Morocco: A tale of Sand, Snow and 1001 Nighttime Photos

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Huffduff, Mar 5, 2018.

  1. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    Great photography! I had immensely enjoyed your report about the Iran trip (link in your signature), so I expect a lot this time.
    :clap

    The downside is that now I regret even more that I had left my tripod at home.

    @Huffduff, did you move to Switzerland?
    #41
  2. Huffduff

    Huffduff Adventurer

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    Thanks again to everybody who liked/replied, I'm glad you like it.
    Yes, I shot raw and then postprocessed all the images individually in Lightroom.


    Nice, still going or already home?

    Yes, I moved to Zürich 2 years ago, being able to go for a day tour in the alps is just amazing.
    #42
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  3. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    I'm back in Germany, but I'll pick up my bike in Barcelona in a month to participate in the HISS. After that I hope to spend a few days in the Pyrenees before finally heading home.

    Hym, now I remember - you were a geophysicist as well! I very fondly remember the days ... Here's me on my last campaign years ago, teaching seismics somewhere in the Massif Central.
    :jkam

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    #43
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  4. Huffduff

    Huffduff Adventurer

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    Haha perfect, that's how you do geophysics :rofl(with student slaves...)

    Anyway, I know that it took me that long to come up with the new episode. I can only plead innocence and blame my new acquisition:
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    Ducati ST3s. With the start of spring it just didn't leave me any free time to continue my report...

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    From the Anti-Atlas into the Desert

    I finished the last episode in the village of Tamtetouchte. From there I went southwards to cross the Anti-Atlas, and what a crossing that was. The dirt road from Ikniouen to Nikob was one of the most spectacular mountain passes I ever did.

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    The start of the dirt road just south of Ikniouen.

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    On the highest point, the road followeda crest, together with a little guesthouse.

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    Nothing but thorny shrubbery grows here.

    On the descent I goofed and dropped the Tenere in completely harmless switchback. Not really worth mentioning, except for my pure bad luck. The right handguard took the brunt of the drop, bent out of shape and blocked the brake lever. So, I spent the next half hour exhausting my vocabulary of swearwords while trying to bend it back into shape (that bloody thing was not strong enough to take a fall but too strong for me ... ). In the end I had to take it off completely to wedge it in-between two rocks for better leverage. Well, at least it did its job of protecting the brake lever. With a usable brake I continued towards civilization and found a campsite in the picturesque Wadi Draa.
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    Here I ended the day with probably the best photo I will ever take. This palm grove offered a perfect framing for the local kasbah and, by pure luck, a car passed by on the nearby road, illuminating the kasbah, right in the moment I took that picture.
    #44
  5. Huffduff

    Huffduff Adventurer

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    Hmm, after a creative pause of 5 months (cough, cough ... ) it's time to continue here...
    I also realized the title of the previous episode was a bit misleading, I started in the Anti-Atlas but didn't finish in the desert. So, here's the promised desert.

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    Into and out of the desert

    Leaving my campsite and the Kasbah in Wadi Draa behind, I rode south west. Still in the Anti-Atlas mountains but I intended to reach the desert in the south, close to the algerian border.

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    A village in the Anti-Atlas. I love the timelessness of this photo, if cameras existed back then, it would be impossible to tell whether it was taken 1 year or 1000 years ago.


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    Endless gravel roads...

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    Even endless roads end somewhere, this particular one ended in the town of Tata, in the southern foothills of the Anti-Atlas.

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    A Triporteur, the maroccan flavour of a small scale goods and cargo transporter.

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    Camels in the desert. Just beyond this small ridge, the land becomes flat and the desert stretches to the Algerian border and far beyond. I followed the main road in south western direction with the intention of finding an oasis to camp.

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    Just outside the village of Akka, I was successful. Following a dirt road through some gardens, where the villagers grow fruits and vegetables, and continuing onwards through the sands after the road had ended, I found the perfect palm tree to pitch my tent below.

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    Just in time to admire the sunset.

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    This day's night time photo. Stars above the oasis and a faint glow over Akka.

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    Sunrise; the difference in the light of sunrise and sunset has always intrigued me. While sunsets boast warm red and orange colours, sunrises are dominated by cooler yellow and even greenish light.
    For this day, I planned to turn northwards towards Marrakesh, crossing the Anti-Atlas again. I intended to leave the main roads and follow a shortcut through the mountains.

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    Market day in Tadakoust. Untill here, my plan to avoid the main road worked nicely, unfortunately the fish vendor (with blue headscarf) told me, my intended route was impassable and I had to return to the main road if I want to go northwards.

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    The boys were super excited to see a traveller and the hospitality by the villagers here was humbling. Immediately after I stepped off the Tenere, I was surrounded by curious locals and soon after was offered tea and some fruits.

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    More endless gravel roads south of the Anti-Atlas.

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    This endless road ended after 2 km at a guest house and camp site.

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    Every now and then the road leads through an oasis. I'd strongly recommend to stop, switch of the engine and just listen for a moment. The air is filled with birds' songs.

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    Sweeping road on the high plains of the Anti-Atlas.

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    A valley near Tafroute.

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    A village on a mountain top, also near Tafroute. This region is spectacular.

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    I ended this day with a tea in the most spectacular riad of this trip.

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    Nighttime photo of the day. More on this riad in the next episode.
    #45
  6. kneeslider

    kneeslider Insufficient privileges!

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    you can tell who's from where by the overloaded vehicles & poor driving abilities!
    #46
  7. kneeslider

    kneeslider Insufficient privileges!

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    Funny, I wasn't really happy when I briefly lived in Morocco (2 years), but now in retrospect I some how miss it.
    #47
  8. T.S.Zarathustra

    T.S.Zarathustra Been here awhile

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    Beautiful pictures, subscribed.
    I am wondering how you find campsites. Is it ok to camp close to the road or do you need permission?
    #48
  9. Huffduff

    Huffduff Adventurer

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    Thanks ;)

    Many campsites are marked as POI in OpenStreetMaps, but apart from that I was camping wild. No problems to do that close to the roads, on two occasions I camped literally right next to the road. Admittedly these were backroads, usually I prefer to camp out of sight of main roads.
    #49
  10. slowriding

    slowriding Dopeless Hope Fiend Supporter

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    Huffduff, I am enjoying your RR and hope to ride in Morocco early next year. What languages are commonly used and do you carry an electronic translator?
    #50
  11. Huffduff

    Huffduff Adventurer

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    Thanks, glad you like it. Have fun in Morocco. Arabic and berber are the local languages, french the most widespread foreign language (you'll always find someone who can speak it). I know some basics, and that was very helpful. English is only spoken in the touristic areas.

    ------------------------------------------------------
    Snowy Atlas

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    Let's start the episode with the rising sun. In the last episode I promised to tell a little bit about the accommodation, where I took the night sky picture in the alley way.

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    This is it, a large kasbah located picturesquely on a small hill overlooking the valley. The entrance alone was spectacular, you have the choice to climb the stairs to the front door or, take a small road, spiralling upwards around the hill, before entering through a gate into a courtyard at the base of the wall. From there another set of small stairs gets you up and inside the kasbah itself, while the luggage is hoisted up by a small cargo crane.

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    One of the small alley ways, that make up the structure.

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    Inside the dining room. The kasbah was privately owned by a family who are maintaining the buildings and operate the guest house.

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    After a good breakfast, I continued my way northwards, leaving the Anti-Atlas behind and approaching the mighty Atlas. The only notable occurrence in the densely populated valley in between the two mountain ranges were herds of camel and sheep crossing the roads.

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    Crossing the Atlas on a small pass road. Clearly, moroccans have a different approach to traffic safety.

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    This picture foreshadows the third central topic of my ride report. So far I've covered the sand and the night time photos...

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    Snow! The valleys on the northern side of the Atlas were covered in deep snow, and I had set my mind to camping in it. I could have easily continued to Marrakesh to find a cosy room there, but where is the adventure in that? So I turned off the main road to find a nice spot in one of the valleys.

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    But this search proved to be a bit more difficult than I imagined, and with the setting sun I decided to set up camp here, right next to the road. While setting up my tent I had to refuse a few invitations of passing moroccans, who couldn't let a stranger sleep in the snow.

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    The wintery night sky ends this episode, black and white if it weren't for yellow, red and blue stars.
    #51
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  12. Huffduff

    Huffduff Adventurer

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    Marrakesh
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    After 12 days in rural Morocco, I planned to visit one of the cities. I didn't have any preference and Marrakesh was closest and on my way northwards, so there I went to experience the hustle and bustle of a moroccan city. Here are some impressions

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    Early in the morning, on the way to Marrakesh. Nothing here indicates at the ankle deep snow, where I slept last night.

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    Entering Marrakesh, with the Atlas looming on the horizon.

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    Shopowner

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    El Badii palace

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    Streets of Marrakesh

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    The garden of a historic manor somewhere hidden in the alleyways of the bazaar. The channel is part of the original irrigation, an ingenious system based on gravitational potential.

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    In the old town alleyways

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    Herbs and Spices

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    The trader for the herbs and spices above



    While Marrakesh with its picturesque old town is really worth a visit, it left a shale aftertaste with me. Everywhere there were obtrusive people who wanted to sell something, act as a guide or get you in their shop or restaurant. At first they usually pretend to be your friend ('Hey my friend...') and then quickly get pushy and rude when they realize they won't get any money from you. Especially on the bazaar this behaviour was everywhere, as soon as you touched or even looked more closely at the offered merchandise, the seller jumped at you and cornered you, starting to build pressure to buy. It's actually quite impressive, they know every psychological trick to make you feel bad for not buying their goods at ridiculously inflated prices.
    Anyway, in that regard I really preferred the atmosphere in iranian cities, which is not (yet?) influenced by modern mass tourism. There people showed genuine interest in tourists and not only their money.
    Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed Marrakesh, but the more rural, less touristy parts of Morocco were so much more genuine.
    #52
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  13. Mr Head

    Mr Head Adventure Hippie Supporter

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    This is such a wonderful ride. Thanks for bringing us along. :clap
    I keep looking up shippers. :-)
    #53
  14. BSTT

    BSTT Been here awhile

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    Thanks for taking us with through this beautiful country!
    Perfect pics!!:clap

    Ciao Gero
    #54
  15. Flydream

    Flydream King of the Atlantic

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    Great pics! :clap:clap:clap
    #55
  16. Huffduff

    Huffduff Adventurer

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    Thanks, you're welcome :D

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    A night in the Canyon

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    A day in Marrakesh was enough and I continued my way through the Atlas.

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    Resupply stop in the village of Tilouguite.

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    I followed an amazingly beautiful river valley.

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    But the route I picked lead me off the main road and into an even more impressive narrow canyon with the village of Anergui on the other end.

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    There was everything that the adventurous motorcyclist desires, a cliff on one side and deep drop with a raging river on the other side of a narrow road.

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    It was already quite late, the sun was setting and I still far away from the end of the canyon. The thought of pushing on and riding along a road on the edge of a cliff in the darkness of the night was not exactly inviting and so I decided to sleep as soon as I found a suitable spot for my tent. But finding a spot for a tent in a narrow canyon, where all available flat space is used up by a road, is no easy task. By the time I found a spot, it was already properly dark and I was mighty thankful for my bright xenon headlight.

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    Here's a pic of my campsite, I told you it was dark ;)

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    And here's the spot in the next morning. I had to move some rocks to accommodate the tent.

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    I started the next day by celebrating the 66666 km birthday of my XT 660. And what a perfect location for such an occasion this is (albeit a bit cold and snowy ...).

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    Soon after, I found these guys, huddled around a campfire below a cliff, where they had spent the night.

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    Their car got stuck on this snowy incline late in the previous night. They offered me a cup of tea and a spot at their fire, which I gladly accepted. One of them spoke french and we had a short conversation before I continued. Thankfully they gave me a helping hand by pushing the Tenere uphill and around the car.

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    Yours truly, recently emerged from the canyon and back on a paved road, showing off my acquisition from the bazaars of Marrakesh.

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    Somewhere on mountain pass in the High Atlas.

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    This day's night time photo was taken somewhere on a secondary road near Ouezzane. No time for stars, since I had to make some distance to get the ferry from Tangier in the next day.

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    Hotel in Ouezzane, I ended up in probably the most dirty hotel in town (I was very lucky to have a sleeping bag, since the blankets looked like they hadn't seen water and soap for a very long time). But hey, they let me park the Tenere in the lobby.
    #56
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  17. Ruud109

    Ruud109 Dutch in Barcelona

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    Really enjoying this report, like the Iran report (which I remember reading a while ago), great writing and great pictures. Living in Barcelona since 3 years, and just having bought a dirt bike, Morocco has been on my mind to do maybe next year or the year after.

    Thanks for sharing, keep on sharing and hope you go on another trip again soon and will share as well!

    Kind regards
    Ruud
    #57
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  18. MrKiwi

    MrKiwi Love my Tranny Super Supporter

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    I first read your latest updates in my phone, but to do your pictures justice I needed to reread these on my PC. Your pics are awesome.
    #58
  19. el_pedo

    el_pedo n00b

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    ..ich seich in ofe! en zuger. wunderbar!!!! sehr schöni tour, perfekt bebilderet!! en gruess us unterägeri!
    #59
  20. DesertSurfer

    DesertSurfer Tail sprayin

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    Really great report, photos and intriguing location.

    Living on the south western coast of the US our version of Morrocco is Baja. Although not as deep rooted in culture there is the Spanish Jesuit Trail, beautiful deserts, amazing off road riding, incredibly humble people... And imminent dangers.

    But Morrocco is so unique and mystical.
    #60
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