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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Gone_Ridin, Jun 13, 2019.
I like it
i never thought of going to Morocco, your ride report made me to consider in going.
love to see some food shots.
May 21st, again: I have to go back to some of the riding I did on the 21st because, in hindsight, I’m not exactly sure where I was much of the time. When I got home, and was looking over the tracks the inreach had pinged, there were no roads, even in satellite view, so I appear to have been riding dry riverbeds and following paths made by locals, even though I rarely saw anyone. The views were terrific and being lost never even came to mind, even with Garmin claiming I was. I’ve blown up some of the tracks from that day for reference and illustration of where I apparently was. But the entire day was filled with unbelievable views, beautiful terrain and villages in the most secluded locations I’ve ever seen.
As they say, “all’s well that ends well” and well; it was great but hard on my old bike. The next morning would reveal leaking fork seals and a water pump that was noisier than the previous day. But she still started right up. I also discovered a few new bends and cracks in my saddlebag racks; constant pounding and laying it down in the motel driveway no doubt to blame. But after what I had experienced I was very much looking forward to what this day would bring and hoping my bike was up to some more back roads. Hadn't seen too many KTM dealerships, none actually and on these routes no repair shops of any kind so far.
Just in case anyone visiting the area would like to make a reservation, here's the location and contact info for Chickenman; don't want to risk it being full by just showing up!
One of the last paved roads I would see on this day
It's definitely one to add to the list, I will be going back. But I will probably do it in April next time. Never took a lot of food shots; Ramadan!
Can't exactly recall but here is the location from my track. Another rider had posted a picture from there a few years ago and I had written it down, can't find it now.
May 22nd: The plan leaving Midelt was to head Northwest so that I could loop back into the mountains and eventually get on R302 back to Imi-n-Ifri but not long after leaving Garmin is once again yo-yoing me through the back roads. At this point, as long as it doesn’t try sending me on any busy highway and eventually gets me in the general direction I’ll just “Go wit de flo man”.
The ride starts with a mix of rolling hills, crossing small ravines and mixed farmland before getting back onto little used path like roads in the mountains. As I get deep into P7306 the views are spectacular and the large pine forests provide cooler temperatures that my Canadian insulation rating approves of. I’m like a stuck record at this point and find the same adjectives running through my mind as I soak in the views. More washouts, no traffic, and even fewer people and settlements. There are however more Shepperds and flocks and in some of the lush valleys more livestock.
A few km’s before Aroggou I take a wrong turn exiting the 7306, heading farther north on the 7311 and then another wrong turn onto a track that when I checked later didn’t exist on Garmin but was on google maps. The track was fairly well used and off of a stretch of road under construction with stretches of fresh pavement. It took me to Lac Aguelman Azigza and people were setting up tents and vendor counters on the West end for what looked like would be an evening celebration; Ramadan? I continued to the East side of the lake where the track seemed to end and decided I should check a map or garmin or google. While trying to locate myself I heard some commotion and looked up to see a gathering of the local monkey gang. Hmmm, Morocco’s in Africa and Africa has monkeys; who would have thunk it? Well guess I’ll head back to 7311, continue North then double back on the N8 to the R306 which will eventually take me to the 302. Plan. Well it was but just past Ain Leuh I take a fork on the road that is 7209 and end up in Azrou, a beautiful but busy town bustling with Asian tourists both in buses and rental cars. I pass a couple gas stations, that are packed and figure I’ll find one exiting town, nope missed that too. Nah, I’m still good on gas and have the rotopak, I’ll keep going. Thank god I’m not a tour guide cause instead of heading Southwest on the N8 I end up going Southeast on the N13. I’m in the Cedre Gouraud national forest and there are monkeys and tourists everywhere. Many feel the need to stop in the middle of the road to take pictures, this way no one can get ahead of them while they’re stopped! Let’s adjust, I’ll just take a left here. Now I’m headed Northeast on the 7231, whatever! About 3 or 4k on here and I run out of gas, no problem, as I’m coasting I’ll just open the reserve on the other side of the tank. Hmmm it was already open, guess I’ll coast to the side and break out the rotopak.
So let’s check the map and see what’s near for gas; Ifran. So off I go. Now Azrou was different than most of the towns or cities I’d been in thus far. Definitely more of a European influence, even in how people were dressed. I was kind of figuring I was seeing more tourists than locals but arriving in Ifran: well I began wondering if I had wormholed to a Swiss, French or German town in the Alps! Clean, manicured, organized and POLICED! Not Moroccan or what I had seen so far on my ride. This was a beautiful community with advertising for ski resorts and spas. Gardners were working in yards, municipal workers looking for garbage to pick up(Looking because I never saw any!) Police, military and private security making sure no one littered. Gassed up, grabbed a water and a snickers, answered a few question asked about why I was here by the station attendant and checked my map to see which direction I would likely get lost in next.
By now the fork seals are hemorrhaging but more concerning is the “water pump knock” and decreasing fuel mileage were becoming a concern as well. The bike had ran pretty hot for a couple days before blowing the hose off; was I having a head gasket or valve failure now? Maybe I should just keep heading north, no dealers near and closer to Spain would be better in the event of an engine issue. Ok head for Fes. Ya I know; Chickenshit! So I decide to make my way towards Sefrou Falls and then I could circle the outskirts of Fes looking for a place to get a room. Somewhere on the R714 Garmin decides to call it a day and keeps turning on and off. Oh well, been carrying my old Samsung note 8 tablet and had downloaded a few offline google maps of the area on it. Just fire it up and put it in the tank bag. Guess what, while garmin was having it’s seizures I somehow crossed from the 714 to the 503 and am headed straight into Fes. The 503 turns into a fairly busy 4 lane highway and as I look down to see where I am on google my Tablet blows out the side of my tankbag, where a zipper someone forgot to close has left it an easy exit. I look back helplessly watching it bounce, skid, pop out of the case and skid some more on the highway. As I get to the shoulder and put the bike on it’s side stand, a good Samaritan stops his van in the lane blocking traffic from running the tablet over, jumps out and retrieves it. By now I’m jogging back on the shoulder and the Saint has pulled on to the shoulder of the road and is slowly making his way towards me. The driver greets me with a big smile and says something in Moroccan to which I reply thank you, reaching for the tablet. “English?” he responds. Yes, do you speak English? “non, French?” Sorry, very little. We go back and forth like this for a while and he insists on driving me back up to where I’ve left my bike. By now he knows I’m Canadian and with what little English he knows and my bits of French, he’s invited me to his house for Ramadan supper as his father will be there and has travelled to Canada and can speak more English. It’s still early afternoon and as interesting as I’m sure the visit would be, I’m not ready to stop riding. I try to explain that I want to continue further north and it takes a while before he concedes. I thank him again and head off.
Since arriving in the Fes area it’s really gotten hot again an when I’m about 50km North of Fes I decide to start looking for a room. I figured being this close to a tourist draw there should be something but not really having any luck. As I pass the town square in Taounate I notice many people sitting in an outdoor café so stop and ask. From what I can translate there’s a motel a couple blocks ahead on a hill to the right. Continue on but can’t find anything. I get to another cafe and there’s a bunch of teenagers hanging out so I stop and ask them. I’m having a hard time understanding so one just jumps on the back and says “You go” pointing directions and guides me to the motel. Unfortunately, they have no rooms, the teenager disappears but a guy on a 3-wheeler delivery bike volunteers to help. The next place was interesting and had $5 rooms but was overpriced. Then back on the south edge of town I find rooms above a pizzeria that’s above a gym in a newer residential area. 200 dirham for a two bedroom with an “added later” bathroom on the balcony and I can park my bike by the door to the gym. Done deal. As usual the restaurant opens after 8, serving Ramadan usual’s; soup, bread, fruit, smoothie but no beer to be found. Call it a night with another great day in the books.
The ride this day
Such a change in landscapes from the previous day(s)
Lush valleys and amazing countryside
And more washouts from spring runoff
So many tracks to follow I guess I should cut Garmin some slack for being lost so often
With all the pine forest you would almost think I was somewhere in Canada,... almost
Then you come across peoples homes like this in the middle of nowhere
Occupying themselves playing a game with rocks; show your kids this picture next time they throw a fit about needing the latest game
Most common form of transportation in this area; This lady stopped to see if I was having bike troubles while I was taking pictures
And then the landscape changes again
An a few more shots from this day's ride
The changes in landscape throughout the day were incredible
Arriving at the lake
Monkeys greeting, well ignoring, me as I checked my directions
Go over a pass or around a corner and it would change again
Then leaving Azrou, more monkeys and people stopping everywhere for pictures
The converted balcony in my night's accomodations
There had been a Ramadan party in the area, could hear music and people near and not long after crashing the owner had knocked on the door asking if I could pay for the room as he needed money for the party and would probably not be around in the morning when I left. Sure, no problem.
Leaving Taounate in the morning, I backtracked a couple of k to pick up the R408 west towars Oued(Which I think translates to Lake) Ouargha. It was a good decision! As I skirted the lake on a twisty mountain road, fanned by cool lake breezes, I was treated to one beautiful view after another. I was stopping every couple hundred meters to take a picture, enjoying my directional decision for the day! I had hoped to pick up the P5304 north of the lake and spend more time exploring the mountain back country but somehow missed it, not hard to believe with the lack of signage, number of paths that exit and Garmin just plain being a bitch to me this entire trip! So I would continue North, following the Aoudour river til near Bab Taza and then head toward Chefchaouen. I have read other reports that listed it as a must visit city and I had considered stopping to take a look around but it was just after noon when I arrived so finding a room, not able to check in for another couple hours, finding somewhere to park the bike….. blah blah blah. Came up with enough excuses why it would be a pain to stop and kept riding North instead.
Once past Chef I cut off on the P4105 heading Northeast towards the coast. Exploring the coast while deciding what to do next seemed like a great idea. I could stop mid afternoon, find a place on the beach, maybe check the bike over see if there’s any oil left in the right fork. This road would take me past a river in a large gorge with a view of a decent waterfall and then some nice twisties pretty much the rest of the way to the coast.
So it’s about 2:30 in the afternoon when I pull into Oued Laou and I into the middle of the town. Just as I’m about to turn left and continue North, maybe start looking for a room on the beach, I spot two guys on the sidewalk looking towards me. The shorter of the two suddenly comes running my direction, WTF? As he nears he is asking if I want a “best price for room on beach?” Hmmm, maybe, what you got. Not good and limited English on his part, no Arabic and very limited Spanish/French on mine but before I can say more he’s climbing on the back of my bike and pointing South; “This way”. OK then, let’s see what the best deal is. He has me turn right, away from the town centre and then we ride almost another k down the street, not looking like the real tourist end of town at all and he points to a walkway; “here now”, over the sidewalk and another 100m and I’m on the beach? Turns out to be a 2 bedroom, upstairs, oceanside apartment with an upstairs balcony and lower courtyard for the bike. Have to ride out onto the beach to get access to the walled yard and there you go! Once I’ve unpacked my gear, changed in to shorts and flipflops I begin feeling a little hungry. Hmmm this may be a problem; Ramadan and this town doesn’t look like a hot, foreign, tourist destination. My host is talking to some guys plastering a building so I ask about food, wifi, as I can’t find the signal he promised and maybe some beer? He motions to follow and we head back towards the town centre and once near where the fishing boats are pulled up on the beach he bangs on the door of a building. After some back n forth with the gentleman that answers a small table and chair are placed in front of the building and I’m handed some kind of a paper menu which I can’t read. After loose translations and hand gestures I think I’ve ordered some kind of fish plate with vegetables and a coke. I then remind my guide about the non-existent wifi back at the apartment and he tells me he’s going to go find the guy to activate it and when I return it will all be good. Off he goes and it’s the last time I see him.
After my fish lunch I take a walk around, there’s a market in the town square area but mainly household type items and clothing. Don’t see anyone who even remotely resembles a tourist and I’m kind of thankful for my dark complexion and the shirt I bought from the Berber cooperative because I kind of just blend in. I spend a couple hours walking around and as I’m making my way back to the apartment, I run in to the other guy that was at the intersection and ask him where a guy might find refreshments of the alcoholic variety? He walks with me down to a closed café that through the bars I can see some bottles on a shelf, I surmise that it will probably open at around 8pm. I make a mental log of the location and continue back towards the apartment.
When I arrive, the beach is populated with groups of teen school kids, many still wearing uniforms as well as local families on their beach chairs with small children playing in and out of the sea. Still no wifi so I relax on the balcony with a Schweppes carbonated lemonade I found in a corner store on my way back. As the shadows get longer the beach empties as everyone heads home for their evening Ramadan feasts. I decide that I’ll head back up the beachfront, towards where I had eaten the fish lunch as I had seen a café that was sporting a wifi sign on the wall and figure I can kill 2 birds with one stone. Just then there’s a knock at the door and when I answer one of the ladies from downstairs and her small child are standing there with a tray full of food, the Ramada soup, dates, fish I think as well as the fruit juice and milk that I’ve seen being shared at meal time everywhere in Morocco during Ramadan. I thank them and sit down to eat. There’s no way I can finish it off but I do my best. Her recipe for the soup has been one of the best I’ve had so far and fruit smoothie is very refreshing as well.
After returning the tray to the family and thanking them again I head down the street to the café for a mint tea and wifi. The place is bustling as patrons come in for their Ramadan meals. It seems places like this don’t have menus at this time of year, just standard dishes to satisfy the day’s fasting. As I’m sitting there, drinking tea and catching up with the family via whatsapp, I notice everyone, regardless of age, is either bringing their own pipe or using loaners from the counter. Hmmm so is this another Ramadan tradition? When I’ve finished my tea and check in obligations I decide against going to the bar and just head back to my apartment to crash, figure I’ll have an early morning checking the bike over and deciding which direction to head. I’ve downloaded some offline google maps onto my tablet and the bikes condition will dictate tomorrow’s route. Another day done.
The day's ride; a short one but great scenery again
Morning views to get you going
Climbing back up into the cooler temps
And more informative route markers
Picture postcard scenery everywhere!
Morning fog rising off of the lake below
And finally descending at the North end of the lake
Heading through the ravine towards the coast
The road to the coast followed this ravine
Empty boardwalk on the beach where I had lunch
The apartment above the yard with the carpet hanging on it would be my budget room for the night
My Ramadan dinner courtesy of the family in the apartment below
Another shot of CasaADV
Nice to see photos of roads I also traveled on in Morroco in 2012! My avatar photo was taken on the road between Cafe Auberge and Dades Valley. I was there in late August and that road was in fairly good condition with only a few dodgy riverbeds to negotiate. Kawasaki ER-6n handled it no problem....my only worry was not having enough petrol.
Really enjoying your report, and reminds me that time has sped by, and I need to get back and do more exploring...
Such a great RR, keep it coming!
I see you left from Spain on your Morocco trip. Was it difficult to ship your bike from Canada? I am from the U.S. and was wanting to do the same.
I've had that bike over there for almost 4 years now. Flew it on Air Canada to Frankfurt and rode a trips around Eastern Europe for the first couple of years before taking it to Spain by ferry from Greece. Flying with Air Canada was pretty easy and the rate was reasonable. I've heard that Germany is one of the easier countries in Europe to bring a bike into but see they are now also flying to Casablanca if Morocco is your destination. https://www.aircanada.com/cargo/shared/en/documents/shipping/FlyYourBike_brochure_en.pdf You'll need proof of green card insurance and I think I had to pay the German custom office at the airport cargo terminal 20euro for an entry stamp. Stephen Knopf of Knopf tours helped complete my paperwork so it was easier. Check air Canada's website but I think it's done for the season now until next spring
Sorry to have left this hanging, life has gotten in the way. The next day I made the decision to head for Spain and get as close as I could to Valencia where I could get the parts and repairs the bike would need before going back into storage in Cullera. The ride along the coast up to Tetouan was scenic and a great way to start the morning. Arriving at the border was complete chaos and it took quite a while to clear into Ceuta; having to go check point to checkpoint for stamps and bike verification. Thank god I hadn't lost the little verification card i was given when entering Morocco! When I finally made my way to the gates of Spain the bike stalled and didn't want to restart. Suddenly it let out a huge backfire, should've seen the people hitting the dirt and running for cover. A few of the Spanish soldiers thought it was hilarious and blocked cars so I could push my bike across the border, where it promptly started right up and sat as well as a thumper can. I made my way to the port realizing I still had a couple thousand Dirham in my pocket and would likely have to travel back to Morocco one day to spend it. At the port I pulled up to the FRS ticket line hoping to use the ticket I had purchased and not used on may way from Spain as a ferry was leaving in 15 minutes. The attendant looked at the ticket and back at me and explained that my ticket, although unused was for travel in the opposite direction. Playing confused I replied that when I bought I was told it was good for travel within a year. OK he said and printed a new one and away I went. The FRS ferry was a high speed one and the return to Algeciras took less than half an hour. After leaving the port, instead of following the coast as I had done for a large part coming down, I headed into the mountains to try and escape the heat. it somewhat worked and the views, looking back at Gilbralter, were worth it. I rode North towards Laguna de Fuente de Piedra then an easterly route towards Granada. By then I had decided to make mile and try and get to Cullera by night. Just after Murcia I ran into a rain storm and decide to gas up and hide under a canopy for a bit, hoping it would pass. Several Harleys and an older gent on a super scooter were doing the same and we talked for a while. The harleys were headed to a rally and even though I was on a KTM they invited the Canadian to join them, sorry gotta pass. The older guy was headed to Alicante and said he didn't think the rain would stop for another hour or so, well glad I'm not made of sugar. Back on and gone. The rain finally stopped somewhere between Villena and Montesa and I arrived in Cullera around 10pm. Hot shower to warm up and then down to the restaurant for a hot meal and cold beer. The next couple days were just riding in the nearby mountains and canyons before getting my bike into the dealer at Valencia for repairs. Done
This would be the ride out of Morocco, forgot to turn the in reach on until Tetouan
Sunrise on the Med in Oued Laou after packing up to leave
Looking back over Oued Laou on my way out
A couple looking back at the Rock of Gilralter, I think it was almost 30km away
And for the foodies; that's a $7 bowl of steamed Mussells on the Beach in Cullera
And some of my nightly route planning notes
And the all important entry card which you must present to 3 different checkpoints to get your bike out of Morocco, they forgot to take it from me after stamping, signing and initialing several times
Great ride report, thank you.
Where do you store your bike in Spain? How much are you paying per month for storage?
Many thanks for sharing the trip impressions with us!
I will go there next year in April, just before Ramadan.
I have a few stupid questions, since it will for me the first time going to Morocco (Africa).
Is it, generally speaking, safe to travel there?
Should I consider for that trip better Honda CRF 250 Rally than a KTM 690 Adventure R? I am asking more fore the need to take care of bike there. It is more or less again about safety.
Should I carry a gas reserve?
Are the people friendly or should I consider to avoid areas, situations...?
I am asking these because I will travel alone, since no one of my friends are willing to join. Sorry for the silly topics, if...
I was a week in morocco in october, on a rental ktm 450. Traffic on the road is a bit nuts so pay extra attention, but safety wise I always felt very safe. We were leaving gear on the bikes at every stop and never had issues, same when walking around in casbah's.
Don't under estimate distances, so having a bike that goes faster is definitely a plus. Sure You can make it with the 250, but I would no doubts go with the 690. More so if You plan any excursion on sand. There are enough mechanics everywhere, and most rental shops have KTM, so it may be a bit easier to find spares if You need to.
I was on the est (Midelt down to the Erg) and there are plent of gas stations. We did not carry extra gas just large gas tanks that were enough for 250-300 km/day, but we were travelling off road in the middle of nowhere.
thanks for sharing your opinion and experience. it gave me a better feeling to give it a go in 2020 or the following year.
Consider also renting a bike, and getting some GPS tracks from the renters there. We went for a fly and ride trip and it was amazing. We visited a few places I wouldn't have known they even existed without a few cool GPS tracks.
a short video: