What I Wish I Knew Before Joining a Gay Tour of Morocco

Morocco is sand-sational. But as the only Muslim-majority destination Out Adventures organizes gay travel through, it does cause some hesitation among clients.

Here’s a short list of things travellers wish they knew before visiting the beautiful North African country.

1. Discriminatory laws

We won’t skirt around it: Homosexuality is illegal in Morocco and punishable by up to 3 years in prison. That said, the discriminatory law is seldom enforced. Even more rarely in tourist hot spots like Marrakesh. While we recommend avoiding PDA (see #2), the chance of a run-in with the law is extremely unlikely.

Out Adventures works with guides, hotels and drivers that welcome our groups with open arms — so you can be sure you’ll have no problem booking one bed for you and your partner.

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2. PDA

Public Displays of Affection are frowned upon for gay AND straight people. So while you may want to share a passionate kiss under the Casablanca sunset, you’re best to keep it behind hotel doors. That said, holding hands — even between two men or two women (usually heterosexual) — is completely normal.

3. Dress Code

Leave the daisy dukes at home, Gentlemen. Even though you may experience highs of 38C/100F, you’re still expected to cover your knees and shoulders. Pack light button up shirts, polos and linen pants. Tank tops should be reserved for the hotel pool. You can find our complete packing guide here.

Ladies: the expectations are even higher. Check out this helpful guide to dressing appropriately in the Middle East.

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Dressing modestly doesn’t mean you can’t show off your colourful personality.

4. Food

From tantalizing tagines to sweet and savoury pastilla (ground meat wrapped in pastry), Morocco is home to one of the world’s most exciting cuisines. Largely in thanks to the sheer number of spices and herbs grown here. From cinnamon and turmeric to parsley and mint, Morocco has a wealth of flavours that are simmered, broiled and basted into their cuisine.

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A spice market in Marrakesh. Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons.

5. Haggle

From taxi drivers to shop owners, bartering is in the Berber blood. You’ll have a blast learning to talk shop and negotiate like a champ. Here’s a primer on learning The Art of the Moroccan Haggle.

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Learning to barter like a Berber is a Moroccan rite of passage.

6. Scams

Commonly, local guides are paid a cut of money by specific shops to recommend and bring in business. The guides will even go so far as to tell you they’ll haggle on your behalf, often to your detriment. When you’ve left, they’re given an under the table cut of the money they’ve swindled from you.

Out Adventures has taken extra precautions to prevent this behaviour. You can rest assured the local guide we’ve hired won’t take you to such establishments.

7. Photos

Morocco is Instagram-ready. And many a tourist go trigger happy with their SLRs. But be warned: it’s considered offensive to snap photos of locals without consent. Even with consent, many people will ask to be paid for the photo. Refusing to pay can result in public harassment.

8. Restrooms

Like many parts of the world, you’ll often have to pay to use a public restroom. But unlike many parts of the world, the bathroom you paid for may not be equipped with toilet paper or hand sanitizer. Best to keep these handy in your day pack.

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The Saharan landscapes at sunrise are nothing short of stunning.

9. Transportation

Morocco is a country of roads less travelled. But seeing the highlights means long, winding and often unpleasant bus rides. Pack a pillow and that hardcover you’ve been meaning to crack open to mitigate the cumbersome journeys. And remember, the stunning destinations at the end of the ride are well worth any leg cramps.

10. People

You may choose Morocco to witness the sensational souks. Or perhaps to revel in the riads and kasbahs. But we assure you, it’ll be the outgoing, warm and hospitable people you’ll come back for. As a country founded on trade and travel, Moroccans have become natural hosts: accepting, genial and astoundingly accommodating. Prepare for the royal treatment!

Out Adventures hosts annual Spring and Fall gay tours of Morocco. Click here for departure dates, price and more info.

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