Morocco (not very epic!)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Frostguiding, Dec 6, 2017.

  1. Frostguiding

    Frostguiding Adventurer

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    I put a couple of pictures on another thread and a few folk asked for more, so here it is. A "not very epic" Morocco report!
    It was my second trip to Morocco, but this time I was on my own and a lot less adventurous off the tarmac - the consequences of crashes and breakdowns on your own in the middle of nowhere weighing heavily on this solo rider's mind! Still, there's a lot to do and see in Morocco...

    Living in the Swiss Alps the first challenge is getting out of the mountains in November - this year the St Bernard Tunnel was closed, so day 1 involved a slippery ride over the Forclaz and Col des Montets, and a smelly trip through the Mont Blanc Tunnel.

    First night camping in Finale Liguria...

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    Waiting for the ferry...I got the ferry from Genoa to Tanger Med. 48 hours on the ferry, but otherwise from Switzerland it's 2000km across France and Spain - in November. The ferry is a relaxing alternative - and it's probably faster and cheaper (about €380 return with a bike, cabin and meal voucher)

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    All set for 2 days on the ferry!
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  2. Frostguiding

    Frostguiding Adventurer

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    You get the police passport check done on the ferry but still have to go through customs in Morocco, and fill out some papers to temporarily import the bike. In 2015 we did this on the ferry and it took 20 mins to get through customs. This time we had to do the whole thing in Tanger Med - it took 3 hours! No hassle, just very, very slow. I'd met 2 other guys on the ferry - a hard-core world-travelling German who I'd last seen on the ferry back from Morocco in 2015, and a cheerful Italian on another KTM 990. I'd booked a hotel for the first night and Paolo decided to ride with me. The delays meant it was now pitch dark - an exciting welcome to Morocco - but the hotel turned out to be excellent. €30 for a good room and excellent food. http://www.hotel-restinga-lylaconfort.com/en/

    View from the hotel
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    Paolo was headed for Mauritania so we rode together down the motorway to Casablanca - he carried on, I turned off for an eye-opening journey through the city in some very Moroccan traffic!

    Grand Mosque Hassan - Morocco's biggest mosque and the world's tallest minaret!
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    I ended up on the Oasis campsite in Dar Bouazza after a hectic search, arriving with 5 minutes of daylight to spare...Great little site, and a bargain price - I think I paid MAD18 - about €1.50!
    https://www.campercontact.com/fr/ma...e-de-camping-car-camping-oasis.aspx?fromsso=1
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  3. Frostguiding

    Frostguiding Adventurer

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  4. Frostguiding

    Frostguiding Adventurer

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    Next day, another shortish trip down the coast past Safi to Essaoira. This is a coast of contrasts - beautiful beach, stunning holiday villas, massive industrial complexes (Morocco is a major producer of phosporous) lovely old Medina in Safi, and some very deprived villages...

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    There's a good tarmac road just inland, but plenty of good tracks to ride almost on the beach.
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    I ended up at the excellent Camping Esprit Nature - expensive at MAD100 but easily the nicest place I camped.
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  5. Frostguiding

    Frostguiding Adventurer

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    There's now a new dual carriageway from Essaoira to Marrakesh. It takes a couple of hours but watch out for speed traps! Morocco is building roads at an incredible rate, but as the roads improve they're having to deal with the very first-world problem of speeding - every fast road I used had radar traps. I'd had half a plan to stop in Marrakesh but somehow the traffic spat me out on the East before I'd stopped...so I didn't.
    The Tizi-n-Tichka is the easiest Atlas crossing from Marrakesh, yet is being improved still further. Massive roadworks at the moment, but it's still a good ride.


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    Down the other side the scenery changes - it's much more arid and typically Moroccan. There's a great road down from the col via Taflouet...

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    Which brings you to Ait Ben Haddou - location film set for lots of films, and worth a visit!
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  6. Frostguiding

    Frostguiding Adventurer

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    I had a copy of Chris Scott's excellent Morocco Overland book and I was now close to his routes on the south side of Toubkal. MH6 from Aguim to Aoulouz turned out to be all new tarmac, but MH8 just to the east was perfect - easy tracks, stunning scenery, and a couple of shepherds to talk to. No-one else in sight. pano toubkal(1) (Medium).jpg

    It still feels pretty lonely on your own. This is maybe 20km from tarmac, and I was definitely riding carefully...
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    Chris Scott's book, 2 paper maps and the OSM Morocco maps loaded onto Garmin Zumo...

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  7. Frostguiding

    Frostguiding Adventurer

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    I camped near Talliouine - this is a big tourist area and there's plenty of choice here, but November is low season so most places are empty. Next day I headed East - I needed to keep an eye on the days now as I had a ferry to catch and the forecast seemed to be turning. 2 years ago I'd ridden the Nekob-Iknioun track (Chris Scott MH4) and camped at the col. From memory this was easy riding and really spectacular, but sadly now it's the scene of yet another massive road construction project. A huge new road leads out of Nekob. You can ride some of it but have to use to the old trail to avoid the work sites, and this has been pounded to dust by lorries leaving some unpleasant riding. Higher up things improve but it seemed a lot rockier and washed-out than I remembered. There's no sign of work on the Iknioun side and it remains as wild as ever.

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    Happily I ended the day here - the only guest, but excellent food, good room, and a really warm welcome at the foot of the Dades gorge.

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  8. Frostguiding

    Frostguiding Adventurer

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    Next morning I had a look up the Dades gorge and the famous hairpins.

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    I'd planned to continue North from here across the Atlas but got conflicting reports on track conditions. Playing safe, I turned back and went to Tinghir, up the Todra gorge, turned east out to Rich.

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    This turned out to be stunning. Tarmac all the way, but deserted and beautiful.

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    I ended up on the municipal camping in Midelt - easy to find, basic but cheap, and they sell carpets. Be warned! But they also have beer, so it's worth it.
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  9. airhead_irl

    airhead_irl Been here awhile

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    Fantastic !! Great photos - the weather looked excellent too. I love reading these ride reports especially at this time of the year.
    #9
  10. Frostguiding

    Frostguiding Adventurer

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    By now the forecast was looking pretty bad for my last day, so I hurried North. Things were going well up through Boulemane and Ifrane on excellent roads, great scenery, no traffic. IMG_1564 (Medium).JPG
    I skirted around Fez and then got carried away and went NE through the Rif mountains - notorious for it's marijuana trade. At first this was great riding on a fast new road (with speed traps!) but north of Taounate the roads get worse. Ketama was a small but hectic town. Then it rained. It had been dry for a month so the first rain turned the roads into oil-slick skating rink. The '07 990 isn't known for it's smooth low-rev throttle response...and speed reduced to 50kph, every corner being a clutch-slipping wheel-spinning "adventure". West across the Rif must be spectacular in good weather on a dry road, but I was very relieved to reach Chefchaouen and the excellent camping Azila!
    The next day, my last, and it really rained! I'd seen the forecast, set off early to beat the worst of it, and spent a pleasant afternoon in the port café watching football on a big screen as others arrived with tales of floods and storms. I dried out nicely in the café, then got a good soaking going through customs and passport control (all very swift and efficient on the way out!) There's a good duty free shop in Tangier Med port where you can spend the rest of your Dirhams and get set up for the 48 hours on the ferry.

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    So, only 9 days and not so much off-road exploring this time, but a great trip. Morocco is a great country with lovely, friendly people (although it helps if you speak French) It's changing fast though, with huge modernisation and road-building projects. Chris Scott may well produce a third edition Morocco Overland soon, which will be a good buy - the second edition is already quite out of date.
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  11. AliveDK

    AliveDK Been here awhile

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    Nice RR thanks for sharing :clap
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  12. Frostguiding

    Frostguiding Adventurer

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    Glad you liked it! It's a great country - I'll go back again.
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  13. AliveDK

    AliveDK Been here awhile

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    I have thought of going many time, but I prefer to go on my own 990 and it's 3200 km from here just to Algeciras........let's see :-)
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  14. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Unicorn hunting

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    This is great stuff - I always like accommodation info.

    With all this new asphalt, it sounds like Morocco could be a good playground for the Hyperstrada (apart from radar).
    #14
  15. Mr Head

    Mr Head Adventure Hippie

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    A wonderful report. :clap
    I don't know why, but in my imagination, motorcycle adventure travel is represented by Moroccan landscapes. Thanks for bringing us along so we can daydream our winters away. :thumb
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  16. kneeslider

    kneeslider Long timer

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    Great report. You brought back a lot of memories of living in Morocco (2 years), so good some not so.
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  17. Frostguiding

    Frostguiding Adventurer

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    It's 2000km from here to Algeciras so I got the ferry from Genoa to Tangier. I know Genoa is still a long way from Denmark (!) but it's another option and a more interesting ride. The ferry is cheaper and faster than riding to Spain.
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  18. Frostguiding

    Frostguiding Adventurer

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    You could have a great time on a road bike in Morocco! Most of this trip was tarmac in fact - just because I was wary of going too far off-road on my own.
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  19. KL__07

    KL__07 ride your own way

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    well done - nice report!
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