Roads and Maps in Morocco

Morocco’s roads vary in quality. Sometimes they’re nearly up to European standards – well paved with a shoulder – and other times they’re crumbling at the sides, with lots of dips and cracks.Even at their worst, the roads are nothing you can’t negotiate on a good touring bike but bringing a racer might be a trial by times. With wide enough tyres you could try navigating some of the pistes, although we found them to be filled with large stones and barely signposted.

A typical Moroccan roadWe traveled with a map by 1:900 000 scale map by Freytag & Berndt but we found it to be quite inaccurate. Some roads marked on our map didn’t exist and distances often off by a wide margin. Town names on the map didn’t give enough clues to their size so it was hard to plan our days, not knowing if we would reach a major population centre or just a cluster of houses. Some routes which were marked as paved were not and vice versa.

We heard much better reviews of the Michelin map and would recommend cyclists try that as an alternative. Maps are hard to come by in Morocco so you should buy one in advance before you go.

As you’re cycling, you may notice the markers on the shoulder which give you indications of distance and the next town.

Moroccan road signsHere are the specifics of the marker you see in the photo. On the side we see this is National Route number 9, or N9, and beneath that is the number 546. This is the total distance since the start of the road, in this case 546km from Casablanca.

The top of the sign is painted red, denoting a major road. They can also be yellow and green for lower class roads.

On the broad side of the sign, the one facing traffic, you see the next town noted in Arabic and Roman script, and below that the distance in kilometers obviously to reach that town or city. On the opposite side of the marker will be towns you’ve come from.

The towns listed on the markers alternate. Over a few markers, you will probably see the distance to the nearest town, the next large town – which could be some way off – and the town at the end of the road.

These kilometer markers in Morocco are set at the left or right side of the road, depending on which way you are travelling on the road. In this case, the marker was on the left side of the road, meaning that we were moving away from Casablanca, the start of the N9.

Just because the route is measuring a distance to a town, the road quality may not be consistant. For example, on the N12 route from Rissani to Sidi Ifni some of it is a paved road and in other parts it turns into a piste, only designed to be navigated with a 4×4 and your nose.


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