Royaume du Maroc en Moto

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by squawk77, Jul 14, 2013.

  1. squawk77

    squawk77 Dreamer

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    The rising sun casts a dancing spectacle of amber and shadow across the dunes as I toil over the burgeoning reasons to turn around. “Zagora par piste est possible” a local assures me looking at my bike. “Faites attention à la feche-feche.” I carry on small talk while comparing a map to my GPS, accustomed to the hustlers and false guides by now. “Tu vas voir” he warns impassively, staring off into the Sahara.

    Expecting the typical Moroccan sales pitch by now, I realize he has no pack of souvenirs. This is no tourist town and I’m warming up to his demeanor. Mousharaf is taking it easy on his day out of the mines and has probably seen many of us “adventure types” over the years. A little skittish after riding in through a sandstorm the night before and with little time to waste in the feche-feche, I make him an offer to join me.

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    #1
  2. squawk77

    squawk77 Dreamer

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    He fills his Yamazuki from a village drum and visits his mother’s hut for a bottle of water. Waving to his friends as we parade out of town, we begin the infamous piste with the sun at our backs. He carefully chooses his line through the various terrain, reading the sand the way I would read the snow. It’s all new to me and in some places I struggle to keep up and others I'm too busy taking in the scenery. When I fall, he nonchalantly comments on my technique while pointing out his narrow bald tires.

    Around noon we reach the middle of a vast dried up lake bed. Sand twirls around on the hazy horizon and tracks lead off in a myriad of directions. The beauty of the moment is lost on me... distracted by my Garmin knowing I’ll be on my own. “Oublier votre GPS” he interrupts. He says to look for the Auberge Marabout in the dunes dunes after a village, and to go right at the split in the valley. “Faites attention a gauche!” I have the deer-in-headlights-look and he offers to go further, but I thank him and we say our goodbyes.

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  3. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    That is cool.

    I'm glad though that I only ever experienced wind like that while sitting in a 4x4 ... how many days did it take before you could shower without finding sand everywhere?

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  4. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Looks great and a far cry from your last ride report thru the Alps. :thumb
    #4
  5. squawk77

    squawk77 Dreamer

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    Actually I'm still cleaning sand out of my gear haha! The worst of it was over but I didn't want to try my luck camping in that mess

    It's too bad we didn't meet up in Spain! I had a few rough days back-roading through Andalusia and wasn't online (snowed in roads in southern Spain on Easter, who knew?) Then I saw your post just after we crossed paths

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  6. squawk77

    squawk77 Dreamer

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    Thanks, that was preparation for this one :d
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  7. squawk77

    squawk77 Dreamer

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    I ride into the small town of Tafroute Sidi Ali and a horde of kids soon swarm the bike. I'm a bit relieved to see some people and they eagerly point me in the direction of the Auberge Marabout. I notice plastic bottles of gas for sale but I don't want to test it. I stop to admire the dunes and the auberge owner soon comes to find me. He gives me the same directions as Mousharaf, with the same emphasis on the split in the valley. “Faites attention a gauche!” Mess this up, and I’d apparently be spending the night in the feche-feche.

    After avoiding the paths to M’hamid navigation is pretty straight forward. I follow a long dirt road down the rock valley. The day before I couldn’t fuel up due to the sandstorm, and now I have to pour the 5L jug with blowing sand. Arriving at Zagora just before sunset on fumes, I’m immediately approached by a scooter who entices me to his garage. For 100 dirhams (I think they asked for 50 or less) they carefully wash/dry the bike, clean/spray the chain and filter, and of course mint tea. I check in across the street to the place with a huge garden and pool. I met a Canadian writer there and a group of British riders.


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    Near Auberge Marabout N30.38.428 W04.45.040 marabout-tour at hotmail.com

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    Zagora
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    Garage Iriki Zagora N30.19.362 W05.50.330 garage_iriki at yahoo.fr
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  8. squawk77

    squawk77 Dreamer

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    I bought an open-return ticket from a sea container booth on the way into Algeciras for €82. I usually buy tickets online but this worked out well. It was Easter weekend and the majority of passengers were Moroccans. Waiting in line, a Tiger Explorer with UK plates rolls up beside me. It turns out his partners weren’t going to make it due to the late winter in Europe (I had been riding through snow and freezing rain myself) As the only tourists and riders on the ferry, we discuss plans over coffee and decide to go for Chefchaouen together.

    Tangier Med is a great port of entry. We get through the customs on the ferry (if you arrive at one of the Spanish enclaves, you’d have to waste more time at a land border) It’s a newer industrial port with lots of space for trucks (unlike arriving in an old crammed city with the beggars, hustlers, traffic etc) Importing the bikes was easy as we filled in the required forms ahead of time. The only oddity is you have to register your passport the first time with the police in another building. This new building has WiFi, food, espresso, cash exchange etc.

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    Once you leave the port though, you’re suddenly immersed into another world. Everyone is driving old Mercedes and flashing their lights to say hi. The roads are littered with dirt, oil, manure, holes and scattered with people and animals. It’s not long before we pass the crowded scene of an accident. The next road is crumbling apart and leads straight into a dam.. Whenever you stop, somebody comes out of somewhere to say hi. We follow an ambulance into Chefchaouen and find a “hotel” for 140 dirhams and have our first thé à la menthe.

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  9. squawk77

    squawk77 Dreamer

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    The next morning was wet and overcast. We decided to continue south together but I wanted to check out the nearby piste first. Once higher, the sky opened up and the trail looked alright so we ventured on. Eventually we were crossing wash outs too narrow for a Land Rover and realized this piste was only being used by donkeys and goats. The heavier 1200 Explorer had some trouble with the mud and a rock bent the sidestand sensor, but we made it through. The scenery was great and I was enjoying the F800GS offroad.

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  10. squawk77

    squawk77 Dreamer

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    We head south in search of arid weather. The roads were still cluttered with debris, dirt, holes, oil, manure, people and animals and now it was wet and foggy. We pass a lot of these old Mercedes shared taxis loaded with 5 or 6 people, or the old Mercedes vans overloaded with carpets, sheep and people. What I found interesting is the courtesy and awareness of the drivers, who often signalled left as soon as we were approaching if it wasn’t clear to pass and then immediately moved over when it was. You never see that in Canada.

    Near Volubilis we find a 4 star hotel and negotiate a price for half board. The place is huge and nostalgic but almost entirely empty. We line our bikes up inside with a group of French and Belgian riders who we would hang out with for the night. There was beer and friendly female staff, but no hot water or firewood... The next day we ride through Midelt into the arid mountains and find a great family-run place to stay in the middle of nowhere. The owner was a wealth of knowledge and pointed us to some of the best rides on the trip.

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    Volubilis N34 04.380 W5 33.276
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    Camping Jurrasique N32 09.275 W4 22.528
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  11. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    In my experience the same applies to many other countries around the Mediterranean. On first glance it's terrifying that people overtake despite oncoming traffic, but after a while you notice the difference: people are paying attention, and everything works out fine. (ok, some exceptions prove the rule ...)
    For weeks an intern had been frightened about traffic on Crete. One day I forced her to drive, and after an hour she stated it was more fun than back home in Germany. From that day on she was always volunteering as the designated driver. Very useful. :wink:

    (Now there's a G-rated story about an intern and a happy ending ...)
    :lol3
    #11
  12. squawk77

    squawk77 Dreamer

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    :lol3

    In Canada our roads are so big and straight that most people's attention wanders. We can't legally filter even though there's way more space.. Germany has a nice balance.. the driving is a lot more engaging than Canada but it's not as dangerous as the Med. For me though, the sportier the better :D
    #12
  13. kneeslider

    kneeslider Long timer

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    Oui, c'était le Maroc. C'est drôle comment je l'apprécie plus maintenant, alors quand je vivais là-bas.

    Superbes photos et rapports.
    Voyage bien.
    #13
  14. squawk77

    squawk77 Dreamer

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    Je voudrais vivre aux nombreux coins du monde.. mais le Maroc est mieux a visiter j'imagine.

    Merci
    #14
  15. kneeslider

    kneeslider Long timer

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    Ah oui, agréable à visiter, mais pas de vivre!
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  16. squawk77

    squawk77 Dreamer

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    Like pilgrims, we had travelled far and wide to find this “Holy Trinity” of winding road, unique scenery, and no traffic. At long last we had the bright dry weather of the Anti-Atlas range. As we pass through the small traditional villages, kids run out to wave or high five. Tourism is so scarce here that we are a bit hesitant to eat... The menu is always the same in Morocco, but this time he says it will take 30 minutes to prepare... It turns out to be the best meal I had in Morocco hands down! Just goes to show you never know what to expect..

    Gorges du Todgha is one of those must see places.. but of course it's very touristy with all the caravans and peddlers in the way. We snap a few obligatory photos and hightail it outta there. The Gorge du Dadès is even better, with the ever iconic canyon road. It’s here that my new friend and I share our last mint tea before going our separate ways. It was great to have an accomplice in this foreign world and I picked up some new tricks. I set off alone down a rocky piste that passes many tuareg on horseback and small nomadic tribes.

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  17. squawk77

    squawk77 Dreamer

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    After this I got blindsided in a sandstorm on the way to Merzouga. After the long day I realized my camera was broken and somehow I deleted a bunch of my favourite pics of the trip.. I had some amazing up close pics of the tuaregs on horseback and following the Triumph Explorer up the twisty Dades but alas.. I’m still kicking myself. It must have been complete sensory overload that day because I almost lost an expensive memory card as well. Most of the pics in this thread are from our iPhones!
    #17
  18. squawk77

    squawk77 Dreamer

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  19. GotDR650

    GotDR650 Adventurer

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    Cool report. Keep on posting. I was in Tangier with my bike and gf beginning of August. Now that I see all of your photos I keep saying to myself "damn, why didnt I leave Tangier for a day and went south".
    But, im only 25 and have enough time to do this trip again :clap
    #19
  20. Ruan

    Ruan Adventurer to be

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    Love Maroc. Excelent RR. :lurk
    #20