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

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  #1  
Old 5 Nov 2009
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First Time to Morocco from UK

Firstly, I'm new to this forum, looking forward to speaking to like minded people and getting some advice!

Myself and 2 friends are planning a trip to Morocco end of next March (2010). We're heading out on 3 KTM's: 2 x 690 Enduro's and a 950 Adventure. We will be taking the Santander ferry to Spain, then the Algecires to Ceuta ferry from there.

I am in the process of planning a route through Morocco, but need some help. We will be spending 7 or 11 days there - depending mostly on how much we can see in the time.

Looking to do a circuit taking in the Atlas, the coast, Marakech and Fes and hopefully dip our tyres in some dunes. We're all pretty capable on and off road and want to get off the beaten track, but won't be camping so will need overnight accom (not posh!). Bit worried about weather at that time of year - maybe a bit wet, but mostly the possibility of snow in the high parts.

Any tips or pointers would be most welcome: possible circuit, good maps, GPS (worth it or not)..........

Last edited by cjdad76; 5 Nov 2009 at 11:51.
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Old 5 Nov 2009
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m6 and m7 are really very nice

Hi cjdad76,
if you want to experience a little bit of Sahara I recommend making m6 and m7(from Sahara Overland by Chris Scott). That is from Merzouga to Tagounite and from Mhamid to Foum Zguid. Especially M6 is a must-see.

Load a good map of Marocco on your GPS which shows these routes and many others (available for free).

ride safe,

t
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  #3  
Old 5 Nov 2009
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Take a look at the Morocco Knowledgebase in my signature, also some of the threads in the UKGSer Morocco forum, e.g.
Temporary import forms: Complete your temporary import forms online before you leave - ::. UKGSer.com .::
Hidden Morocco routes: Hidden Morocco routes - ::. UKGSer.com .::

Yes, GPS is very useful if it's a Garmin and can therefore download the Morocco Topo map mentioned in the Knowledgebase.

Chris Scott's Morocco Overland (not the earlier Sahara Overland) is the book to get.

The error most people make planning their first (and even second/third) trip to Morocco is to be too ambitious and try to tick all the 'must see' boxes. This results in hurried liaisons, speeding tickets or worse, and memories generally of an awful lot of tarmac.

Tim
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Old 5 Nov 2009
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Morocco Trip

We're planning a similar trip (but camping) about a month earlier (KTM 990 and XT 600 x 2 - to help Mike pick up the Katie when he drops it..) and have looked closely at doing the routes recommended above - loads of good advice if you search for old threads. We'll let you know how we get on. Also a good, if slightly old write up on a trip like yours, staying in hotels etc, is on the Wiltshire TRF site (Google it) under 'African Adventure'.

Having been to Morocco on a road bike (old Hinckley Daytona 900) a couple of years ago, and spent 6 days in country blasting along the largely excellent tarmac 'ticking off' Fez, Erfoud, Todra, Dades and Marrakesh (350+ miles each day) I'd advise against trying to do too much: we spent most of the time either on the road or in cafes next to roads, and saw very little of the country proper - great trip for what it was, but left me with a real need to go back!

My guess is that like us, you're heading over to do the off road/desert thing, so I would personally totally avoid Fez/Marrakesh etc (save those for a cheap Easyjet trip!) and get out on the gravel.
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Old 5 Nov 2009
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I would personally totally avoid Fez/Marrakesh etc (save those for a cheap Easyjet trip!) and get out on the gravel.

Good tip. With less than 2 weeks, blast south to the desert where the weather is almost always good/better/best (as is most of the riding) - and then if the weather looks OK do the high mts on the way back.

For maps, advice here: Morocco Overland ~ Morocco map reviews
plus I hear there is a new paper one in the works (more news on it soon).

Ch
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Old 5 Nov 2009
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There's no point stopping overnight in Fez or Marrakech unless you're going to spend at least a few hours the previous afternoon or the next morning viewing the sights. And whilst Fez and Marrakech are culturally quite different (crudely speaking Fez is Arabic, Marrakech is Berber), on the face of it they are both imperial cities with old medinas, new towns, permanent souks, and so forth. Unless there's something you particularly want to see it doesn't make sense to visit both.

As Chris writes, the semi-arid regions are often warmer, but there's an awful lot of really good piste riding in the north of Morocco, both around the Rif Mountains north of Fez and in the Middle Atlas south and east of Azrou.

Tim
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  #7  
Old 6 Nov 2009
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Hi. Things will be a lot less hectic if you opt for 11 days, especially given your starting point at Ceuta. I can't comment on the north but have had 3 six-day trips around the south in the last year on hired XRs covering about 4500 miles. The villages of the High Atlas and the desert are what make Morocco special. What I've seen of the coast was dissapointing, not particularily scenic, but great for surfing, windsurfing etc apparently. For my money the really special parts have been:
1. AIT BOUGOUMEZ valley. Lonely Planet and other guide books rave about it and it is superb - a string of a dozen villages along a high altitude valley that has been made incredibly fertile by the locals. Very friendly people. (petrol available from jerry-cans in village of Tabant)
2. AIT BENHADDOU - really superb and extensive kasbah used in many films.
3.DADES gorge (like a mini Grand canyon in places) and Tohdra gorge and (if passable) the brilliant piste, often called 'gorge-gorge' that links them.
4.Dunes at MERZOUGA (less than 3hrs ride on boring tarmac road from bottom of Tohdra gorge -plenty of piste alternatives) Great riding alongside or up thru the dunes - cheapish accomodation all along the base of the dunes ( £16 B+B or £4 if you opt for the Berber tents) Short camel treks leave the hotel area every evening- after an hours trek you feel like you're in the middle of the Sahara - the trek + accomodation in a Berber encampment,evening meal, breakfast, lots of drumming, snow(??)boarding down the dunes etc,etc is about £25 - money well spent, I thought and hotels are happy to look after bike,gear etc. Many of these hotels have pools and its a very relaxing place to spend a few days. From Merzouga you have the option of the long desert ride south to Tagounite and a return along the Draa valley.
Wherever you go in Morocco, accomodation should be easy to find and Petrol is not a problem except in remote mountain areas and the piste south of Merzouga.
Enjoy the trip!!

Last edited by nmowbray; 7 Nov 2009 at 13:15.
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Old 9 Nov 2009
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Amazing response - much appreciated from all.

With all the advice I've had, and with my newly acquired copy of Chris Scott's Morocco Overland, I am now ploughing through maps and co-ordinates to try and get a rough route in place.

Next dilemna is fuel - my 690 doesn't have the biggest tank and was contemplating the Safari tanks you can get. I don't want to go to the expense if it isn't necessary though and was wondering whether I'd get away without - or maybe an extra gallon tank (not keen having to carry this though).

I expect it depends on the route, but we won't be going too far out as we aren't planning on camping.
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  #9  
Old 30 Jan 2011
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Hi

How did the trip go?

We are planning a similar trip and our needs are identical to yours.

Can you tell me what routes you took in the end. Do you have the Garmin
trip logs?

Any photos?

Thanks

Andy
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