Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a visa to enter Morocco
Citzens of the following countries can arrive at Morocco without needing a visa (for up to 90 days):
Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Republic of Congo, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Guinea (Conakry), Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Oman, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore (Singaporean nationals may stay up to one month without visa), Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United States of America and Venezuela.
How will the group be organized?
Our group will consist of about 130 people including our staff and guides. This is a very big number and we will expect good self-organisation of all participants. Buses and all events will start exactly at indicated hours, we will not wait for people who are late!
Also during getting on and off the buses we ask you to do that as quickly as you can. Such a big group will need to be devided in smaller groups during some of trips' days - especially when we will visit small workings and querries. Each sub-group will follow the same programme but in a different order. It will be forbidden to change groups during the trips - there will be no extra places in buses. We will make sure in advance planning that those of you travelling together stay in the same groups.
During registration you will receive organizers' mobile numbers which you can use any time when you have any problems. But please, respect also our time and try to call only if necessery.
In Midelt we will have reception in the hotel where our staff will try to help you solve all problems.
What weather should we expect? What clothes to bring?
During our stay in the beginning of November we can expect quite varied weather. What is more during trips we will move through different climate zones (from mediteranian, through high mountains to desert) and altitiudes. For this reasons participants have to be prepared for almost all kinds of weather.
During these 2 weeks temperature should stay between 10-20C during day and 0-15 at night. However it may reach even 0C or 30C during the day. Most probably majority of the days will be sunny or cloudy but also rainfalls and even light snow falls are possible in the mountains.
Shoes are VERY important during field trips - we will not walk big distances but sometimes on rocks, underground, sand etc. We reccommend you to take 'hiking' shoes and some more comfortable 'sneakers' type shoes.
In the desert we may expect a lot of sun, but not as strong as in summer. Participants with bright fragile skin, or computer programmers, should have sun protection cream.
For those of us who will go only for the "Midelt part" - most probably there will be no very warm days, and temperature will average around 10-20 degrees during the day.
What money should we bring? Can we use credit cards?
In Morocco official currency is Moroccan Dirham (MAD) which value is usually around 11dh per euro (check current info here). However the euro is also very common and in many places you can pay in this currecny. Usually when you pay in euro the exchange rate is not very good so it is better to have at least part of your money in dirhams.
For minerals you can pay in either currency.
Exchange of money in Morocco is possible in Exchange points (in big towns, airports etc) and most commonly in banks - exchange rate is similar in all this places beside of airports (it is lower there). Banks are located in all bigger towns so exchange durring the trip is not a problem. You can find ATMs in almost all banks, in all bigger towns. It is important to notice that ATMs have limits - 2,000, 3,000 or 4,000 DH per one operation (depends on company). There are also daily limits in each bank which vary but usually are around 10,000dh.
Can we buy minerals there?
During our trip there will be many possibilities of buying specimens during special mini-mineral shows or from miners. You will find detailed information about each place with such possibilities in the final programme. In each locality we aske local miners and dealers to be prepared for our trip so they should have a lot of specimens for you.For those who go only to Midelt there will be our main show in Mibladen with the most important dealers from the area. Also during 3 days of post-conference field trips there will be an option of buying some specimens from miners. All together there will be possibility of buying minerals, fossils and meteorites. In all places where we will organize mini-shows etc we will try to care about quality of specimens (no fakes etc), but we can not guarantee that - you have to be careful. Buying at non-reccomended shops/dealers you have to be especially careful - Morocco is a country of fakes! Prices of specimens can surprise you - the very best quality is often more expensive than at western shows. Medium and low quality specimens are usually much cheaper and easily accessible. But of course the prices from the majority of dealers in Morocco are not fixed, you have to negotiate. The percentege which you can negotiate may vary from 10 to 80%. But please remember - if the price is already low do not try to bargain too much - local people have to earn some money and feed their families.
Do we need to bring collecting tools?
We advise you to bring basic tools, such as hammers, chisels, and safety equipment (gloves, eye protection, etc) with you as you may not easily get an opportunity to purchase these items in Morocco. We advise bringing old or cheap tools and then leaving them in Morocco to give yourself more weight allowance for bringing minerals home!
How can we get specimens home?
There are three options. First, you may find that booking additional checked luggage in advance can be relatively inexpensive compared to other rapid shipping options, and you get to take everything home with you.
Secondly, you may be able to ship things through local post offices, but we cannot guarantee reliability of this. The hotels MAY be able to help with this, but we cannot guarantee this, and they probably won't want to help 100 people ship boxes at the same time.
Finally, we can help you to transport all acquired specimens back to Europe or the US - if you're prepared to wait.
At the end of the trip you will prepare boxes which we can transport for you to Tucson, Munich or the Colmar shows. Giving boxes you will receive recipt which you will be able to use later to pick up your boxes.
Price per 1 kg will be 2.5euros and will be paid when you pick up boxes at destination.
We can not guarantee you that all specimens will come in perfect shape but we will do our best. Boxes will be sent with our friends and trusted Moroccan dealers who go to the shows with their own material.
What is your cancellation/refund policy?
Deposit (100euros) is required during booking. Final payments by April 30th 2012. Bookings cancelled before April 30th 2012 are entitled to full refund if your place can be retaken by another attendee. Bookings cancelled after April 30th 2012 are not entitled to any refund. Exceptions may be made in certain cases if we are able to rebook your place for someone else, but please make sure you have adequate travel insurance to cover your costs if you are unable to travel due to illness, etc. In the unlikely case of significant problems causing the event to be cancelled or postponed, we will refund your full payment for conference fees. We are unable to refund or cover any additional costs, such as flight costs in this case so you are advised to have comprehensive travel insurance. .
How should men (and women) behave in Morocco? Anything to be aware of?
Morocco is an Islamic country, but a very moderate one. Usually Islamoc rules are respected by local people but they do not expect that tourists will follow them. Although knowing some basic rules is good and it's always good to show your respect for the local culture.
It is worth noting that the vast majority of Moroccan society are Berbers who are less strict about musilm rules. They live mostly in southern morocco and in High atlas. The area of Midelt is inhabited by arabs which are more strict especially in the question of the role of women in sociaty and drinking of alcohol.
Drinking alcohol is not forbiden but doing that in public places (in the middle of village etc) is not good.
Respect for mosques and graveyeards, not taking photos of the latter is very important. Some mosques are possible to visit but usually they are closed for non-muslim people.
If you enter to the mosque remember to take of shose and wash your feet.
Women do not find too many problems in Morcco. It is well known that if you go into a private home your hair, knees and elbows should be covered. In public places very short tops showing belley or short skirts are unwelcome as well as sunbathing topless, but beside of that there is no problem. Many foreign women are accosted by men if they walk alone. Although it can be unpleasant (from mariage propositions to sex offfers) there is no real danger. When we are in a group there is unlikely to be any issues.
Women do not have to be scared - in general Morocco is very safe country and people respect tourists.
A very important rule which you mustrespect is taking off your shoes when you enetr to a private house, this is absolutely essential. When greeting Moroccans it is common to shake hands and then place your hand over your heart - this is a symbol of respect, to show that your meeting is important to you - that you're taking their greeting quite literally to heart.
What sort of accommodation will we stay in?
We tried to select for you the best possible hotels in each area (where prices are resonable). In the majority of pre-conference days we will share one big hotel, but in some places we will be divided in groups in smaller hotels. Unfortunatelly we can not guarantee that in such situation quality of all hotels will be equal (simply because of the lack of hotel space) but we will do our best.
In some hotels part of our group will need to sleep in traditional berbers' tents which will be organized inside like hotel rooms. People who would like to use that option to truly enjoy our Moroccan adventure are asked to send us an email. We will do our very best not to put people into these tents who really do not want to sleep outdoors!
Many of the hotels are too small for our group so we have to use space as much as it is possible. For thease reason "single rooms" will not be possible. In situation when you travel alone you have to share twin or triple rooms. Of course we are open for all sugestions with who you would like to share room, and we hope to have plans for sharing arrangements agreed in advance so there are no surprises.
We tried to select safe hotels but we can not guarantee safety of things which you will leave in the hotel room, for this reason it is better to take with you money and documents if you leave hotel for the day.
The full list of the hotels where we stay will be published on our web page before the event.
The hotel in Midelt where we will stay during Conference and post-conference trips is a big, luxurious hotel - Taddart hotel - with swimming pool etc. Hotel has about 80 rooms in simillar standard. Traditional Moroccan bath (hammam) can also be used there (extra fee).
How will our luggage be handled during field trips?
During the majority of the trip days we will use 14 person mini-buses as transport. VERY IMPORTANT - because there is no place in these buses to put luggage of all participiants, we will have a special bus only for luggage. This bus will go directly from hotel to hotel and it will not follow us. Taking things from your suitcases during the day will be impossible. Because of that you have to prepare in your "hand bag" everything that you need during the trip - camera, hammer, packing materials, passport, medicines, money etc.
In one of the days we will use 4x4 cars to travel around Erg Chebbi dunes.
During Conference days beside of trip to some parties transportation will be not needed. Because hotel is located a few km from the center of Midelt there will be service of trusted taxi provided if you want to leave the conference to explore the town. Using these taxis will be an additional (low) cost.
What food, and drink, is provided?
The event fee includes food 3 times per day and basic drinks. During the majority of days we will have buffet breakfest in hotels where we stay, packed lunch given for the trips (sandwich and drink). Each dinner will be an open buffet type and usually connected with some live music etc. The range of food will be wide and contain all kinds of diets, and different kinds of dishes for your choice. The majority of the food will be traditional morocan (couscouse, tajine) but also international dishes will be served.
Basic drinks will be included in each meal. At the evening we will also serve some alcohol (Vodka and beer). It is still unsure how much of this will be included in the price, but sadly it will not be as easy to have free-flowing alcohol as it was in Poland. Prices of alcohol in Morocco are relatively high and it is not very easy to get it in many places. Although if you would be interested in buying alcohol it will be possible in Marrakech, Ouarzazate and Midelt. Of course you can take limited amount of alcohol with you into the country.
What safety guidelines should we follow when colleting?
During field trips we will visit a number of mines (working and abandoned), quarries and small workings. Because of safety reasons it is very important to always follow guides' instructions and take care about our other participiants. Some underground trips may be difficult for people who suffer from claustrophobia, so please inform us in advance if you would prefer not to do these underground activities.
Some workings will be shown to us only because of the politness of diggers who will try to open some cavities for us, so you will be asked not to collect anything during these visits. In other places collecting will be no problem.
What health precautions should we take?
Firstly, all travellers should carry comprehensive travel insurance including coverage for repatriation in case of medical emergencies. This cover is not expensive, but should be regarded as essential. Some credit card companies or banks may provide you with cover if you buy the air tickets using their cards - so check if this applies to you.
There are no obligatory vaccinations in Morocco. However it is always good to be vaccinated for HAV and HBV etc as in every country when travelling.
The most common problem for tourist comming to this coutry are stomach problems. Each participant should have medicines for diarrhea such as loperamide etc.
If you suffer from any problems during the trip please keep us informed and we will do our best to assist.
How much collecting will there be?
Because of the reach of our programme durring which we will try to visit as many localities as possible we will not stay long in any of the localities. There will be the possibility of collecting in many places but usually we will stay no more than 1-2h in one spot. As mentioned previously in some mines where miners will open for us some cavities collecting will be forbidden. Please respect local people and their politeness and follow that rule - remember these minerals are the livelihoods of the people involved. You will always have the opportunity to purchase samples from the miners.
What toilets will be available?
Toilets in Morocco, outside of good hotels, are in general of low quaily, often dirty. The vast majority of non-hotel toilets are "turkish type" (ie - squat toilets). During our trips we will have some stops for toilets. Unfortunately in many places during the whole day only "natural toilets" will be available.
It is worth to note that in big parts of Morocco there is not much vegetation (especially at the desert) - this makes finding some discreet places difficult or sometime impossible. It pays to take advantage of hotel facilities while you can.
What happens during conference days?
The conference will take place in the same hotel where we will stay in Midelt - Taddart Hotel. Beside of the talks in the programme of 3 Conference days we will visit a special mindat.org mineral show, mineral museum, and go to 2 parties outside of Taddart Hotel. Beside of that all activities will take place in the hotel.
How do we get to/from conference?
The fee price do not include transport to our meeting points in Marrakesh or Midelt (depending if you make pre-confernce field trips), but we will try to help you providing the transportation. The best place to fly if you participate in trips is Marrakech airport, if you go directly to Conference -it is Fez. Another airport from which we can provide transport on request Casablanca.
Price of transportation will be given later but they will approximate around 100e for Midelt-Fez by taxi (2-3 people can go at once), 200e for Midelt-Casablanca or Midelt-Marrakech by taxi (prices per car, not per person). If you fly to Marrakesh transport from airport to the hotel will be much cheaper. We can arrange for you to be met at the airport in all cases.
Remember that flight to Morocco and transport to and from trips/conference to the airport is not included in the fee.