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

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  • 1 Post By twenty4seven
  • 1 Post By TheWarden

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  #1  
Old 6 Feb 2013
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How's my 5-6 week plan look so far?

So I have been doing a bit of research in an attempt to make a basic plan for my next month or so in Morocco and I wanted to ask for some feedback from people who have done it. I started reading about all of the pistes, but found myself being slightly lost in the sense that I didn't know which I should take and which direction because I didn't have a sense of my overall route, so I decided that it would be best to sort out a basic route and then figure out which pistes to take from there.

I'm starting a major trip down Africa, so this is just the first leg and the timeline is pretty open, but I figure that 5 or so weeks should do me for Morocco before heading to Western Sahara and Mauritania.

Tangier (Entry)
Chefchaouen
Fez
Meknes
Midelt
Merzouga (Erg Chebbi)
Dadès Gorge (Boumalne to Msemrir)
Ourzazate
Zigora/M'Hamid (Erg Chigaga) Worth doing after Erg Chebbi?
Ait Benhaddou
Marrakech
Rabat (Visa for Mauritania)
Casablanca (maybe)
Mirleft or Sidi Ifni
Tarfaya
Dakhla
Western Sahara



Any feedback welcome. Does this look practical in the timeframe? Am I potentially going to miss anything that I MUST see. Also as I do my piste homework once I get some feedback here, I'll keep posting, but any suggestions that are on/off the route that can't be missed would be appreciated.

Also for what it's worth, I'll not be on a bike..



Cheers,

Tony
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  #2  
Old 6 Feb 2013
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It might help to give a steer on what you are trying to achive on the trip so readers can advise, ie are to trying to experience the best of Morocco?

Scanning you proposed route IMHO you miss some of Moroccos best sights and the routes looks to be mainly tarmac. 5-6weeks should comfortably do the route

I'd suggest that you consider the following

Essaouira
Todra Gorge
Taroudannt
drive the Tizi n Test through the High Atlas rather than the Tizi n Tichka (Marrakech to Ouarazazate), stop at Tin Mal Mosque on route
Hansjorg Voths Desert Sculptures

You route passes th Todra Gorge and the Sculptures, but from Ouarzazate I would go west (try route MH7 form Morocco Overland) for a night in Taroudannt before taking the Tizi n Test to Marrakech, then upto Rabat and Casa if you wish but heading back south use the coastal road rather than the motorway via El Jadida, Essaouira and down to Sidi Ifni.

When I'm away from work I'll knock together an allternative route and if you wanted can send over GPS track logs to assist with some of the pistes included
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  #3  
Old 6 Feb 2013
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Much appreciated, Warden.

I'd basically like to get a taste of everything to be honest.

That initial list certainly centers around tarmac, but it was really just to establish a "direction" to work off of. I'd obviously like to see some of the cities, but the natural beauty and scenic drives are just as important.

Looking forward to your alternative route when you've got some free time.

Cheers,

Tony
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  #4  
Old 6 Feb 2013
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Everyone will have there own opinions but..

I would not do all of the major cities, seen one walled city you have seen them all (I guess some will disagree )

Tangier (Entry) <-- I would use Tangier Med.
Chefchaouen <-- Nice place for first day / night
Fez <-- Ok
Meknes <-- No camp site near.
Midelt <-- I would visit Azrou for sure.
Merzouga (Erg Chebbi) <-- Must do the piste to Zagora / Foum Zguid, this really is a Must do.
Dadès Gorge (Boumalne to Msemrir) <-- Dades Gorge is better than Todra Gorge if you're only going to visit one.
Ourzazate
Zigora/M'Hamid (Erg Chigaga) Worth doing after Erg Chebbi? < -- Must do, the desert is stunning around here or at least the part past Erg Chigaga.

Ait Benhaddou
Marrakech
Rabat (Visa for Mauritania)
Casablanca (maybe)
Mirleft or Sidi Ifni
Tarfaya
Dakhla
Western Sahara

The Tarmac N12 road Foum Zguid / Tata / Akka / Assa is also a stunning desert route, with very few vehicles on it.

Nice Landrover btw.
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  #5  
Old 6 Feb 2013
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Been thinking and came up with the following



Tanger Med
Chefchoen
Fes
Rabat
Azrou
Middle Atlas Pistes
Midelt
MH2 via Imichil & Todra Gorge (all tarmac now)
Tinerhir
Desert Sculpture
Erfoud
MS6 to Zagora

Then the 2 red section would be good options

To the East
MS4
MH10 through Jebel Sahro to the Dades Gorge and Ouarazazate

To the West
MS5 to Foum Zguid
MA9 to Tazenakht over the Issil Plain
MS9 to Ouarazazate

Back to the white routes
MH7 Ouarazazate to Taroudannt (go to Ait Benhaddou on the way out of Ouarzazate
Taroudannt to Marrakech on the Tizi n Test (stop at Tin Mal on the way)
Marrakech to Essaouira
Essouira to Tafroute via Cascades D'Immouzzer (see the blue rocks at Tafroute

From Tafroute Morocco Overland has many options heading south or take the road to Sidi Ifni before heading south to the Western Sahara.

Only 2 wallled cities and imho the best. I don't really like the North of Morocco so can't comment much. Volubilis Roman ruins is ok and Fes very much on the tourist trail. (When I visited I didn't like it and haven't been back)

This cuts out your long trip back up north from Marrakech to Rabat for Visa's and probably a boring drive.

Matt (twenty4seven) probably has more experience of the pistes than I do. I think my suggestion gets in the classic sites of Morocco with some good suggested piste section based on my trips and takes in all main mountain ranges and different scenery until dropping south from Tafroute.

Give me a shout if you'd like track logs, kmz files for GE

HTH

Mark
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  #6  
Old 7 Feb 2013
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Thank you both very much.

I've been between my map and a few books and obviously the computer today trying to sort it all out.

Originally I wanted to do Rabat towards the end so that I didn't lock myself into a time frame with my Mauritania visa, but it does make sense to just get it near the start. I'll just have to hope that I am accurate when I pick a start date..

I made the mistake of getting Morocco Overland as an ebook, so it's a disaster going back and forth trying to read about routes, and his website doesn't give much information, but I've made quite a bit of progress incorporating everything and revising.. Also I got my ferry ticket from Algeciras to Cueta today, planning to leave Saturday morning

Cueta
Chefchaouen
Fez
Rabat
Azrou
Midelt
MH1
Imilchil
MH2
Tinerhir
Boumalne-Msemrir (Dades Gorge)
Erfoud
Rissani
MS6
Mhamid/Zagora
MS7
Foum-Zquid
MA9
Tazenakht
MS9
Ouarzazate
Ait Benhaddou
MH7
Taroudannt
Tizi-n-Test (Climb Djebel Toubkal)
Marrakech
Essouira
Cascades Immouzzer
Tafroute (Blue Rocks)
Sidi Ifni
South..

Look like a good "Best of" Morocco tour?

After I eat I'll incorporate it all into a map, but I get the sense you guys see it without..
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Old 7 Feb 2013
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looks like a very good plan you certainly get in the best sights and differences in terrain giving a real flavour of the variety Morocco has to offer. Wish I could come

Over the years we've found the rough guide very good for accomodation reccomendations

I've attached (hopefully) a gpb tack to the desert sculptures, I'm not aware that the are widely publicised but worth the visit. Officially your supposed to tell the guardian in advance and pay for a visit but I just turned up and he caught me there. The fee is steepp for Morocco but worth it to get inside. Only downside is he didn't speak english
Attached Files
File Type: gdb 03 Dec 2011 Erfoud to Tinerhir Desert Sculptures.gdb (87.1 KB, 55 views)
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  #8  
Old 7 Feb 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWarden View Post
looks like a very good plan you certainly get in the best sights and differences in terrain giving a real flavour of the variety Morocco has to offer. Wish I could come

Over the years we've found the rough guide very good for accomodation reccomendations

I've attached (hopefully) a gpb tack to the desert sculptures, I'm not aware that the are widely publicised but worth the visit. Officially your supposed to tell the guardian in advance and pay for a visit but I just turned up and he caught me there. The fee is steepp for Morocco but worth it to get inside. Only downside is he didn't speak english
I meant to ask about the desert sculptures..

Is this what you sent me? I'm new to this base camp stuff..

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Old 7 Feb 2013
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Yes looks like you got it, that track took me very relaxed day but I was at the sculptures for about 4 hours talking to some bikers and taking photos

Just noticed the track looks like a "gentlemans sausage" purely unintentional
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  #10  
Old 11 Feb 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWarden View Post
Fes very much on the tourist trail. (When I visited I didn't like it and haven't been back)
Mark
I'm in Fes now and I see what you're saying. I am happy to have come and the medina is amazing, but it's annoying having to deal with everyone wanting to be your guide or show you the tanneries or ask if you are interested in smoking. Having said that, there do seem to be some genuine people who just give a smile and nod when you catch their eye, but the annoying ones do tarnish the place..
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Old 11 Feb 2013
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Welcome to Morocco,you'll get used to it after a while

You'll get similar a most tourist places, of the ones I suggested Taroudannt should be the least hassel. Marakech is lighter than Fes and Essouira less again, motlyjust tryig to get you in to a shop rather than guides etc. There has been less tourists around than normal so some is just trying to earn a living.

When we visied Fes the hard sell was ok but it was to dodgy potential pick pockets tailing us through the Medina that put me off
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Old 11 Feb 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWarden View Post
Welcome to Morocco,you'll get used to it after a while

You'll get similar a most tourist places, of the ones I suggested Taroudannt should be the least hassel. Marakech is lighter than Fes and Essouira less again, motlyjust tryig to get you in to a shop rather than guides etc. There has been less tourists around than normal so some is just trying to earn a living.

When we visied Fes the hard sell was ok but it was to dodgy potential pick pockets tailing us through the Medina that put me off
Yeah, I'm sure I'll get used to it after a bit. But I do have a problem with getting followed around which a few people have done and it put me off quite a bit. One of the guys at the tannery even went so far as to block the path and give me a little shove, suffice it to say that he got shoved right back and didn't try it again, but there is a lot that's off putting about this. I'm quite looking forward to getting to some more mellow places and actually relaxing. Hopefully Rabat is enjoyable tomorrow..

Suppose this belongs here too:

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Old 11 Feb 2013
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Looking good

Things will get better the further south you get although Erfoud/Rissani/Merzouga is pretty relentless but should be less strong arm or intimidatory than you've had. Most other places it's mainly trying to get you in a shop or to a tourist site

Some handy arabic (phonetically before the spelling police come along)

La = No
Shukran = Thank you

these two normally work well and get a better response than french, most touts etc realise you know your way around enough to learn some arabic and laugh. French will normally get a few more trys before they give up

Safi = enough - works well on it's own or with no if they're getting too pushy
Sheffar = Thief - said loudly or shouted in a public place will get some attention from the locals. Really a last resort.
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Old 17 Feb 2013
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MH1 just kicked my ass. Will post more and hopefully pictures soon, but at the 41k mark I circled back to Midelt and I'm going to head towards the dunes now..
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Old 17 Feb 2013
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Looking forward to hearing more
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