Jenny walkers account on Motorhoming in Morocco

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    this is one to watch


    Ken and Jen’s Amazing Adventure on the roads of
    Morocco – North Africa

    Photo of Colin

    We needed an adventure instead of just being on a campsite for a long time, soaking up the sun, chilling and being with friends and folks we knew. Don’t get me wrong, we love doing this but needed a bit of a challenge. We have only had Colin (the motorhome), just over 4 years and as we are retired have used him regulary for trips for a day or two, trips for just a day out, trips to Europe and when the weather is good we just trot off with Miss Maisie our Goldendoodle dog.

    Our feet get very itchy and we thought that going to Croatia through so many countries and with two of Ken’s sisters and Maisie in tow, was an adventure, it was, but we needed more.
    ‘Where shall we go?’ he said,
    ‘How about somewhere completely different?, I said,
    ‘Where?’, he said,
    ‘MOROCCO!’, I said,
    I had always wanted to go to Morocco pre-motorhome but hubby wasn’t keen, I even had to go to India by myself as he wasn’t thrilled about the idea of going to a country that lives below the poverty line, the idea of going to Morocco was always put on the back burner until now. So for him to say ‘Yes, why not?’…I was exstatic.
    Iwent onto Amazon and ordered 4 books on Morocco, did I need all of them? No! I just wanted to read up everything I could as we were going into the unknown.
    There are loads of articles, books, websites and forums written about motorhoming in the whole of Europe but not Morocco. A lot of the forums written are outdated and the information you need is not there.
    The best, informative and written on experience is, ‘Motorhome Morocco’ by Julie and Jason Buckley and is an on tour guide so the information is up to date, cost was £11.65. It was to become our Bible and had every piece of information you would need about travelling in your motorhome to Morocco with a dog as well. This was to be very valuable information as we were going to take Miss Maisie with us. There are useful websites in the back of the book and pictures of the forms you need to fill in to cross over to Morocco and back. The pictures are all in black and white but it doestn’t matter.

    The other book we couldn’t have managed without is, ‘Camping Morocco – Inspected Cmpsites and Surf Spots. This is a unique guide from vicarious which was last printed in 2009 but nothing has changed much on the campsites, so what you see in this book, is what you get, also, it has a lot of useful information in the book about Morocco this cost £12.99. We also purchased the Michelin Morocco map which has the roads that are suitable for vehicles, tourist points of interest and is by Michelin Maps and Guides. There is no road map books like the ones for the roads in UK, Europe, etc just a map. We purchased two as we knew that to keep folding it could result in a tear where we needed it most and was only £5.99 each.
    Our next dilemma was Miss Maisie, what did we need to get her to Morocco? This was paperwork, injections, what was required from her passport? There is hardly any information out there about taking your pet dog(s). We asked our vet who had no idea what was required and he looked on line for us but could only suggest phoning Department of the Environment, Fisheries and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) for the information we needed. We phoned DEFRA and they emailed me all the information but they did not understand what we wanted and sent us the forms for exporting a dog to Morocco (did they not think that people actually go there by road?), NO! This is not what we wanted to know. If we couldn’t take Maisie with us then we wouldn’t go.
    Eventually after doing a lot of research, we talked to a member on the RV & and with his dog. Hoorah! Somebody who could help. Also a member of this group had a boss who goes to Morocco every year with her dog in their motorhome and we went to see her to photocopy the form required from the vet.

    Your dog or cat
    . Your pet must be microchipped
    . Has to be vaccinated against rabies, up to date and has to be valid for the duration of your time in Morocco
    . A passport
    . A blood test to say that the rabies vaccination has worked as your travelling from an ‘unlisted country’ –Morocco to Spain. You do not have this blood test in Morocco but by your vet who will send the blood sample to the Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA), and when returned, you will need to carry this form with you for the return from Morocco to Spain. The form shows the titre test and should be 0.5u/ml or above which indicates the dog/cat has an acceptable rabies antibody level. Some people say that the border control have never looked at this but when we came back to Spain we were asked for the passport and the rabies titre test form.
    . You will need to fit a Scalibor collar to your dog/cat to provide protection from ticks, fleas and leishmaniosis and this should last up to 6 months. Ensure your collar covers the leishmaniosis as it is endemic in the Mediterranean areas and morocco.
    Some dogs can be allergic to this collar and scratch their necks like mad but the alternative is a regular treatment of Advantix spot treatment, it depends on how your dog reacts to one or the other.
    We have Miss Maisie insured with Tesco but we found that they do not cover Morocco as quite a few don’t, so best to look around, we didn’t bother in the end but if you find a company that does, then please let us know.
    We needed a supply of Miss Maisies pet food as she has wet/grain free as she has an immune allergy. We worked out how many trays we needed and also a supply of her medication to last the whole trip.

    Taking your Motorhome/RV to Morocco
    Our next challenge was to make sure that we had ALL the paperwork required to temporary import our motorhome (Colin) into Morocco.
    You will need to have your EU driving licence card, the paper licence is no good.
    To import your motorhome/RV temporarily into Morocco, you will need the original copy of the MH/RV’s original V5C registered certificate. The vehicle must be registered in the name and at the address of one of the MH/RV occupants. We didn’t know this when we went to get our ferry tickets and also we were questioned about the name on the V5C document which was different from our passports, we could have come unstuck here but all was well…phew!
    You will need to speak to your insurance company about covering your vehicle in Morocco. Make sure your insurance company can issue you with a Green Card for the duration of your stay in Morocco as this prolongs your cover. We had to pay an extra £134 for 4 weeks for our Green card as our insurance company did not issue them but put us through a broker, we learned our lesson and they won’t get us the next time. We talked to other English motorhomers in Morocco who had been issued a green Card and insurance with ‘Safeguard’ at no extra cost and they were suprised we had to pay extra, be prepared to change your policy insurance if needed. You may have to provide exact dates for your length of stay in Morocco for your green card so, it pays to shop around.
    We ensured that ‘Colin’ was serviced, had all the tyres checked, that we had plenty of gas and large bottles of water to drink. If you purchase ‘Motorhome Morocco’, there is information on LPG and alternative way of dealing with your gas.

    Health and insurance
    You will need to take out an appropriate health insurance as your EU EHIC card is NOT valid in Morocco. Again there is a lot of information in the ‘Motorhome Morocco’ book.
    I have an ileostomy and twice while we were away in Morocco my small bowel obstructed. This has only happened a few times since my op 6 years ago and I just waved my hand at my husband and said that nothing will happen to me. He in his wisdom took out a health insurance and in hind site, lucky he did. Little did I know this was going to happen to me twice while we were in Morocco, normally I would end up in hospital when this has happened. My predicament at the time was, 1. How do I get to hospital? 2. Who is going to look after the dog? 3. How was hubby going to visit? 4. What if I needed an op? etc. Always have a plan B if you have any medical problems at all. I always thought that a medical insurance was a waste of time when I arrived back in England from anywhere and I had no problems and it seemed that paying money for insurance was a waste of cash but this had taught me a lesson.

    GPS and Phones
    Our SatNav did not work in Morocco, but you can get on your mobile phone which you download in Spain when you have WiFi connection and this application works out routes for you. The other information it will give you is where there are supermarkets and campsites. We didn’t bother but I think you can get a SIM card for you phone in Morocco.

    Tickets and Ferries to Morocco
    There are plenty of ticket offices and toutes on the way to the ferry ports.
    We had been recommended to get our ticket from Angency Viajes Normandie. A lot of people told us to get our tickets from Carlos…who is this Carlos and where would we find him? We eventually found out that Carlos was the name of the founder of Agency Viajes Normandie. It is a small agency next to Carrefour and opposite Lidl at Palmones (exit 112 from the E-15/AZ). We stayed in the Lidl carpark overnight waiting for the agency to open which is from 9am – 10pm (to date). Ensure you have cash for your ticket and it is in Euros as the agency will not take cards. Our ticket cost 200E return and we sailed from Algeciras to Ceuta as we could take our dog on deck on the ferry. You would need to look in the ‘Motorhome Morocco’ book or online for other ferry companies as there are quite a few but when you buy your ticket ensure it is an open return ticket and then you can return early if you want without paying any extras. Check all the details on your ticket carefully. A lot of motorhomers choose to get a ferry from Algeciras to either Ceuta or Tangier. Both of these rroots have a for and against them. Going to Ceuta the crossing takes 45 minutes and is much cheaper than the ferry to Tangier which takes 3 hours. The advantage of taking the ferry to Tangier is that all the immigration and control paperwork for the border is done aboard the ferry during the trip which is quicker to get through the border in Morocco but the disadvantage is that when you disembark it is directly into the hustle and bustle of a large Moroccan city. The disadvantage of going to Ceuta is that the paperwork is done on the border and there can be a bit more hastle at the border crossing into Morocco…it took us 3 hours to get through the border but we did have a helper which did everything for us and we just gave him a tip at the end. We didn’t mind the wait as there was so much going on and it was fascinating to watch people Moroccans walking through the border from Ceuta as this is still Spain and it is cheaper there than Morocco.
    Please be aware of the rogues that pretend they are emplyed by the port and try to get you to pay a ‘port entry fee’, this is a scam. Drivers are asked for for their papers and then a port entry fee is demanded. This is a con as once you have purchased your ferry tickets there is nothing else to pay. The tickets you bought at Agency Viajes Normandie will include all the forms you need to get in and out of the borders or done on the ferry.
    When crossing the borders in and out of the country you may be approached by unofficial ‘helpers’ who after they have assisted you with your paperwork, will ask for payment. You do not have to pay them but we had a chap who did our paperwork for us and he had a id card around his neck and was so helpful that we gave him a fiver equivelant in Euros. It is not necessary to to pay anyone to do this but as a first timer everything is a bit daunting and we didnt mind getting this chap to help us. If you dont want to pay these chaps who will insist you pay for their services and you need help then just ask one of the uniformed officials. The Agency Viages Normandie will include all the forms you need to get in and out of the borders. Ensure that you have handy your passport, Green Card, your driving licence card, V5C and it is in your name or one of your passengers, and your filled in temporary immigration form.
    You can stock up on your food in either Lidl, Carrefour or if you have time, drive to Gibralter for duty free before you leave.
    You just need to know that whatever ferry you are taking that one does all the paperwork aboard the ferry and the other is done on land through the border.

    Start of our adventure
    We had 4 weeks in La Manga in Spain bedore we departed on our adventure and now we were saying cheerio to our friends we knew and friends we had made.
    We put our Smart car and trailer in the campsite storage as we were going to have another 4 weeks on our return from Morocco.
    Leaving lettuce lane (our pitch was opposite the lettuce fields), the orange and lemon trees, olive groves and the almond tree blossom we left the campsite and now our adventure was going to begin. All the planning, sorting, organising etc was now going to be in place.
    We were on our way to catch the ferry at Algeciras but we had to buy our ticket first.
    Our drive through this part of Spain had some lovely scenery but it was also very barren and infertile, the journey was helped along by George Michael and Elbow…bliss!
    Getting nearer the North of Spain there were miles and miles of plastic covering the land which were like greenhouse structures, it looked terrible, no land in sight just polythene plastic. The plastic was glistening in the sun and only greenhouse structures, there was no scenery, just miles and miles of plastic polytunnels. This was in Almeria and beyond. These greenhouses cover

    165 square miles of land. We found out that these greenhouses are almost all hydrophonic and they house growing vegetables in water, chemical and air. It is so hot in the polytunnels that the working conditions are very difficult, so most of the human labour is imported, many of the workers are from Africa. In 2000’s most of the workers from Africa had no legal papers and were shipped in by the hundreds to work in the hot unbearab le greenhouses. In 2011, 100,000 workers toiled away in these greenhouses and were living in slums and labouring in the chemicals. They lived in shacks made from the plastic sheeting and boxes, with no drinking water or sanitation.
    Four hours Ken said it would take us to the port…hmmm! I don’t think so. It was getting dark now and so we pulled into a campsite for the night. While we were booking in I noticed that on the wall it said 2** campsite but couldn’t see very much as by now it was very dark, we were only putting our heads down for the night so what could possibly be wrong with 2** camping?
    In the morning the sun was shinning and today we would be in Morocco. Looking out of the shower window while having a wash I could now see the campsite. Well, I screamed with laughter. This place was the worst place I have ever seen and looked like a slum, people were actually staying here long term.
    Photos of campsite
    Washed, dressed and ready to go. We departed this hell hole and made our way to Algeciras. We had to go up and down the main road looking for Lidl where we were going to purchase our tickets for the ferry from Carlos’s office (Agency Viajes Normandie).
    Parking up in the Lidl carpark we shopped for our supplies to take with us but we were no too sure where the agents office was, so we asked a Dutch motorhomer if he knew where Carlos office was, he pointed across the road to a small office next to Carrefour. If we hadn’t been shown by this chap, we would still be looking for the sign which said ‘Carlos’ . The agents do everything for you and we even changed Euros for Diram in the agency. They will only take cash and no cards, you can go into Carrefour and get cash out of the teller machine if needed. The agent asked us what ferry time did we want and we said as soon as possible. She gave us the 14:30 ferry and it was now 10:00.
    Remember, don’t have the original owner on the log book which is put on the entry permit as you are temporarily importing your RV/MH to Morroco. Ken had given the agent a photocopy of the log book with the original owner without thinking of taking a photocopy with his name on it and unfortunately this was put on the paperwork which did not match Ken’s name on his passport. We did not look at the paperwork before we left…learn by our mistake, if you do a photocopy make sure your name is on it. On leaving the office we were given a bottle of wine and a marmalade cake as a gift for using their agency.
    On driving to the port there were a lot of agencies you could buy your ticket from but we went by recommendation. On entering the port there are a lot of men trying to sell you tickets on the side of the road. We had decided to take the shortest route ferry of 45minutes and we could also take Maisie on deck with us, this route was from Algeciras to Ceuta which is still part of Spain. Our paperwork would all be done on the border when we got to Ceuta but going to Tangier Med you will need to take all your immigration forms and passports on deck with you as all the paperwork is done on the ferry while you are sailing and once you have arrived you can then go straight out of the port, because we were doing our immigration forms and passports in Ceuta, it took us 3 hours to get out of the port but it was a fascinating 3 hours people watching.
    The ferry we got on was very quiet. HGV’s were backed onto the ferry and we drove in as did the cars, we were the only motorhome on board and the ferry was not full. It was a lovely hot day and going upstairs on deck with Maisie (her first time on a ferry) was grand. We said goodbye to Spain and Gibralter (what is that rock all about?) and now the real adventure began.
    Before you leave Spain or the UK make sure your satnav is calibrated for Morocco or you have it on your phone. We never gave it a thought and assumed that it would callibrate itself for Morocco…wrong! Luckily, Ken was a very competent HGV driver who always used his maps and still does so we didn’t have to worry too much about getting from A to B.
    We arrived at Ceuta and wondered where the border was, we drove for about a mile or two before hitting the Spanish/Morrocan border. There was such a long queue but if you are in to it, then watching all the hub bub, arguing, people walking from Ceuta into Morocco with their shopping etc was worth it and the time went quite quickly, why be in a hurry?
    Getting nearer the border queue, a ‘helper’ with an official name and ID badge came to us and asked if we needed help to which we said ‘yes’ and took up his offer even though we knew we would have to tip him at the end (we gave him 10E), as it would be worth it.
    You will need a copy of your logbook and your V5 for importing your motorhome, passports, white immigration forms the three staples together for stamping. There are three customs offices for various stamps and you will also get a stamp in your passport which is the number you will always have for life. The helper did all this for us and even though it didnt get us through the border any quicker it saved us a lot of hasle and pushing in. Our last port of call was a police inspection, the custom policeman asked us to open our door so that he could come into our motorhome, which we did, he then asked us if we were carrying any guns (as if, and if we were…would we have told him?), we told him no with a smile and he left and we were now on our adventure.
    This whole process took us 3 hours but we were not board as there was so much going on and time just passed quickly but if you didnt want to be held up it would then be advisable for you to board the ferry and head to Tangier or Tangier Med. When you leave your motorhome make sure you have your passport and white immigration forms with you as these will be sorted on the ferry instead of the border.
    We drove to Martil and looked for our first campsite there called Camping Alboustine, it was very difficult to find and we went up and down along the seafront quite a few times but we were so suprised how clean, fertile, well kept this long main road was with NO rubbish or graffiti anywhere, it was almost a disappointment as this was not what we were expecting from a town in the North of Africa.

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