Finding the SOFT G-SPOT in Morocco (adventure ride, lots of pics!)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Navel, Nov 1, 2009.

  1. Navel

    Navel Omphaloskeptical

    Joined:
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    So, after a while lurking on this awesome site it is finally my turn to write some ride report.
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    But let me start with a brief teaser before going straight to the point.




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    #1
  2. Navel

    Navel Omphaloskeptical

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    In the first place let me please introduce ourselves.

    The Team: 4 spaniards and 1 belg.
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    From left to right: Manel, Kristof, Ricardo and myself, in the next installment you´ll see Cesar who shot this one.

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    The bikes: 4 x BMW f650 GS (3 Dakar) and 1 old Africa Twin 750(RN04)
    The destination: Morocco
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    The schedule: 7 days in mid july, did I say July in Morocco?...Yeah, some like it hot you know!. To be honest it was simply difficult to find a date when everyone could go, so no choice about that and overheating, specially when we would reach Erg chebbi was a concern (see temp watch pic above).
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    The route:
    Insert/extraction point was Nador, then South along Rekkam Plateau (some Paris Dakar tracks) down to Merzouga and famous Erg Chebbi dunes. After that West to Tinerrhir and some wild rocks up the Dades and Toldra Gorges to finally tackle some Atlas tracks on our way back North.

    I will edit this post later and add a map.

    By now, you may be wondering about this report´s title, the thing is that, although we have been quite ATTGATT compliant, thunderstorms, extreme heat, and other issues made as adopt a more relaxed approach to equipment which we called SOFT G-SPOT namely (Some OF The Gear- Some Periods Of Time).
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    Ditto (Parental advisory: the pic below contains half nudity)

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    I really made a bad choice taking my sailing trousers (light but zero breathabilty), but found out that riding trouserless wasn´t the solution.
    #2
  3. Navel

    Navel Omphaloskeptical

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Although Morocco and Spain are just a <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:metricconverter w:st="on" ProductID="15 km">15 km</st1:metricconverter> ferry away, we live like <st1:metricconverter w:st="on" ProductID="1.000 km">1.000 km</st1:metricconverter> from the ferry harbour so we loaded -squashed- 4 bikes in a rental van to get to Almeria.
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    I was the last one to arrive to our meeting point, so they said no more place for my bike...

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    mmm Damm bastards, Get out of my way: Wheeliiieeee!
    (Nothing like a wheelie to get things right)

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    Luckily Kristoff would join us later (near Valencia), because the van was a bit too full for his bike.

    As we planned to ride along the algerian border, Melilla (spanish enclave) or Nador (Morocco) were the most convenint entry points to Morocco, we decided to entry via Nador as most of the paperwork could be done aboard the ferry, thus saving time and hassle at the spanish/ moroccan border in Melilla.

    Ricardo at the compulsory ferry pic:
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    <o:p>Just before entering the ferry, my battery died (Murphy sucks...and BMW service too! I Could have checked everything more thoroughly myself, but having bought the bike 2 weeks before departure I had no time, the guys from the BMW service didn´t seem to have checked the battt).<o:p></o:p>
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    The ferry sailed off at night so we arrived in Nador early next morning.<o:p></o:p>
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    #3
  4. Navel

    Navel Omphaloskeptical

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    So first task in Nador was to find a battery, and I was quite lucky to find an “electrisien” no soon we entered the town.

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    Among the lots of batteries piled up against the walls, he happened to have a second hand battery which, after a fast charge made the job. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
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    <o:p>The mechanic was very nice guy and he even spoke quite decent spanish (Nador was once part of spanish Morocco, as he pointed out), and for 20 euro (installation included) it seemed a good deal.<o:p></o:p>
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    First lesson learned in Africa: Resources are scarce and everything has a second/third/... life (by the way the bike is still running with the same batt in spite of my Dakar's reluctance to start when cold).

    After getting a load of water we headed South towards Debdou, on our way we stopped at Taourirt to have some lunch, there we met a fellow spaniard who happened to be married to a Moroccan girl and told us about a nice restaurant, where we had our first Moroccan lamb brochettes.<o:p></o:p>
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    I´d like to have mine a bit more done please.

    In the outskirts of Debdou we visited the unimpressive ruins of a kasbah, then in Debdou we sampled the poshest cafés, as we discussed our route with the locals.

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    Debdou in the distance as we climbed to the plateau

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    We started our way into de Rekkam Plateau, an altiplane at about 2000m height, to our dismay the pistes we planned to ride on had been asphalted, damm tarmac!!<o:p></o:p>
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    <o:p>But being up in the plateau we had other worries, we were riding directly into a big thunderstorm, a lot of rays could be seen in the horizon, and we were the only thing in miles above the ground. And YES it rained, we expected it wouldnt be extremely hot at Rekkam because of the altitude but man... RAIN?!

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    Desert Survival Rule #1: Someone suggested that in a thunderstorm fiberglass helmets were more attractive to rays than bald heads, so bald-headed we went on (the SOFT G-SPOT style is born)...anyone input about this fiberglass issue?<o:p></o:p>
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    <o:p>Eventually, we found a big telecomm antenna which we thought a good place to camp by. Well actually not to close to it because the whole artifact was powered by a huge, noisy gas engine (pity the soldier who was there on duty the whole night guarding the antenna within the narrow fenced precint)...sorry no antenna pics, some camp pics instead:<o:p></o:p>
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    Desert Survival Rule #2: In the desert you need to sleep: Mxxx and Cxxxx (names intentionally omitted to avoid a lawsuit), aka the snorers had to camp at an appropriate distance from the rest of us.

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    Day 3 coming soon...<o:p></o:p>
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    #4
  5. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
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    Yay!! Another Morocco report!! :clap

    :lurk
    #5
  6. zorsch

    zorsch vanvandero !

    Joined:
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    very cool, looking forward to going to morocco myself next year ! wish you a great time !
    #6
  7. Navel

    Navel Omphaloskeptical

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    Yes I saw your threads and i posted something on your gear thread, hope you have a great time too, remember if you go south via Portugal I live near the northern border with Spain, so if you pass by you are welcomed at my place. :freaky
    #7
  8. Navel

    Navel Omphaloskeptical

    Joined:
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    We went to bed a little worried that it rained all night and we ended up floating in our tents, but it didnt and I slept like a log (changing the office desk for a bike saddle works wonders you know)

    So we woke up to a beautiful morning, crispy air, a bit cloudy (which is perfect)…snorers still at safe distance.

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    Snorer approaching Camp Tranquility…we proceed to Defcon 2 !!

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    We loaded the bikes and headed towards Matarka in search for breakfast, the day was perfect temperaturewise and we reached Matarka quite fast, unluckily again most of the track had been paved.

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    In Matarka it was Market day, and there were a lot of old Bedford trucks and people hanging around.

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    Always a warm welcome in moroccan villages

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    So we parked our bikes and asked one of this guys for a place to have breakfast, he showed us to a local Café where we went on with our Bar- sampling activity.

    This guy, as many others we met on our way, showed us the meaning of the word hospitality, he spent his time showing us the village, helped the woman who owned the bar prepare our breakfasts and finally payed for them…

    The Bar

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    Typical moroccan breakfast: supersweet mint tea, delicious bread and smiling cow cheese

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    After "Starbucks" we went to a local mechanic to borrow some tool to arrange my brake pedal (I had twisted it the previous night when I hit a rock driving in the dark to find a suitable spot for placing our tents)

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    Kristoff considered trading in his BMW

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    Then we went on a shopping spree amidst the local boutiques

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    After that we left Matarka and thanks to a sucky navigation (we were meant to go south not East) we arrived in Tendrara, , er…anyway, on entering the town we met a police checkpoint, Kristoff, who was first to arrive was extensively interrogated by the two young cops until they found out he was married: “what a pity” said one of the cops (seemingly brokenhearted) and then he lets us go, unluckly we have no pics because it is strictly forbidden to take pics of military/police…

    Kids in Tendrara

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    And after Tendrara it was time to put things back in order again i.e. do some proper navigation towards Anoual and finally leave the damm tarmac behind YeeHaa!!!

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    And SurPriSe!! Another rainy day in the moroccan desert summer!!!

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    Thunderstorm ahead

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    But the storm left as soon as it had arrived and we found a place to have our daily bath (we are clean guys you know)

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    Due to forum rules about nudity I omitted our swimming pics but if ladies demand were too high I might re-consider this decission...:evil

    The place was a small pond that a river made near a broken bridge (guess the river gets a bit wild in the spring time).

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    Pistes were fast as we approached Anoual

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    And shortly afterwards we arrived in Talsinnt where we found a gas station and got our dinner.

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    Headturners

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    After that we went to our 5,000 star hotel, it didn´t seem like it would rain so some decided to sleep outside.

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    Kindda tired now so I will take a break and continue over the next week, next days were amazing, just a teaser of DAY 4
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    #8
  9. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
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    Gotta love that 5000 star hotel! :lol3

    Thanks for the great pics and funny commentary :thumb

    :lurk
    #9
  10. Navel

    Navel Omphaloskeptical

    Joined:
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    I regard every single day I spent in Marocco as amazing, not only for being in the company of good friends but also because everything was great: the people, the landscape, the food&#8230;you name it!.
    But we had had too much riding on tarmac so far, that changed on day 4 where we found fast open tracks, the vastness of the plateau and riding for hours on endless dirt tracks that reached into the horizon gave me a freedom feeling that is hard to explain, but you know what I am talking about!

    Anyway less talk and more pics!

    After checking out from our &#8220;hotel&#8221; we looked up on our michelin restaurant guide for the next star rated café to have our breakfast, that was in Tajjite I think, a short ride away from our night camp.

    Café Rania, where we had boiled eggs as an unexpected alternative to the daily &#8220;Vache qui rit&#8221; cheese. (eggs in such a hot climate might not be such a good idea but&#8230;this is an adventure after all!)

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    Exiting the village to the Southwest we found the track to Boudnib, an amazing fast piste with some sand patches and rocky sections, but let the pics do the talking.

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    We met some goat shepherds, they were half-nomadic spending 6 months a year with the cattle living in haimas.

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    I stopped in front of one of those Haimas thinking what an austere life this people had, when two girls no older than 10 came out of the tent and shot a picture of me, I was so shocked, I guess they found a simple guy like me quite exotic too.
    That this girls had a digital camera was something I didn´t expect, then I thought about all the things we have and about the good hearted adventurer who gave them a camera...anyway I don´t want to get very profound on this and bore you with my thoughts.

    I was closing the group and had to ride on....

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    In the middle of the Plateau we found a &#8220;col&#8221;

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    While taking some pictures at the top of the hill, we got taken over by a woman with a mule we had seen at the bottom of the steep climb.

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    WAIT A MINUTE!!...A woman at the top?

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    A donkey?

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    OH MY GOD SHE WAS HILLARY CLINTON!!!!! :eek1

    After taking some pictures with her, we had our fun down the rocks

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    It was getting damm hot, so we were very happy to find an oasis

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    There was a water spring in the oasis, but only Manel was man enough to drink some, we expected him to spend the rest of the day in the toilet, but he was fine though, even after the delicious Lamb Tajin we had at Boudnib.

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    The restaurant at Boudnib

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    It was really hot in Boudnib, which reminds me of...

    Desert survival rule #3: If you only have one compass, and it is made of plastic, don´t leave it on top of your bike exposed to the sun while you have lunch.
    Note: the melting point of a plastic compass is 53º C (127.5 º F)

    When we were planning the trip the temperature we could reach in the desert in July was a big concern for all of us, but we could actually cope quite well with it, the trick: drink a lot, take some rest in the central hours of the day, mesh jackets and&#8230; take it easy.

    It also helps that the air is so dry (humidity is under 10%) that the temp feeling is not as bad as the thermometer reading would suggest.

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    Now we had to hit the track again but, although the BMW averages 300 km on a Tank, we had a lot of sandy riding ahead so we´d better find some gas (and there was no gas station in Boudnib)

    (To be continued soon)












    #10
  11. zorsch

    zorsch vanvandero !

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    this is so awesome ! :clap

    do you take GPS coordinates for some "must go" places on your route ?
    #11
  12. Navel

    Navel Omphaloskeptical

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    Servus Zorsch! Not actually, I took a GPS with me but only as a backup for map based navigation, however I think you can easily spot on Google Maps or Google Earth most of the places I mention in the report.

    About which ones are a must go. I wouldn´t point to a place specifically, I mean the Rekkam plateau is great for riding along it, not because you find beautiful villages or specific spots, the pleasure is just to ride on endless dirt tracks, to do navigation I found a Michelin map and a Compass enough.

    South of Rekkam you might want to visit Erg Chebbi dunes (there are a couple of pics at the beginning of my report I think).

    Both Todra and Dades Gorges are nice too (as you will see when I get to finish my report). I had also planned to ride around Imilchil lake but things turned out other way.

    Anyway, feel free to msg me about your route or any question you have about ours and I will try to help. :freaky
    #12
  13. hihosliver

    hihosliver Adventurer

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    hey guys, great pics and good stories. I'm actually on a plane...free wifi and heading for some work. It looks nice to be out on the open desert. If I can just get some stuff done around the house, wait for spring to roll around, maybe I can get away for some riding...until then, I'll just keep reading yours and other's posts.

    Ride safe.
    #13
  14. Belle Sinclair

    Belle Sinclair Adventurer

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    I vote for the swimming pictures please!:evil
    #14
  15. Thorne

    Thorne Sherpa-ing around

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    Splendid stuff.............:clap
    #15
  16. Navel

    Navel Omphaloskeptical

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    Hi Belle, thanks for your vote :wink: I will have to ask gadgetboy about posting the X rated stuff :rofl

    So we were in Boudnib looking for gas, after some research we found a guy who sold gas, we had been warned of the variable quality of the gasoline sold in the street, but according to the restaurant owner who knew other sellers in town this guys stuff was ok.

    So we went to the "gas station"

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    Then we had to find the track to Erfoud, we let a couple of local boys guide us for two or three km out of town where we found the track, they earned some Dirhams and we didn´t have to bother with the navigation for a while.

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    The track started right after a small ford

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    The track again was fast and we only stopped to take some pics and meet our first camels, er...dromedaries to be precise!

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    Out of who knows where appeared this young camel shepherd with his bike, again I felt impressed: more than an hour riding fast into the desert from Boudnib without seeing a soul, and when you stop you find this lonely boy with the camels...at least he had a bike!

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    Near Erfoud we found a broad dry river, the river bed was very sandy and with our heavy bikes it was a bit demanding….wished I had a KTM 690 enduro…nah that would have been too easy!

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    Who wants to go first?

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    On arriving at Erfoud we found a river crossing where we had our daily bath, the current was strong but there were some locals in the water too, so had to be safe. (sorry no pics).

    Erfoud was quite a different thing from what we had seen so far, I mean it was a proper town and you could clearly notice the footprint of tourism there, people approached us offering restaurant, lodging, etc. They didn´t press on too hard on us though, but I can´t say I liked it, so we just had dinner and night on we drove a few km out of town to set up camp and get some sleep.

    Sorry, only this bad pic from Erfoud (at the restaurant)

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    (to be continued soon)...just a teaser of Day 5

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    #16
  17. Andy G

    Andy G 2wheeled alpinist

    Joined:
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    Location:
    eastern Munich outback, Bavaria, Germany
    Nice RR & pics, thanks for posting. Morocco will be the place for my next Africa Desert ride. Keep on posting, I'm curious to see why the AfricaTwin is towed by the BMW.

    Cheers, Andy
    #17
  18. punisher_uk

    punisher_uk Adventurer

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    great report need more
    hoping to go to the big M in for the new year
    want to no wher the first pick was taken ?
    must visit ther :)
    #18
  19. Navel

    Navel Omphaloskeptical

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    Thanks for your comments Andy, you will soon see what happened to the Africa Twin, I will resume the report on Monday because today I am going to Portugal for the weekend.

    PS: Jetzt aber auf Deutsch mal! (habe selbst ein Jahr in Bayern gewohnt), sehr schöne Bilder auf deiner webseite, hast Du sie in Bayern geschossen?
    #19
  20. Navel

    Navel Omphaloskeptical

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    The first pic was taken somewhere up the Dades gorge between Ait Hani and Agoudal, I remember I saved a GPS waypoint near where the pic was taken, so as soon as I work out the data I´ll send you a private with the exact location.
    #20