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North Africa Topics specific to North Africa and the Sahara down to the 17th parallel (excludes Morocco)
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Trans Sahara Routes.

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  #1  
Old 22 Jun 2023
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North Africa Route Advice

How’s it going forum!

I’m planning a trip at the end of this year (September & October) where I’ll be travelling through Morocco, Western Sahara and potentially Mauritania. I’ve given myself around 45 to 50 days to complete this journey.

For reference, I ride the unkillable klr - 01’ klr650, version c7. I’m proficient when it comes to the bikes maintenance and troubleshooting and pretty much have all the mods done to it.

I’ve found some good nuggets on this forum concerning adv information. Now I’m all for the challenge of reading through 100 threads and putting together an interesting, and challenging route. Considering that I’ve never done this route before I’m levering the opinion of those who have. Is there a discussion on this forum that outlines the best route for the three countries I’ve listed above? Not necessarily linking all three countries together; it could be three different conversations for the three countries. I’m not looking to hit a couple big name destinations and then pop through into the next area, more looking to absorb and visit the less known and more remote areas that someone with two weeks wouldn’t be able to fit in their itinerary.

In addition to this, I’m looking to buy or download a pdf version of the Morocco and Sahara overland books. I live in a small town where amazon and similar websites state a month or two for the paperback.

I’ve posted this question in a couple forums, don’t be surprised if you see it twice.

All the best, thanks in advance.
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  #2  
Old 22 Jun 2023
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A similar question was asked a few days ago.

A lot will depend on your experience of remote travel, off road in deserts. September can be very very hot, in 2019 we saw over 50 degrees in the Western Sahara, Mauritania will be hotter again.

You can do all 3 on tarmac roads and still have a good time although the return back north through the WS may be a bit boring as theres only 1 road.

Gandini is just publishing his new guide for Mauritania and also has some covering the WS that are a bit older. But inland WS isn't somewhere for beginners or solo travellers imho
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  #3  
Old 22 Jun 2023
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It causes some confusion where the same posting is made to several forums. We can see all the posts, so there's no need to do this and I have removed the duplicates.
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  #4  
Old 22 Jun 2023
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Hello Dunz:

Welcome to the HUBB community.

For a trip of the distance you are planning (north end of Morocco down to Mauritania) you are going to need a new set of tires at some point during your journey.

See this post I made a few years back for information about how to get motorcycle tires in Morocco: Awesome Service from MotoPlus, Casablanca. It would probably be prudent for you to write MotoPlus well before your trip to confirm that they have tires in the size you need.

Big, expensive, "first world" motorcycles like the KLR 650 are extremely rare in less affluent countries such as the three you mention. This means that it's difficult to find parts for them, although you will have no difficulty finding shops who can work on the motorcycle (change tires, make repairs if you have the parts, etc.). So do be sure to carry out all necessary preventative maintenance before you leave on your trip.

If you have any doubt about how much life is left in your chain, sprockets, brake pads, etc. get those parts replaced before you begin your trip.

Based on my own experience riding down to the Western Sahara / Mauritania border, settlements & services (fuel, water, food, etc.) are few and far between once you get south of Laayoune. I suggest you obtain a 'Camelbak' water bladder for your own hydration, and don't ride past any gas stations if you have less than half a tank of fuel remaining. The village of Dhakla, about two-thirds of the way down the coast of Western Sahara, is quite tourist-oriented and has a lot of services. You might want to plan on taking a few days rest there before setting off towards the Mauritania border crossing.

Michael
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  #5  
Old 23 Jun 2023
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Appreciate the response Michael.

I plan on resetting the clocks to zero for all maintenance jobs on the klr before my trip; valves, tires, the things you mentioned and other small bits and bobs. In terms of spare parts i've checked out a list on this forum and will modify it to fit my bike. Budget and route planning have been my biggest challenges thus fur. I plan to wild camp so camping grounds or hotels can be checked off the list. Without fuel, how much can i expect to spend a day on food and water? I've budgeted €1/litre (conservative estimate) for water but food is where i'm unable to find an answer. It would be a mix of buying ingredients and "eating out". Is €15/day sufficient or would you bump that up to €20? I'm guessing maroc will be more expensive.

Apart from that i've got the other costs covered, but can you think of any hidden costs a first timer for a trip like this could of forgotten.

Oh yeah, and insurance. Can you share any details you have.

Stay blessed,
Leo.
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Old 23 Jun 2023
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My luggage setup doesn't aid "extreme offroad riding" so i'll stick mainly to tarmac. I've got previous moto camping experience; my systems are all in check. Any recommendations on the routes; i'm looking for a tried and tested route that's been completed by previous adv riders.
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Old 23 Jun 2023
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Sticking to tarmac you wont have any problems down through Morocco and the WS. The main road south has plenty of fuel stations along it so no worries on running short.

Theres an active bike/off road club in Laayoune who are very helpful if you need anything. Look up ASML on social media

Dakhla is a big modern city so a good place to stop before crossing into Mauritania
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  #8  
Old 23 Jun 2023
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noted. thanks for the help! This is a brief question but how many total kms would you think a trip through morocco, ws and Mauritania be? I've budgeting for 10,000kms, too much or too little? Going off 200 to 250 kms a day.
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  #9  
Old 23 Jun 2023
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well its 2400km from the north of Morocco to Mauritania so it will depend on how far you drive in Mauritania but I don't think 10 000 will be far off

My trip this Spring was 15 000km in 94 days
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Old 23 Jun 2023
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Is there anywhere i can read more about your trip? I'm particularly interested in hearing about the route you took!
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  #11  
Old 23 Jun 2023
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theres some basic info on my website, facebook and instagram, Amazigh Overland. No detailed track info mostly just overview maps and photos

My Spring trip was mostly in Morocco with 5 days in the WS. But that was an organised tour customised for some customers of mine who then headed onto Mauritania for a few week.
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  #12  
Old 24 Jun 2023
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dunz View Post
...can you think of any hidden costs a first timer for a trip like this could of forgotten. Oh yeah, and insurance. Can you share any details you have.
Hello again Leo:

You will need to purchase the obligatory liability insurance for Morocco when you get off the ferry at Tanger Med port, before you even leave the port area. There are several insurance kiosks there just about 100 feet after customs & immigration, they all sell the same product for the same price. I can't recall exactly what I paid for it but I think it was about €100 for one month. If you look through the Morocco sub-forum here on the HUBB and also the Trip Paperwork sub-forum you will find all the information about insurance that you could ever want, along with current pricing.

Last time I was in Morocco (2019), Google Maps didn't work there, it was blocked (for security reasons) in all of Morocco & Western Sahara. So perhaps consider getting some kind of stand-alone mapping program that can run on your smartphone using map data that is stored on your smartphone. Sygic is one such program, I use it and it is very useful.

I don't know what the rules are concerning wild camping in Morocco or WS, I suggest you read through posts in the Morocco sub-forum to research that. I'm also not too sure whether wild camping would be a good idea in a desert environment. You encounter enormous swings in the temperature in deserts. When I worked in central Algeria as an aircraft pilot, I would have to clear frost off the wings of the aircraft before takeoff at 7:00 in the morning, but at 3 in the afternoon the same day the temperature would be greater than 40°C. Hotels are not expensive in Morocco & WS if you stay in the same places that the locals stay in.

Morocco & WS are "cash" countries - credit & debit cards are only accepted at places that cater to tourists. There are ATMs everywhere, you can use your home ATM card to withdraw local cash provided you make prior arrangements with your home bank to ensure that you can make international ATM withdrawals.

Keep in mind that as TheWarden mentioned, it's 2,400 km from Tanger Med port to the Mauritania border. That's about the same distance as Paris to the Greek border. I don't know where you plan to start from, but as an example, it's 2,000 km from Paris to the ferry embarkation point at Algeciras. Those are seriously big distances.

One other thing you need to think about - and be financially prepared for - is "What is it going to cost to repatriate my motorcycle (and yourself) if you get into an accident, or drop the bike, or you have a serious mechanical failure of the bike, or if you get sick or injured and can't ride home?" Don't overlook this, and don't underestimate the what it might cost.

By way of example: Today, I was riding from Switzerland to Vienna, to drop my motorcycle with a friend in Vienna before flying home to Canada next Wednesday. At noon hour today, a coolant hose deep within the engine blew out on my moto (a ST 1100) just as I was crossing the Swiss border, the first time I have had an on-the-road failure with this motorcycle in 20 years & 235,000 km of riding. It is going to cost me CHF 1,200 (about €1,200) to get the motorcycle trucked to Vienna on Sunday, plus another CHF/€ 400 for unplanned hotel & food between now & Sunday... in other words, a total of CHF/€ 1,600 that I had not expected to spend. Although that is a painful sum, at least I can afford it - could you? Do you have that kind of money in your bank account to draw on if things go terribly wrong enroute?

Along the same line of thinking, have you investigated health insurance coverage for yourself when you are outside of Europe? If you were to have just a 'minor' accident that resulted in a broken bone, you would be royally screwed if you didn't have insurance to cover the medical & hospital bills.

I don't mean to discourage you from your trip, but you really do need to think of these things if you plan to go riding outside of Europe.

Michael
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Old 24 Jun 2023
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What a response!

Concerning your first point, is the liability insurance still obligatory if i have maroc on my bikes green card? As to western sahara and mauritania how does insurance work there? Whilst entering into ws, and considering it's not recognised by the un, is there a boarder of some sort or not at all? For mauritania i'm assuming from what i've read i can just pull up and get the visas at the boarder.

The wild camping hotel debate had me torn in half for a couple days; ultimately i went with the wild camping option for two reasons: the first being funds; i could save a couple hundred euros which would allow me to travel more, the second being the experience and finally the third is bike safety/maintenance; i have a tent with a "centre compartment" used to shelter my klr. It gives me peace of mind and regular bike maintenance is a breeze when you're sheltered from all sides.

Health insurance is on my list but i've yet to dive into it; considering the vast amounts of information on this forum i guess it won't be a problem.

For reference, i'm based near Marseille and will take a ferry from there.
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Old 24 Jun 2023
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3rd party vehicle insurance is the minimum required for Morocco and the WS, either green card or locally purchased insurance will cover you. Morocco and the WS is one insurance doc.

Don’t be tempted not to bother with insurance, if you get caught they will confiscate your bike and if you are involved in an accident the it’s straight to prison for no insurance.

Wildcamping is fine outside of National Parks and not permitted on beaches. If it’s private property you need the owners permission. Recently they haven’t tightened up on camping along the coast in the WS for security issues.

Repatriation options is worth considering. I was involved in repatriating a seriously injured biker earlier in the year and we will need to deal with getting his bike out of the country over the next month.
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  #15  
Old 24 Jun 2023
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dunz View Post
...is the liability insurance still obligatory if i have maroc on my bikes green card?
If Maroc is listed on the green card provided by your home insurance company, then that is sufficient. You won't need to purchase additional insurance when you arrive in Morocco.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dunz View Post
As to western sahara and mauritania how does insurance work there? Whilst entering into ws, and considering it's not recognised by the un, is there a border of some sort or not at all?
The entry for 'Morocco' on your green card also covers your insurance needs in WS. There is no physical border between Morocco and WS, because Morocco (the de facto government of WS) considers WS to be part of Morocco. I think there is a road sign of some kind, that is all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dunz View Post
i have a tent with a "centre compartment" used to shelter my klr. It gives me peace of mind and regular bike maintenance is a breeze when you're sheltered from all sides.
Don't discount the effect of brilliant sunshine when the outside air temperature is in the 30s and possibly 40s. Your tent will become an oven. I have no experience with camping, so I can't give you any better advice, but I strongly recommend you get advice from others who have travelled in the regions you want to visit during the months you want to visit.

Morocco (& WS) are quite heavily policed and therefore reasonably safe places to visit, but once you get into Mauritania, you are truly in the third world. Again, best to get some advice about the personal security aspects of wild camping in Mauritania from someone who has been there recently and camped there recently.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dunz View Post
Health insurance is on my list but i've yet to dive into it; considering the vast amounts of information on this forum i guess it won't be a problem.
What you want to get is personal insurance coverage that covers hospitalization and, if necessary, repatriation back to your home country. It should not be difficult for you to find and purchase such insurance in France, but pay attention to the details, especially the details about repatriation. Be aware that most "out of country" travel insurance policies have a 30 day 'out of country' time limit... pay attention to this also when you are shopping for insurance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dunz View Post
For reference, i'm based near Marseille and will take a ferry from there.
Unless there is a ferry that operates from Marseille to Tanger Med port, it might be easier for you to ride to Barcelona and take the ferry from there to Tanger Med.

Michael
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