Travel from Marrakesh to Chefchaouen
Planning the best way to travel from Marrakesh to Chefchaouen up in the Rif Mountains in Northern Morocco had me undecided which route to take. In the end i opted for the night train to Tangier, thus saving a nights accommodation, and then bus from Tangier to Chefchaouen. It is advisable to book the train ticket at least a day before as the train does get crowded.
So i used my map of Marrakech and took a walk from Jemaa El Fna to the train station zig zagging my way along the streets. Passing through the private road of Mansour Spa and along Olive tree and date palm lined streets after 35 minutes i arrived at Gare De Marrakech. One of the sights i noticed along the way was a very tall date palm which on closer inspection turned out to be a mobile phone mast cleverly disguised.
The building is a modern, shiny, well organised place with numerous restaurants and shops which includes, I am sorry to say, the American Junk Food Obesity Wagon, Macdonalds. Upstairs there is a very good viewing balcony looking over the platforms and the “End of the Line “. Marrakesh at the moment is the furthest south you can travel by train. There are plans to extend the line down to Ouarzazate in the Sahara and also west to the coastal towns of Essaouira, Agadir and south to Dahkla.
If you need to charge your electronics there are numerous sockets scattered around the walls which you are able to use and the Rest Rooms are clean and free to use.
Outside the station there is also a mobile phone charging station with seating around it. I did try unsuccessfully to charge my laptop there too but I in the end had to use one of the sockets in the main building.
Buying a ticket is straight forward. Just queue up, state your destination and pay…… BUT do check your ticket details to avoid the problem i had when i arrived to board the train the following day. Even though I had paid the correct fare for a couchette to Tangier the destination on my ticket said Casablanca. The sleeping car attendant refused to let me board so i walked back to the ticket office where a very helpful official sorted my problem out and i boarded the train with a few minutes to spare.
The overnight journey was uneventful. I slept very well and the train arrived exactly on time at 07.00 in Tangier. There followed a short taxi ride to the bus station where a bus would soon be leaving for Chefchaouen at 08.00. There are plenty of kiosks to buy some breakfast and a coffee. The trip took 4 hours up windy mountainous roads and i could feel the air cooling as we ascended. Moroccans for some reason are very often travel sick and carry plastic bags for this purpose, so be warned if you suddenly notice that the person sitting next to you has gone quiet !!!!!!
The bus arrives at Chefchaouen bus station located at the bottom of a very steep hill which you will need to walk up to arrive at the Medina. If you are not used to walking or have a very heavy backpack then maybe take a taxi otherwise you will have a good test of your fitness. If you are already at the bus station and you know which day you’re moving on, I would suggest that you buy your onward ticket when you arrive, to save yourself another climb back up to the medina.