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  #1  
Old 3 Apr 2008
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Erg Chebbi im Morocco

Sorry to be a pain asking all these dumb questions, but knowledge is power

The big dunes Erg Chebbi in Morrocco. We plan to visit next year in May some time. Apart from pulling up at the edge, we fancy crossing them. We all have off road experience, but here in the UK. Is it do-able?? Any tips??

Thanks
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Old 3 Apr 2008
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the only thing I learnt about riding in deep sand was to give it lots of beans and don't worry if you think you are about to fall off - this is normal!
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Old 3 Apr 2008
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Erg chebbi

HI yes i drove across the southern part of the dunes 2 weeks ago in a bog standard discovery with road tyres aired to 1bar, took piste from erfoud to merzuga which brings you out on the "back" side of the dunes from merzuga.

only had one temory lapse of traction when i stopped on the crest of a dune as i thought it was steeper than it was due to fading light, my excuse anyway.!

lots of traffic bikes quads and buggys and lots of spanish 4x4's driving flat out everywhere.

regards

Gren
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Old 3 Apr 2008
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Originally Posted by gren_t View Post

lots of traffic bikes quads and buggys and lots of spanish 4x4's driving flat out everywhere.

regards

Gren
I was there back in January and the speed of some of the 4 x 4 was boarding on lunatic. One Frenchman had rolled a hire 4 x 4, looked like his passengers had got away with minor bruises. I would now think twice about riding a motorcycle in the area, these 4 x 4s come by so fast fill the air with dust and you become invisible to the following traffic. It was also a shock to see the huge increase in tyre tracks all over the place from the end of the tarmac to the dunes. Just a big off road play ground. Can’t be long before some one gets hurt and the authorities have to start restrictions.

A local had told me they are not allowing any more hotels to be built in the area.

Steve
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Old 3 Apr 2008
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chebbi

Hi steve

yep same observations here, is it only the brits that do off-road slowly?

I was with my wife in a lone disco and had to get whay out to camp alone
but still found many discarded bottles.
I drove in with no trash and got to zagora with 2 black bags full of other peoples crap.!!

though did not see anything dangerous just careless.!

Great area though and well worth a visit.


Gren
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  #6  
Old 3 Apr 2008
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Similar message to above - offroading in sand dunes is easy enough to do but required different techniques to offroading in UK. Last time we were down at Erg Chebbi I thought my mate knew what he was doing and then realised he didn't as he went off like a lunatic for five minutes not thinking at all about roll over angles / side angles / etc, just absolutely hammering it and ended up side on on a very steep dune where his top side wheels lifted off and he was temporarily perfectly balanced on the tipping point. After a significant brown pant experiance for him, we finally got him back out. Trick with sand is to have just enough momentum to get where you want to go, eg you need to give it a bit of power going up dunes to maintain momentum but you want to have lost nearly all of it by the time you crest so that you don't go flying off the other side. Also worth noting that Sand dunes are not uniform so that a dune can have a nice slope to drive up on one side but have a sheer drop on the other. Another thing worth noting is that people normally put some sort of pole / tall aerial / etc on the bull bar with a small flag in the air. This is to try and avoid two vehicles flying up from opposite sides of a dune without realising the other is there and crashing as the two crest. The flag / aerial gives just enough extra warning to stop - you stop quite quickly on the side of a dune.

If you want to see lots of examples of how not to do it, try looking at some of the clips on Youtube. Certainly when I lived in Aus, loads of people used to go out on places like stockton beach, north of sydney and write off their 4x4s, just by using too much speed, flying off dunes etc.

Hopefully none of this puts you off, its brilliant driving on the dunes and well worth doing, just need to consider some of the techniques.
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Old 3 Apr 2008
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Cheers for the advice. We`re all on bikes. Anyone can do it in a car
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Old 3 Apr 2008
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Number 1 on the list should be DON'T try to ride them alone! If you fall off or get stuck in a sandbowl it's gonna take a very long time to find you and shouting does'nt help much either as the sound travels upwards deflected by the dunes.One of our group last time didn't listen to this and it took 6 of us nearly 2 hours to find him(stuck under his bike) and he was barely 100m from where we RV'd.
If you are on something like a KTM exc450/525,Honda CRF450 or Yam WR450f with good enduro tyres,you should be able to get to the very top of the highest dune there.If you go round to the back of it(the opposite side to the village) it's not quite so steep and should be possible if you checkout your "runway" for elephant grass first...don't try and ride over this it'll have you off!
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Old 4 Apr 2008
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I was suprised how busy it was there and disgusted by the litter.

I did manage to get up the steep side if the largest dune on my first attempt though. Started from the top on the opposite dune, got into top as I started the climb (bloody scarey) and was bogging down in first as I reached the crest. No boddy took a picture though.

I found riding on that sort of sand really weird. It's like nothing you will find in the UK. If you manage to stay on virgin sand and keep momentum it's really easy to ride. When you get it a bit wrong the bike just gets dragged to a stop. Great fun riding along the crests.

The guys we were with showed us some tricks to get rolling again if you get stuck.

Step 1
You do like you see on the telly; pull the bike onto it's side, let the sand fall back in the holes and stand the bike back up.

Step 2
Pull away (some paddling might help) and use a sort of manual traction control by "pulsing" the throttle. If you just give it full beans, you might find you just dig a new hole, 1ft further forward of the one you just got out of. Once you feel you are rolling you can throttle on as the bike lifts up into the surface. It feels really odd; it's a bit like being in a power boat as it gets up on plane.

I found it usefull to spend five minutes puffing, panting and sweating between steps 1 & 2.

Getting out of bowls is fun; riding around in circles to keep moving while working out the best way out. Then do a reverse helter-skelter / wall of death to wind yourself out.

We were advised (as someone posted above ) to try to judge your speed so you stop at the top of the dune (not easy) If you get it right, you sort of break into and through the sharp crest and stop. Then with a little paddle, you are on your way again. If the crest isn't sharp, you don't get stopped and can trundle down the other side.

Do not go alone and try to stick close. It's very easy to loose your sense of direction. Don't stay out too late either (I sound like my Mum !!) the long shadows in the evening make it tricky to judge things. Mind you, midday is awkward as well; no shadows at all makes it difficult to judge things.

Have fun
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Old 4 Apr 2008
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I was there 2 weeks ago and as well as the dozens of 4WDs and quads all over it, there were dirt bikes crossing it without much drama. Its not that far across from Merzouga past the pseudo Oases to the hard dirt on the other side. Maybe 5-8 kms? ... You wont get lost or die of thirst there, there are dozens of camels and 4WDs within eyesight at any one time ... but rather as Steve Attwood says, the danger is of getting clobbered by a 4WD full of tourists out for some dune adventures.

The sand there is not the very very soft type, so its very rideable if you have low pressure in your knobblies and ideally a light bike.
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Old 14 Apr 2008
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I've ridden to the top of the biggest dune a few times. John is correct, its definately easier riding up the shallow side away from all the Auberges. Its also easier early morning and early evening as the sand is cooler/harder, therefore easier to ride and more importantly there are some shadows to give some perspective to the dunes. Middle of the day, no shadows and the crests of dunes are much harder to spot. They just merge into one another. I prefer long shadows to no shadows, also makes for better photography.

Never, ever just go charging upto the crest of a dune as some of the drop offs are horendous, always ride upto the crest at an angle, and ride along the ridge first, so you can look over the edge and assess what the other side looks like. The sand on the very crest of the dunes is very soft and easy to get the wheel stuck in.

Riding down the steep side of Erg Chebbi is a lot scarier than riding up the shallow side. Great fun but just be very carefull.

Last edited by BDG; 14 Apr 2008 at 15:30.
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Old 14 Apr 2008
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Sounds like it's become a giant sandpit playpen for wealthy westerners! May well have to rethink my itinerary.

Steve
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Old 14 Apr 2008
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"Sounds like it's become a giant sandpit playpen for wealthy westerners!"

Its a fair bet you won't have your best interactions with Moroccans there either. But who knows...
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Old 14 Apr 2008
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...always ride upto the crest at an angle ...
BDG,

Where did you learn this trick? Do you really mean it "always" works?
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  #15  
Old 14 Apr 2008
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without doubt...

... the least interesting and exciting place in Morocco.

Best avoided IMHO
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