Once off the ferry it was getting the limited import license for James, getting a SIM card and buying insurance for the bike. All you can buy is third party.
I left the port rode around the coast to a campground, pitched up and then went for a look around Tangier.
Been a busy couple of days!!
I left camp after having a chat with a German Harley rider, or to be more accurate he had a good old chat to me. I managed to get a yes and no while he took a breath
I headed south to Chefchaouen. It’s known as the blue city as it has many houses with various shades of blue. It’s become famous because of the Instagrammers.
The ride was along twising roads, mainly 60 and 80km/h speed limits. The road had lots of roadworkses, so it was slow going.
As soon as I arrived in Chefchaouen, a local spotted me and rushed over to me. He was telling me all about the tour he could take me on, then he said “you can’t park there you can park down the road next to his friend”. I thought hello, here we go another tourist for the taking. I got google translate out and asked someone else. They said “can’t park there”, so I paid the guy two euros and moved the bike.
It was 37°C, very hot to be walking around in bike boots, bike trousers and backpack. There’s a bit of uphill walking so the sweat started to run from my forehead, dragging the sunblock into to my now stinging eyes.
Chefchaouen is a bit of a tourist trap. No Instagrammers here today, too hot for them.
I left there and made my way to Fez, same sort of roads but now the temperature had reached 44°C. So not only was it slow going it was unbearabley hot in bike gear. I drank 6 litres of water today.
The last hour of the ride was a war of attrition. I was totally spent but still had an hour to go. When I got to the destination, there was no camp. I tried to look it up on google maps but my phone had shut down due to the heat. I pulled over feeling a bit light headed. I took another route but still couldn’t find the entrance, it was 5 o’clock and still 42°C.
There have been lots of police checkpoints today, I’ve not been pulled up. When I saw a checkpoint near to where the camp should be I pulled up to it and asked the police if they spoke English. They spoke enough to give me directions.
When I arrived at camp, I could have set a record for the slowest time taken to put the tent up on this entire trip.
Once camp was setup I walked over to the showers. I stood underneath the shower head and turned the cold tap on. The trouble is the weathers so hot the cold water is warm.
I headed off into Fez on the bike not knowing what the traffic would be like. There wasn’t that much, that’s because it’s the Kings birthday, so a day off for the masses.
I went to see the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Medina du Fez.
It’s a 1200-year-old market.
When I arrived near the Medina I looked for parking. As soon as I stopped, I had people rushing up to me to befriend me, more like vultures to a carcass, everyone wants a piece of you, or more to the point, they want your money. This has been a constant since I’ve been in Morocco and is frustrating to say the least.
A guy offered me parking with all the scooters. The head honcho said he would waive the €2 charge if I did a €25 Medina tour with him. I said I don’t need a tour; I’ll pay the parking. He kept hounding and hounding to the point where you have to laugh it off or do something else. I headed off and he followed. He said he would do it for free, I know well that this wouldn’t be the case at the end. I told him I don’t want to fall out with you. Name your lowest price and that’s that. €5 was his lowest price and that’s what I gave him at the end. He obviously tried it on, I said that’s what we agreed to in the beginning.
For me it’s not about the money it’s about not being constantly harassed.
After the Medina I headed off to Volubilis another UNESCO World Heritage site. This time from the Roman period. On the way as I was going around the corners on some rutted-out road, the steering on the bike felt strange. When I pulled into a taxi stand at the top of the hill and looked at my tyres, the back one had a piece of metal sticking out of it, not again!!!!. There was no shade and it was 40°C.
I showed the taxi man my flat tyre and motioned if he knew where to get it fixed. He pointed up the road and motioned me to follow him, which I did.
It was a car tyre place. The two guys had the wheel off, punctured tube patched and all put back together for NZ$32. What a relief!!
Tonight, I’m staying in a cheap guest house.
When I booked my guest house yesterday on booking.com it was 42°C, my phone was slowing right up because of the heat and the screen was getting darker and darker which made it very difficult to see. I did see an air conditioning unit in the picture, so I booked the room.
When I arrived, the air conditioning unit was only a heater that they use in the winter. Last night was the hottest night yet. To top that ive actually got a cold. How unbelievable in this heat.
I left Meknes and headed west to Rabat, the capital of Morocco which was forecasted to have a high of 30°C today. That’s what being near the coast does to the temperature’s, drops 12°C
Rabat is so much cleaner than anywhere else I’ve been in Morocco so far.
I’m staying at another hotel today, this time it actually has ac. It’s right next to the UNESCO World Heritage Medina.
I spent the afternoon strolling around town in pleasant temperatures.
I left Rabat and headed south west to Casablanca.
Casablanca is Morocco’s largest city with a population of 3.71 million, it’s the country’s business and economic centre. It’s Africa’s largest mosque, the Hassan II Mosque which I visited.
After the mosque I visited Rick’s Café, an eatery inspired by the café in the 1942 film “Casablanca," with cocktails & a piano.
Then it was on the road heading south. The pollution in Casablanca was bad but as I headed south it got worse and worse.
I’m staying in a camp with grass tonight in Qualidia. Sheer luxury!!
Last night the mist from the ocean rolled in making the temperature at night very pleasant. When I got up this morning the tent was soaked. Good opportunity to clean and dry at the same time. Very dusty in Morocco.
A guy I met on my first night in Morocco recommended a great camp with a swimming pool in a town called Sidi Kaouki, so that’s where I headed today along the coast on some pretty bumpy roads. When I arrived the camp was closed which was a shame because it looked as good as he had said.
I decided to have a late lunch and then headed south to Agadir.
The driving in Morocco is bad, very similar to other Muslim countries I’ve been to, in particular Indonesia. Taxi drivers are the worst. Cars will just stop on an 80km/h road forcing cars behind them to slam on the brakes or move into oncoming traffic. No such thing as a centre line just drift across two lanes. After driving in the Anglo countries and their courteous driving it’s easy to express some frustration at the locals. Particularly when you almost have a head on collision.
The temperature starting at a pleasant 28°C and as soon as I headed inland it went up to 42.
The roads headed into the hills, they twisted and turned and were pretty smooth. Giving the edges of the tyres some use. I think this was the only thing that kept me awake.
When I got to Agadir, I’d had enough for the day. I was told at the camp no vacancy, so I ended heading into the heat of the hills and pitching my tent almost as slow as the other day.
After a sweltering night, cats growling at each other, dogs barking and the native holiday makers chatting loudly at 4am, it was another night with very little sleep.
I headed towards the Atlas Mountains. First though I had to endure getting out the city and through the towns. Stop, start for the first two hours of the ride. To top it off while I was sitting at the traffic lights in the distance, I could see an agitated local standing in the road. The lights turned green and I was away. As I got closer to the guy he starting yelling, shaking his fists, and as I rode past, he spat. Obviously doesn’t like us white fellas, must have thought I was French, I could forgive him for that
I rode the Tizi n'Test pass at a height of 2093 metres. This is the Morocco I’d come to see and ride, smooth at the beginning, rough in the middle and smooth again at the top, what a ride. To top it off, I was virtually the only one on it.
From there I headed to Marrakech along more twisting roads, lakes and slips.
What a way to finish the day.
Last night there was a silent assassin!
Today I caught the bus into Marrakech and went to the Jemaa El-Fna which is the famous square with the snake charmers. Right near there is the Marrakech Medina, a real labyrinth filled with all conceivable goods. Interesting to walk around. The only downside is you are constantly harassed, shopkeepers trying to drag you into their shop, then given the spiel about their products, when I cut them short and tell them I’m not here to buy thankyou, they carry on the pitch. When I stand and look them in the eye and say thankyou for the overview of your product but I’m not here to buy, they get a bit aggressive and ask for money. I say, you pay me I’ve had to listen to your spiel. This daily carry on is something that has spoiled this Moroccan trip.
While Im here I wanted to get a true Moroccan experience, so I had a hammam, it’s like a Turkish bath.
A guy washes you down, puts you in a steam room that’s over 50°C and leaves you there. It’s like being in a pressure cooker. After you are almost cooked he brings you out, washes you down with water, then gets a Kesha glove and scrubs your whole body. Then he covers you in black soap and puts you back into the steam room. It’s even hotter this time, almost to the point of being unbearable. Just before my flesh peels from the bone, he lets me out and washes me down, then puts me into a cold shower. The cold shower was a life saver. The experience was great, the skin smooth, but definitely a one off!
Then on the bus back to camp for a swim in the cool pool.
I headed south east via the Tizi n Tichka pass. A mountain pass linking the south-east of Marrakesh to the city of Ouarzazat through the High Atlas mountains. It lies above the great Marrakesh plains, and is a gateway to the Sahara Desert. This pass had smooth twisting roads, incredible corners and best of all next to no one on it. From there I headed to Telouet to check out the kasbah and continued to Aït Benhaddou to check out another Kasbah (castle). The road from the pass was just as twisty, with magnificent scenery and geology. It has to be the best days ride of the entire trip.
To top it off I pulled into a campground and got a room with AC for a great price. What a day
Today I headed northeast along the RR704, but before that I had to bide my time and patience with the 40, 60 and occasionally 80km/h zones through lots of towns and villages.
When I got to the pass it was well worth it. It was like riding in the Grand Canyon, very spectacular. Pictures just don’t do it justice.
I did a loop of the canyon and beyond. The RR704 started to have more and more potholes until there was no seal at all, it also starting winding its way up the mountains with lots of hairpins and lots of rocks sticking out of the ground. So rocks, potholes, gravel, dirt and sand mixed with tight steep hairpins, strong winds, big drops and no one else there, makes for a right old adventure.
I stopped to admire the view James and I almost got blown over. It looked like I was still the only one on this road. The views were magnificent, but who knows what lies ahead, turn around or push on? Only one thing to do, that’s push on. After about 50km I was rewarded at the top with silky smooth, sweeping downhill road.
I later realised that the RR704, turned into to the R704 and the smooth bit was again the RR704.
I then headed back through the mountains on RR703, pretty good road with a couple of potholes, again spectacular views.
It was nearing 5pm so time to find a camp. I’d found one on I -Overlander App and entered that in the GPS. It was 24 km away. As I rode down the hill, I saw a sign for the camp, it said 7km and pointed down a dirt road. 7km sounds better than 24, so I followed the sign, the dirt road became steep, rough, and went through dry riverbeds. It was a full on off road experience. When I got to camp I told the guy his short cut was a work out. He said it’s for 4 wheel drives. When I looked around camp there were lots of 4 wheel drive stickers from the many 4 wheel drive expeditions.
What a great day today was. You never know what’s in store for you at the start of a day.
Last night at camp the Berbers had a bit of a sing song and a tea. They roped me in and gave me a drum. I quickly passed it on as I’m not the most familiar with Berber music.
If yesterday was all about adventure and twisting roads, then today was about straight, windy ones.
I did 30km through the Gorges de Todgha Aghbalou N Todra first thing and then from then on pretty boring.
The temperature in the mountains yesterday was about 22°C, I’m near the Sahara and the temperatures 40.
Riding through the streets of Hassilabied there are pockets of deep sand in places, so have to make sure the traction control and ABS is switched off.
It’s been extremely hazy today, with the wind blowing the sand and dust about visibility hasn’t been the best
Yesterday I headed into Erg Chebbi. It’s a desert on the Algerian border, some of the dunes are as high as 150 metres
I gave James a day off and swapped his 94 horse power, for one camel power.
It was a camel trek into the dunes to watch the sun set, stay at a tent camp, eat a three course Moroccan dinner, listen to the locals play their music, get up and watch the sun rise and then trek back out.
The trek in was so quiet and peaceful, the sun cast shadows on the dunes highlighting various shades of red.
This morning the wind had whipped up making the sand flow across the dunes, swirling and dancing their way across my footprints until they were no more.
What a great experience it was in the desert!
I headed south west into an arid landscape, past mountains and dry riverbeds. No signs of life and hardly a car on the road.
It’s Friday, so that’s like a Sunday back home. Muslims have to go to the mosque and pray 5 times a day. Most shops are closed.
When I arrived in Zagota it was 39°C, that was the high for the day.
Zagota is known for its palms, over 30 varieties of dates grow in the region, harvested from September to November. The town is renowned for having the best dates in the country. Their deliciousness is attributed to the hot, dry climate where temperatures can soar to 50 C.
When you travel for long periods of time your gear gets lots of use, so far, my original inflatable pillow became a deflatable pillow, the plastic screws that hold my helmet peak and visor on have sheared off due to the heat, now held together with duct tape. One of my tank bag zips broke today, my phone case split so is now siliconed together. Here’s hoping everything else sees this trip out
On the way out of Zagora I got proposition by a guy on a scooter telling me €3 to clean my bike. I said “will it look brand new”, he said "yes” so I followed him.
James came up ok, the guy on the drying cloth was so slow, he must have thought he was being paid by the hour. They did oil my chain as well, which is pretty good for the price.
I headed out of town along the N12, straight road, through the valley, with nice scenery either side, but in the distance. It was then on to the R109 lots of sweeping corners and even closer to the mountains. Then onto the R106 which went up through the mountains, a few big potholes and lots of dirt and stones from slips, so had to slow it down a bit, nonstop hairpins, some reasonable drops, then finally the R105 into Tafraout.
There were some massive crosswinds and gusts today, really had to fight to keep the bike on the road in some places. Temperature down on the plains 37°C, the lowest I saw up the mountain 17.5°C. Almost a 20° difference. Imagine what that’s like in the winter?
Another great motorcycling day. Around 450km and around 6 hours riding, not taking into account all the stops for photos. In the end I had to force myself not to stop, otherwise I’d have been riding into the night
Yesterday I arrived in Tafraout which is in the middle of the Anti-Atlas Mountains. The town has a population of about 5000. The temperature is pleasant with a high of 24 and a low of 14°C.
I’ve had a day off from riding, and caught up on a few chores.
Today I fixed my helmet visor and peak. I carry with me all types of fasteners just in case I need to replace ones on the bike etc.
I had the correct diameter screw but too long. Do you know how long it takes to cut a stainless screw using a Swiss Army knife saw and a pair of pliers?
After the chores I went for a late lunch and a walk around town.
Before I left Tafraout I rode to the painted rocks. The painted rocks in Tafraout are actually the work of a Belgian artist Jean Verame. In 1984 with the help of the Tafraout fire department, he created the vast area of art as a tribute to his late wife. The project took three months and used an incredible 18 tonnes of paint.
To get there you have to ride off road on the dirt and sand, through one dry riverbed. James’s front wheel was pretty unstable in the soft sand, so a squirt of the throttle sorts that out.
Not so easy in the tight stuff though.
My impressions of the painted rocks, someone has too much time on their hands
From there I rode lots of twisting roads through the mountains to get to the west coast. Temperature in the mountains got as low as 16°C. Once I hit the coast, I followed the road south to the beach town of Sidi Ifni. There were a couple of camps there I was going to pitch my tent. Both closed when I arrived.
A guy from a surfboard hire shop told me there was a cheap hotel next door, so that’s where I’m staying tonight.
Yesterday is the furthest south I’m going in Morocco, so now it’s home James!!
I headed north and found a motorcycle shop that had oil and an oil filter for my bike. I was going to do it but for NZD$8 for the labour I let them.
It was stop start traffic for the morning and again getting out of the city where I had the bike serviced. Once free of that it was into the hills twisting and turning.
Because it’s off season I’m having trouble finding campsites, quite a few are closed. It took three attempts to find the one I’m in now.
After pitching the tent, I gave the chain on James a good old clean and adjusted the tyre pressures. It’s a glamorous life traveling
I’m in a town called Ounagha with a population of under 1000. It’s not a tourist town, but it is famous for its tree climbing goats.
I went for a stroll around, it’s primitive by western standards. Taxis besides cars, come as horse and carts, lots of donkeys transporting lots of things.
I checked out a metal fabrication business, I was going to take a photo but the guy near the door said no. They were all wearing flip flops, no eye or hearing protection, grinding sparks and welding arc flashes distributed to passers-by on the street. Enough to send a western health and safety officer into therapy
In the afternoon I made use of the pool at the camp. The temperature here is between 17 and 24°C, very pleasant.
I’ve been camped up in Ounagha for the last 4 days taking it easy.
I’ve enjoyed watching local life on a daily basis. Lots of dogs and cats roaming the street, same people doing the same things, including me.
People trapped by poverty, with the inability to ever escape it. Lots of banter and most people seem happy and just getting on with it.
Last night there was a 6.8 magnitude earthquake centred 72km south west of Marrakech in the high Atlas Mountains which has tragically killed over a thousand people.
Last night I felt a tremor, it lasted 10 to 15 seconds. It was shaking that much I had trouble unzipping my tent. No damage here.
About two weeks ago, 25th August I was very near the epicentre. Back in 2015 when the Kathmandu earthquake happened, I had been there two weeks prior.
In camp I have a group of cat companions, they are very fussy.
I’ve booked the ferry from Morocco to Spain for Thursday 14th September. Tomorrow will be my last day in camp and I will be back on the move.
Today is my last day in Ounagha.
I’ve spent the day doing pretty much the same as most of the days I’ve been here. Ring home for a couple of hours, walk up the road to have brunch, walk back to camp, do some trip research, play with my feline friends, walk to the pool and go for a swim, relax after the swim, go back to my tent, sit in my chair and be unindated with my cat buddies, walk into town for dinner, watch the world go by, back to camp, sit in my chair and watch the little bats take off at dusk.
Today I booked my ferry from France to England, air b & b for the night in the UK, bus ticket to Heathrow Airport.
I packed up camp, left Ounagha and headed north. I decided to take the toll roads as I’d already done the coast road on the way down.
It was a relaxing ride, there was barely anyone on it. It was nice to cruise at 120km/h and be able to look at the surroundings knowing I wouldn’t be going through stop start traffic or have to take evasive action from oncoming traffic.
I ended up at a campground in a town called Mohmmedia. Nice lush grass, nobody here, and a restaurant just outside the entry.
This is the second cheapest campsite I’ve stayed at in Morocco. It has a toilet, shower, Wi-Fi all for 43 Dirham, which is NZD$7.17.
Eating out is even cheaper. A Turkey toasted roll, with chips and a coke 19 Dirham, NZD$3.17.
Tomorrow I’m heading to Tangier.
It was a day of straight toll roads and nightmare traffic in Tangier.
I’m staying at the same campground I stayed at the first day I arrived in Morocco.
As I arrived at the campground tired and weary from the Tangier traffic, I stalled my bike and gravity took over, down we went. No damage to me but one broken indicator on James.
Trying to get a replacement through a Spanish Triumph dealer is an exercise of futility. It just shouldn’t be so difficult. What is it with motorcycle dealers and shocking customer service, they have to be spoon fed, no proactive bones in their bodies. In the end I got a price of €68 for one.
I’ve ordered a pair off Amazon which are identical and less than half the price. I’ll pick them up from the Amazon locker on Thursday.
It’s my last day in Morocco so I’ve been exploring the camp I’m staying at. The camp is actually a resort and has a lovely view out to sea. It’s pretty flash for Morocco.
Morocco is a cash society, nowhere takes cards, only cash. No one outside of Morocco will exchange the Moroccan Dirham, so I have to make sure I spend all the cash I have. I’ve eked it out out over the last week so I now have 2 Dirham (NZ 30 cents) to my name.
Tomorrow, I catch the ferry to Spain
Last night I set the alarm for 6am to pack up and be on my way by 7. I didn’t have to bother with the alarm as the call to prayer from the loudspeaker from the mosque went off at twenty past five.
It was a 45-minute ride to the port.
Even though I had booked on line I had to go to the ferry office to check in and get a printed ticket. The office finally opened at 8:15. You have to be at the port at least two hours before the sailing, my sailing was 10am.
Once I had the ticket I had to queue on James with the rest of the cars and go through immigration to get stamped out of Morocco. Once that was done there was a 2 km ride to customs, where they dispensed with my limited import license for James. Then we queued for ages to go through the X-ray machine and then queued next to the ferry. There were hardly any vehicles, I was the only motorcycle, we didn’t leave port until 10:30. Imagine what it would have been like if the ferry was full.
The sailing took about an hour and a half. When we arrived in Spain it was raining very lightly. I haven’t seen rain for a long time, that’s the way I like it!