Taking taxis in Marrakech

Updated 2011-04-22 05:47

Taxis are notoriously a stressful experience in a new country, particularly if you don't speak the language well, are confronted with two types of taxis or a driver reluctant to switch on his meter.

Like anywhere in the world, taxi drivers in Marrakech mainly fall into 3 different categories;

The friendly chatty type who immediately switches on the meter, weaves through the traffic effortlessly, charges the correct price and happily accepts a small tip whilst wishing you a good day,

The surly lunatic who switches on the meter but drives as if trapped in an arcade game and leaves you wishing you had walked to your desintation instead,

The crafty driver who pretends that the meter is broken or can't understand your French and tries to charge you 3 or 4 times the correct fare.

A few basic words in Arabic will go a long way to improving your taxi experience.

The first thing to know is that there are two types of taxis:

The petit taxis are used for short journeys within town and will take a maximum of 3 passengers. You can flag them down anywhere and they all have meters which should be switched on as soon as you get in the taxi. Don't be afraid to ask for the meter if it is not, or take a different taxi if he refuses. Fares start at 1.60dh during the day and 2.40dh during the evenings/nights. To give an indication, a daytime jouney from downtown Guéliz to the Koutoubia/Jemaa el Fna should be around 6-10dh, depending on traffic.

The petit taxi drivers will often pick up other passengers along the way if they are going in the same direction as you. The first passenger has priority and everyone pays their full fare - extra passengers do not mean shared fares.

Many taxi drivers tend to know destinations by nearby cafes, restaurants, hotels, or the nearest Medina bab (gate), rather than by road names. It is often worthwhile giving the name of the nearest known cafe and then directing from there. You are also more likely to picked out as a tourist if you start asking him if he knows where such-and-such a road is and worrying about precise addresses. It's often handy to have the business card of the address you are visiting, but be aware that many drivers will not be able to read French or English.

When taking a petit taxi to or from the airport, to or from downtown Marrakech, the fare is technically around 50dh, but unless you really want to spend a long time arguing or having taxis refuse to take you, you are more likely to pay around 100dh.

The grand taxis (big old mercedes) are used for longer journeys out of town and are generally shared taxis. They start from a designated taxi rank for a particular destination then set off when full, or if not full will pick people up along the way. Generally the front passenger seat is counted as two seats, but you can get it all to yourself by paying for 2 places. The back seat will take 4 passengers.

It is possible to hire a grand taxi for your sole use, but make sure you negotiate the price first. To give you an example, a taxi from Guéliz (Newtown Marrakech) to Asni or Ouirgane (a distance of around 50-60kms) will cost in the region of 200dh for sole use.

I'm sure others will have more useful tips to add, but I hope that gives a basic outline for starters...

Good luck!


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