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Morocco Overland: From the Atlas to the Sahara - 4WD, Motorcycle, Van, Mountain Bike

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Old 9 Jun 2011
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Availabilty of water/ Wells in Morocco

I am at an amicable disagreement with one of my fellow adventurers about how much water we need to carry with us in Morocco over the next month.

Our rough route is Midelt - dades - Agoudal - Zagora - Forum Zguid - Ouarzazate - Marrakech over 10 days.

I believe that a 3 litre camelbak or equivalent will be adequate for each day in the saddle With an emergency litre if required. Then making sure you have enough to drink over night. As I believe that we should come accross wells in all villages etc.

Alternatively he wants to carry an additional 10 litres, I think that 10 KG is alot of weight to be adding to a bike for off road riding.

Am I being too blaze or is my friend thinkin that morocco is much less in habited than it actually is.
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Old 9 Jun 2011
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I would say Morocco deep south in July you will drink 3L a day easily and still be thristy. The ability to carry 10L is much more like it (use bags). Stuck in the sand/making a repair will easily consume a litre or two. I am sure it will be getting on towards 35C in Foum Zguid in July. I've had that there in early May.
Dont forget to use something like High Five Zero rehydration tablets. Drinking just water in that heat will not be enough.

Have a great trip!


Last edited by Chris Scott; 9 Jun 2011 at 18:15.
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Old 10 Jun 2011
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Hi, we've pootled about in Morocco a fair bit over the last few months, and have had no problem finding water, bottled or otherwise.

Certainly everywhere the Honourable Mr Scotts Morocco Overland book says theres water there was. Not all wells had a rope though. Most oueds along the Algerian border were dry with a few puddles, and the groundwater boreholes in campsites in the south were a bit salty, too salty in Mhamid. But bottled is everywhere.

Sitting in my nice cool shady cab (42degC max) I have a 5l MSR dromedary bladder and have often drunk more than half in a day. I also have something like this

Play.com - Buy Surviva -Pure In Line Filter - Water Purification For Aqua Water Bladders (Other) online at Play.com and read reviews. Free delivery to UK and Europe!

which takes away any taste from the bladder itself (which I find really bad with Camelbak) and helps to make the water clean. If you have two bladders then Camelbak I think do a quick disconnect so you can swap your hose plus filter. I never knew why that would be useful till now! The filter I have said it did 500l but has done many more. When its useful life is over it becomes blocked, so its life depends how crappy the water you put in is. Filtering what you put in the bladder if from a fountain with something like a Buff will at least take sand and big bugs out which we found in the tap water in Mhamid. We didn't notice before that, but were more careful afterwards

Despite having this and a decent filter in the vehicle the saltier water from Figuig south upset me and the missus a wee bit, but took us a while to realise what was doing it.

I would take more than 5l each myself if on a bike. You probably won't need to have the bladders full every day, and you will drink it fairly quickly. I would think if you were working hard and sweating well the last thing you should be doing is conserving water? Someone who has done the Dakar several times on a bike told me 10% dehydration is 80% concentration loss, or something like that!

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Old 11 Jun 2011
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Water and other Essentials

I had similar discussions with my 2 mates before we went this year (3 weeks, Apr/May) and ended up taking a camelbak style bladder (mine was 3 litres) and 2 x 4 litre Ortleib bags each (excellent, though expensive for what they are, as with all Ortleib kit IMHO). In fact, we only planned to fill all bags on the longer routes (Mhamid/Iriki etc, Assa/Smara and MS6) and in the end didn't even do that, as we found we had enough with a cabelbak and one bag apiece. It was fairly cool though (it seemed less hot than on a previous trip a month earlier in the year, but no evidence to back that up). Also, most of our food was not dehydrated. We did use wells, and the water was universally better tasting that local tap water. No purification used, or needed. As commented above, many of the wells did not have ropes, but there are plenty that do, as well as the neat cisterns that proliferate in the mountains. Overall water was not an issue.

BTW, as well as the standard tanks (23litre) the 2 of us on old Teneres carried a 5 litre fuel can each. Third bike was an XL600 LM with 28 litre tank. Again, fuel was not an issue, even on the Assa-Smara leg, though I was personally on fumes by the time we arrived.

The only things we under-provisioned on were:
Brandy...only took 1.5 litres between us: double that next time!

Inner tubes...obvious I know, but don't let anyone bring tubes with patches on them (no names, no pack drill..)...either in their wheels or as spares. We were lucky to find a supply of thin, but usable new tubes in Tata, after a pretty sordid puncture fest! Anyone know the secret to making patches stick in the heat? I have no problems at all in the UK/Europe, but they were lifting after 15kms road riding out there!!! Aaaargh!!
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Old 12 Jun 2011
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There's pretty much nothing you can do about that. The tires get hot due to not only the intense heat but also the nonstop movement of the tube inside the tire due to low pressure, and the rubber cement simply dissolves. I don't think anyone ever found a solution for that...
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well preserved piece, but to skid across the line broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out, leaking oil, shouting GERONIMO!"
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Old 15 Jun 2011
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Patches are not reliable, you should carry spare front and rear tubes and get the punctured one vulcanised, see here for picture.

July is likely to be hot. I'm currently on my way back to the UK having spent the last three weeks in Morocco and it was 35c (and felt like 40c with the sun) on a couple of days. Weather in Morocco is seriously variable, one October in Foum Zguid I experienced 43c, the following October it was 6c in Midelt.

Nevertheless, with 26 litres between you maybe you should take one of these as well.

Seriously though, the route planned isn't remote, there's plenty of places between Midelt to Imilchil and Imilchil to Msemrir buy nicely chilled water, coke, fanta and so forth. The longest stretch is Zagora to Foum Zguid but there's habitations along the route and I was invited in for lunch of melloui and hot sweet tea.

Obviously staying hydrated is vital, you should start each day with several cups of sweet tea and some orange juice then down half a litre of water before you set off. Keep drinking and monitor your consumption. Hot sweet mint tea and something salty (peanuts) will keep the minerals in balance.

Your problems come if you break down, so before undertaking a more remote section make sure you have a long drink, refill your camelback (chuck out of the old water and refill with lovely cold stuff) and possibly stuff a couple more 1.5-litre bottles in your gear (making 6 litres in all).

It's the heat of the sun as much as anything which is dangerous, so think through making shade whilst you repair the bike. Also a big floppy hat. A buff is extremely useful as it can be soaked in water. Sometimes it's so hot you have to ride with the visor down as otherwise it's like riding into a hair drier.
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