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Desert Travels - Motorcycle Journeys in the Sahara and West Africa!

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  #1  
Old 26 Jun 2002
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London to Morocco and back in 2 weeks (advice sought)

Sorry...another Morocco question! I'm fairly new on the adventure biking scene and I am going via France and Spain to Morocco (in August) on a 98 Transalp. Not to bothered about advice for Spain and France, but really want to get the best out of time in Morocco i.e. have an adventure!! It's a 2 week trip so will ride fairly hard through Spain and France (both ways if necessary). 1)Any ideas on reasonable travel times to get to Tangier? I've heard Todra Gorge is beautiful so I'm kind of setting that as my goal. Is this reasonable given the time available? Would like to get there on as interesting a route as possible taking in some desert, mountains etc. My bike does 180 miles on a tank (no extra loading). Any advice on a route to take welcome. Would like it to include some dirt roads etc. Will not have off road tyres but will fit dual purpose if advised to do so (bike came with road tyres). Any thoughts?
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  #2  
Old 26 Jun 2002
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Bloody Hell! 2 weeks. I tried it a couple of weeks ago and failed. desided to just spend more time in Spain. I was on a 1200 Bandit which is faster on road and still desided to call it a day. Mainly because of the weather - it rained really hard from Baudoux to madrid. I'd have to say getting off the beeten track in Spain was fantastic and more than made up for not making Morroco. Its not the distance but the experiance.

Whatever you deside - good luck and enjoy.
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  #3  
Old 27 Jun 2002
GWJ GWJ is offline
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Four of us went to Morocco last year in a Land Rover. We took the ferry from England to Bilbao and then on down through spain where we caugt a ferry to Ceuta rather than Tangiers. We headed through Morocco down to Erfoud and throught the desert to Zagora and then on to Todra. From there we went up the west coast back to Spain.

We did all of this in 2 and a half weeks and at a push we could have done it in 2 weeks. Forget the ferry to Spain and ride down to Southern spain. It will take probably 24 hours to ride down from France to Soutehen Spain.

Alternatively there is a ferry from Marseille to Morocco. That maybe worth liiking into.

We went to all the major town in Morocco also, Fez, Rabat Marrakesh and Larache on the west coast is well worth a visit.

We would recommend you have a look at chris scotts route through the desert from Zagora to Erfoud. It is magnificent, especially the dunes.

Good luck

Ashley

email, queenandcountry@hotmail.com

Quote:
Originally posted by PaulJ:
Sorry...another Morocco question! I'm fairly new on the adventure biking scene and I am going via France and Spain to Morocco (in August) on a 98 Transalp. Not to bothered about advice for Spain and France, but really want to get the best out of time in Morocco i.e. have an adventure!! It's a 2 week trip so will ride fairly hard through Spain and France (both ways if necessary). 1)Any ideas on reasonable travel times to get to Tangier? I've heard Todra Gorge is beautiful so I'm kind of setting that as my goal. Is this reasonable given the time available? Would like to get there on as interesting a route as possible taking in some desert, mountains etc. My bike does 180 miles on a tank (no extra loading). Any advice on a route to take welcome. Would like it to include some dirt roads etc. Will not have off road tyres but will fit dual purpose if advised to do so (bike came with road tyres). Any thoughts?
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  #4  
Old 28 Jun 2002
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Hi PaulJ
I did a great Morocco trip in an 4x4 last November/December, starting with the ferry crossing from Almeria (Spain) to Nador (Morocco).
This put me into real desert by lunchtime next day, and the rest worked out great.
Chris Scott’s book is highly recommended, even if I did get lost!
Check out the notes on my website which gives approx miles and times.
Click this link on the main page
'Morocco Off-Piste, November 2001'
Bon voyage
Kitmax

------------------
Kitmax - Traveller
Desert Pictures at
http://www.kitmax.com/kitmax/kit03ph...velgallery.htm
homepage http://www.kitmax.com
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  #5  
Old 28 Jun 2002
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Thanks for your comments. Ashley,why did you go to Ceuta instead of Tangiers> Is it easier/quicker to get out of? Your trip sounds like the kind of route I would be taking. Kitmax, I have actually been on your site before. I following a link from another posting but I'd forgotten about it. Your itinery table is very interesting/useful I need to study it properly and mark some of these places off on my Michelin map to give me an idea of how long/far places are apart. I don't think I'll go as far South as you (time limits), maybe go as far south as Todra George.
I'm not sure whether I should go up the west coast on the return or head up the centre of the country? Any recomendations? Ashley, sounds like the cities along the west coast might be worth visiting...I suppose I'd make good time on the surfaced roads on the west coast as well.
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  #6  
Old 30 Jun 2002
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hi all, firstly tangiers is a nightmare as far as security goes. i would say if you will get robbed anywhere it will be in tangiers and as a first trip to morrocco you will easily picked out and targeted. ceuta is mildly better with cheap fuel just less than
€0.50/L for petrol .
as for the coast route, i came back from the south this way in april and didn't think too much of it. if you are into birdwatching then there are some good sites but really not much else. the centre has a lot more in the way of scenery and traditional morroccan life.
while we were in algeciras there was a group of landrovers heading for an adventure trip organised by one of the magazines in the uk. they were heading down to erg chebbi and back in 7 days. so i don't see a problem in your shorter trip with a bit longer time.
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  #7  
Old 5 Jul 2002
GWJ GWJ is offline
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Hi Paul

You asked why we went to Ceuta instead of Tangiers. Most people feel this is a more relaxed way to enter Morocco as you are in effect travelling from spain to a pocket of spain in Morocco. Once in ceuta you can relax for an hour and leisurely enter Morocco proper. The other advantage is there are less peple the other side to hassle you, which after a long drive and the customs check atc you will appreciate it. My emai address is queenandcountry@hotmail.com. Send me an email and we can chat over the phone.

Cheers Ashley
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  #8  
Old 19 Jul 2002
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I did the trip in two weeks this April on a BMW F650 Dakar. Set off from Warwick on the Saturday afternoon for the evening sailing from Portsmouth - Bilbao. Arrived 08.00 on the Monday and ran to Algeciras in one hit (it was a long day but the roads were empty and in pretty good order!) stopped every 250 km for petrol, food and a stretch.

Camped at Algi for the night and caught the 07.00 ferry to Morocco the Tuesday morning. 40 mins later i was at the border. Pretty straight forward - even for a first timer!! Follow the instructions in Chris's book and you won't go wrong.

Headed for the Rif Valley and planned to stop overnight at Voulibilis (roman ruins) Met up with a Belgian chap on a Tenere and we went on to Meski over the Atlas in the pi**ing rain and a sleet storm.

Played around Erg Chebbi for a day as the route to Zagora (if i remember correctly) was flooded out. (landrovers stuck for a few days in the wash out by all accounts of the locals).

We changed plans and did two of the smaller routes in the book (can't remember the names now but were excellent fun and described superbly). Stopped out it the desert overnight and then headed for Todra. Camped out and did the loop Todra - Dades gorges. EXCELLENT - but the local kid in the valley are a real pain in the arse.
We split up and i headed for Ourazzette (Spelling?) to do the route around Ait BenHaddou. EXCELLENT.

Back over the Atlas TIZI n TICHCA, and headed for Marakech and the coastal road (quicker) to head back to Ceuta. Arrived back on the Tuesday afternoon and caught the 18.00 hrs ferry. Stopped outside Malaga on the Tuesday night and headed back to Bilbao for the Thursday midday ferry back to UK.

Excellent trip apart from the rain in Spain, snow in Spain, Hail in Spain. Weather could have been better across the Atlas but was great further south.

A long two weeks (7000 kms) but would recommend three weeks if you get the chance.

enjoy - what ever you do!!

regards
Paul
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  #9  
Old 19 Jul 2002
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Just wanted to recommend your Todra plans. For me the driving highlight in Morocco was the Todra - Dades Loop.

From Tinehir head to - Ait Ouaritane - Tamtattoucht - Ait Hani - Agoudal - Tilmi -Msemir -Ait Youl- Boumaine.

The top section of the route between Agoudal and Tilmi is a jaw dropping, stomach clenching ride. I did it in a Landrover Defender and the track is verging on suicidal in parts - however scenery is mindblowing. On a bike I think it would be a little easier (as the track is very narrow in places) and faster.

Distance around 200 miles.
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  #10  
Old 23 Jul 2002
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2 weeks... that's brave in my eyes. I've been in Marocco in May did 8000km's in a month. Have a 2000 Transalp. Quite a bit on pistes.

If you want to be able to go off road with no worries: get Michelin Deserts. Ideally you get them changed in Spain before you take the boat over. If you would consider taking the boat from Almeria to Nador, let me know, I know a Michelin dealer there who can help you out.
The nightboat Almeria Nador saves you some Spanish tarmac and Nador is a easy place to enter Marocco. From there in 1 day you can be in Midelt, 2 days to Boulmane (South of Er Rachidia), and so on...

Didn't like Todra, too touristy and developed. Had to pay to entre actually... Dades is much better!!!
Good stop over nearby: In Boulmane, look for Chambre d' Hotes La Palmerie. Bikes are safe inside the palmerie. Good food and reasonable prices. Ask to sleep in the tents if you want to go really cheap.

Erfoud and Merzouga is beatifull.

Good place in Marrakesh to stay:

Hotel Essouaria inside the Medina close to the Djemaa el Fna square. The owner will allow the bikes to be put inside the hotel.You might have to take the panniers of to get them inside.
Great roof top terrace, good price and THE place to meet other travellers.

In Taroudant go to Hotel Taroudant (if I am not mistaken). It is on the corner of the straat comming out on to the mai square. Good price, nice inside garden, good food. AND: BEER and WINE in the evenings!
Bikes can be put inside. Taroudant is a nice city to stroll around.

Tafraoute a bit south of Taroudant. Nice little town. There is a good hotel to stay, ask me via a mail if you need to know wich one. Don't remember the name.
I have encountered some of the most beatifull stuff on a day trip just south of Tafraoute. 300m deep gorges with streaming (!!!) clear water in wich you can see the frogs and fish play around. One oasis after the other one... Again, ask me more through mail if you consider this area.

The Aït Benhaddou loop aside of the Tizi N Tichka is great!!!! Go for it. In general the Tizi N Ticka is much nicer than the Tizi N Test.

In Ouarzazate: DO NOT STAY in hotel Es Salaam. Place seems nice and quite during the day bu turns into a prostitute house at night. Also had camera stolen out of my room here.
For the rest a nice little town for a walk around in the evening.

Check the pictures on my website.

Have fun and feel free to mail me any questions.


Pieter.

(conclusion of this message for me... I need to upgrade my website and put all this info out there for everyone.... who can help me out with some cheap easy software?)
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  #11  
Old 15 Aug 2002
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Well I did it! Thanks for all your advice and stories! I loved the whole thing except I would say you need more than 2 weeks to really enjoy it, don't go in the middle of Summer, oh and don't get suckered into buying the obligatory carpet before you've even hit your first piste!
I bought Mr Scott's book and it proved invaluable. The bike (Transalp) was a dream and I've since christened her Xena Warrior Princess.

[This message has been edited by PaulJ (edited 14 August 2002).]
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  #12  
Old 15 Aug 2002
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In october 2000 I went in my Suzuki SJ from Plymouth-Santander, leaving on a Sunday eve. got to Spain midday monday, got the ferry to Ceuta 8:00am Tuesday, went Ceuta-Meknes-Azrou-Marrakech-Ouazerzate-Zagora-Mhmid and back, stayed in Chaoun on the Monday night (1 week later) got the ferry to Algeciras on the Tuesday morning, spent Wednesday in Gibraltar, got the ferry to the UK on the Thursday Evening. Whew what a rush! Actually it didn't seem much of a rush at the time. there are some pictures here:

Welcome to Scott Wylie's Photography Emporium - powered by SmugMug

Last edited by ScottWylie; 3 Aug 2007 at 14:01.
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  #13  
Old 29 Aug 2002
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PaulJ - Just planning on doing the same thing on my Pan-European, solo.

I've posted a couple of messages at:

http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/ubb...ML/000171.html

Did you find your nice shiny bike a little conspicuous, or maybe your're going to get hassled anyway so it doesn't matter too much?

You're a man after my own heart - I like to set my self long distances in 2 weeks (usually 4500-5000 miles). In fact on my last trip to Sicily, I got from Cherbourg to Orbetello (75 miles north of Rome) in a day, which was 1000.5 miles. Just wanted to pass that milestone!

[This message has been edited by IanC (edited 29 August 2002).]
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  #14  
Old 30 Aug 2002
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IanC, Good luck! I think the long rides must be a bit more pleasant on a Pan-European than on a Transalp! I think any big bike is fairly conspicuous in Morocco, escpecially down the quieter Eastern side where I didn't say any big bikes apart from those belonging to tourists (I didn't really go West much). I did however get the impression that no matter how much I pleaded poverty whilst being sold something 'really useful' (carpets, minerals or fossils generally), they would take one look at my bike and the dollar signs would shine in their eyes. Let me know how you get on. Are you riding through France and Spain? I found I could do Spain in a day, but France was just too long for me, let me know if you can do it (that's a dare by the way!).
Are you going on the pistes on your bike!? Oh and last of all it's really really really hot there now!
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  #15  
Old 30 Aug 2002
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hi paul
try dover calis then get the train down to spain short ride to get the ferry to ceuta
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