara with an overnight camp in the berber campsite in the desert.

    I would highly recommend it!

    As mentioned above, photographing of locals, especially the performers and what nots, prepare to shoot from far and run or prepare loads of small dirhams to pay up. if u wanna take photos of shops in the souks, make sure its quick and move on before the owner notices, but i did not get any trouble from them.

    my ONLY real unpleasant experience was with a few "water carriers" u should know who i am talking bout if u have read bout marrakech, i was at least 50m away when i snapped him and turned. within a few seconds i felt hands tapping me on my shoulders and true enough 2 of them were hounding me and speaking in their arabic/berber language with hand gestures asking me to pay up. To which i acted blur and carried on walking BUT the grabbed my hand and tried to stop me. i got really nervous by then. i would have paid them a few dirhams IF i had any on me! LoL, luck would have it i did not have any small dirhams as i was on my way to the money changer to change a few hundred euros that was on me..lol
    Luckily a shopowner that i was close by (which i patronise regularly for water supply) came to my rescue and sort of shooed them away from me. hehhe

    Oh and yes bargaining is a must shopping in the souks or very much everywhere in morroco. dont be too shy to slash whatever price they quote u to 60 or 50% of that! lol from there usually see who is a better bargain hunter.

    i would also recommend staying in riads. i could recommend u the one that i stayed at. its rooftop patio overlooks directly over the Djeema-el fna. And as mentioned, the site at dusk it lovely. oh not to mentioned the host were SUPERB!

    Do look out for guided tours to the desert with house stays in the valleys and other parts of morroco. they are generally safe and all meals and transport are provided for as i find moving out of the main cities is a real hassle there. Again i can provide u with the contacts for such service which i used and find it wonderful.

    sigh...now u really make me wanna go back there

    Regards.
    EOS 400D | 5D II | BG-E3 Grip | 10-22mm | 24-105mm f4 L |Tamron 17-50mm | 50mm f1.4 :blah:

  17. #17
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    Default Re: morocco

    Quote Originally Posted by sequitur View Post
    You didn't read wrong - Marrakech and Fez are the places where you're most likely to see interesting or exotic characters... but often these interesting or exotic characters come at a price... which like I have said, is "photography money". If you're doing streets of everyday people, they're not likely to bother you, but most do not like to be photographed and will either raise their hand to block their face, raise their hand to block your camera, or in one instance that I've experienced in Moulay Idris, dash all the way out of their shop to come and argue with you (actually more like he came to argue with my guide).

    Not splashing cold water, but you may want to lower your expectations of what you want to capture for this trip... but like I said, it helps if you look intimidating!

    Marrakech and Fes may be overcrowded with tourists and touts, but that's where the action is really. Honestly I liked Fes, and I liked the bustling business of Marrakech as well... Sunset on Djemma-el-Fna is amazing, when all the stalls start setting up for business. Grab a good view by camping out at one of the cafes... you'll have to pay for an overpriced drink to enter but it's worth it.

    That said, recently there was one terrorist (?) attack on one of the cafes on the square... and that was one of the shops that I had to pass by everyday when I was there in order to get back to my riad. Quite lucky that I wasn't there when it happened.

    Oh.. if you really want some interesting street photography.. then you need to visit some of the markets that are outside of Marrakech and Fes. Those are usually in the towns while you're transiting between cities, places that tourists usually don't go. I'm not sure how possible it is to go to these areas on your own.. I managed to go because it was kind of like one of the "hometowns" of my guide. Interesting place where you can see LOTS of donkeys being put up on sale - stinks the hell out of you though.

    Just to add: when I went there last year I brought my D700. It was big, it was noticeable, it was loud, mirror slap and all.

    If you are an M-user.... I wouldn't know how noticeable you will be. I know I'm a lot less noticeable with my M, in Singapore at least, but whether or not you will be less noticeable overseas with an M is still a question mark. I only got away with the "he's shooting a old film camera" thingy, and so people didn't bother me (in Vietnam at least).
    Yes, I've toned down my expectations a fair bit after I've read up on Morocco, but still want to ensure that my itinerary maximises the opportunities i have to get the sort of photos i'm after. I'm intending to bring along my M, my D700 and probably a Ricoh GRD3 compact. Agree with you that the M seems to make me more 'invisible' in Singapore, and hope that it'll work out that way in Morocco, so that I end up with more candid shots and paying less 'modelling fees'. Will try out this setup first in my August trip to Hanoi...

    Thanks for the advice, think I'll spend most of my time in Marrakech and Fez as planned....

  18. #18
    Member skarekrow24's Avatar
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    Default Re: morocco

    Quote Originally Posted by paapoopa View Post
    we will be traveling on our own, dont really like guided tour.... except the sahara part, I will be planning to get a guide....

    after some more research, got a change of itinerary
    casablanca > rabat > meknes > chefchaouen > fes >
    from fes need to find a desert tour that travel through the middle atlas to sahara area and than bring me to Marrakesh
    marrakesh > essaouira > back to casablanca

    total ard 22days should be more than enough.....
    wondering any place i can slot in somewhere..
    So you're giving up Spain entirely, and focusing on Morroco?

  19. #19

    Default Re: morocco

    Quote Originally Posted by subwirl View Post
    Ah morocco..beautiful country.
    Went there in Nov 2009 for about 9days, mainly just marrakech and few days guided tour to the western sahara with an overnight camp in the berber campsite in the desert.

    I would highly recommend it!

    As mentioned above, photographing of locals, especially the performers and what nots, prepare to shoot from far and run or prepare loads of small dirhams to pay up. if u wanna take photos of shops in the souks, make sure its quick and move on before the owner notices, but i did not get any trouble from them.

    my ONLY real unpleasant experience was with a few "water carriers" u should know who i am talking bout if u have read bout marrakech, i was at least 50m away when i snapped him and turned. within a few seconds i felt hands tapping me on my shoulders and true enough 2 of them were hounding me and speaking in their arabic/berber language with hand gestures asking me to pay up. To which i acted blur and carried on walking BUT the grabbed my hand and tried to stop me. i got really nervous by then. i would have paid them a few dirhams IF i had any on me! LoL, luck would have it i did not have any small dirhams as i was on my way to the money changer to change a few hundred euros that was on me..lol
    Luckily a shopowner that i was close by (which i patronise regularly for water supply) came to my rescue and sort of shooed them away from me. hehhe

    Oh and yes bargaining is a must shopping in the souks or very much everywhere in morroco. dont be too shy to slash whatever price they quote u to 60 or 50% of that! lol from there usually see who is a better bargain hunter.

    i would also recommend staying in riads. i could recommend u the one that i stayed at. its rooftop patio overlooks directly over the Djeema-el fna. And as mentioned, the site at dusk it lovely. oh not to mentioned the host were SUPERB!

    Do look out for guided tours to the desert with house stays in the valleys and other parts of morroco. they are generally safe and all meals and transport are provided for as i find moving out of the main cities is a real hassle there. Again i can provide u with the contacts for such service which i used and find it wonderful.

    sigh...now u really make me wanna go back there

    Regards.

    not that i agreed on paying to get a snap of people along the streets,
    but just out of curious, how much do you give when you were ask for?

    ohh and btw, which raid did you stay in marrakech? and which tour group did you go with?
    Last edited by paapoopa; 8th July 2011 at 04:54 PM.

  20. #20

    Default Re: morocco

    Quote Originally Posted by skarekrow24 View Post
    So you're giving up Spain entirely, and focusing on Morroco?
    yapp, i think that will be better to take my time and appreciate morocco, and not rush through my trip....
    saw that you too decided to go ya?

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