One of Mint Tea Tours’ most frequently asked questions about our private tours is what you can expect from a private driver versus a tour guide in Morocco.
As you are doing research for your trip to Morocco, you might sometimes see these terms, “tour guide in Morocco” and “private driver in Morocco” used interchangeably. However, in Morocco tour guides and private drivers have distinct and separate roles, and this is strictly regulated by the Moroccan government. It is for this reason that our private drivers cannot legally guide you throughout the medinas or popular cultural sights of Morocco, because this is the responsibility of a tour guide in Morocco.
You might wonder how this is actually monitored.
In cities across Morocco, there are multiple tourist brigade offices, commonly located in close proximity to or within the medina, as well as undercover officers which roam the medina. The Moroccan tourist brigade looks out for the safety and well-being of tourists in Morocco, as well as trying to assure them positive experiences while vacationing in Morocco. The undercover officers are familiar with the official and licensed Morocco tour guides in their area, and if they suspect that someone is acting as an illegal or “faux guide” (this is French for “false or fake guide”), they will stop them and demand to see their credentials.
To validate whether a private driver in Morocco has to right to travel with tourists, there are random police checkpoints along the roadways throughout the kingdom. The police or gendarme, depending on jurisdiction, will verify that driver is in possession of the correct paperwork, before allowing the vehicle to proceed on its journey.
What does it mean to be a licensed or official tour guide in Morocco?
The Moroccan government’s Ministry of Tourism certifies and maintains a list of each and every official and licensed tour guide in Morocco. There are actually 2 types of guides in Morocco: nature guides and city/tour guides. For the purpose of this discussion, we will focus on the background of a city / tour guide in Morocco.
The first condition to be an official tour guide in Morocco is that the individual MUST be a Moroccan citizen. This means, foreigners (even foreign residents) in Morocco CANNOT act as a local tour guide, even if they own or work in a riad or hotel, or if they are renting out Airbnb apartments in Morocco.
Next, the individual must show that he or she has completed studies relevant to tourism and/or has “hands-on” experience by submitting letters of reference. Most currently, applicants also needed to pass a written exam on random topics concerning tourism. Since the Ministry of Tourism expects that a city / tour guide in Morocco is to act as a cultural ambassador, the individual is expected to be knowledgeable in many areas, such as geography, architecture, history, Moroccan culture and history, as well as socio-economic factors in Morocco – whew!
Finally, a licensed tour guide in Morocco is expected to have a good grasp of a foreign language in which he or she will lead tours in Morocco, and he or she would have to undergo a verbal test to prove his or her language abilities.
Since an official Moroccan tour guide is seen as a cultural ambassador of Morocco, it is very common that he or she will be wearing traditional Moroccan clothing while working, such as a jellaba for men or women, or a tunic decorated in Moroccan style.
Do private drivers in Morocco have any credentials?
Yes, professionally-licensed private drivers in Morocco do have to go through certain procedures to be in compliance with Moroccan tourism transport regulations.
An individual cannot just decide to be a private driver in Morocco– there is no Uber or Lyft for ride-sharing. They MUST be affiliated with a legally-registered tourism transport agency in Morocco.
Every private driver in Morocco should be registered with a “carte professionelle” (“professional card”) by the chamber of trade. They are also obligated to get their sight checked regularly, regardless if they wear eye correction or not.
Additionally, vehicles used for private transportation in Morocco cannot be older than 5 years and must be inspected every 6 months, as well as carry full-coverage insurance specific to tourism categories.
Private transportation vehicles in tourism must also carry certain things on board for the safety of its passengers, such as a fire extinguisher, a reflective vest and hazard warning safety triangle, as well as an emergency first-aid kit with specific products for which expiration dates might be checked at those random police stops.
Finally, any time a private driver in Morocco travels with tourists, a passenger list or manifest must be filled out by the private transportation company.
Do you really need a tour guide in Morocco, if you have already booked a private driver in Morocco?
We do try to set the understanding that a private driver in Morocco cannot “act” as a Morocco tour guide once in the medina or historical sites so that our clients aren’t confused as to why they may have to venture alone. But, for all intents and purposes, our Mint Tea Tours English-speaking private drivers are great “hosts” and will be with you the whole trip. This allows for continuity and familiarity during your private tour of Morocco, which can make it a more enjoyable and trip.
If your hotel or riad is located within the medinas, your driver will call ahead to your hotel or riad to assure someone is available to accompany you and assist with luggage, as needed, or help you to hire a local porter.
If you’re interested in traditional Moroccan food from restaurants located within the medina, it may be possible for your riad or the restaurant to provide a porter to accompany you.
Which places in Morocco is it better to travel with a local Morocco tour guide?
However, there are a few places where we strongly recommend booking local Morocco tour guides, which are:
- the medina of Fes
- the medina of Marrakech
- the Roman ruins at Volubilis.
Booking a private guided visit of the medina of Fes and/or the medina of Marrakech with an official tour guide in Morocco means assistance in navigating the labyrinths of these medinas, which makes it a much more comfortable and enjoyable visit than trying to explore on your own.
The medina of Fes, boasts to be the largest pedestrian-only zone in the world, and the medina of Marrakech isn’t far behind; it is near impossible to NOT get lost in the medina, if you don’t have a Morocco tour guide at your side. Hiring and having a reputable Morocco tour guide with you to explore the medina also means that you will be not bothered by a “faux guide” or persistent shop keepers.
The Roman ruins of Volubilis is another must-see cultural site in Morocco which is best explored with a private local tour guide in Morocco. There is not a lot of signage to explain the ruins or history of Volublis, and your Morocco tour guide will really this UNESCO World Heritage site come alive!
Other sites in Morocco may be easier to navigate on your own, however, the benefit of booking a local (and official!) tour guide in Morocco is to gain historical and cultural significance of the various sites, as well as being able to interact with locals.
Our business model recognizes that it is our Mint Tea Tours private drivers in Morocco who “run the show” for the majority of the trip and we fully acknowledge that it is the service of our private drivers which ultimately determines the success of the trip, no matter the communication prior to the trip or how well planned the private tour of Morocco might be.
Our team members are proud of their country and love to share their knowledge with travelers. They are out-going, friendly and professional, with great conversational skills in English, as well as other languages. All of our Mint Tea Tours private drivers are experienced and have excellent safety records. And as for booking any tour guide in Morocco, we only work with official certified Morocco tour guides.
Based on client feedback, Mint Tea Tours’ private drivers and team of local official tour guides in Morocco are the key to discovering Morocco on a deeper and meaningful level and having a truly memorable experience. They offer valuable insight into a culture which is not always readily apparent to the casual tourist.
Read also: Hiring a tour guide in Fez
Mint Tea Tours – Moroccan Hospitality at its Best! We specialize in private tours and excursions in Morocco – of course, all accompanied by a professional, English-speaking private driver! We will plan for you a customized itinerary of Morocco and let you know exactly where we recommend to hire a local tour guide in Morocco.