My partner and I have finished a trans-Europe tandem bicycle journey, and would like to rest for a month in Essaouira, Morocco, but need advice on travelling there from Tangier with our large tandem bicycle. We won't be cycling because of the summer heat, so will rely on public transit to arrive there. I've read mixed reports of bicycles being allowed on Morocco's trains (we will probably attempt the Tangier-Marrakech night train) and I'm ignorant of other long-distance transportation options (e.g., what's a Grand Taxi?) We will fly out of Marrakech, so we'd need to take the bike at least that far if we were to leave it somewhere in storage. What would you recommend?
Wow, Morocco is wonderful. We've just completed our trip and had no problems travelling with a gigantic bicycle as luggage.
For the train from Tangier to Marrakech, they wouldn't allow the bicycle on the train but would send it along as cargo, to arrive the next morning. We had to go to the Gare de Tangier-Moghogha, the next station 4km from the Tangier Ville station. The shipping cost was 150 Dirhams (US$18), which we paid when we collected the bike from the cargo warehouse behind the Marrakech station. They took the bike as is, no box or disassembly required. They placed a nasty sticker on the top tube that will require solvent to remove.
The buses from Marrakech to Essaouira will take a large bicycle as luggage, no disassembly or box required—it miraculously fit under the bus by fitting it diagonally through the cargo-area support beams. The regular bus company from the main central bus station quoted 60 Dirhams but charged 100 Dirhams (US$12) when they noticed it was a tandem. On the return trip SupraTours charged 50 Dirhams (US$6) and took the bike without blinking.
BTW the grand taxis are the large shared Mercedes cabs which charge a flat rate, as opposed to petit taxis which have meters and are usually not shared.
All the hotels and riads we stayed at allowed us to bring the tandem inside.
Great trip. I'd like to return in more temperate weather for a cycle trip here, although after spending some time on the road in a car, I would plan to take small untrafficked roads and avoid travelling in the dark.