The Shared Taxi Experience – Chefchaouen to Tangier

February 6, 2014
shared taxi chefchaouen to tangier

When the Spanish couple running our guesthouse in Chefchaouen suggested we take a shared taxi to Tangier, we thought it was a great idea. It would be faster than the bus and a new experience.

“Just make sure to ride in the front,” they warned. “It’s worth the extra price.” This both made sense and didn’t. Yes, we would like to sit in the front and not be squished next to a stranger in the back, but we couldn’t both fit, could we? We concluded they must be taxi vans.

Arriving at the taxi stand, it was clear we concluded wrong. We were shuffled into the front seat of a very old, very hot, average size, not so stable looking car. I slid into the middle, and by middle I mean the edge of the passenger seat, and Livia wedged in beside me. Once they rounded up four other passengers, three men and a woman, and miraculously fit them in the back, we were off. What followed was both harrowing and hilarious. Our driver bolted out of the city, hurtling down hills and careening through the mountain curves. Up and down we went, over what would in any other situation be beautiful mountain peaks. Admittedly, the scenery was nice, but it was hard to enjoy without being aware of how dangerously close we were to the edge of the road, or wondering if Livia would fly out of the passenger door at any moment, or trying to balance so I didn’t sit on the gear shift and inadvertently whip us into reverse. Of course, we were the only two who thought anything of the situation. The four in the back chatted for the first few miles, then fell asleep.

Our driver hummed along to the radio and made a game of tailgating and passing massive semi-trucks loaded with any number of dangerous looking materials that could easily fall back and through our windshield. I remember briefly thinking of my parents, and how horrified they would be if they knew that at that exact moment, I was on the edge of a cliff, piles of wood about to fall on me, going 90 miles per hour and not wearing a seatbelt. I swore in that moment to never have children.

To no one’s surprise, but to our great relief, we made it to Tetouan, where we had to switch taxis. This time someone beat us to the front, and we were shoved in back with several others.  My ribs were crushed and Livia’s face was plastered against the window for the duration of the ride, and it was so hot we gasped for breath. At least this road was a flat highway.

Though it sounds terrible, in the end the group taxi experience was actually sort of fun. Or at least fun to talk about after, and cheap. It was also the highlight of Tangier, which turned out to be our least favorite city in Morocco. Maybe that’s because we were coming from Fes and Chefchaouen though, which were amazing. Check out this post one on Chefchaouen and this one on Fes to see what I mean.

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  • Reply David September 5, 2015 at 10:21 am

    We visited Chefchaouen last year and I can completely agree with your recount. Taking a grand taxi is definitely an experience to remember! But perhaps not for the faint hearted.

    We took a grand taxi from Tangier to Chefchaouen but we rented the entire taxi. I think we paid about €80, which I am aware is probably the “tourist price”. You’re right about the driving standards. In fact Morocco has a significantly higher number of deaths caused by driving than any country in Europe! It’s not hard to see why!

    On the way back to Tangier from Chefchaouen, we booked through a private company (not wishing to risk the journey home in a crazy grand taxi)! I think the website was – looks like it’s still running. We paid about the same price of €80 and had a new car with a friendly English speaking driver (and air conditioning, thank god!!!!!!)

    I think the problem with the grand taxis is that they will always try to rip you off. There is a price for the locals and a price for the tourists. I’ve even heard stories about other African people getting the “tourist prices” because their Arabic accent is not the Moroccan accent.

    Either way, it’s definitely a good story to tell, but maybe not one I would be rushing to repeat!

  • Reply Maria March 3, 2016 at 11:57 am

    Hi Rebecca! This post was very useful to me since I’m traveling to Morocco next week. Can you give me more info on this route? I’m looking to go from Tangier to Chefchaouen. How much did you pay? And how long was the drive?

    Thank you!

    • Reply curiosityandacarryon March 3, 2016 at 12:50 pm

      Hi Maria – So exciting you’re going to Morocco! If I remember correctly it was just under 2 hours and about $12 each. Enjoy your trip!

    I love to hear from you!

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