Sometimes, taxis can be a very stressful experience in a new country, particularly for those that cannot speak the language very well, are faced with two kinds of taxis or a driver that is reluctant to turn on his meter. Just like it is anywhere, taxi drivers in Marrakech Essaouira primarily fit in 3 distinct classes;
Those that are friendly and chatty that instantly turn on the meter, weaves through the traffic conveniently, demand for the right price and gladly accepts a little tip and wishes you a great day,
The crazy types who also turn on the meter but drives like someone that is trapped in an arcade game and make you wish you had walked to your destination.
The crafty drivers who pretend that the meter is damaged or cannot understand the language you are speaking and attempts to charge you more of the original fare.
Understanding some simple terms in Arabic goes a great deal to enhancing your taxi experience.
Firstly, you should know that there are two kinds of taxis:
The petit taxis are utilized for short trips within the town and can convey about three passengers. They can be flagged down anywhere, and they all carry meters that should be turned on immediately you enter the taxi. Do not be scared to inquire about the meter in case it is not switched on, or use another taxi if he refuses to switch it on. Fares begin at 1 .60dh in the daytime and 2 .40dh in the evenings/nights. To provide a hint, a daytime journey from downtown Marrakech airport to Essaouira should be around 6-10dh, based on the level.
The petit taxi drivers will usually carry other people on the way should they be heading in the same direction as you. The first passenger has priority and everybody pay their complete fare – additional passengers do not mean that the fares will be shared.
A lot of taxi drivers in Marrakech are likely to know destinations by the cafe hotel, restaurants, or the closest Medina bab that is close by, instead of by the name of a road. It is usually advisable to give the name of the closest famous cafe and then directing from that point. You will be easily identified as a tourist if you start asking him of where the such-and-such road is and becoming anxious about particular locations. It is usually helpful to have the business card of the location you are going to, however, keep in mind that a lot of drivers may not be able to read French or English.
When taking a petit taxi to or from the Marrakech airport, to or from downtown Essaouira, the fare is usually around 50dh, but except you actually want to spend time debating or having taxis refuse to carry you, you will likely spend around 100dh.
The grand taxis (big old Mercedes) are designed for longer journeys out of town and are usually shared taxis. They start from a specified taxi rank for a specific destination after which will leave until it is full, or if not full will carry people up as you go along. Usually, the front passenger seat is counted as 2 seats. However, you can get the front seat all to yourself by making payment for two spots. The back seat is for four passengers.
You can hire a grand taxi for your personal use, but ensure you bargain the price first. To provide you with a good example, a grand taxi from Marrakech Airport to Essaouira (a distance of around 50-60kms) costs about 200dh for personal use.