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Sahara Travel ForumTopics specific to North Africa and the Sahara down to the 17th parallel (excludes Morocco)
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morocco in July and August, is it too hot to enjoy it?
I have been wanting to bike to morocco for years but the only time i can get off work to go is in the summer. Is it simply too hot to enjoy it? or will it be ok as long as we take our time and gently acclimatize through spain?
I would say it’s doable but it depends on how you cope with heat and what you plan to do.
Always carry lots of water and don’t start with the long and hard pistes. If you plan to do lots of technical driving it might be smart to use a mx-shirt and body-armour instead of a jacket for the slow stuff.
What I replied to a similar question on AdvRider...
I've experienced 43C in October so July/August could easily exceed 45C. In these circumstances you need to drink 5+ litres of water per day, plus salt/sugar supplements so you don't wash out the body's minerals. The locals use heavily sweetened mint tea and salted peanuts to achieve the same effect.
Plan on being up with first light (6:20am) and get on the road before dawn (7am). It could easily be 25C already. Drink at least a half litre of water before starting out, preferably more. If you aren't peeing, or if it's dark yellow, you're not drinking enough. Take a floppy hat for when you stop, find shade when you can, and plan to stop for the day around 2pm, preferably somewhere with a swimming pool so you can get the heat out of your body.
Plan on having some rest days and be really careful about dehydration and sun stroke. Make sure you recognise the symptoms.
Camping is definitely out in the mid summer heat. Take a small 240v electric fan (150mm diameter) if you can't afford hotels with air conditioning. You'll thank me for this tip! Also useful is a 'buff' or scarf to wear across your face to prevent wind/sun burn. You may have to ride with your visor down as fast-moving hot air burns the skin.
We did it in a 4x4 (no aircon) and it was an “experience” shall we say. We got through 7 litres of water / day when we went south of Zagora. As Tim says this can wash out the body’s salts etc so we added Dieoralite to some water as a preventative measure to counter this. One of our group did actually become quite ill by not taking care of himself.
Of course a bike will be a lot tougher and we only went then as we were tied to school holidays.
BTW the temperature in the photo is slightly distorted. We had been parked up for a while and the sensor is in the front bumper so it was picking up radiated heat from the ground. My guess is it was touching 50 rather than the 58 celcius on the read out though.
we also went in a old discovery with no aircon but in september and it was warm to say the least.
Id agree with what every says here, one the symptoms we missed to do with dehydration and salt loss was feeling tired in the middle of the day in the desert, we thought that it was just a consequence of us having driven from uk to morocco in one go and not slept well the previous couple of nights. We stopped, opened a bottle of water and drank a bit, then some more and ended up drinking a 1.5l bottle each and (its better to drink in small amounts by the way, a little and often) a further bottle shared between us. We also thought we should eat so had some ryvita sandwiches with processed meat in the middle, they never tasted so good or were so rewarding to eat because of the salt content!
So stop often for water, even if you dont feel thirsty and add those supplements to it or have some salty food to hand.
If your eating locally avoid salads, but if you have dysentry from other products be aware youll need to up your water intake significantly, we had someone 'go down' for a few days because of this and heat exhaustion, we could carry him around because we were in a landrover, but you wont beable to!
As Tim and Russ say it can get frighteningly hot in Morocco in summer. Some years ago on a bike trip south of the Atlas mountains I saw 51C on the thermometer - and this at 6.00pm. We'd spent the afternoon hiding under a bridge too hot to care what the temperature was. Admittedly this was an exceptionally hot day and the following few days were a lot "cooler" but if you were caught out in the open on a desert piste on that particular day you could have been in trouble.
Dehydration and heat exhaustion can be real problems in these temperatures. Just drinking water may not be enough and these days I always pack some sachets of dioralyte (cheap in Boots). If you've sweated out a load of body salts (and in desert conditions on a bike you may not notice you're sweating) and started to suffer from the heat, water alone may not be enough but this stuff can be a miracle cure.
Now that we've all frightened you I'd still say go. If it's your first time, I'd suggest staying north of the Atlas. The temperatures are lower and there's loads to do and see. I'm not sure I'd completely agree with Tim's comment about not camping. We've always camped and not found it a problem but non air conditioned hotels can be horrible. The brickwork soaks up heat during the day and radiates it at night - a bit like a storage heater in reverse. You'll be trying to sleep inside it. At the very least try to get a north facing room.
first thing to say we were in a car (without airco) but not on a motorcycle. but we hadn't really problems with the heat. of course it was not really cool with temperatures in the south between 45 en 50 sometimes. But is really doable in the summer. we always camped, no problem at all. we were there with 5 people (3children) in one car. we always enjoyed.
when the south is too hot after a few days you can always go to the atlantic ocean because it lot fresher there.
Have a good time there
Flipper asked is it too hot to enjoy it, and IMO first time on a bike for a UK-based rider down south it surely is - and that is the best part of MK for riding. I recall another HUBBER did easier Tuni at this time and came home on a drip or smth.
It may only be Morocco but on a bike the margins are much narrower at this time and the whole point of going there is to get out on the remote tracks. Similar temps in Algeria one time I drank 10L+, day and night.
Just wanted to correct one thing the other posters say about taking salt tablets in hot climates - DON'T DO IT!!!
It is a long perpetuated myth that you ought to drink salt/saline drinks (edit - drinks WITH salt tablets) in hot climates and it is entirely incorrect. The physiology of hot weather (and it need not be 45+ Sahara hot either) is the same as an athlete during exercise in that your core body temperature rises causing a decrease in relative blood volume and accompanying concentration in sodium levels triggering the thirst mechanism as well as lower concentration in the major organs which gives rise to the symptoms of dehydration.
What we are talking about here is osmolality which can be defined as the density of particles in a fluid/drink. Distilled water or a hypotonic drink is low, a hypertonic drink being high. The osmolality of the drink determines which way the fluid will move across the cell membrane in the gut i.e. fluid moving from the cell to the outside or vice versa. By adding salt to your drink you are increasing the relative osmalility causing a net movement of fluid from the blood stream to the cells within the gut and a negative water absorption - and dehydration!
The mark 1 human body has been around a lot longer than salt tablets and even Red Bull and has become pretty good at self regulation and the research shows that when you consume any kind of drink sodium passes from the blood plasma into the intestine and it is here that it stimulates water absorption. In short, the body regulates sodium concentration of the fluids in your intestine all by itself.
You will find sodium added to sports drink merely to trigger the thirst mechanism thereby encouraging the athlete to drink further and remain hydrated. If you add anything to a drink let it be glucose but in general listen to your body, drink when you are thirsty and eat a balanced diet and all will be good. Overhydration will produce similar symptoms to dehydration.
Just as an aside, larger people particularly athletically large people suffer more from exertion in hot climates; I know of a national class athlete, over 6'6" who collapsed and nearly died with heat exhaustion whilst completing his basic training with the Foreign Legion this summer running the final 8k in full kit whilst smaller, regular EV's had no more problem than you'd expect. The FFL know a thing or two about exertion in hot weather and they tend to put smaller guys into the regiments where the emphasis is on endurance i.e. the REP and the bigger lads in i.e. mechanised roles. They don't issue salt tablets! Take this into account if you are riding your KTM 950 enduro R with enlarged petrol tank and full kit, Dakar Style in hot weather
One addition, if you do incur severe heat exhaustion (and survive) consult a doctor as the effects can be very long lived. Perhaps a doctor here can expand on this?
For an easy answer to this question stick 'salt sugar dehydration' into Google.
If someone IS suffering from dehydration the recommended oral rehydration mix is one teaspoon of salt plus eight teaspoons of sugar to one litre of water.
One thing to avoid in the heat is carbonated or other drinks containing caffeine as this increases the chance of dehydration. Caffeine increases the kidney's metabolic function which causes the body to pass the water quickly. Knowing this, Moroccan waiters normally bring you a glass of tap water whenever you ask for a coffee.
^ sounds about right. Hypoglycaemia can accompany heat exhaustion so dextrose is better than refined sugar as it's absorbed much faster leading to quicker alleviation of symptoms. Aim for a hypotonic drink, no more than 50mg/100ml of salt if any. Taking salt tablets will only exacerbate your symptoms.
Dextrose monohydrate can be obtained from any sports shop.
Soldiers of the FFL are know to stuff the pockets with peanuts and raisins on the dreaded 200 km "marche/raid"!
the end of october is pleasant in Atlas and to the north. But if you are going to the desert, for example M6- Sahara Overland (from Taoz to Tagounite) it might be a little hell. Yesterday I did M6 on slightly overloaded xt 3aj and even though I drank 7,5 litres of water I was dehydrated at the end of the day. BTW fabulous route.
ride the dream
P.S. Yesterday I was alone therefore currently looking for partners to do M7 (from Mhamid°). Desert is the best teacher... (+48602137570)
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