Camels, crashes, injuries and breakdowns in Morocco & Spain

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by pip_muenster, Apr 1, 2013.

  1. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

    Joined:
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    There will be camels. There will be crashes.
    There will be injuries.
    And there will be breakdowns.

    Actually, the trip started 4 months ago and I still have to get home ….

    The plan was simple: Loose some weight, get the bikes to southern Spain and have some fun in Morocco. Maddin and I met for the first time on a trip to Iceland 2 years ago (Here’s the story.). Since them we’ve done another short trip into France and decided to join up again in late 2012 to conquer Morocco.

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    #1
  2. jmcg

    jmcg Turpinated..

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    Location:
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    Looking forward to this.

    Enjoyed your Iceland RR.

    Cheers,

    JM.
    #2
  3. bhuwan

    bhuwan Adventurer

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    Wow ! Can definately smell something yummy coming up - on diet from now.:clap:clap
    #3
  4. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    Hana of Motoadventours.com offered us a great deal on transporting our bikes to her shop in Malaga, so all we had to do was jump on a plane. I had a few hours in Frankfurt and went to the Lufthansa lounge for breakfast. While I was sipping on my coffee, Lufthansa sent me 3 text messages on gate changes, it seemed they couldn&#8217;t make up their minds. I hate that airport. Taxiways are so long it sometimes seems as if taxiing takes longer than the actual flight itself.
    With all that confusion it also took a while before Maddin found me.

    Once in Malaga Hana and Patrick picked us up from the airport and gave us some tips on Morocco. Their website states: &#8216;[&#8230;] we don' t spoil any fun, and we are nice to look at&#8217;. I&#8217;d say they&#8217;re not lying, but I will not back that up with photos: Book a trip with them and find out yourself!
    :wink:


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    Here's Maddin loading the bikes

    In comparison to Iceland I have lost about 200lbs of weight: most of it on the bike and luggage, little (if any) on myself. :cry

    The first kilometers on wet asphalt were exciting as we both had to adjust to the offroad tires. We found traction after reducing the pressure significantly and made it in time for the ferry from Algecira the next morning. Surprisingly we met Hana again at the port, as she was leading a tour into Morocco.

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    At the ferry terminal

    I don't remember much about the border process, but there was some queueing up on the ferry and then in Tangier. With some hints from Hana it was easy.

    #4
  5. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

    Joined:
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    I don't wanna spoil anything, but don't expect too much. If you're looking for blood, I can't offer much more than maybe a paper cut.
    #5
  6. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
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    61,030
    :thumb

    :lurk
    #6
  7. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    Right after we passed customs, we were waved to stop again. I wasn&#8217;t sure if this was just another step of the entrance procedure, so I obeyed. There was an ATM and a guy offering money exchange, but I had no intentions to do business with them. When we got back on the bikes, another dude stepped forward, demanding a parking fee!
    This was a public road and we had only stopped because they had made us. I literally laughed at him, while twisting the throttle, making him jump out of my way. I understand that they depend on tourists to bring money to their country, but they have to give something in exchange and not just bullying everybody.

    We found a supermarket and bought water and food. Then it was time to hit the road N2 towards Tetouan. This had all taken quite a while so we arrived just in time to start looking for an accommodation.

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    I lead into town and stopped to wait for Maddin. He was hesitant to follow, explaining that I had been riding a oneway road against the flow. Well, that happens.
    I had only been stationary for 10 seconds before the next guy approached us. He wanted us to leave the bikes in his secure garage, so he could walk us to a nice hotel in the medina (old inner part of the city).
    Now I absolutely hate these guys and I also had little intention to carry my luggage an unknown distance through town. Instead we found a nice hotel just outside the medina where we could park the bikes right in front and the night guard would have an eye on them for little money.

    Later in the evening we walked into the medina to have dinner. Again, we were soon hassled by some guy and Maddin agreed to follow him. I pretended not to understand ANY languages (he spoke English, French and maybe even a little German), so the guy ended up constantly talking to Maddin, while rushing through the Medina to his restaurant. There was no time to stop and look, so though although it seemed we had run all across the medina we hadn&#8217;t seen anything of it. I know why I don&#8217;t like them.
    He lead us to the same hotel, guy #1 had wanted us to go to, and the restaurant was completely empty. While waiting for the food, we joked that they first had to go and buy it somewhere else, when another dude with plastic bags came in &#8230;

    To be fair, the food was good.

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    View from the hotel
    #7
  8. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    The next day saw us riding east along the Mediterranean coast. The road was twisty, the sun was shining and there was little traffic. This looked much less like a tourist trap and I finally had the feeling that the Morocco trip was becoming a vacation.
    Around lunch time we agreed to stop at the next booth stimulating our noses. That turned out to be a small hut between the road and the beach, offering tasty grilled fish.

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    We continued along the coast and had some more excitement on wet roads through the outskirts of the Rif moutains. Even in 3rd gear at half throttle, my rear tire was constantly sliding all over the place ...

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    Around dusk we started looking for a hotel. In the first town we were told that they had a hotel, but that we wouldn't want to stay there. We had a look, agreed and continued. It got dark. In the next town, Driouch, we were again told that though there was a hotel, we should still continue to Nador. This time, we decided to stay.

    The hotel was small and simple, but clean - and that was everything we were asking for. I woke up early and went downstairs to search for coffee. The night guard had brought out the carpet from the entrance to cover our bikes and hide them from praying eyes ... I tipped him well.

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    Sleeping bikes ...
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    #8
  9. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    Our goal for today was to reach the real stuff and get some dirt under our tires. We headed south, avoiding the main road wherever possible. The day started sunny with the morning mist beautifully filling the valleys, but than it got foggy and cold.

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    Anyway, even that ended somewhere and after we climbed up some hairpins we reached a wide plain where we also found the first dirt roads.

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    (photo: maddin)

    Unfortunately, it didn't take long before we hit asphalt again. The road turned west, so we were heading towards the snow covered Atlas mountains on the horizon.

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    At one point, I asked Maddin to wait and take a picture of me. I rode up to the edge and looked down. What I saw was a crack in the ground to my left side, so I was standing between the cliff and the crack - not good. I quickly changed position to get on the 'save' side of the crack ...

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    (photo: maddin)

    By the end of the day we reached Missour and checked into a guesthouse. The entrance was covered in stickers from other groups and expeditions. Later in the evening, maddin asked a policeman for a good restaurant. He simply left the gate he was guarding and lead us to a place which looked like a butcher, with half a lamb in the window. Inside there were tables, and we had some good pork chops for dinner.
    #9
  10. Johnnydarock

    Johnnydarock Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Redondo Beach CA
    Going to Morocco in May with Hana from adventours.com and 7 of my riding buddies. Looking forward to seeing the rest of your photos. Are you sure you ate "pork chops" in Morocco?
    #10
  11. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    Probably not. :lol3

    Enjoy your trip!
    #11
  12. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    After 2000km in the last 2 days I finally made it home. Now I just have to figure out where my bike is.



    Anyway ...
    #12
  13. perico

    perico pericoadventure

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    Leon espain
  14. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    Anyway ...


    Here in Missour we had reached the first route described in our main guide book 'Morocco Overland' by Chris Scott. It should connect us to the fun part in the south of the Atlas. In late November all of northern and western Morocco had the same cold rainy weather as Europe, and the Atlas mountains were already snow covered. But with the Atlas blocking off the cold Atlantic weather, we were expecting sun in the south.
    So we selected route ME1 on the GPS and hit the road. Although the road was nice with little to none traffic, it was a bit disappointing that it was all paved. There were a few dry riverbeds to cross - and since strong rainfalls occasionally take away some bridges this can always become fun - but right now all bridges were in perfect condition.

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    Around lunch time we took a small track leading up a hill overlooking a small village and got out some bread and cheese. Some boys were herding their sheep. They had no dogs, so they stayed on the top of the hill and just threw stones down at any sheep running off. They never missed.
    This reminded me on the dogs I had met in Turkey years ago: If you met a dog somewhere in the fields, chances were high that it was unfriendly, but always frightened by stones. Every man kept a walking cane to defend against the dogs, but the first defense were stones. Even if you were standing in the middle of an asphalt parking lot, you could pretend to pick up a stone and the dogs would back off most of the time.
    We also played a bit with the cameras.

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    In Beni Tajjite we stopped at a cafe for the Moroccan tea which we had meanwhile become addicted to. Thé à la Menthe as it is called is a green tea usually served with fresh mint leaves and sugar. The small cafe didn't had any mint and offered vermouth leaves instead. It looked like something picked right from the side of the road. Let's just say, that it tasted 'interesting'.
    We turned onto route ME7 towards Tazouguerte and finally found the gravel roads we came for.

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    (photo: maddin)

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    (photo: maddin)

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    Halfway to Tazouguerte the road became a bit more technical when crossing a ridge with some larger loose rocks. When a rock rolled away under my front wheel, I quickly learned that putting a foot on the ground is a bad strategy when your bike seat is 37" tall. I didn't fall, but Maddin had quite a laugh about my artistic talents.

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    (photo: maddin)

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    About the time we reached the valley leading towards Merzouga the shadows were getting longer and longer. Maddin had a target for the night in his mind and pushed forward.

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    By the time we reached Erfoud, it was pitch black. We stopped to discuss options and agreed on a hotel marked on Maddin's GPS. When we moved on, I noticed that I had forgotten to take off my sunglasses. I thought we would be stopping soon again, so I just followed Maddin. Now I was wearing dark (prescription) glasses AND my tinted goggles, effectively reducing my visibility to naught. All I saw was his tail lamp.
    The GPS lead us southeast out of town onto an area without real roads or paths. Basically the whole plain was covered by tracks leading in all directions. We found a road, but it soon changed into a construction site with deep soft sand, so it was easier to get off the road again.
    When I finally exchanged my sunglasses for clear lenses, I found out that my headlight was absolutely worthless: When Maddin was following me, I could still see my own shadow right in front of me in the 'bright' spot of my light. Note to self: Don't drive at night through the dessert - or get some good auxiliary LEDs.
    Eventually we found the hotel, and got a good enough deal for the room and very tasty dinner.
    #14
  15. jaumev

    jaumev Long timer

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    I like to see pictures from places I've just visited few weeks ago!!

    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=875921

    You are right, is very important to have good lights, there is always one day you needed. Ad drive by night in Morocco is very dangerous, also in the roads, most of people there don't use lights.

    Keep coming, and thanks for sharing your trip :clap

    :lurk
    #15
  16. drisschoufa

    drisschoufa Adventurer

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    Location:
    beautiful San Diego
    you can in the big cities but not in small town in the middle of nowhere.
    #16
  17. drisschoufa

    drisschoufa Adventurer

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    beautiful San Diego
    I am a Moroccan that is always scarred to hit a moped or a car without rear light while traveling there. that is the only thing that freaks me out and for them its another day on the road. driving with no lights is not a big deal...that is what they think and even with lights on you are afraid to hit someone because they have absolutely no respect for the lanes of the road forget the divider lane. I always tell my wife why are wasting paint on the road when no one respect its own lane.
    I ride in Baja California a lot it's the same as morocco driving style, rules...... are not followed by no one, stop signs are there so the policeman can get dollars from the tourist but I still go as it reminds me of the ZOO I come from.
    #17
  18. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    Yeah, I had the same thoughts and tried to recognize some of the locations you were showing in post 37 which is oddly difficult in an area without any landmarks we're used to.

    Agree. I get around a bit and have seen strange behaviors: Some countries they just don't care about lights, some they leave them off until they see you, and some they switch from low- to highbeam if they see oncoming traffic ...
    Then there are the obstacles as wild donkeys (south America), kangaroos (Australia), camels (Middle East) - or speed bumbs and deer (just about everywere else). And without trees and stones in the dessert it can also become difficult to judge distances and 'read the road' at night.
    That night, we were riding slow enough to stop for obstacles and could be seen for kilometers. It should have been easy for other traffic to avoid us since you could literally drive whereever you wanted - but we still wanted to get off the bikes as soon as possible.


    Thanks for your kind words!
    #18
  19. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    As usual I woke up early the next morning, so I sneaked out of the room and went outside. There was a nice patio with a great view onto a pile of sand which we hadn't noticed the night before. We had reached the Erg Chebbi.

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    (photo: maddin)

    I guess some of you may recognize that view as we were staying at the hotel Yasmina - which seems to be mentioned in about every Morocco report I read here on ADV in the last months. Here's a better view of the hotel:

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    About the time I ordered my second coffee Maddin showed up and we had a great breakfast. Then it was time for some maintenance on the bikes and fixing some loose bolts and nuts. I think Maddin was still suffering from sleep depriviation, as he was mainly pretending to check his engine guard.

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    We started late, planning on just a short daytrip north, so we took nothing but a small bag with tools, water and some food each. Maddin lead and immediately started distributing his tools across the dessert. As you can see the hotel was still within sight when we stopped to collect them. Note: On flat ground you can see a shiny new Victorinox multitool glaring in the sunlight from hundred meters away.

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    The first obstacle was a tractor blocking the track, so we had to go around through the bushes. I'm not sure if the locals were actual helping here, trying to guide Maddin. It was much easier for me as I had been leading and got through before they started to stand in the way ... Nevertheless, it was entertaining to watch and I stopped with the camera in hand - just in case he'd fell.

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    He didn't.

    So no crash yet, but we did saw some camels.

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    Maddin and his first camel:

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    [ x ] camels
    [ ] crashes
    [ ] injuries
    [ ] breakdowns

    We followed the track through some smaller mountains and back to the highway to Erfoud.

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    When I saw these guys, I thought it might be worth stopping for a photo. But in retrospect I guess it takes more than a flag and some guys for a memorable picture ...

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    #19
  20. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    With the good food, perfect weather and lots of sand around we decided to stay another day at hotel Yasmina. We headed east to see how close we would get to the Algerian border. For a start we stayed right on the edge of the Erg Chebbi which is basically a wide basin filled with Sahara sand.

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    In some areas the ground was covered with small black stones on top of the sand. These kept the wheels from sinking, so it was easy riding. Even the track of a light motocycle was clearly visible as the black stones were pushed into the sand. I don't know how long that holds, but even satellite images of the area show hundreds of tracks crisscross through the area.

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    Somewhere here Maddin discovered that the Tenere was still difficult for him to handle in deep sand and I had to stay close to him, so I could take photos when he fell down - solely for documentary purposes of course. One area was a little larger and I decided to just stay put and keep the camera on. I was rewarded with this shot, just when he hit the ground. I should have kept it in video mode.
    :baldy
    It doesn't look that sandy, but believe me, it was. I couldn't really sympathize with him as I was just too happy that my XC did just fine. The last time we had been in deep sand I had been riding a heavy 1150GS and it had been me who kissed the ground most often. Now, with about 200lbs less weight it was so easy that I shortly considered riding with the camera in the hand to get some video footage. Of course, I didn't.

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    The track went through some smaller hills where we eventually came to a closed barrier, a border post. After waiting for a few minutes two guards arrived and questioned Maddin (as I don't speak much French). They discussed road options and advised us not to go any further eastward. That was about 5km from the borderline as shown on Google Earth.

    So we headed back west and eventuelly run into a bunch of side-by-sides preparing for a special stage at oasis Sif-Sif.

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    Then our route went further west towards the main roads and back to the hotel. We also saw some more camels.

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    Later the day we decided to have some sand practise in the dunes next to the hotel. That was fun. We also met some other bikers and discussed road options with them over dinner. I don't really remember where they came from, but there was a guy on another Tenere and a couple from somewhere in eastern Europe. Maybe Maddin remembers more?

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    (photo: maddin)

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    #20