I just got back from Morocco and needless to say, it was amazingggg. I love traveling to places that aren’t notably ‘wheelchair friendly’. I also enjoy places that are a just different than what I’m used to in the US or Germany. The Moroccan people are extremely kind and generous with their help. People are always willing to help push me or lift me up steps or even onto camels (more on that later). I have noticed this in Asian countries as well. Unlike India, no one asked me what was ‘wrong’ with me. I’m not sure if the country values more privacy or are just more familiar with disability. It’s kind of fun traveling in a country that truly believes anyone can do anything. They aren’t hesitant to tell me I couldn’t go somewhere because of stairs or that I couldn’t do something because of a liability. It’s a bit liberating and also nice to not have people be so nervous about helping me or being around me.
I assumed Morocco wouldn’t be super accessible, but I was pleasantly surprised. In this post I’ll mention a few tips and places I went in Marrakech. Please note that I travel in a manual wheelchair, so one or two steps is rarely a problem.
In general, I found Marrakech to be fairly wheelchair accessible when in the medina walking about. The streets are very flat and most of cobble stone is fairly smooth. Additionally, the streets are actually pretty clean from trash. The medina doesn’t really have sidewalks, so you don’t have to worry much about curb cuts. The only thing you may need to worry about is a zooming scooter. additionally, we felt really safe when walking around in the medina. Although at times, we were literally lost down dead ends at night, there was never a feeling of danger.
Walking up and down the medina streets is a perfect way to see the city… and get lost. But, isn’t it exciting to get lost sometimes. Tons of shops, cafes and sites line the tiny streets. A great way to see the city as a wheelchair user.
Where to stay – Riad Soumia!
There is a room on the ground floor that can be reached by a few small steps. Very manageable for a manual wheelchair. No real accessible bathroom.
A riad is like an old house with a garden and courtyard in the middle. The medina is full of them. Each holds 5-6 guest rooms and is really the best authentic option in Marrakech. I searched for hours to find one that didn’t have tons of stairs and found Riad Soumia. I settled on one with a few tiny steps. They actually market themselves as accessible on their website. So, make sure to call or email to double check to they have the best facilities for you. I’m not sure if there is a complete ADA accessible riad, so if that is needed a hotel may be best.
This riad had a wonderful host who made sure we were comfortable and always helped us book taxis and events as needed. He also cooked a wonderful breakfast!
Le Jardin Secret
Manual and power wheelchair accessible, huge accessible toilette
As per my usual travel planning, I had no plans on where to go when I arrived in Marrakech. I assumed I’d just stumble across the good things once I had a map. Le Jardin Secret is located in the Medina…it’s actually not very secret and it marked by a huge sign. But, it’s a nice blissful treat. We strolled up to the front door to find 5 steps. Now, this is a bit annoying even for manual chair users. On my surprise, we were told there was a side entrance. This entrance had zero steps! Unfortunately that day they were repairing some bricks on the sidewalk alley so I couldn’t roll over. No worries though, three men quickly picked up my chair over the dirt piles and tadaaa we were inside.
Once inside you can roll around in the huge garden on a tiled walkway. There are a few small steps into exhibit rooms, but all the main sites are accessible. Then to top it all off, they had a fully accessible toilette. wooo!
Manual and power wheelchair accessible, accessible toilette (skinny door – my chair is about 22 in. (55 cm) wide and it barely grazed through. But, the room is spacious).
I about had a heart attack when I saw this amazing blue meca full of cacti and trees. Like, I wish it was my house. It took French painter Jacques Majorelle nearly 40 years to create it. Upon arrival to the garden, we discovered a huge line. Soooo I may take advantage of the system a bit sometimes. If there’s anything that having a disability has taught me about myself, is that I loathe waiting in lines. Except maybe for some food truck grub…I’ll wait in any line! I often get to skip lines…which seems a bit odd as I’m already sitting so it’s really no work out for me. So, yes we asked the front guard if we should wait or if there was a special entrance. The guard was so kind to go get us two tickets and not even charge us. A lucky day and I only felt a little bad.
The botanical garden is a maze of bright blue paved paths. Beautiful trees and ponds line the walkways. It’s very relaxing…other than the other gobs of people around you. Additionally, the museum has a nice, accessible, museum on the Berber people – basically the ancestors of the region. We also had a nice coffee and crepe in the cafe after. I was in love.
Not wheelchair accessible, but some kind people will lift you up onto the camel
I often struggle with the idea of doing super touristy things, like riding a camel when we weren’t even in the real desert. But then I think …how cool is it I can ride a camel – Some nice people are going to help me and I get to do something I’m normally not able to do. Getting these humps onto that hump was pretty entertaining. I was lifted onto the camel while it was sitting down. Immediately after I sat down, the camel stood up – back legs first. So, you can imagine some sort of whiplash type of experience. Camels are really high too! I also forgot that one needs pretty good balance… my abs got a good workout. It’s really important that you can sit independently to do this. I’m sure they’d allow someone to sit with you if need be too.
Rooftop sunsets – on top of The Pearl Hotel
Elevator to the rooftop and then one giant step down to the patio (obviously meaning the elevator was created for the lazy walkers).
This spot was in a rather new/fancy district. I had spotted this hotel and exterior elevator during a taxi ride and knew we had to come visit. While the rooftop is a great place to be in Marrakech, it is very hard to find an elevator to the top. It’s extremely possible as a manual chair user to get down the step and get this incredible view like below.
These are just a few tips for traveling to Marrakech as a wheelchair user. I found the experience to be very enlightening. The city is much more accessible than I ever imagined. I hope you get the chance to visit!