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

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  • 1 Post By Peter Girling
  • 1 Post By chris gale
  • 1 Post By Tim Cullis

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  #1  
Old 10 Feb 2014
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Suitable routes?

Folks we're planning our first Morocco trip in May. We're taking Teneres, 800 and 1200 GSs, so I want to make sure I plan some interesting routes that take in plenty of scenery without getting overwhelmed.

We'll be starting in Ceuta and heading for Fez. Nothing to heavy but a gentle introduction to Africa... any nice route ideas?

From Fez we'd like to head down to Ouarzazate via Dades Gorge. We have a couple of days to do this and I'd like to take in some trails, a taste of desert (but no dunes on our big bikes) and un-tarmaced roads.

From there we'll head to Marrakesh.

Then a day or two to get back to Ceuta... But stumped on a route back that will be just as fun, so ideas?

Got most other info from the HUBB and Chris's book... But any other advice welcomed!

Is Carlos cheaper than booking online for Ceuta rtn with set dates?

Thanks all!!!

Much inspiration had from Tim posting on the XT forum and the GSer site!
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  #2  
Old 10 Feb 2014
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How many days have you got? If you're going to do Fes, I wouldn't do Marrakech. I'd spend more time on the bikes and head to the south. There are plenty of tracks to avoid the sand dunes at Erg Chebbi and Chegagga with the big bikes.

From Fes, I'd pick up Chris's route over the Atlas and down Dades Gorge. You can then either head for Ouarzazate and the trails in the Anti Atlas. Or you can head over Jebel Sahro and either turn right to head down to Zagora or left to Tazzarine and piste or asphalt to Merzouga.

if you've got time you can swing out east and back up over the Rekkam plateau and over the Rif.

Just a few options, someone will be along shortly with another game plan...

I've found Carlos to be cheaper than online plus you can get an open ticket so aren't tied to specific times & dates.

Happy trails,

Peter
PS Don't forget to post the trip report!
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  #3  
Old 10 Feb 2014
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Good luck.

Chris Scott's book is a start, as Peter said depends how long you have in Morocco.

One thing I learnt on my first trip is that distances may be the same as in Euroland, but the traffic, roads, livestock and the sheer beauty of the country needs enjoyment and any journey takes longer than first thought.

Safe travels, Mark
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  #4  
Old 10 Feb 2014
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Just been reading Mick and Marens trip report from last summer... They look like they took a good route to Ouarzazate.

We've only got 11 days there and back. So leaving Sunday we plan to get to Ceuta Wednesday morning. We need to leave via Ceuta on the following Monday midday. We're governed by the Ferry which is a shame.

Thanks for the responses so far... Need to do some more detailed map and book reading I think!
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  #5  
Old 11 Feb 2014
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+1 for uknomad's comments about journey times.

Have a read of the write-up I did on AdventureBikeRider forum, especially the tips section which I've copied in below.

Quote:
The mistake most people make when first visiting Morocco is to try to do too much. They read the guide books, make a tick list of all the places to see, then look at the map and join the dots. This invariably means they are spending most of their time pounding tarmac, mostly on busy main roads vying with mad-cow taxi drivers and truckers trying to make progress. So my main tips are

1) Unless you are really wanting a long road trip, try to concentrate on a smaller area of the country rather than trying to tick all the boxes in the guide books.

2) The speed limits are similar to the UK, though drop to 40 kph (25 mph) in towns. Radar guns are commonplace, so avoid speeding unless you want a 400dh fine.

3) Don’t visit major cities like Marrakech or Fez unless you are planning to spend a day there sightseeing. Otherwise you will be fighting your way through the evening traffic just to kip overnight and leave the next morning. Instead come back on a weekend fly break some other time to properly see these places.

4) Avoid main roads where possible. Try to keep off the ‘N’ roads and concentrate on the ‘R’ and ‘P’ secondary roads. You will see more of the country, have much less traffic and a far more relaxing holiday.

5) When negotiating or evaluating prices, bear in mind that the typical wage for an unskilled person is 80-100dh per day. So ask yourself whether the prices are realistic. A tea or coffee should be around 5dh, a tagine midday meal around 20-30dh, 1.5-litre bottles of water are 5-6dh.
With only five and a bit days you are 'breaking' most of my tips. You're planning to visit Fez and Marrakech (see tip 3) and riding all the way to Ouarzazate (see tip 1 plus tip 4) and I fear you won't get as much out of your visit as if you concentrated on a smaller area.

Are you open to suggestions on a less ambitious route covering the northern part of Morocco around the Rif and Middle Atlas?

.
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  #6  
Old 11 Feb 2014
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Tim more than open to your pearls of wisdom...

Definitely want to avoid main roads.

Been looking at the Michelin 742 Morocco map, and as you say I've been joining dots looking at places and routes others have done.

Be good to have a half or full day break sometime around the weekend for sightseeing.

As salary men our time is limited, but quality is better than quantity...
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  #7  
Old 11 Feb 2014
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Have you enough cash to get the bikes transported to Malaga, you fly there, and then "do" Morocco, using someone like:

FlyBikeFly: European motorcycle transport to your favourite destinations

We live north of Aberdeen so trying to ride / use ferries etc to get to Morocco and back would mean hardly any time there, and we'll make the cash to allow us the time. The plan we have, for 2015, is to pick the bike up in Malaga on Saturday morning, ferry to Tangier Med, and then stop the night in Chefchaouen, then;

To Azrou via Volublis
Merzouga - day off
M'Hamid
Tata
Ait Benhaddou
Taliouene doing the Tizi-n-Ticha and Test
Todra gorge - short trip to Msemir and back
Cascades d'Ouzoud
Fes - day off
Spain and then drop the bike off on the Saturday morning.

So we'll have 12 full days in Morocco and 2 full days off the bike, one day with a short trip, and about 2500 miles in Morocco, or about 200 on average per riding day.

Fes is at the end so we'll have become accustomed to the way of Morocco. Marrakesh is another trip, or fly out for summer autumn / spring sunshine.
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  #8  
Old 13 Feb 2014
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If you are near marrakech , try the following route - did it yesterday in a campervan which was hairy - on a bike it would be amazing .
Head south out of the city on the 203 yellow rd , eventually you will pick up the 2030 white unpaved road ( its not !! ) follow this thru mountains picking up 2028 . eventually you will come to junction - turn right to head up to ski resort or left to go back to city . Road was scrapped by a bulldozer before we went up and there was only snow along time after we turned up to ski resort but still do able on bike . The view across to the snow capped peaks was amazing .
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  #9  
Old 13 Feb 2014
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Mech,

For me, the real Morocco is the far south. I would forget Fez, Marrakech and the rest. Save those for a sightseeing holiday. Just hit the motorway and get as far south as you can. My starting point would be the Draa valley and south from there. Loads of piste to choose from and the best scenery anywhere. Jaw dropping and wide open. Plenty of routes for the bigger bikes to get you close to the big dunes without worrying about getting stuck.

Your timescale is really only going to give you a taster - and it won't be enough. I guarantee you'll allow more time for your next visit.
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  #10  
Old 13 Feb 2014
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I'm composing some routes which I will email to you Mech.

Wed: Ceuta to Chefchaouen via Oued Laou
Thu: local off-roading in the Rif mountains around Chefchaouen
Fri: Rif mountains, Lake District and Middle Atlas finishing in Azrou
Sat: monkeys, then off-road through the Middle Atlas finishing in Khenifra
Sun: Through Zaër-Zaïane country to Larache on Atlantic coast
Mon: Roman Lixus, then back to Ceuta

I'm living in the Altiplano de Granada at the moment and tomorrow's forecast—despite being at 1000m above sea level—is for sun and 20ºC in the shade, so I'll be out riding the KTM 690 all day. Hope to finish the routes tomorrow night.

Tim
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Last edited by Tim Cullis; 13 Feb 2014 at 22:55.
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  #11  
Old 14 Feb 2014
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Folks thanks for all the suggestions!

Tim can't wait....
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