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Sahara Travel Forum Topics specific to North Africa and the Sahara down to the 17th parallel (excludes Morocco)
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  #16  
Old 17 Jan 2008
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We have just returned from a similar trip (Td5 double cab 2 kids 12 and 14), taking the same ferry route. The journey from Bilboa to Algerciras took 14 hours with 2 very short stops . We went straight through Madrid with no problems at about lunchtime. It is a very long drive. I recommend a hotel in Algeciras (Hotel Riana Christina) about 50 Euros per room and it is adjacent to the port. Do not buy ferry tickets from touts en-route but do it at the port. The fastcraft to Tangiers takes 45 mins and cost 250 Euro return. Tangier port is a nightmare, you will need patience, as you cannot circumnavigate the process (you do not need fixers) all the paperwork happens at the exit gate, just wait your turn (it took us 4 hours). We took the moterway all the way to Cassablanca and stayed at the Ibis (there is an Ibis Hotel on the Marrakech turnoff). The road from Tangier to Marrakech is now all motorway and very good with modern services. WATCH YOUR SPEED ) around Rabat and the fast changing traffic lights (we got fined 40 Euro).

We went to Marrakech (4 nights) then across the Atlas to Foum Ziguid then took pistes north through Mahmid to Erg Chebbi (5 nights), before returning to Tangier and home. Brilliant drive and we were accompanied by a VW van which we towed through the sand. No problems. The locals everywhere were delightful (security was never an issue). We wild camped away from villages and met a few nomads (all great). Fuel was easy to come buy (cash only ((there is a cashpoint just outside the gates of Tangier Port)). We took bottled water and out water purification tablets.

The main roads are patrolled by a breakdown service and as far as other precautions we just had medical insurance etc. I can honestly say that Morocco was great and never once did we feel worried. We travelled extensively through Southern Africa this summer and yes here there were very definitely security issues. I' am not sure about traveling with very young kids as there is a lot of driving (3500 miles return to Portsmouth).

One last thing the P&O ferry broke down thus adding an extra day to our journey. This ship is a dump compared with Brittany Ferries. Take an electric kettle and adapter and you can save yourself a fortune on this boat.

Have a great trip
Best wishes Ian
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  #17  
Old 19 Jan 2008
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souks

Dwair's spot on! We were there when our elder was 2 1/2 (and I was 6 months pregant with #2), and found everyone extremely friendly and helpful - having kids along really does open so many opportunities in terms of contact with the locals.

One bit that I haven't seen mentioned yet is that your 3 year old may be old enough to do a bit of negotiating in the souk for some toy - with you hovering in the background of course, but it's great fun to explain to the kid how the process works, give them a small bit of money, and watch them negotiate down the price of a stuffed camel or something. We did it in morocco when our older daughter was 2 1/2, and just recently in egypt (our girls are now 8 and 5), and both times it was one of the highlights of the trip for them. All the vendors we've encountered take it in great stride, and often the kids negotiate a better deal than I could have. My younger this last time kept getting things for free because she was so "cute" - and she was a very tough negotiator. The funniest was when we were leaving the souk and still being approached, she'd just smile winningly at the guys, hold her hands out palms up, and say "no more money" ...

Word of caution, though: once taught the fine art of negotiation, the kids keep using it when they get home:

"Can I have 4 Skittles?"
"No, too close to dinner. You can have 2."
"Ok, three then. Thanks."

Sigh...

Have fun!
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  #18  
Old 19 Jan 2008
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[quote=

One last thing the P&O ferry broke down thus adding an extra day to our journey. This ship is a dump compared with Brittany Ferries. Take an electric kettle and adapter and you can save yourself a fortune on this boat.

Have a great trip
Best wishes Ian[/quote]

Been reading this post with interest as off to Morocco on the 9th March just your post on here about the P&O Ferry how much of a Dump is it Ian
As was looking forward to a rest on here on way to Spain maybe we should have went down through France with a bit more driving

Dave
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  #19  
Old 22 Jan 2008
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family trip

HI All
What a great thread this has turned out to be.

I'm off to morrocco 12 march plym to santander £448 returning 31st march

It will be my second trip but this time i'm taking my wife in our discovery and our itinery is wide open.

regards to All

Gren
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  #20  
Old 22 Jan 2008
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The P&O ferry is very 1970's. The food is like school dinners and the 'live' entertainment could have you jumping overboard. Just take loads of books and hide in your cabin... Ian
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  #21  
Old 22 Jan 2008
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Hi - Guy here,

many thanks for the responses - there has been some superb advice. It is a shame I have already booked the ferry - otherwise the Plymouth/ Santander route would be getting my money!!!!

I was speaking to Simon from MPS4X4 who came up with a top notch suggestiion for those with families - which was to take our old baby clothes to trade/ give to the locals. He said that the state of some of the young childrens clothes was pretty bad.

Out of interest is anyone else on the Bilboa boat departing on the 26 Mar and returning on the 15 Apr????

all the best

Guy
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  #22  
Old 23 Jan 2008
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Seems like some excellent advice so far. The only things I would add are -

In the event of a breakdown which is fairly unlikely, get in to a mindset that it doesn't need to be fixed instantly, its okay if it takes a day for someone who can really help to come along, its not like the Uk where you can phone the AA and have a response in an hour, but if you get into a mindset that its okay for it to take a bit longer and just enjoy where ever you are, however odd it might be. We have had some quite cool experiances in places that I would never have chosen to stop but have done due to mechanical issues. If you get into this mindset then its take loads of the stress away. Equally not getting hung up on keeping to an timetable. Obviously have enough supplies to be able to camp for a couple of days - eg water, food, etc. Chances are it won't happen.

Regarding the wife and pistes, well we've been trans africa, we've been back to Morocco since plus loads of other offroad experiances from Norway to Australia and the wife who is brilliant with the general overlanding thing, absolutely loves it but still starts stressing when the vehicle goes offroad. Even onroad I noticed her praying in the back seat in the Alps only last week as we inadvertantly four wheel drive drifted on a 180 hair pin bend on ice. We still go and do it and she chills out after a bit.

Have fun.
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  #23  
Old 23 Jan 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toby2 View Post
Seems like some excellent advice so far. The only things I would add are -

In the event of a breakdown which is fairly unlikely, get in to a mindset that it doesn't need to be fixed instantly, its okay if it takes a day for someone who can really help to come along, its not like the Uk where you can phone the AA and have a response in an hour, but if you get into a mindset that its okay for it to take a bit longer and just enjoy where ever you are, however odd it might be. We have had some quite cool experiances in places that I would never have chosen to stop but have done due to mechanical issues. If you get into this mindset then its take loads of the stress away. Equally not getting hung up on keeping to an timetable. Obviously have enough supplies to be able to camp for a couple of days - eg water, food, etc. Chances are it won't happen.


Have fun.
Yep, quite agree: try to imagine that you are retired - good practice anyway for that greeeeeeeeeat day!
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  #24  
Old 14 Feb 2008
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suggestion

i m a moroccain saharain boy,i live in Mérzouga village in the South Est
i think with 10 days you can see ,chafchaoun,a bleu nice city,after you go to Fes,a nice beautiful city for culture .after midelt,you will see mountains and minerals.after you can go to the desert of Mérzouga.spend one night with camels in the oasis .after you take road to ouarzazat,vist of the famous Kasbah of ait benhaddou.after you go to Marrakech for to see the red city with all the architecture of morocco.after you go to Essaouira nice quiet city with many of fish plates.in the end you acrross all the cost for leaving morocco by Tanger.

i think it will be a quick visiting,but it sound good plan for 10 days.
if you need informations about Mérzouga desert email me in :ibrahimtouareg@caramail.com

best regards,
ibrahim
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  #25  
Old 19 Feb 2008
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Superb thread

I'm heading off there in April - with 4 yo son & pregnant wife (Classic Range Rover - 300tdi conversion & Sankey tool trailer). We are planning to take it real easy from Bilbao (Sailing April 4th from P'mouth). Wending our way down through Portugal, maybe take 3 weeks for that bit - flexible while in Morocco, I hope to be able to set up in one place for a week or so before we move on. That said my other (better) half could hate it and want to come home, who knows. I will point her to this excellent thread - thankyou to all that have made it so and for OP for asking the question!

Very excited, 3 month holiday can't wait.

Anyone have any views as to whether I ought to paint the trailer - it is in military olive green at the mo, don't want to give the wrong idea...

All the best & safe travels
TT
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  #26  
Old 20 Feb 2008
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Thanks for a most useful thread, we will be passing through Morocco in October with our 4 and 2 year old sons.
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  #27  
Old 20 Feb 2008
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I'd just reiterate the warning about the Rif mountains - you don't want to go there with a family! It's a LOT of hassle - trying to explain to the kids why everyone is trying to force you off the road while yelling "Hashish" at you could be tricky!

That said, the Mediterranean coast is great - but better to reach along the coast rather than driving up from the South through the Rif.

That's the only downside to Morocco - apart from the usual overdevelopment along the coast... To have a day in a costal 'tourist' area which hasn't been trashed try Essaouira if you need to give the family a break from 4x4 (some people seem to like to spend time away from the car apparently!)

On the ferry - get a cabin in the middle of the ship - we got put in the bow in a force 10 - when I finally got them to move us I could hardly get into the cabin to collect our bags - it was like being in an out of control lift with someone hammering on all the sides!

Even on the pistes there is a surprising amount of traffic - local taxis, trucks etc, so don't worry too much about getting stuck with a breakdown in the desert. As long as you have a little French (or a phrasebook!) you will be able to chat to passing drivers (if you are parked they may well check to see if you are ok on a piste) and you will find people are very friendly and used to 4x4s - but they are also used to Swiss 4x4 drivers paying outrageous prices for bread etc in villages on the pistes - apparently the Swiss don't negotiate - people kept telling us 'that's what the Swiss give us' - three euros for a flat-bread etc!

Get the Marokko Topo maps for GPS - GPS Vector Map Morocco
and you can use them for checking you are on the right road even if you don't plan to do remote pistes - getting the right road out of towns can be as difficult as any navigation (and in Spain it's a real problem - very poor signposts in Spanish cities)

The last thought is to pack a couple of 5 litre water bottles from the supermarket - that way if the kids (or you) have stomach problems then you have 'safe' water which doesn't taste odd - trying to get a sick child to drink water tasting of chlorine tabs might be a problem! Otherwise the water should be fine, but obviously be sensible - a dirty tap in a toilet in a filling station might not be the best place to fill up!

And above all - have a good time - Morocco is a great destination with really friendly people and good Land Rover mechanics! (look for smart, clean garages and you should be fine - many are tidier than a British garage!)

Have fun!
Tony
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  #28  
Old 12 Mar 2008
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Talking

Just got back and all the points are covered. But try and drive the 501 over the High Atlas pass its a great road. On route 31 from MK over the mountains you get lots of chaps jumping out of the shadows trying to sell you Crystals its all good fun but they do get worringly close to the vehicles.

Found A metro cash and carry in Marakech just show your passport and they give you a temporary pass. Full of fresh produce and bulk buy water etc.

Enjoy, its a crazy beutiful place and well worth a visit. The road from Marakech to the coast feels dangerous so just take it easy.
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