advertisement

Unfortunately, Morocco offers very little assistance to people with disabilities, and traveling in the country requires a certain amount of adventurous spirit, good humor, and determination. There are no services for those with disabilities or adapted transport, and there's a distinct lack of adapted infrastructure, such as wheelchair-friendly ramps, signs in Braille, or beeping and flashing pedestrian crossings. Moroccans are usually very supportive of those with disabilities and generally willing to assist without looking for something in return.

The most difficulty faced by wheelchair-bound travelers will be daily challenges such as crowded pavements, busy streets, drivers with no regard for pedestrians, and rutted medina alleys. If choosing between the major cultural cities of Fes and Marrakech as your prime destination, I recommend the relatively flat Marrakech as opposed to Fes, with its hillside medina, steep lanes, and multitude of steps. Traveling by private car or as part of an organized tour will be the best way to get around Morocco. Bus and train travel will be difficult due to the steps that will have to be negotiated and the lack of wheelchair-friendly areas once you're on. If you do travel by public transport, I recommend grands taxis.

All travelers with disabilities should be aware that very few hotels offer adapted accommodations. Not all hotels have elevators, but there are usually ground-floor rooms. Maisons d'hôte by their very nature are usually old houses with steep, narrow staircases and are located in difficult corners of the medina. Some will be accessible for wheelchairs and may have adequate-size ground-floor rooms, but on the whole the more feasible accommodations options will be found in the new hotels, especially in Agadir and Marrakech.

Organizations that offer a vast range of resources and assistance to travelers with disabilities include MossRehab (tel. 800/CALL-MOSS [225-5567]; www.mossresourcenet.org); the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB; tel. 800/232-5463; www.afb.org); and SATH (Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality; tel. 212/447-7284; www.sath.org). AirAmbulanceCard.com is now partnered with SATH and allows you to preselect top-notch hospitals in case of an emergency.

Access-Able Travel Source (tel. 303/232-2979; www.access-able.com) offers a comprehensive database of travel agents from around the world with experience in accessible travel; destination-specific access information; and links to such resources as service animals, equipment rentals, and access guides.

Many travel agencies offer customized tours and itineraries for travelers with disabilities. Among them are Flying Wheels Travel (tel. 507/451-5005; www.flyingwheelstravel.com) and Accessible Journeys (tel. 800/846-4537 or 610/521-0339; www.disabilitytravel.com).

Flying with Disability (www.flying-with-disability.org) is a comprehensive information source on airplane travel. Avis Rent A Car (tel. 888/879-4273) has the Avis Access program that offers services for customers with special travel needs. These include specially outfitted vehicles with swivel seats, spinner knobs, and hand controls; mobility scooter rentals; and accessible bus service. Not all of these will be available in Morocco, and be sure to reserve well in advance.

Also check out the quarterly magazine Emerging Horizons (www.emerginghorizons.com), available by subscription ($17 a year in the U.S., $22 elsewhere).

The "Accessible Travel" link at Mobility-Advisor.com offers a variety of travel resources to persons with disabilities.

British travelers should contact Holiday Care (tel. 0845-124-9971 in the U.K. only; www.holidaycare.org.uk) to access a wide range of travel information and resources for those with disabilities and the elderly.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.