Q. In light of recent political escalations in Syria/the Middle East and the severity of the Ebola outbreak, what would you advise regarding the safety of Marrakech? We will be a group of five women, flying with BA and staying in a four-star hotel. We have cancelled our planned day trip in 4x4s to the Atlas mountains due to safety concerns. We are planning on remaining at the hotel after 7pm, including evening meals. We are considering arranging a half-day sightseeing trip of the centre when we arrive to familiarise ourselves with the area. Is using Viator.com to book this advisable?
A. How lovely to be going to Marrakech in November. While the latest upsurge in violence in Syria may well have significant effects in the future, the short-term risks of terrorism remain as they have for some years. And while the Ebola outbreak is extremely serious for people living in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, the danger for people elsewhere has been overstated. In particular, it presents no significant threat in Marrakech.
Next, it is puzzling that you have cancelled a trip to the Atlas mountains "due to safety concerns". The beautiful and accessible mountains constitute one of the highlights of Morocco, and I am not aware of any increased threat level. And it seems a shame that a group of women would not want to explore safe and friendly Marrakech after dark in the same manner as during the day.
A sightseeing tour of the city is an excellent idea. Were you to book with US company Viator.com, you would probably have a good experience. But it is worth seeking out a recommendation – perhaps from your hotel. One other piece of advice: pre-book an airport transfer rather than placing yourselves at the mercy of airport taxi drivers.