Morocco on 5 GSs
About a month ago I got back from my first trip to Morocco. A friend and I (both from Belgium) took the ferry from Barcelona to Tangier and on the boat we met three guys from Slovenia who's bikes we'd already seen in the ferry garage. We ended up riding with them the whole time. There was one 1200GS, 3 1150's and then me on my 650 Dakar. Here are some pics from our two weeks on 5 GS's in Morocco
Clearing through customs when we arrived in Tangier:
My buddy Geert outside our Hotel ("Dar Zman") in Chefchouen aka "The Blue City". This town is easy to reach from Tangier so it's an ideal first stop. It's on the edge of the Rif Mountains, known for the growing the stuff you put in funny cigarettes.
Planning a route out of Chefchaouen to Fez:
My four riding buddies somewhere on the road between Tangier and Fez:
Team Slovenia setting up their helmet cam (Go Pro). This was a great piece of kit and they recorded a lot of our riding in full HD. We're still waiting to see some of the footage ...
We got "lost" pretty quickly (I think that's a good thing :D ) so we asked some passing cars for directions
I was leading that day and decided to ignore all the directions and just head out on some other road :D. The resulting views were not bad!
thanks for sharing ..... looking forward to the rest of your ride report.
If possible could you resize so that we don't have to scroll accross to read the thread and see the pictures.
Soon enough we got to the outskirts of Fes. A local guy told us about a "Camping International" where we set up our tents. We checked out the Medina (market) in Fes which was amazing! I traveled a lot and the Fes Medina is definitely one of my top 5 must-see places in the world that doesn't involve motorbikes. It's one of the oldest medieval cities in the world and has more than 9000 little roads and alleys to get lost in. It's got a real Indiana Jones feeling.
Some pics of the Medina
Once we got out of Fez the "real" fun started as you start approaching the Atlas Mountains. Despite the fact there are no real steep climbing roads, you do start gaining altitude, the surroundings get more barren, there is less and less green around you and the temperature drops a few degrees.
This is me somewhere between Fez and Midelt (I think, it could be along the N13 road). It was taken along a real long, dead straight bit that must have been about 30 - 40 Km long. It started getting dark so we picked up the tempo a bit. The odd pothole was always noticed too late and I was surprised at how my Dakar just ate them up.
We got to a little dusty town not far from Midelt. We were all a bit stressed cause of the high pace we'd been riding at and the fact it was now completely dark and we didn't really know where to find a place to sleep. As we drove out of the town we say a sign for "Camping Timnay" which rung a bell. It turned out to be a GREAT place. Nice, cheap rooms and a big restaurant to hang out in. There were several dudes there who ran 4X4 tours and we spent a few hours looking at maps deciding what to do next.
We talked about the "Cirque de Jaffar" (a rocky piste in the High Atlas, popular with hikers and bikers) but decided not to do it cause of the difficulty level. The next day I led everyone straight in to it by accident :D. For me the real fun / off road challenges started here!
Some pics of the Cirque de Jaffar. It's basically a small track that runs along the mountain, down in to the valley and then back up and out again.
This is at the beginning, the first snow we saw
The piste is getting quite difficult for a big fully loaded bike
Some pics stolen from my buddy Geert's collection. He stopped a few times on the more challenging parts while I just wanted to get the f*ck out of there! I have no idea how they all did this on such big bikes.
Here you can see the path we followed down in to the valley, and the pic was taken from a more forest-y area you end up in when you climb back out. All the way down at the bottom there we didn't really know where to head. This is one of the few times GPS actually helped us. You can see a tiny little spec there that is a jeep. It was just parked with nobody inside.
Local shepherd dude on my bike
Meeting the locals
Soon enough this jeep caught up with us. Two English guys were driving it and they had spent a few days in the surrounding mountains on foot, collecting data on a hiking book they planned to write. Only at this point did we realise that we were in this Cirque de Jaffar, when they told us! They obviously really knew the area well and even spoke some Arabic. It was comforting to know they were behind us for the last stretch of this tough road :D.
Now we faced the issue of not being able to make it to our planned destination of Imilchil before dark. The English guys said "No way you'll make it before dark". We just kept going but had to start thinking about fuel.
We'd stop in these poor little villages where you would get flooded by local kids trying to get some stuff of you and even going so far as digging around in your pockets or luggage if you weren't looking. I hate the fact they associate bikers with "free stuff". Some of them got a little aggressive at times and I feel this whole culture of "visit far way countries and give out free shit" has just gone to far. The result is that kids throw rocks or even swing sticks at you as you drive past - dangerous for everyone. I'm all for helping people out but don't think it should go hand in hand with motorbiking / tourism.
Anyway, we pushed on and find this cool little oasis of peace - a small auberge run by a local farmer guy who wasn't quite sure what to charge for his rooms. "Just pay what you want" he said :D. We made a little fire outside, his wife cooked up a feast and we slept like babies.
The sign for this mini hotel. If you pass it and need a full belly and a comfy bed - it's got our stamp of approval! The owner was hands down the nicest guy we met during our whole trip.
Team Slovenia cooking up some soups pre-dinner
More coming soon!
Awesome Morocco adventure!! :clap
Thanks for the great pics and the detailed report.. :thumb
As a side note, "medina" means "old part of town", not necessarily "market" -- although there's usually one, a "souk", in that section...
I have fond memories from a week-long trip to Morocco in 2002. Not on a bike, unfortunately, but since it was a all-expenses paid junket, I can't really complain...
After our stop at this nice Auberge on the way to Imilchil we decided to head south to the dunes in Merzouga, via the Tordra Gorge in Tinerhir.
After leaving the Auberge we found a fuel stop and then continued along mostly tarmac roads. According to the "Morocco Overland" book this was one of highest roads you can cross in the Atlas.
Tomas enjoying the view
Two French families stopped here too to enjoy the view. I asked the father who was driving the red Land Cruiser about his car. "It's still new, only 200,000Km!". He said you can easily get aver 600,000Km out of these tough Japanese engines.
GPS showing 2658 meters altitude on route R703
Berber village on the way to Todra Gorge. Finally starting to see some green again as we're coming out of the Atlas
These kids were bugging us for more free stuff but I decided to take it easy with them, got off the bike and has some funny conversations with them. They were cool kids. Here is one of then wearing my Shoei
The others rode ahead while Seba and I took it easy getting to the Gorge, snapping lots of pictures along the way. The scenery was getting more and more spectacular. This is the cool thing about Morocco, every day the scenery changes and you never, ever get bored of the views
Note how small the car looks in perspective!
More Berber villages as we exited the Todra Gorge
As usual, we didn't make it to our planned destination of Merzouga, so we stayed the night in Erfoud. We rode for several hours in the dark and could just about tell that the landscape was flattening out again. We started seeing our first warning signs for "Dunes de Sable" (sand dunes) and there was sand on either side of the tarmac road.
Driving the dark was ok when we all stuck together cause the combined lights from all the bikes light the road up quite well. But sooner or later we would start driving at different tempos and you'd find yourself having to rely on your own lights, which made things a bit more stressful. Cars, bikes, bicycles and pedestrians all over this road ... without any lights. You need to keep your eyes peeled and your speed down. During my last minute shopping session at home a friend forced me to buy a reflective jacket and stickers that lit up my bike like a UFO, for which I was now thanking her a lot. (She also forced me to take her Thermarest "No, No I won't need it! Take it anyway! I needed it about half the of all the nights - thanks again Sophe!)
When we got to Erfoud it was pitch black and sand was blowing everywhere, just stopping and chatting for a few minutes and feel the sand grinding between your teeth and in your helmet. We decided to spend the night in Erfoud to keep things safe. I wouldn't recommend staying in this town, nothing to see and everyone was being pushy, trying to sell us camel tours in the desert, which was not far away now.
In the morning we headed straight out to Merzouga and had a tasty breakfast in Rissani. We're now in a very different place: people's skin was darker, there was sand everywhere, more palm trees and temperature over 30 Celsius. Finally some heat!
WOW! Keep posting some pics!
:thumb :thumb Stunning !! Keep it coming:clap :clap
Erfoud - Merzouga was a relatively short ride. The road to Merzouga is flanked on both sides by sand, sand and more sand. You can't quite make out any dunes yet but you do feel like you're in the desert.
From what I gather, most of the good accommodation is along the road to Merzouga, not actually in the town, which is not that nice and according to my buddy Geert who went there on a beer run "It's a shithole".
Along the road we saw a sign for "Auberge Dunes D'or" which was recommended by one of the English guides at the Camping Timnay. I remembered this when we passed the sign so we screeched to halt and followed the sign. A small piste ...
... takes you in to the desert ... further in to the desert ...
, where we found this wonderful place
Rooms were a bit steep (25 Euro) but they let us put up our tents behind the hotel for 2 bucks a night and we had access to the pool, restaurant and chill out area. Great deal!
Guy told us to park our bikes round the back where we would be staying. I went to check out what was round the back, to find ... DUNES.
Welcome to the Sahara!
Excited at finally being able to hit some sand, I sped off to dig my rear wheel in, about 10 sec after getting back on the bike :rofl. Lesson learned: take off your luggage and deflate your tires!
Now we had our own little desert camp, with all those dunes to play in! Nice to finally be able to take off all our gear and RELAX :clap I spent a few hours here in a slumber listening to my iPod :trp, reflecting on life and realizing how lucky I am to be able to do things like this. To travel around on your motorbike, do things you could never imagine possible, make great friends along the way ... I had a real profound sense of happiness here :wingsand all the stress of the office back home just seems light years away. Priceless. This is why I travel.
I slept here under the stars on my thermarest for a couple nights. During the day it got to 40 Celsius but at night it cooled down to a comfortable 15 - 20, so you didn't even need a tent. Sleeping under the stars becomes very addictive.
Camel poking around in the kitchen
After hydrating and relaxing a bit, time to play! Deflating your tires makes a WORLD of difference. After slipping and sliding all over the place, I could now actually RIDE through this sand. What a great feeling :ricky.
Jan was the king of the dunes, and on an 1150 I think that's quite a feat.
Riding in the dunes was not that difficult but the strange thing is ... you cross one dune ... you cross another one ... then another one ... you look back and see nothing but dunes and sand and you think "where the f*ck is the hotel?!".
So you realise quite quickly it's very easy to get lost or disoriented. Then a Bedouin pops out of nowhere and goes "You! Want to buy necklace?" :rofl
It was impossible to get our lazy asses away from the Dunes D'or, so I stayed here for about 2 days doing ... absolutely ... nothing, apart from the odd dash in to the dunes, laze around at the pool, drink mint tea and chat, chat, chat with my new Slovenian friends :beer
I'm not sure if the rooms are worth the money or if they let anyone just camp out back, but it's certainly worth a shot. Dunes D'or website & GPS coordinates and a small map showing the location:
Excellent Guys ! :clap
You made my day !
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