Morocco Climbing Page
Survival Guide to Climbing in Moroccan Anti-Atlas
Welcome to the best adventure trad-climbing on the planet... After our first trip there we were hooked, and jotted down the notes below to remind us what to expect for the next time.
In the years since then Tafraoute has become like a second home to us, and we've now got some rather more up-to-date web pages online at...
Useful things to take with you...
Take sun cream, sun hat or bandana, lip salve.
Take boots for longer walk-ins, and trousers for prickly undergrowth. This is not shorts country! Sandals may be useful in town, and light approach shoes are fine for cragging.
Take plenty of chalk.
Take more sweets and food for long routes than you expect, as they can be hard to get out there.
Binoculars are useful for scoping out new lines.
A diary is good for recording your new routes. Consider a disposable camera, so you can get crag / topo photos developed and stick them in the New Routes Book. Take your own glue?
Don't forget rap tat for long route disasters... and new crags.
Take photos of potential new lines from your last trip, so you can draw stuff on them and stick them in the book.
Hiring a car in Marrakech, and getting to Tafraoute...
Expect Moroccan flights to be delayed (half an hour seems normal).
Car hire is best booked and paid for in advance. Most major companies have a shared desk in Marrakech Airport, but be aware that they close at 11pm, and may not stay open later even if you ask them to. Tourist Cars is open until midnight but payment is by cash only. Car hire will cost about £200 to £250 for a week.
It can take up to an hour to get through immigration, so don't plan on getting to the car hire desk as soon as you land.
Check the spare tire and jack before you take the car.
Take some CDs for the drive.
Look at a good street map (or Google maps) before you get there, to find the swiftest route out of town. Unnecessary driving through Marrakech is to be avoided.
The petrol tank will be empty, but there are plenty of petrol stations on all the roads out of Marrakech, so no need to panic!
Petrol will cost about 300DH for a full tank.
To Tafraoute via Agadir will take about 6 hours and a full tank of petrol. The road has lots of lorries and police check points, as well as many petrol stations.
Going through the mountains via Taroudant will take about 7 hours and 3/4 of a tank. This is quite a pleasant drive - very bendy but with much less traffic. Petrol available in Taroudant.
Hotel Amandiers reception is open from about 7am until 10:30pm. They will stay open late with a phone call (mobiles work fine until after Biougra, but may not be reliable after Taroudant on the inland route).
Check the "Livre d'Escalade" as early as possible in your trip - it is available from the Amandiers Hotel reception and contains much more info than the guidebook.
The temperature is good for climbing right through until April. It will be cold at night or if it's cloudy. Take thermal leggings and top, and a fleece to climb in for cloudy days and bivis.
Snakes are timid and usually asleep until after Easter. You are more likely to stand on one in early mornings (when they are slow to slither away) but they are not really a problem.
Scorpions hide under rocks, so take care when you sit down or pull ropes through stony ground.
Scope descents before you head on up there...
Coke is as cheap as water (and good for you!!!)
Round bread is very cheap, and provides a staple climbing food.
The larger French breakfast shop on the left as you drive out of Tafraoute is open early and seems to be cheaper than the smaller shops. It is worth checking the quality of goods you buy - yoghurts have been known to be mouldy, and bottles damaged.
The patisserie beyond Kraminssn sells crisps, sweets and Red Bull.
Local shops will not have change for 200DH notes - best to use these for petrol and dinner.
A meal for 2 in Kraminssn will be about 80DH. A meal in the Amandiers hotel will be about 130DH, but you can get nice local wine (Ksar) and beer (Flag) with your dinner there!
Amandiers VISA machine will not work. You will need cash (3600DH or £280 for a week) or ask if the carpet seller at 'Maison Touareg' can help - honestly!
Going back to Marrakech...
Fill up the car at Tafraoute and it will be nearly empty when you reach the airport.
If going via Agadir then allow 6 hours. Do not take a right turn with a hand-painted sign to Agadir, but follow the road to Biougra instead.
If going the mountain way, the first half is very boring. Just before Taroudant in the main valley, you will reach a crossroads. Go straight over, and the road eventually becomes unsurfaced - don't panic! After 200yds or so the tarmac returns, and you reach a main road in a town. turn right onto this. There is a petrol station on the left as you leave town.
Drive is nice as far as Asni, but more lorries and police onwards to Tafraoute.
Going over the pass (quite awesome) you may come across many people walking over the mountain range, who may be desperate for water. It is a nice idea to fill up your empty water bottles with hotel tap water (chlorinated) or have spare bottled water to give to people.
Driving in Marrakech is a nightmare at the best of times, and almost impossible in the evenings unless you are a local taxi driver.
Consider taking the car back to airport and then getting a taxi into town if you need to spend a night there before morning flights. Plenty of taxis available in Marrakech at 5am.
Recommended hotels are Hotel Ali (250DH for double room), Riad Omar (400DH for double), both of which are very 'local'. Another option is the Fram Hotel Chem, just near the main Mosque, and 10m walk from main square. This has easy airport access, easy car parking, and a poolside bar - a lovely place to hang out for afternoon beers.
Marrakech is definitely worth a visit. The Souq and main square are great fun, so make sure you have some Dirhams to spend!
On Saturday nights (and maybe others) you can get Bbq dinner in the main square, which looks fun.
Expect chaos at Marrakech airport. It will take 2 hours from check-in to making it as far as the departure lounge!
Once through security you CANNOT spend Dirhams (only Euros or Sterling), but you CAN get beer! Some good value duty-free as well.
16DH = £1 in 2007 (may be fixed to Euro at 10DH = 1 Euro)
Banks often have 'communication problems', for which there seems to be no cure!
Only use cash machines when the bank is open, in case it eats your card.
Sometimes the cash machines will appear to work, but then not give you any money. This is common, and you will not be charged.
Barclaycard seems to work where other cards fail. Take all the cards you can, and don't forget to have you PIN for each card in case you need it to get cash.
Carry a photocopy of your passport, and car hire booking, as well as phone numbers for your car hire company, hotel, and airline.
Take about £500 sterling in cash. VISA cards may not work, and you will need to get Dirhams on arrival at the airport. This will also be useful for hotel or car hire payments.
"Salamalakum" = "Hello", "Shokran" = "Thankyou", "Marsalama" = "Bye"
Avoid bargaining with people who are not shopkeepers. You may offend them! When bargaining with shop keepers, just decide how much you feel something is worth, and only agree to prices up to that value.
It's a Muslim country, so you should wear long trousers or skirts, and have shoulders covered when in public places. No public display of affection.
People on the roadside will point in the direction if they want to hitch a lift. This is very popular and seems perfectly safe in Morocco.
Some public toilets may not have paper or soap.
Water is generally OK for teeth-brushing. Amandiers water is chlorinated and OK for drinking, but bottled water is easy to obtain.
Some children (and adults) may ask for presents from Westerners. Giving of gifts is not to be encouraged, as they will come to expect it. Most of the residents in the remote climbing areas are not as poor as they appear, and usually have sweets, electricity, phones, satellite TV... plus the odd cow, sheep, and goat at home.