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

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  #1  
Old 29 Aug 2002
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Road Bike in Morocco - how far down?

I've been reading Chris's books, and am thinking of trying some Saharan riding maybe next year.

I'd like to first take a look at Morocco, on a big road bike (Pan European), but am not sure how practical this is, or how far south I could reasonably get? The book mentions the odd dune on the road, but are we talking about a bit of sand a few inches deep or something many metres thick which needs riding _over_? I don't fancy pulling a 300kg bike out of a dune on my own! I've ridden plenty off-road (M-X etc.), but NOT on this sort of bike!

Also, maybe alternatively, would riding up into the Atlas be suitable, i.e. are there half-decent tarmac roads?

Also, would this sort of bike "stick out like a sore thumb" in a country such as this, or are there all sorts down there?

I've been all over Europe (Nordkapp, Gibralter, Sicily), but need a bit more space!
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  #2  
Old 29 Aug 2002
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Was last in Morocco some 7 years ago (!) but:

Most of the roads to the (distant) south and in the Atlas are perfectly good quality for road only vehicles.

Most sand you'll encounter does not block road completely, and on a bike you can pick best route through (rarely more than 20m long, maybe a foot thick)

The others are pure bike questions, over to the bikers...

Sam.
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  #3  
Old 29 Aug 2002
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Hi,
have a look at

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

Peter
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  #4  
Old 29 Aug 2002
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Thanks, Peter, and Sam. I have had a quick look, and will read more thoroughly later with a map in front of me.

That thread seems a good place to continue with my queries (if any remain), so I'll go there.
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  #5  
Old 31 Aug 2002
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GO FOR IT MATE! We did Morocco earlier this year with two Gold Wings (and yes guys n´gals they ARE real bikes!!!), and have no regrets whatsoever!! We drove to the Mori border, went to Nouadhibou for a day or two and drove back via the Atlas. In general anything that is marked on the Morocco Michelin map as "all-year" is no problem.

I have been to Morocco four times on XT´s and DR´s but the reaction this time was excellent. People wanted to know everything about the bike, especially the cops who were more than just normally friendly, in the six weeks wee were there we were stopped at least two dozen times for speeding or illegal overtaking, we got away with it every time mostly thanks to the bikes.

Don´t worry you´ll have a great time

Best of Luck

Jay
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  #6  
Old 31 Aug 2002
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Wings to Mori sounds like a good story for the next AMH, JC, why not write it up.
See 'AMH 5' at the bottom of:
http://www.adventure-motorcycling.com
for guidelines

Chris S
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  #7  
Old 31 Aug 2002
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JCB - Yep, it's gotta be done!

I'll let you know how I get on. It's going to be a week or two before I go, so perhaps a month before I'm back.

I take it you didn't go "on the piste" too much with the Wings?
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  #8  
Old 1 Sep 2002
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We did actually go on the "piste" a lot, by this I mean non-sealed roads, mostly we stuck to gravel and hard dirt pistes where we had no problems whatsoever but we avoided the sandy ones in the east. The only difficult time we had was the piste from the Moroccan border to Nouadhibou, but with the help of a car dealer we got through OK (Cheers Kev!!!).

We did about 1,000km "off road" but at the moment I live in Spain and I had plenty of practice on gravel, dirt etc before I left. The Gold Wing is incredibly reliable and on the long haul from Agadir to the border it was simply the bike to have.

Jay
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  #9  
Old 2 Sep 2002
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I recently did the London-Morocco trip on a Transalp, and I did come off a few times on the pistes (sand and gravel), and although I could pick my bike up, I found the heat was strength sapping. I would love to know how someone on a bigger bike e.g. Triumph Tiger or a big Beemer picks up their bikes when they fall? (Not to mention a Gold Wing!)
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  #10  
Old 2 Sep 2002
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JCB - Am I right in thinking that camping is the only option once in Western Sahara?

And would you say the long haul down to Nouadhibou is worth it - the road does sound a bit boring, but I guess there's a certain satisfaction in knowing how far down you've actually gone. That's probably reason enough for me anyway!
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  #11  
Old 2 Sep 2002
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To help picking the bike up we got two great tips from a guy we met going down. He organised some old "vespa" tyres which we strapped to the side of the Goldie`s boxes. This prevents the things from being scratched or eeven smashed open, he also suggested we mount a "pyramid shaped" "church spire" type construction onto the frame of the bike, below the cases, so that when it does fall, it doesnt lie on its side on the ground, but instead leans at an angle a bit more severe than if it is lying on its side rest. The guy who told us this (Kevin) used to drive a V-Max in Mali, he sold it to a Spanish mate of his who I met on returning to Spain. Seemingly the V-Max was driven more than 50% of its time off-road and there were no problems picking it up. To give an example he said that Kevin raced him on an African Twin and another Spanish guy on a KLR650 from Kayes to Bamako, the V-Max won simply because he didnt have to keep picking it up. I admit it isn`t the most elegant solution, but it worked a treat. We bolted it on so we could take it off whenever we wanted to (10 mins) and it worked a treat!

In Western Sahara there are campsites in Layoune and Dakhla (definitly), apart from this there are hotels where there is either an enclosed parking "courtyard" or a watchman. We met Kev in Agadir and just followed him, every night he just drove a couple of hundred metres off the road and slept in the desert, works too!

Is the road boring? Depends, the enormous wide open spaces I find personally exhilirating, going for an hour and seeing no other car, person or animal, for me it´s paradise, stopping and hearing no other noise than your own breathing and the engine ticking in the heat? Perfection! No it isnt everybodys cup of tea, but for me it compares with the Tundra and the US West as one of the most fascinating bike routes I have ever done!

Jay
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  #12  
Old 5 Sep 2002
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JCB - Yeah, I like the desolate big-mile areas. I must say the nicest area I've been on a bike (and probably off one!) is Lapland etc., in fact pretty much all of northern Norway in particular but also Sweden & Finland above the Arctic Circle. I went in Aug 2001, with the intention of reaching the circle and turning back, but it was too good to miss. Very sparse, but warm (honestly!), crystal clear blue skies, bright sunshine etc. Just a bit cold approaching Nordkapp for maybe 100 miles. I would thoroughly recommned it, but I think you have to be a bit lucky with the weather.

PROBLEM:

I'm really having trouble getting insurance at for Morocco. My Equity Red Star won't do it, and the only option I've come up with so far is to cancel this policy which I've just renewed (with a penalty), pay a £100 p/a higher premium to go with Norwich Union, who will cover me but charge an extra £20/week as well. So Penalty+£100+£40 total. Do you or anybody know of a better way?
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  #13  
Old 5 Sep 2002
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Hi,

You can buy insurance at the border only for the days that you intend to stay in Morocco. Thus, you can stay with your insurance back home, without having to change anything.

Good luck,
José
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  #14  
Old 5 Sep 2002
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Hi Ian

Yeah, Jose is right you can buy it at the border, however I just e-mailed a guy I know in Dakar who does this trip all the time. He says it costs about 40 Euros for five days, 50 for ten and a bit more for a month. BUT, he did say that it isn´t much more than a "third party", if the bike is nicked or whatever then they may/may not pay. He also suggested you get an AA or ADAC coverage in case of breakdown or accident so that you can have the bike shipped back to Europe free of charge.

Sorry I can´t help any further on this one Ian, my Gold Wing is on Spanish papers and the insurance is valid for Morocco. From what I hear almost every insurance company on the continent gives "Green card" insurance (covers Morocco and Tunisia) so why is is so difficult to get it in the UK? I has this problem a couple of years ago with a UK reg DR 650. It was virtually impossible.

Cheers

Jay
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  #15  
Old 17 Sep 2002
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Now in an internet cafe in Erfoud, to check email etc. Just been to Erg Chebbi this morning, brilliant! Land Rover guys tried to tell me not possible on a road bike. Heading off now to Todra and Dades, then to Atlantic.
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