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Old 15 Mar 2009
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Hidden Morocco routes

I've been promising this for several people for ages, so apologies for the extremely late delivery. It comes from a talk I did last year at Horizons Unlimited on 'Hidden Morocco'. My objective in giving the talk was to encourage people to get off the main red 'N' roads and try the less-travelled roads. Often these end up faster than the red route.

I'm one of the many contributors to Olaf's Maroc Topo project, and to increase the coverage of the map I tend to deliberately ride roads that are not on the GPS map (and often not on Michelin 742 either) and log not just the route but the road numbers, names of towns, fuel stations in remote areas, and so forth. Sometimes this exploration ends with a U-turn, but generally it results in excellent roads with no traffic and great scenery.

Olaf has been tied up completing his doctorate so hasn't updated Maroc Topo for a while, so consider this a mini-update covering the north of the country (down as far as Khénifra). It's about one-third of my northern area update logs but a lot of them are city roads and less interesting than the ones I've chosen to include.

The file is in .gpx format. RIGHT CLICK and save target as to save on your PC. After the download make sure the suffix is .gpx, then open it in Mapsource.

I'll post notes below as I get round to them.

"For sheer delight there is nothing like altitude; it gives one the thrill of adventure
and enlarges the world in which you live,"
Irving Mather (1892-1966)

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Old 15 Mar 2009
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Some preliminary notes. Roads are mostly dark yellow in colour, pistes are normally cyan.

To locate these routes on the map, activate the 'tracks' tab in Mapsource and double click on the route name to open the route up, then click on 'show on map'.

A1 motorway. I've included the new section of the A1 motorway (coloured dark blue) linking Tanger to Ksar Seghir. This then joins up with a four-lane highway to Fnediq/Ceuta. So it's an easy way to link the two main entry ports into Morocco.

R410. This is a pretty route through a mix of scenery. The western end of this road follows the northern bank of the Oued Loukos that was once the border between Spanish Morocco and French Morocco. The eastern end steadily climbs towards the Rif near Chefchaouen.

R419. The R419 is a great alternative to the N13 main road heading south. Beni Ahmed is a friendly little town and there are two petrol stations on the route. The area south of the reservoir is scenic with many choices of minor roads leading to Fes.

UPDATED 17Mar09 - P4103. Another great alternative to the N13. The Michelin map shows this as a difficult or dangerous section of road, but it was resurfaced a couple of years ago. Ride through Mokrisset to Zouni, continue on through Teroual, then take the R408/R501 into Fes. Whilst the R419 is a good route heading south, the P4103 can be a great farewell route on the way back north rather than sticking to the N roads.

R504. Leaving Fes towards Sefrou, take the R504 to the Gorge of El Menzel. Continue on the R504 with its stunning views as far as the R507 which is coming in from the north east. (The final couple of miles on the R504 is an easy track.)

P5109. Heading north from Ifkern, when I travelled the route in May08 it turned into a track (marked cyan) but this was being surfaced and is likely to be a good riding route now. You could link this through Tazouta, then take the P5106 piste all the way through to Immouzer du Khandar.

Forest of Maamora. From Kenitra on the coast, take the N4 to Sidi-Yahya-du-Rharb where you turn south on a narrow road that you are sure will be a mistake. But carry on as the R411 turns east through the forest as far as the R409. Turn south here to Khemisset at which point you could either head south west into the Jbel Mouchchene mountains on the R404, or take the R402 to El Hajeb and on to Azrou.

P7307. This part of the Middle Atlas is a limestone scenery with Cedar, Holm Oak and Cork Oak forests. Turn off the N8 between Azrou and Khénifra at Mrirt heading east towards Sources Oued Oum Er Rbia. It's great scenery though the road surface sometimes isn't brilliant. The Sources (springs) are the start of the Oum Er Rbia river and it's worthwhile parking up and walking to the springs. From there you can head north towards Lac Ouiouane and then on to Ain Leuh and Azrou.

UPDATED 17Mar09 - Middle Atlas pistes. Three routes are included in this file. The green route heading east out of Khénifra starts off as tarmac then becomes a lovely beaten earth road. Green is my colour code for absolute novice, and as long as it hasn't rained in a while you should be able to do this route on almost any bike. The other two cyan routes don't require any technical offroad skills though you may wonder in a couple of places.

"For sheer delight there is nothing like altitude; it gives one the thrill of adventure
and enlarges the world in which you live,"
Irving Mather (1892-1966)

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Last edited by Tim Cullis; 18 Mar 2009 at 00:44.
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Old 15 Mar 2009
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Great job, Tim! I am sure thousands of people will find it extremely helpful.

I've got the Olaf map and have been using it a lot on my last trip in Feb, and was wondering why some roads including the new A1 were not there. In fact I got off A1 on the way up to Ceuta, somewhere near El Arba I suppose, to continue to Tetouan by N2 and then on to Ceuta by motorway (also new, but I knew about that one) as I wasn't sure where I would end up if I stayed on A1. If only I had your track.

Btw, the .gpx file imports into the basic free version of Google Earth now - handy for those who don't have Garmin-and-PC-friendly software.

http://famous-walker.livejournal.com - in Russian but with lots of photos
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Old 15 Mar 2009
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Hi Tim

Thanks a lot, you rode a lot in the northern

I've opened wiht TTQV, unfortunately all tracks are blue. it doesn't matter, I don't know when I could get back in Morocco.
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Old 17 Mar 2009
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Thanks, much apreciated! This forum, your site and the Sahara Overland book were are our main source of information for our first trip to Morocco in 2008.
Now we are addicted and are going back in July for a 4 week trip, and planning a short 2 week trip in October. Traveling with friends and our kids.


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Old 17 Mar 2009
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Thanks for the updates Tim.

Though not strictly on topic I wonder whether you or others have info on fuel stops in the South. Whilst there last November I cut short plans to travel off-road between Ouarzazate and TanTan because of stetchy data in the Olaf map.
Paul Driver
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Old 21 Mar 2009
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IMO in Mk (or anywhere) one needs a proper paper map besides Sat Nav/Olaf to see the big picture.
For example a new Rough Guide Mk map is just out which is no worse than the rest. Plastic paper and double sided - lasts longer than a giant, flimsy Mich.

Ozt to Tan-Tan mostly off-road, fuel is never more than 250km apart; not hard on a bike, easy in a car.
Depending on your route, they include: Tazenacht; a couple on the N10 west to Taliouine, or Tata; Akka (from drums but legit); Tafraoute; Aït Herbil; not Foum el Hassan officially or even after asking; Fask; Assa and Tan-Tan. Nearly all except Assa and Tinfat N10 west, have UNL. Aït H can be unpredictable.

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Old 28 May 2009
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Originally Posted by Tim Cullis View Post
Green is my colour code for absolute novice, and as long as it hasn't rained in a while you should be able to do this route on almost any bike. The other two cyan routes don't require any technical offroad skills though you may wonder in a couple of places.
Does this mean that the cyan routes are only for offroad bikes? We're planning a trip with 7 bikes. Some are BMW GS, but I'm on a 'riding couch'...a BMW RT. I guess we can take the occasional dirt road, but would the cyan route be feasable on those bikes?
Short Way Down 2009
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