The Ramadan Diet, riding Morocco in May

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Gone_Ridin, Jun 13, 2019.

  1. Gone_Ridin

    Gone_Ridin Been here awhile Supporter

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    So I’ve been wanting to ride Morocco for several years now and have checked out whatever postings, about Moroccan rides, that pop up on ADVrider.

    So far, every time I think I would be able to get there, something has come up to postpone it. This year the perfect circumstances would allow for a couple weeks riding in Morocco; with my wife’s blessing no less! What led to that; my youngest daughter announcing she was going to go spend some time there touring around solo after a friend that was supposed to accompany her cancelled. No way was Mama letting her baby travel North Africa solo!

    With my 640 already in Spain waiting for me after it’s last ride around Eastern Europe, all that was needed was some off-road biased tires and a quick check over before heading south to meet my daughter in Marrakech.


    Morocco lived up to everything I had hoped for and so much more. It's a lucky thing that once I start my day riding I often can't be bothered to stop to eat until evening cause once away from the touristy areas there weren't many places to find food during Ramadan!
    Without going overboard, here's some random shots of the areas I rode through. I don't think I've ever stopped and taken so many pictures on a ride. Had one day(1/2 a day actually) of rain and it was on the last leg of Spain bringing the bike back to storage.

    The Rock; Gibraltar on the ferry to Africa IMG_1042.JPG


    Leaving Tetouan, headed west IMG_20190514_091906.jpg Somewhere just North of Casablanca IMG_20190514_145007.jpg

    Goats in trees, apparently it's a thing here IMG_20190516_151720.jpg
    Stayed in this Kasbah, guy's been restoring it for 25 years, amazing! IMG_20190516_162234.jpg

    One of the better backroads I ended up on IMG_20190520_175222.jpg

    Just more breathtaking landscape IMG_20190521_135624.jpg
    Mountain runoff; can be amazing and powerful IMG_20190522_113118.jpg The track heads thataway,... and goes and goes and goes IMG_20190521_140539.jpg

    Morning fog, over a lake in the mountains IMG_20190523_082402.jpg
    #1
  2. wnm_82

    wnm_82 Adventurer

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    Awesome views
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  3. bout2ride

    bout2ride Been here awhile Supporter

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    nice photos!
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  4. Gone_Ridin

    Gone_Ridin Been here awhile Supporter

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    I flew out of Thunder Bay on the 10th of May and after stops in Toronto and Frankfurt(I really hate this airport more each time I land there), arrived in Valencia around 6pm May 11th. Of course my custom, checked suitcase/tires was the last item to show up on the luggage belt.

    Tirebag.png

    Metro to the train station, train to Cullera and city bus to the neighborhood I have my bike stored.

    Sunday the 12th would be spent changing tires and checking the bike over, I haven’t ridden it since my eastern Euro ride fall of 2017, so it’s been parked a year and a half. Once everything was done, battery charged and reinstalled, a couple of burps on the starter and she barked right to life. I love simple bikes! Plenty of afternoon left so off to the beach for a swim and a beer or two.
    IMG_20190512_110302.jpg
    20150924_153820.jpg
    IMG_20190527_132913.jpg
    #4
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  5. Gone_Ridin

    Gone_Ridin Been here awhile Supporter

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    May 13th; Had the bike loaded and headed off shortly after 8am, because I have to be in Marrakech midday Wednesday. IMG_20190513_143850.jpg
    I had to take a more direct route so although I was avoiding tollways I would still manage mostly smaller twisty roads to Algeciras and made it there in time to board the 5pm Balearia ferry to Sebta. IMG_20190513_174558.jpg Missed the highspeed so the crossing took a little over an hour. After leaving the port I headed to the border, figured there was still enough time to make it a ways south before calling it a day. The border was everything that’s been described by others who have made the crossing; crazy lineups, fixers offering express service, cars being closely searched and everything else. And that was getting into Morocco, looking over at what was happening to those getting out, I felt I was in the express lane. Thank god lane splitting to the front is an acceptable practice here!

    From the border I made my way down the coast to Tetouan and with the guidance of a guy on a scooter, who liked KTM’s, found a motel somewhat in the middle of the city near the markets. The motel had underground parking and was a pretty nice place for 35$ a night. Once I had cleaned up I went out for a bite, managed to even have a beer with my meal and wandered some of the now mostly abandoned marketplace before calling it a day. IMG_20190513_212213.jpg IMG_20190513_214216.jpg IMG_20190513_200924.jpg
    #5
  6. lukasteam

    lukasteam Life is beautiful !!! Supporter

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    Keep it coming !!! Morocco the crossroads of many cultures .
    #6
  7. Gone_Ridin

    Gone_Ridin Been here awhile Supporter

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    May 14th: Left Tetouan heading west first thing in the morning. Again, being on a timeline I would have to stick to paved roads so as not to get sidetracked in the back country. I took 417 towards Larache before heading South towards Casablanca. I was sticking to the smaller P series roads which meant going through many small towns and lots of traffic making for slow going as the day heated up. By the time I neared Casablanca the heat and traffic was really getting to me. In one town, a suburb of Casablanca, I ended up on fresh pavement and it felt like it was about 120 degrees. Then I got stopped for passing a car on the right, in a roundabout. Did I mention that each town seems to have several Police check points? Well the friendly officer, with very limited English, tried his best to explain my infraction while I played dumb. Sorry no Spanish, sorry no French, sorry no Arab,…. Ah Canadian, you make mistake, go now. Merci!

    Just North of Casablanca I saw an entrance for the Tollway to Marrakech and figured why not, out of the heat and traffic and can be there late afternoon. No rushing tomorrow to get things done before picking up my daughter at the airport. About 30 or 40 kliks down the Tollway I exit onto the A3 South and not far after there’s a travel centre; Gas, food, water. Looks good! Stop and tanked up, got a couple bottles of water and a snickers bar. Logged on to the free wifi to update my google map and headed out. I was maybe 10k further when I started thinking; Boy those tires have a really loud tread design. Must be cause I’m on smooth pavement and cruising. Haven’t really run it up 110/120 since installing them, no wait, I rode this fast on them in Spain,…hmmm. Then just as I’m passing a car, the rear gets really loud and I go into a wicked wobble. It’s flat! On the front brakes to get the weight off the rear and straighten it out, not too hard, there’s a car on my ass. Gotta clear this one and get to the right and onto the shoulder. Made it, FUCK! Man the Mitas are so hard I never hardly felt it getting soft til the bead popped. Shit, now I’m trapped on the tollway, a 6’ shoulder and guardrails on both sides. Looks like there’s a overpass up ahead, if I push the bike there I can get it out of traffic. When the road is long, flat and straight, things look closer. After a 3km push I make it to the overpass and that’s all it is, no exit. Well at least there’s shade; it’s somewhere around 38C so I’m happy to at least be out of the sun. Now to get the ass end off the ground, the tank is almost full so I don’t want to lay it on it’s side, there’s no room on the shoulder anyways. Some unistone from the overpass and the guardrail work to get the back off the ground. Thank God the Supermoto is a light bike. After replacing the tube, I sacrifice one of my waterbottles to mix with shampoo so I can get the bead to pop. Finally packed back up and ready to roll, have a drink of water from my remaining bottle and find out how NOT thirst quenching 100-degree carbonated water is. It’s near sunset and now there is zero traffic; Ramadan. I’m dirty drenched an beat so decide to take the next exit to a town and find a room. It’s getting dark as I near the exit to Settat and I realize I don’t have a headlight. I ask the kids working at the tollbooth if a motel is near and they tell me to continue in 2k and hang a left. There’s 3 to choose from. Pull over and take my seat off to check the headlight fuse, yup that’s the culprit. After making the left ther’s nothing, I go about another k and a half and there’s a police checkpoint. They tell me the motel is another couple kliks. Finally find a motel, The Belair, no not what your thinking but a deal at only 250Dirham(25 bucks) a night. No secure parking but for only 5 bucks you can park by the front steps and this old guy will watch your bike. Done deal! Up to the room and a quick shower, back down and drink a couple litres of water and chicken tajine for supper. No beer in this town, Ramadan! Good Night

    Leaving Tetouan
    IMG_20190514_091911.jpg

    Getting onto a side road towards

    IMG_20190514_092439.jpg

    On the coast North of Casablanca
    IMG_20190514_145007.jpg
    My makeshift, roadside bike hoist
    IMG_20190514_183228.jpg
    My workbench for the tire repair IMG_20190514_183234.jpg

    The Belair's entrance was impressive, the rooms,.. you get what you pay for. But it was clean
    IMG_20190514_215427.jpg

    Always good to review emergency instructions, in case of emergency and stuff
    IMG_20190514_224117.jpg
    #7
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  8. jobysw

    jobysw Adventurer

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    :lurk
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  9. a100man

    a100man Adventurer

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    I admire your resourcefulness - top job.
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  10. Gone_Ridin

    Gone_Ridin Been here awhile Supporter

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    May 15th: Got up early and had breakfast with some French construction workers that were also staying at the Belair. Since it wouldn’t be a very long ride to Marrakech I decided to give the bike a quick going over, hadn’t really been looking at details on the side of the tollway yesterday. Pulled the seat to check the fusebox and wiring, wanted to know why the headlight fuse had popped. LED’s don’t draw much, had to be a short. Sure enough found a spade connector had been working it’s way out of the block connector. Was the power wire for my chameleon chain oiler and it had crossed the headlight power and arced on the frame. Thought the chain was looking a little dry. Must have been from the hard miles last ride through Eastern Europe. Next I noticed an anti-rattle clip in my tire tools bag, sure enough it belonged in the rear caliper. Must have fallen out while I was fixing the flat and thankfully had stayed with me. Reinstalled, adjusted the chain, made sure everything was tight and tied down and ready to go. The young guy who had been working the front desk through the night had been sitting, watching and asking questions while I went over the bike and now offered my tea before my departure, none for him; Ramadan.

    The ride from Settat to Marrakech was uneventful, barren, red, desert, plains type landscape with some farming and old clay tiny villages here and there. Once arriving in Marrakech it’s like you continue to arrive for an hour. Found my way to Loc2roues http://loc2roues.com/en bike rental to see about storing the bike a few days while I toured around with my daughter. Would be renting a car; bike would be too small of the both of us especially since her list of sites to see would mean making time and miles that, in this heat on a Supermoto, 2-up, were unlikely. Noreddine was awesome, parked the bike downstairs with theirs and left all my gear/tools etc. in his storage room. Then I taxied over to a Riad near the medina to check in, drop my backpack and change before heading to the airport to retrieve my daughter. Upon returning to the Riad with my daughter I went online and found a deal on a little suv that they would deliver the next morning. The Riad was right on the edge of the Medina so we went out exploring for the remainder of the afternoon. It was funny to see how the attitudes changed as the day went on; morning everyone’s happy and friendly, mid day getting testy and lack of patience, near evening no patience downright cranky, 7:30 the happiest friendliest SOBs ever and wanting to share everything! Ramadan! Got our best deals bartering after 6pm; people don’t have the patience to argue and either tell you to leave or just agree to whatever you’re offering, was a real interesting experience.

    After sunset , shops were all closed and restaurants opened up, things were very lively but so many tourists. We grabbed a bite at a street eatery and headed back to the riad to turn in.

    Most of the landscape looked like this
    IMG_20190515_100544.jpg

    Entrance to the riad
    IMG_20190515_123600.jpg

    Courtyard inside the riad
    IMG_20190515_124134.jpg

    The medina
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    And I found a cold beer to finish the day
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    #10
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  11. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile

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    Awesome report so far -- keep it coming!
    #11
  12. Gone_Ridin

    Gone_Ridin Been here awhile Supporter

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    May 16th to the 19th: The next few days would be spent piloting a cage with my daughter. We would begin heading southwest; she wanted to see the goats in trees. Some of the pass roads we took really left me wishing I was still solo on my bike, until we would get out for pictures and the +40 degree C heat would blast you. So as we checked things off of here must do list we worked our way southwest from Marrakech. Late afternoon found us crossing a pass on the R105 and arriving at a unique, mountain top Kasbah near Tioulite. We would be the only guests on the night, I think the regular rock-climbing clientele generally come in the cooler months, and exploring was amazing. The owner has been restoring it for the past 20 years or so.

    The next morning we would head back Northeast to Merzouga and the Sahara. It was a fairly long drive but the scenery changes along the way, camels, oasis’, ravines and rocky deserts, kept it interesting. As we neared Merzouga we got our first taste of the Sahara by way of a mini sandstorm, “Welcome to Sahara country”! With the help of a couple ride check officers, we managed to follow the motel owner to our motel for the evening; a bargain at $20 for the night including breakfast. We walked out into the dunes for some sunset shots and then returned to the motel ask about a restaurant. Instead we were invited to join the “family” for their Ramadan meal and Fatima made sure we had plenty to eat, even smacking Ali’s hand until we had told her we didn’t want the last slices of the Berber pizza. The next morning we would be up for some sunrise dune shots and spend a couple hours exploring the dunes before grabbing a few souvenirs and heading back towards Marrakech.

    Our route back would have us stopping in Ouarzazate for the night before crossing the pass to Marrakech. Ouarzazate is a nice sized city with an interesting mix of new and old as well as a movie studio/set area. After checking in to our motel we spent late afternoon walking around, waiting for a restaurant to open. Spoke with a parking guard and was told if I went into the grocery store and told the guy at the cash register I was looking for beer he could get me some. In I go and walk around but the only thing I find is near-beer in one of the coolers so I asked the guy at the till and he motions to another who leads me to a locked, semi-camaflouged door. Inside this room are several beer filled coolers and a couple shelves of hard liquor and wine; SCORE!

    The next morning we would head across the Col du Tichka on our way back to Marrakech. It was fairly busy with tour bus and truck traffic as well as construction on the west side of the pass. The views were incredible and was a bit of a preview of what was in store the rest of the week. We arrived back at the riad early afternoon and spent the rest of the day, again exploring the medina.
    Have so many great pictures from the travels time with my daughter it's hard to choose which to post but these will give an idea of what we saw.

    IMG_20190516_151720.jpg IMG_20190516_151927.jpg IMG_20190516_162234.jpg IMG_20190516_190225.jpg IMG_20190517_114548_BURST002.jpg IMG_20190517_191558.jpg IMG_20190518_051602.jpg IMG_1063.JPG IMG_1085.JPG IMG_20190519_105405.jpg
    #12
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  13. Gone_Ridin

    Gone_Ridin Been here awhile Supporter

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    May 20th: After packing up the next morning and going out for a mint tea, I brought my daughter to the airport then headed to Loc2roues to pick up my bike. I would escape the busy city on R210 to Demnate where I would get on R307 into the mountains. Once I had gained enough elevation the temperatures became bearable for my Canadian insulation package. There were a couple Germain riders stopped at the intersection of R302 and 307 in Imi-n-Ifri and of course a host. The host suggested taking the 302 as it had been recently paved while the riders were confident that my bike was more than capable of the gravel sections on R307. 307 it is then. The scenery was almost instantly amazing and I found myself stopping so often for pictures that my cell was soon almost dead and had to be connected to my back up battery. It would go from barren rock and sand to massive, lush pine forests or low scrub trees, to gorge and canyon, to ravine and back to rock; AMAZING!

    After spending an amazing day in the saddle, I came out of the mountains onto the N10 somewhere East of Ourzazate as it’s getting dark, a dead Garmin and cell phone, low on and gas and kind of hungry. Decide to head East and see what I can find for lodging between here and Skoura. See signs for the “Royal Moroccan Golf Club” and the likes and start wondering what kind of area I’m in. Then the towns go back to typical Moroccan and there are a few Kasbah type structures but many closed or abandoned. As I near the edge of Skoura and it’s clearly past Ramadan time, there’s a police check point so I pull up to ask directions to a motel. The officer’s brother has brought him Ramadan dinner and they are sitting at a little table beginning to eat. Before I can get a full sentence out I am invited to join and soup, juice, bread and tea are in front of me. I try to politely explain that I don’t want to impose and only need directions to a motel but they won’t take no for an answer. They are very, very limited on English and when I finally get across that I’m looking for a motel the officer makes a call. 10 minutes later a BMW SUV arrives and the they tell me to follow the gentlemen to his motel. A Beemer, out here? It’s about 6K when we arrive at a large Kasbah with huge wooden doors, the driver gives an acknowledging wave to the young man at the gate and leaves and then a bellman appears wanting to carry my backpack for me. Once inside I’m concerned that I may not meet standards. At the desk I ask “ Before we go to far, how much for the night?” “Oh sir, because the owner(Yes apparently it was the owner that had come to guide me from the checkpoint) was called by the police and likes your bike he has discounted your stay to $1,000 dirham for the night($100)”. “Whoa wait, I’ve only been paying like 250 to 400dirham, is that the best you can do?” “Sir you don’t understand, come with me. You will have your own Cabana, pool and a chef will cook you a 4 course meal and breakfast everything including alcohol is included. The regular rate is 3,000 to 4,500 dirham per night, I don’t think you want to pass this offer up.” “OK, what the hell, guess I can splurge tonight. It’s less than half of what I paid for an 8x10 bunkhouse in Coldfoot last year!” It was a very good day and night! The last picture is the view from the front door of my cabana in the morning before breakfast.

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    #13
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  14. kneeslider

    kneeslider Insufficient privileges!

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    Two thumbs up! An interesting place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there again!
    #14
  15. Gone_Ridin

    Gone_Ridin Been here awhile Supporter

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    Some random shots from the Sahara and travel along the way there and back to Marrakech
    IMG_1107.JPG IMG_1131_2.jpg IMG_1152.JPG IMG_1124.JPG IMG_1167.JPG IMG_1164.JPG IMG_1145_2.jpg
    #15
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  16. Gone_Ridin

    Gone_Ridin Been here awhile Supporter

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    And some from the Kasbah in Southwestern Morocco, that's some tedious stone work he's up to IMG_1093_2.jpg IMG_1095.JPG IMG_1098_2.jpg IMG_1089.JPG IMG_1082.JPG IMG_20190517_072347.jpg IMG_1097.JPG
    #16
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  17. Gone_Ridin

    Gone_Ridin Been here awhile Supporter

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    May 21st: While at the “Palace” I took advantage of the internet to look for today’s route and decided on hwy R704, which cut off of the N10 about 70km Northeast. This would allow me a long day in the mountains, gradually looping back towards the west and an opportunity to re-enter on the R302 from R306 near the lake Oued Al Abid. So after my gourmet breakfast, no bacon, I was packed up and headed off. A quick stop at a gas station and away I go, wait, not so fast. As I pulled up to the pumps I felt something very warm on my boot and looked down to see a coolant hose had blown off. It had obviously been loose for a while as it didn’t drain a whole bunch. Hmmm, I had noticed the bike running warmer but thought it was just the heat. Hose was OK, new clamp, some water from the station and good to go.

    Now here’s an example of how little planning and oblivious I can be when out riding; not long after starting in on 704, I ascend a spectacular pass in a gorge, stopping for a few photo ops. At the top I think to myself that it looks very familiar, then continue riding. Ever heard of the Gorges du Dades? Ya well it’s also on the cover of my Michelin map of Morocco…Duh! Yup rode through it, didn’t know til I stopped for the night and was looking at pictures and the map for the next day’s route.

    Anyhoo, as I continued Northeast on the 704 I noticed less and less traffic. I had seen 2 bikes at the gorge but hadn’t seen any since. The road turned from partially paved to gravel, and began ascending and narrowing, Garmin telling me I must make a u-turn the entire time. For most of the afternoon on that road I would not meet another vehicle and it had been a long while since I had passed through or near any type of village. There weren’t even any locals grazing flocks. The views however were outstanding. The road, well paying attention was imperative and I definitely did not want to be on the outside lane if I did meet a 4 wheeled vehicle! As I got to the far side of the pass and began to descend, sheppards began to appear, even some on mule and horseback. In several places the road used dried river beds as what little track was there had been washed away by spring thaw.

    Just then, in a rather rough riverbed section, 5, fullsized black SUVs were coming towards me at a very good pace. Windows blacked out and strange license plates they just blew by in formation. Maybe 10k later I arrived at an oasis, well sort of; Café Auberge! A mud hut diner, powered by 12” solar panels and 12v batteries. I had to stop. The owner, waiter and cook, followed by his flock of young chickens, came out to great me. I figured an afternoon mint tea and water was a great idea and away he went to prepare it, talking to his flock as he went. He had a limited grasp on English so we spoke a bit, I asked if the SUVs had passed through, of course they had, where else could the have come from. Yes he said; Isrealies, shaking his head. OK. Then he asked where I was headed. I pointed on the map and he shook his head, no, you should ride this route, good road for bike and much beautiful scenery, better. His suggestion would send me further Northeast towards Midelt on P7319. This will take you by Cirque de Jaaffar, much better. OK, who am I to question an entrepreneur with the ability to communicate with chickens?!

    Off again, miss the turn off of R317 onto 7319, fill in Imilchil and backtrack to where I think I seen the intersection. There’s a sign there bust doesn’t have names of any towns shown on the map. A boy on a bicycle approaches offering help, looks at my map and confirms this is the road I’m looking for. Back in Marrakech, when Noreddine was giving me route suggestions, he told me not to bother looking for hwy numbers on back roads, associating routes with town names would be more useful for navigating and so far that had been working, so far…. Away I go again and Chickenman is doing good. Great route, great scenery and the path, well it’s there, mostly. The further I go, more washouts and often disappears in small villages with no clear direction exiting. I some spots I obviously have ended up on paths that end up reconnecting with the road I intended to be on; washouts, water crossings and single tracks will be on the menu the rest of the day but overall it was a breathtaking ride and my day ended in Midelt, as Ramadan ended for the day, so the restaurant at the motel was open and it even served beer!

    Only incident on the day was my overanxious throttle hand giving too much of a twist as I pulled of the road onto the motel driveway. The evening light masked that the driveway had just been chip sealed and my backend decided it wanted to beat the frontend to the motel. Could have been worse…

    Another day in the books.


    IMG_1206.JPG

    Starting up the R704 IMG_20190521_114809.jpg

    Perfect morning road
    IMG_20190521_120828.jpg

    So this is the famous gorge road on the cover of my Michelin map IMG_20190521_121146.jpg IMG_20190521_121216.jpg
    The further in the more impressive IMG_20190521_121817.jpg IMG_20190521_121933.jpg

    Might want to post a watch for falling rock sign, I could use a watch IMG_20190521_125024_2.jpg
    And it was around here that Garmin began telling me to make a u-turn.... IMG_20190521_133607.jpg IMG_20190521_134300.jpg

    Not even a sheep herder or goat in sight IMG_20190521_134800_2.jpg

    Yup, that's the road way down on the left IMG_20190521_135013.jpg

    More open nobody land IMG_20190521_141433.jpg IMG_20190521_145120.jpg

    And the famous Cafe and camping Auberge, got his business card. Think he's on Link'dIn IMG_20190521_145254.jpg

    Onward and upward, or downward, or just onward IMG_20190521_151145_2.jpg
    Think rentals here are pretty cheap in the spring IMG_20190521_151604_2.jpg

    They could've probably posted this at the beginning of the road as well IMG_20190521_170214.jpg
    Now this takes talent
    IMG_20190521_154554.jpg
    #17
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  18. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

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    Outstanding! :clap More please.
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  19. Spoilyfarts

    Spoilyfarts whomp whomp

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    This is amazing! I've only ever seen dunes and camels from Morocco, nothing this spectacular. What are the temperatures? How are you dealing with them?
    #19
  20. bout2ride

    bout2ride Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2018
    Oddometer:
    587
    Location:
    EU & Balkans
    Excellent, great report & especially photos!! :super where were the stone buildings with the intricate rock work? do you have anymore reporting?
    #20