February 16, 2012 GMT
Atlas Mountains

Week 10 - Taghazoute in Morocco to Fes in Morocco

Monday we got up early for a long ride to Marrakesh. The Mom and Dad support wagon said they would catch us up so we set off on our own. Back down the coast to Agadir and then turned north for the road to Marrakesh. We started climbing into the Atlas mountains almost immediately and the scenery was lovely.


The Mom and Dad support wagon caught us up so we stopped in Imi-n-Tanoute for some lunch.


Got into Marrakesh late afternoon and wiggled around looking for a campsite whilst trying not to ride into the centre of Marrakesh in rush hour. Found Camping le Relais de Marrakesh and there was grass! We hadn’t seen grass for weeks. They also had a bar and free welcome cocktails; you could tell the site was run by a French couple. We had our welcome cocktails and then a few more drinks, then dinner in the restaurant and then a few more drinks until the staff politely started turning off the lights and we got the hint it was time for bed.

We got up a bit late on Tuesday and booked a taxi to take the 4 of us from the campsite into Marrakesh. The taxi ride was only moderately scary so we booked him to bring us back too! We walked into the main square, but there wasn’t much there so we had a coffee and decided to explore the souk. It was amazing. A warren of covered streets sometimes on 3 levels stuffed with everything you could ever want to buy from spices to antiques and clothes to medicines.


It was split into areas so all the spices were in one place and the leather goods in another. We looked around a couple of the medicine stalls and one of the owners gave me a baby chameleon to hold. It was one of the most brilliant things ever, but also a bit sad as there were lots of them all in a little cage. They had lots of food though and they didn’t look distressed, although I’m not sure I would know what a distressed chameleon looks like!

It was pretty warm walking around so we stopped for a drink and watched a couple of enterprising young chaps doing acrobatic tricks for the crowd and a couple of Dirhams. We eventually found our way back to the main square just as it was getting dark and the place was coming alive with food stalls, music, dancing, magic shows, snake charmers and men selling teeth! Yes teeth, it looked like you picked the ones you fancied and the stall holder made them into a set of false teeth for you. Unfortunately he wasn’t too keen on having his picture taken so you’ll have to take my word for it. There was also the Moroccan equivalent of the hook a duck stall, where you tried to get a little rubber tyre over a bottle of pop. We stood there for ages and no one managed it, so I recon it’s impossible.


We stopped for kebabs at one of the food stalls and got the taxi back to the campsite very pleased with our day out in Marrakesh.

The next few days we spent lazing by the pool reading and planning where to go next. Ant and I decided a trip to the Cascades of Ouzoud sounded like a good plan, but Mom and Dad wanted to stay in Marrakesh and make the most of the sunshine, so on Friday it was time to say goodbye again. We set off on the main road to Fes and turned off towards the cascades. The scenery was fantastic again snow topped mountains in the distance, but the road surface was pretty rubbish in places.


We rode along the road by the cascades and it was tourist central there were people everywhere practically throwing themselves in front of the bike. “Park here” “Come to my hotel” “My campsite has the best view” etc. etc. Rode through them all and found the hotel and campsite De France. There was a noticeable drop in the temperature as we climbed up through the hills so we plumped for a hotel room out of the cold rather than camping.

The restaurant in the Hotel De France did the best Tagines we had in Morocco. They were hot and spicy with just the right amount of oil in and ever so slightly burned on the bottom. Mmmmm. We had tea with Ishmael one of the chaps who worked in the hotel. After numerous refusals to share some of his hashish he settled for a chat about the nature in the area, his ambitions to travel and how he would show us the best path to the cascades tomorrow. We rolled into bed with very full tummies looking forward to tomorrow’s trip.

Saturday we were up early and Ishmael took us across to the cascades, via a stop to try and sell us some argan oil. We had explained to Ishmael that I couldn’t walk too well with my ankle and he had assured us the path was easy and flat. It wasn’t! We walked across a dry river bed, tree roots and boulders before we got to the cascades which were amazing.


Unfortunately although there was a lot more of the path to explore I could hardly walk by this point so no choice but to hobble back to the hotel.

It was still early so we packed up and hit the road heading towards Fes, we knew we wouldn’t make it in one day, but plumped for Kenitra as a stopping point as Ishmael had told us there was a campsite there. More mountains and we passed through a snow barrier which thankfully was still open. We dropped down to a beautiful lake


and then we came out of the other side of the mountains. The view was incredible it was like all of Morocco was spread out before us.


The road got really twisty and full of overloaded lorries. It was nearly dark by the time we got Kenitra and we were filthy and wheezing from the diesel fumes. We rode round and round but no sign of a campsite and only 1 hotel. It’s was overpriced, but they did have a tortoise in the lobby and they let us park the bike in the restaurant!


Sunday morning we left Kenitra and carried on up the N8 to Fes. The road was pretty rubbish so not a very comfortable ride. More mountains and open snow barriers until we came to Ifrane. It’s a ski resort and looks like an Alpine town which in contrast to the rest of Morocco made it feel like we were riding through a parallel universe!


We got to Fes early afternoon and had decided to try and find a cheap hotel in the centre to be in the bustle and explore. The Fes experience was similar to arriving in the cascades, but this time people chased us on scooters. Every set of traffic lights someone would chase us and engage us in a shouted conversation about their hotel, whilst Ant was trying to negotiate the city traffic. After the 5th time this happened our nerves were wearing a bit thin so we tried a different road into town. We found a hotel eventually and had an early night to be ready for exploring Fes the next day.

Posted by Nikki Robinson at February 16, 2012 08:45 PM GMT

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