Hi Globe Trotters,
As some may have read, I was in Morocco a week ago. Now that I have had some time to marinate over my very first Gate 1 experience, I wanted to share with you what it was like.
Let’s start with why I chose to go with a travel agency in the first place. Morocco was my first Islamic country, and to be honest, I was apprehensive because I didn’t know much about the culture. Therefore, I wanted a guide to show me around the country.
Secondly, I normally plan every single trip. In the end, I get mad because everyone wants to do something on their trip but no one does the work to figure out the logistics. I hate it. With this trip, the itinerary is already planned. Once you book the tour, you’re going where it says you’re going.
OK now that I got the why out of the way, let’s go with what made me choose Gate 1. I chose Gate 1 because of the overall positive reviews, which I think were accurate. In my tour group, there were many repeat Gate 1 users. One person has even gone on 16 Gate 1 tours. Those testimonials do not lie.
Also, the cost was just right. I saw the itinerary and I went and found the cost for each item. When I totaled everything, the cost came to be around the same price. However, I got the extra benefit of the guide and planning if I went with this agency. Therefore, the value was there for me.
So how did it go? It was great. In fact, it was better than great, it was extraordinary. This vacation was truly a vacation. I was stress free, and I had so much fun learning about the Moroccan way of life. Here are a few things I loved about the tour:
1. Our Tour Manager, Hassan
Hassan is a veteran in the tourism industry and a very proud man of his beloved country, Morocco. He did a great job highlighting the country’s beauty and encouraged us to interact with the Moroccan people. He also had a great personality and made us laugh many times. Ask what dates he is working if you go on a Gate 1 Tour in Morocco.
2. Everything was on Schedule
The itinerary was very well planned. Of course, it depended on everyone on the bus to be timely; Don’t worry the group won’t leave you stranded. Our group was really good at being on time and our bus driver, Mohammed, perfectly did his part. We got to our locations on time and safely.
3. We Never Felt Pushed to Do Something We Didn’t Want
Common knowledge: Travel agencies cut business deals with local businesses. If the travel agency takes you to a shop for something, the agency usually gets a portion of the sales. This was never the case. It is actually against Gate 1 policy to push any thing onto us. The agency can describe something for us, but they cannot insist we go to a certain place.
4. All Approved Vendors are Vetted
Sometimes when you go to a country as a tourist, counterfeit is a huge problem. In Morocco, saffron may not be 100% saffron, Aragon oil may not really be Aragon oil and silver may be aluminum. To the untrained eye, it is easy to get scammed. When Gate 1 takes you to a specific place, like a tannery, it has already checked the item is legitimate. The agency is basically guaranteeing that you are getting exactly what you’re buying.
NOTE: If you go off on your on your own, like in souks, during your free day, then you have to use your street smarts. Gate 1’s guarantee doesn’t apply in situations like those.
5. Tipping and Water were Included
In Morocco, you should tip, and although there is an unwritten guideline, you can always tip based on how you feel. This is something small, but it was nice not having to deal with that. Our Tour Manager, took care of tipping the bathroom personnel, the waiters for breakfast and the hotel porters. The water isn’t safe here, so Gate 1 also included water in our hotel and on the bus ride.
NOTE: Again, on your free days, you are responsible for the tipping and the water. Also, you should tip the tour manager and bus driver at the end of the trip. Recommendations will be included in your travel documents.
My only suggestion for this agency is to take us to less Amercanized restaurants. The restaurants had hamburgers, pizza and French fries, whereas I was there for the couscous, tangines and pigeon pies. I would have liked more authentic food, and we tried looking for some places on our free days.
Overall, the experience was smooth, easy to understand and fun. The added bonus is the comeaderie with your temporary family; Everyone in the group shared a strong love for travel and respected everyone’s time and space.
I would do another tour again in the future, especially with Gate 1. Its reputation preceeds it, and I will advocate for them on this blog and via word-of-mouth time and time again.