I really must remind myself that this tour was relatively cheap! But, as it advertised a small group guided tour, i was disappointed at the size 18 in a minibus for 18 - I was squashed next to a man i didn't know for 3 days as we were the last couple to arrive.
Our driver for 3 days was just that, a driver - not a driver/guide as advertised. He would pull into a car park by a cafe and shout 10 minutes, coffee, pictures or at the side of a road and shout 5 minutes, picture - that's really as much information as we ever got. He didn't start the day by explaining the broad outline of what we would be doing or by when he hoped to arrive. This resulted in us getting to Lunch most days at c.2pm, after having breakfast at 7.30! We at no point knew where we were or what we were seeing or why it was important!
I must admit that I am wowed that he managed to drive for 10 hours everyday, but much of that time on day 1 was whilst on the phone, and he only interacted with the Moroccan guests on the trip. These guest would demand cash point visits, tabac stops and booze stops. One even had the entire bus stop for 10 minutes whilst he tried to negotiate for dates with a vendor on the side of the road!!! Each time we stopped, we'd loose the entire bus to cigarette breaks and it would take any extra 10 minutes to get back on board and moving again.
The accommodation on night one was in a lodge - think private rooms in a hostel and you won't be disappointed, the area is probably stunning, but we arrived in the pitch black of night and left before it really got light enough to see where we were.
We then spent the majority of the next day traveling to the dessert, to arrive well after 6pm. It was not explained to us how the camel/camp experience would work. We were told we needed our camera and water. They did NOT explain that we would be in shared accommodation, that there was no facility to purchase additional water at the camp we expected that there would be some drinks offered with dinner, there was not, my girlfriend and i had 500mls of water enough to cover the camel ride we thought to cover us from 6pm until we returned back to the camel trek starting point at 8am the following morning.
We quickly decided to reduce water intake anyway once we realised there was no toilet facility. I didn't expect fancy, at least a tented area with a long drop or something - but we were told to just 'go anywhere' - this did result in some people relieving themselves directly outside of the camp.
NB: When we arrived, there were 7 camels available and 18 in our group. This meant that you could only trek in one direction. If you take this tour I highly recommend taking the morning option, watching the sunrise over the Dunes was an amazing experience.
The food was basic at all stops - Chicken Tagine and rice or cous cous and bread, breakfast coffee and bread and jam.
THE GUIDE AT BEN HADDOU - We were collected by a guide from the bus, he walked us up to the top via a back route, brought us back the same way, told us nothing that we hadn't already read on the internet then stopped us in an alley and demanded 30dm for the entry fee there is no entry fee. I'm happy to tip a guide - but i expect them to work for it, tell me something and not to demand the money in a lie! Very disappointing. We were then delivered to a very expensive restaurant where we were told we must have lunch and wait for our driver.
THE GUIDE AT TONDRA GORGE AREA - Did a cracking job, he did explain he was working for tips honest and stayed with us for 2hrs touring us around the farming area. Lots of info and in 3 languages! We were happy to tip him the recommended 10dm each.
The Final day, is just driving back to Marrakech, Which we finally managed at 8pm not the 3pm advertised - this is not physically possible we now realise due to the c.600 km and the mountains. NB, we were in the same clothes we started day 2 in, there is no option to wash after the dessert experience
Our biggest frustration was the lack of information - we'd have enjoyed it a lot more if we'd have had some idea of what we were likely to expect each day and just a little insight into where we were!
I'd say, do it, but don't have great expectations of learning anything. The Dessert dune experience is fab - but take lots of water and be prepared to squat!
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