2019 Morocco: The Door of Africa

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by GF-kam, Dec 14, 2019.

  1. GF-kam

    GF-kam Long timer

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    A couple of magical weeks with group of friends in Spain and Morocco. Went during week of Thanksgiving 2019.

    Since, very few moto rental companies allow solo tour with bike into Morocco from EU side, we signed up to a group tour. Something about insurance. We used IMTBike Motorcycle Tours. One of the more reputable and premier outfitters who do tours, provide solo tours, rent bikes, and store bikes. More about the later. So don't go flogging me.

    But frist let me post a few of my favorite pics:

    The famous Gorges Du Dades switchbacks.
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    Tagine for most meals. Slow cooked in two piece clay cookware with pyramid looking top. This one was a vegetable tagine.
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    Djemma El Fna ( open market ) in Marrakesh.
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    Marrakesh.
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    Looking onto the Fez medina.
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    The tannery in Fez.
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    The KTM ready to race team playground. Merzouga dunes and desert area. Near Erfoud.
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    Sunset in Merzouga desert. Ocean of sand dunes as far as the eye can see.
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    Gorges Du Todras. An oasis in one of the canyons near Boumalne Dades.
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    Mausoleum of Mohammed the V in Rabat.
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    This is a 45 minute movie of trip:
    #1
  2. GF-kam

    GF-kam Long timer

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    Some more general pics.

    Berber or Amazigh. Very complicated region. The indigenous people who live in northwestern Africa were referred to Berber by the rest of the western world. They have a distinct culture, language, and heritage. They are not Arabs. Apparently these days the people who populate the region we refer to as the Maghreb prefer to be called Amazigh and not Berber.




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    In the Merzouga desert. Nobody in our group was good enough to attempt a KTM 450, so we opted for ATV and Razors.
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    Waiting for sunset.
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    I am the big lebowski with the sunglasses. My wife agrees I look a lot better covered up. This blue turban could be my new look. Be on the lookout for me this summer if you're in the Mid Atlantic / northern Virginia area ;-)
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    Map showing our nine day trip plan. Very compressed schedule. 400+ Kilometer days. Logged a little over 2,300 Kilometers. With shorter winter days, we left by 8 a.m. and got into our next overnight stop by 6 p.m. Pretty much sunrise to sunset riding. This would be otherwise a 2 week trip.
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    Map showing our Gibraltar crossing between Spain and Morocco. We started from Malaga, Spain and drove down to Algeciras, and then onto a ferry across to Port Tanger Med. On the way back we took a high speed ferry out of the Spanish territory of Ceuta back to Algeciras.
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    Oh just pick a carpet ! Just any carpet.
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    Saying farewell to my friend. An hour earlier, we stopped at a kindergarten and elementary school and donated a huge box of school supplies.
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    #2
  3. GF-kam

    GF-kam Long timer

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    The trip was originally nine days of riding. Since we were flying into Spain from the east coast of U.S. to start the trip, one of my fellow riders wanted to see the Alhambra palaces, which is located in the southern city of Granada. So, we added a few extra days to see Madrid and Granada. Many of the motorcycle outfitters in Spain are located in Malaga. At least the ones who do Morocco and Andalusia area of Spain. Since, Granada is only two hours away from Malaga, we played tourist for about 5 days before starting our adventure. This also helped us adjust to the six hour time difference.

    Some pics from Madrid and Alhambra.

    This mosaic was originally done by the moores. You can see the christian ( Spanish ) influence in the center. The moores ruled the southern region of Spain for 600 years.
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    One of the tapas bars we visited in downtown Granada. Nothing in Spain gets going till 10 p.m.
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    The Court of Lions. Nasrid Palace in Alhambra.
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    Inside Nasrid palace. Intricate mosaic and plaster work on all walls and ceiling. If you ever get a chance to travel through Granada, a stop at Alhambra is a must. Need to purchase tickets at least 3 months in advance.
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    The Alcazaba at Ahambra.
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    Almudena cathedral door in Madrid.
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    Plaza Mayor in downtown Madrid. Setup for Christmas market. One of the most beautiful squares.
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    We stayed at one of the many smaller more budget friendly boutique hotels in the golden triangle area of Madrid. This is the Eurostars Plaza Mayor. Walking distance to all major attractions.
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    #3
  4. GF-kam

    GF-kam Long timer

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    More pics from Madrid and Alhambra.

    This is all my luggage. My riding gear takes up a good portion of my giant motocross size roller. I checked the roller and carried my helmet and a backpack on board. For international flights, the airline usually allows two pieces of checked luggage. Each piece of checked luggage has to be less than 51 lbs. ( 23 Kg. ). However, if you're traveling on Iberia air domestically, they usually only allow one checked bag under 51 lbs. Otherwise you be paying for overage luggage. I always carry a smaller packable duffle and and measure my primary luggage / roller carefully. Carrying your riding jacket alone will reduce weight by at least 8 lbs. Another tip. If you do have to pay for overage luggage find out from the airline person at the desk about upgrading your seat. Sometimes the cheap upgrades allow for up to 72 Kg. per one piece of luggage. I managed to get a deep discount on business class upgrade since the flight wasn't that full. Best times for U.S. citizen to fly internationally is July 4th, Thanksgiving day, and Christmas day.
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    Back inside Nasrid Palace. Cleary these craftsman had some knowledge of algebra and calculus.
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    Alhambra Palace. I think this was one the guest houses. Nice. The Alhambra is really a series of palaces around the original Nasrid Palace. Everything was fortified. The palace was built on steep hill, surrounded by moats, walls, gates, and fortress ( Alcazaba ). The contrast between the christian and moorish architecture is stunning.
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    Arabic calligraphy. Almost everything starts with the words allah o akbar. God it (the) greatest.
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    Looking towards Albaicin from Alhambra. The old muslim medina. Notice the brown wall in the middle of the photo. This was another layer of defense around the Alhambra.
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    Another view looking slightly west from Alhambra. There was actually a natural moat around the palace. Looking down towards Carrera del Darro. One of the prettiest streets in Granada.
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    Apparently some Spanish royals were visiting this cathedral in downtown Madrid. I think the cathedral of Iglesia.
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    Crypt of Almudena cathedral, Madrid.
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    Attached Files:

    #4
  5. GF-kam

    GF-kam Long timer

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    cont. more pics of Madrid and Alhambra.

    Court of Lions, Nasrid Palace.
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    Looking out towards Albaicin.
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    Looking out towards Granada.
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    A few of my crew. That pretty lady on the right wasn't a pillion rider. She rides a BMW 1000XR like a bat out of hell. Fearless. She was always riding in front of the pack. Speed demon.
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    One of the many tapas / jamon places in Madrid.
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    Prado museum. One of the largest collection of artwork in Europe. Madrid has at least a dozen museums. So if you're an art lover, a must stop.
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    me and my inmate start hitting the tapas bars and wine way ahead of local crowd. Everyone is skinny is Spain. So, this snaking and grazing thing must really work. I don't think we ever sat down for a conventional western style meal. When you get hungry, just roll into a tapas bar. Most places will bring you a complementary tapas tray with each drink. So as long as you drink, the tapas keeps rolling.
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    In Madrid.
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    Morning coffee and pastry shops also abound.
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    #5
  6. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

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    What a fantastic looking trip! Thank you for sharing with us!
    #6
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  7. GF-kam

    GF-kam Long timer

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    I am lucky to have seen Alhambra now in both summer and winter. Although, we did have rain the day we toured the palaces, the late November colors were fabulous.
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    Another picture of our group of five; one would meetup with us in Malaga. This was at a cool little far eastern food court next to the hotel. Sort of like indoor food truck area. Everything from Indian, Thai, Filipino, Chinese, and Japanese food under one roof. Cool hip young vibe. My friends had a hankering for spicy food. Great place to hangout that evening before heading out from Madrid for Granada.
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    Spanish paella in Madrid.
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    Plaza Mayor, Madrid.
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    Cafe across street from hotel.
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    Attached Files:

    #7
  8. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

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    Great photos. Looks like the good life.
    #8
  9. GF-kam

    GF-kam Long timer

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    Exploring Malaga Spain. Worthy of a stop. Give yourself a day on each side of trip to explore.

    Mercado Central de Atarazanas ( enclosed market ).
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    Acting local. Sitting at an outdoor cafe overlooking the harbor and Paul Allen's recently restored $300 million dollar ridiculous yacht.
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    Note the blue vessel to the right. I'll mention a bit of trivia below about this massive vessel.
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    Malaga looks like a pretty big city along along the gold coast of Spain. Beautiful weather even in late November. Temps felt like 70 Fahrenheit. Radiant sun is still pretty strong this time of year.
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    #9
  10. GF-kam

    GF-kam Long timer

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    cont. Malaga, Spain.

    The late Microsoft's co-founder Paul Allen's yacht. Absolutely ridiculous. Looks the size of a cruise ship. All the power to you if you got it:
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/arti...re-paul-allen-s-yacht-on-sale-for-326-million

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    The late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's 414 ft. yacht "Octopus" for sale if anyone has a cool $326 million USD to cash laying around. Notice the scale. You can see a full size helicopter on the stern of vessel.
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    Malaga getting ready for Christmas. Unfortunately we didn't have time to watch the lighting ceremony.
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    #10
  11. GF-kam

    GF-kam Long timer

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    DAY 1: Malaga to Rabat

    Route from Malaga to Rabat. Very long first day. we went from hotel to pickup bikes. Then about 160 km. to ferry in Algeciras. From Tanger Port Med we slabbed another 330 km. to Rabat. At times we were cursing at 120 km/H to 145 km/H on Morocco highways. No median. So you had to pass at times. All good.
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    This is the bike I rented. I think a 2019 model year BMW F750GS. For sure a F750GS. Practically brand new. Not a single scratch or spec of dirt on it. Something like 2,000 Km. on odometer. All new tires and shiny. Awesome ! I opted for GPS with preloaded routes for each day. That came in handy. Very happy with the setup. Plenty of smooth power and acceleration. Also very flickable.
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    We ride down to Algeciras to catch a ferry to Tanger Port Med.
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    Inside ferry boat.
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    Full steam ahead.
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    I wonder what kind of crude that tanker is carrying.
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    I believe that's Rock of Gibraltar. The crossing takes about an hour. You also have about an hour of paperwork upon arriving at Tanger Port Med.
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    Attached Files:

    #11
  12. GF-kam

    GF-kam Long timer

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    Couple more pics for ferry rider over.

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    Taking a few minutes to contemplate the door to Africa.
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    #12
  13. GF-kam

    GF-kam Long timer

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    Finally on my bike somewhere in Morocco.
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    The first gas stop in Morocco kind of reminded of the nicer gas stations in India. They typically have a really good restaurant adjacent. Kind of the tea house concept.
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    Nice cafe and restaurant adjacent to station.
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    Lots of tangines being made. Each of those clay pots in the back is the charcoal burners that the tagine sits on top.
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    Rolling into Rabat after a long day. Traffic got a little dicy a few miles before our hotel. Later on we found out some of the traffic lights weren't working.
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    The mausoleum. I cannot remember the full story. But, during the initial construction I think the mausoleum was hit by earthquake and they never raised funds to finish it. https://www.journeybeyondtravel.com/blog/hassan-tower-mohamed-v-mausoleum.html
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    The next morning we visited the Mausoleum of Mohammed the V before we rolled out of Rabat.
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    Attached Files:

    #13
  14. GF-kam

    GF-kam Long timer

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    DAY 2: Rabat to Marrakesh

    Another full day of riding today to get from Rabat to Marrakesh. 400 km. day.
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    Djemma El Fna. The open market in Marrakesh.
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    The market in the heart of Marrakesh has been around since the 11 century. The buildings around the open market are a maze of bazaars.
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    No snake charmers in the evening.
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    Some post dinner surprise entertainment.
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    The irony. The mosque is literally outside the restaurant.
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    #14
  15. GF-kam

    GF-kam Long timer

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    DAY 3: Marrakesh to Boumalne Dades

    Another long day. 400+ km. day. We get up into the Atlas mountains.
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    Tiz N'Tichka pass.
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    #15
  16. GF-kam

    GF-kam Long timer

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    cont. DAY 3

    Heading to Boumalne Dades. Another 400 km. day.

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    The garden behind my little auberge.
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    My accommodations was the lower level of this auberge. Actually very nice inside.
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    My room. Got chilly at night. We're in the mountains now. Elevation 5,000 ft. All the homes and inns are built on steep side of mountains. So, you're climbing up and down.
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    #16
  17. GF-kam

    GF-kam Long timer

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    DAY 4: Boumalne Dades to Erfoud


    I get up early in morning and try to walk up and down the main drag in Dades to grab some photos. Today we head to the beautiful Gorges Du Dades and Gorge Du Todras, which are just a few kilometers up the road. Then we head across the Atlas Mountains into the desert.
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    Gorges Du Todras is like an oasis. You get into this canyon with river running along side of road. In distant you can see a tiny village tucked under the mountain.
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    The famous Gorges Du Dades switchbacks. I am sure you've seen this place in other travel and adventure magazines. I had to remind myself to look ahead and turn my head and let the bike follow.
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    Attached Files:

    #17
  18. GF-kam

    GF-kam Long timer

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    cont. DAY 4: Boumalne Dades to Erfoud


    The little cafe at the top of the Gorge Du Dades switchbacks.
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    More morning photos my auberge Ait Ouffi.
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    These two Gorges are so popular there a number of auberges ( little inn and restaurants ) along the main road.
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    The little inn / auberge I stayed at in Dades.
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    Dinner at Auberge Chez Pierre. Very nice place. The kitchen and chef are working hard to create innovative dishes with Moroccan influence.
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    #18
  19. MIG

    MIG Edelweiss

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    great Report, brings back a lot of memories. Thank you
    #19
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  20. blaster11

    blaster11 Still having fun!

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    Very nice!
    #20
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