Let's get started our tour to Morocco! 17 Riders are eager to step into North Africa. Well prepared and full of expectations, join our block, stay tuned.
Our first riding day takes us directly to Africa. Following the AP7, the Austopista del Sol, we got without any traffic jams to the habour of Algeciras, the ferryport to Morrocco. Arriving in Ceuta we have to take the boardercrossing, wich was very OK this time. Some tecnical issues to handle and than we got our first Morroccan curves under our wheels. Our first overnight stop is the town of Chefchaouen, the famous blue city with its charming small alleys, houses painted in blue and millions of cats.
We continue our travels through the Rif Mountains passing by villages clinging to the slopes. Some times you go through forrest, sometimes through farmland. Most of the time the road follows the valley, every now and then it winds up a hill. Shortly befor Volubulis we ride through the granary of Marocco, harvested wheatfields as far as you can see. Volubilis takes us back in time - the Romans left witness of a very wealthy time. The mosaic floors inside the remnants of villas and the ruins of the town still show, how important the place was. Our next stop in the village of Ifrane shows a European style skiing resort, the architecture is quiet unusual for the country. Finally we end up in Azrou.
After a good night in a very relaxing place we headed first up the mountain to meet some of the "locals". the Berban monkeys were very delighted getting some breakfast handed over by some of us. Picture time! after that we cruised through the hills of the Anti-Atlas where flats are imbeded, used for farming. Partly it looked like a big fruityard with towns in between. Franz organized a lunchstop where we tried all differnt types of "Tangine". The last stretch we climbed into the mountain to find our hotel next to a very empty lake. Oh, and by the way: through a minor engine failure Ralph got in late withe the van - but beer and wine tasted good - also in motorcycle gear.
We starte our tour this morning with curves, curves and curves following the hills of the so callled Anti Atlas. Our first highlight is a stop at the waterfalls of Ouzoud. Amazing 110 meters in two cascades, you would not expect this place and ammount of water in an aride landscape like this. After a lunchstop to refill our batteries our route leads us through some little but busy villages in the nowhere and we get closer and closer Marrakech, our destination for today.
Within a few minutes our taxis brought us downtown, where we got off close to the big mosque. Ahmed, our local guide, was allready awaiting us. After a short preview about what to exspect, we started to explore the "medina", the old part of town. Narrow alleys, hidden doorways, little shops next to each other, locals rushing through, scooters beeping and leaving the two-stroke-parfueme behind, guys sitting in front of there shops sharing tea - it is a place you not believe it exists unless you have been there. The herbalist seems to have a herb for any issue, it was fun to listen to his explanations. Finally, tired from all the walking, we hit a restaurant to get some lunch and headed back to the hotel. A nap at the room or at the pool will get us ready for the evening.
After the interesting and busy restday in Maracech we took off to conquere the High Atlas Mountains. Riding through the morning traffic in Maracech style we got pretty soon out of town. Released from the group almost everybody travelled without the tourguide to the top of the pass. There was some traffic and construction, but there were also enough stretches of new paved road so everybody could let go the horses as much as he or she wanted. Which was great, because everybody had a big smile on his face when we did the group picture on top. Continueing through the mountains we got to Tetouan. Unfortunately the kasbha got demaged through the not too long ago earthquake and we could not go inside. After a typical local lunch we kept on going and reached our final destination, Ait Ben Haddou.
Leaving Ait Benadou we knew that there will be a first stop in a few minutes because the morning light set the Kashba of Ait Benadou in perfect light to be photographed. Cruising through oasis, going faster through barren graveldessert we headed for the Atlas Film Studios. As the target was to make them as big as the studios on thenother side of the globe, people nicknamed the Place "Molywood". Scenes for all kind of different movies had been taken there and so we wandered throug Ben Hur, Jesus, Cleopatra, Black Hawk Down and many others. we continued, passing through stretches of dessert, only interruppted by small busy towns were life was busteling. In the town were tonights hotel is located we turned of the straight way there and headed towards the Dades Gorge. But what a surprise, along the way there was Ralph with the Edelweiss van, tables and benches set up next to it, and - how special, a selection of excellent food for a picnic. After we were stuffed we explored the Dades Gorge. Steep walls on both sides, a road winding up like you would not exspect and an outstanding scenery awaited us. After turning around and heading back to the entrance of the valley we were not from from our tonight's hotel
Today we are on the way to the most southern point on our tour. Erg Chebby will be the destination to be. It is a must for everyone visiting Morocco. The sanddunes are both, a natural highlite as well as a playground for offroad-cracks. The Rally Paris-Dakar came her through often in older days. On our way down there we visit the Todra-Gorge, just impressive the 300m high walls at the entry. This place is also famous for climbers from all over the world. After a picknic at the desert under an Argantree we had enough power to continue to Erg Chebbi. It is also fascinating when you see the first dunes approaching from far away.
After the beat of the drums brought us to sleep last night, the quietness in the dessert was like a "noise detox" for us. Those who wanted, climbed the dunes to wait for the sunrise. After breakfast we got ready to mount our camels again to ride back through the dessert towards our hotel. This restday is a welcome and for some a needed one - massages, pool and relaxing were the highlights of the day.
So we have to leave the desert. Our southern most point is reached. Heading to the north an long straight roads through the desert we reach the ziz valley, famous for the growing dates and the fantastic view to the gorge. It looks a bit like the gand canyon. We follow the ziz valley till the famous tunnel of the french legionairs who digged it by hand in the early 30ths. After lunchstop we crossed again the high Atlas with some smaller but windy roads and finally after a long ridingday we arrived in Fes. This old Kingdomtown will be our last restday-destination on our tour.
A rest day in Fez is something special. Achmed, who also guided us through Marakesh, picked us up at the hotel and drove us to the other end of the Medhina, where our first visit was to the ceramics factory. It's unbelievable how skilled they are at making pottery, painting, decorating or making ceramic mosaics. After a short drive to the eastern end of the Medhina, our hike through the old town began. Countless small shops line the narrow streets, with locals and tourists bustling through them. The visit to the leather factory put our sense of smell to the test. A little later, a sensational lunch delighted our taste buds. Most people spent the afternoon at the pool.
Rolling out of Fes we understood pretty soon what Franz ment at the briefing: compared to yesterday the landscape changed dramaticly - from Africa to Spain. Olivetrees, rolling hills, white coloured houses, all in all you got the feeling you would be travelling in Southern Spain. And that is the reason why it is called "Little Andalusia". The lay-out of the windy road was a perfect one. Curve after curve, hills and valleys alternating, amazing views. Unfortunately the road needs new asphalt to make the riding day from an almost perfect to a fully perfect one.
When we got up in the morning it looked like Morocco shed some tears because we were leaving. The trizzle made the roads real slick, specially in sections with construction sites. But everybody was riding safely, no mishaps. Finaly the sun came through and the roads tried up. Customs didn't make it to hard and soon we lined up for the ferry in Ceuta. Most were sleeping when Helge got the shot of the day: whales in the Street of Gibralta - and he proofed it with pictures! Alceriras to Malaga was a quick ride and we finished the day with a bootbeer at the beach What a great day, what a great tour!
We would like to thank you all for beeing such a good sport, we realy enjoyed being your guides on this tour and we hope to see you again one day. All the best and keep the rubber side down!