Morocco Journal Entries

Finally, a downhill!!Morocco has long been one of our favourite countries to visit.

It’s close to Europe, yet exotic and we are completely in love with the amazing landscapes of the Sahara desert.

We’d already been to Morocco twice before our world bike trip, and there was still more to explore, so we decided to spend the better part of 3 months biking around Morocco.

It was a wonderful part of our tour, with plenty of wild camping in scenic places and hospitality from the local people.

62km Mellila – Plaine de Gareb

Posted on:
18 Jan 2007

After three months in Europe, we crossed into Morocco today, a country we’ve been to twice before, but never on bicycles. Before we’ve concentrated on Marrakech and the desert and we hope that this time we will be able to do a proper tour of most of the country. Our entry took place at the

103km Plaine de Gareb – Guercif

Posted on:
20 Jan 2007

This journey took us two days, through a rural area of Morocco where we enjoyed being away from the usual tourist route. Here there is no hassle from local shop owners or kids asking you for pens, candy and dirhams. Just long stretches of road from which we took in the scenery of local villages.

73km Guercif – Taza

Posted on:
21 Jan 2007

Our longest day in a while, and the first one where we’ve started to feel like we are getting over our colds. A good thing too as we had to keep on our toes to tango with the Moroccan drivers, many of whom must be good candiates for F1 judging by their speedy overtaking and

70km Taza – Oulad Ayad

Posted on:
22 Jan 2007

Today was full of fantastic experiences, the best not coming until the very end of the day, and all brought to us courtesy of our bicycles. A year ago we hardly cycled at all and two years ago we would never have considered taking a holiday on a bike, but now our bicycles are the

56km Oulad Ayad – Fes

Posted on:
23 Jan 2007

After a restful night in the field by the village , we woke to the sound of roosters crowing. For the first time in our three visits to Morocco it had actually rained, just a little overnight, and the skies were still cloudy as we crawled out of the tent. We had a little breakfast

72km Fes – Ifrane

Posted on:
27 Jan 2007

It’s official, we have entered the Moroccan twilight zone. Ifrane, a ski resort town south of Fes, is a place which is absolutely nothing like anything we’ve seen in Morocco so far. Here there are no humble cafes serving pots of tea to the working man or children riding donkeys to get water from the

49km Ifrane – Timahdite

Posted on:
28 Jan 2007

The day dawned cold but clear and after a night with bugs in our room and the boom-boom of the hotel dance club we were keen to get out of Ifrane as quickly as possible. We ventured out onto icy roads, which thankfully improved hugely in condition once we were on the main route. Our

93km Timahdite – Midelt

Posted on:
29 Jan 2007

Travelling in winter is always a bit of a gamble and after watching the news the night before, where they showed pictures of a snowstorm and also the first day of skiing in Ifrane, we weren’t sure what the road held in store for us. Ahead was a mountain pass and the weather certainly had

80km Midelt – Rich

Posted on:
30 Jan 2007

Today’s journey took us to a whole new world. After crossing over the High Atlas mountain range at some 1,900 meters we found the sun shining, the weather warmer and the landscape taking on the look of the desert. It was like being on a different planet from Midelt where temperatures were near freezing and

96km Rich – Source Bleue de Meski

Posted on:
31 Jan 2007

The wind at our backs and a downhill slant for much of the day helped us cover a good distance, going from the foothills of the High Atlas mountains to the palm tree filled vallies of the desert. The highlight without a doubt was the beautiful Gorges du Ziz, where the fast-flowing river carved out

51km La Source Bleue – Erfoud

Posted on:
1 Feb 2007

Winter in the desert is a truly wonderful thing. With the little bit of rain that falls at this time of year the ground comes to life with flowers and greenery, giving us a very scenic ride down to Erfoud. Early in the morning we admired oasis towns tucked into the gorges carved out by

53km Erfoud – Merzouga

Posted on:
3 Feb 2007

Morocco has two main areas where tourists go to ride camels and watch the sunset beside huge sand dunes: Merzouga and Zagora. We have always been fans of the latter, where you travel further to see the dunes but are also likely to spend days without seeing another soul, aside from the odd nomad family.

61km Merzouga – Near Rissani

Posted on:
4 Feb 2007

Our campsite turned out to be a very friendly spot, not unlike Cheers “where everyone knows your name”. It took some doing to get out much before 10am as all the campers wanted to come up and chat and one even insisted on repairing Friedel’s shoes, which are coming away at the sole, with a bit

84km Outside Rissani to Alnif

Posted on:
5 Feb 2007

We thought we might be in for a spot of trouble this afternoon when a 4×4 appeared out of nowhere, screeched to a halt in front of us and two men jumped out. Turns out it wasn’t a robbery but rather two Germans on their way to Senegal, who also happen to be enthusiastic cyclists.

66km Alnif – Tazzarine

Posted on:
6 Feb 2007

Ah, wind. Our old friend came back for a visit and blew in our faces for most of the day, turning what should have been an easy route into a tiring challenge. We did have some interesting encounters to break up the fight against the wind, starting with a Moroccan cyclist sitting by the side

73km Tazzarine – N9 Junction

Posted on:
7 Feb 2007

Wednesday turned out to be market day in Tazzarine, fortunate for us since our panniers were in need of refilling. Moroccan souks are quite a treat for the eyes and ears as you jostle your way to the right stall. We entered through a large arched doorway where several beggars sat asking for change, including

71km N9 junction to Zagora

Posted on:
8 Feb 2007

After a peaceful night camping in the river bed – well, at least peaceful once the dogs stopped howling at the moon around midnight – we flew down the road to Zagora. The mixture of a good downhill stretch and lots of local kids trying to race us meant we went about 5km an hour

67km Zagora – Tamezmoute

Posted on:
18 Feb 2007

It’s always hard to leave good friends behind and we were very reluctant to carry on after such a good time in Zagora. Over the past 10 days we enjoyed a return visit to the grand dunes of Chegaga, an afternoon in Ali’s garden and best of all just sitting with our friend Brahim in

42km Tamezmoute – Agdz

Posted on:
19 Feb 2007

We rose early to the beautiful sight of the sun lighting up the Draa Valley and turning the sky a pale pink. After a quick breakfast we rolled out, long before the women showed up to do their washing and with only the keenest children out on their bikes, mostly heading to school. The ride

15km to nowhere….

Posted on:
20 Feb 2007

The day started out promising enough, with clearing skies after a bit of rain in the early hours of the morning. We weren’t on the road long though, heading away from Agdz, when dark clouds started to thunder around us, complete with the occasional bolt of lightening. It’s a bit worrying to be out riding

A very windy 59km

Posted on:
21 Feb 2007

The saying “be careful what you wish for” seemed appropriate today, since we spent the entire day before wishing for the rain to stop and in its place we got a day full of wind. The strong breezes started rattling our tent in the early dawn and after just a couple hours on the road

72km Rounde-Point – Foum Zguid

Posted on:
22 Feb 2007

Breakfast this morning was thanks to the campsite owners, since our supplies were running low. To our surprise, it was well worth it: scambled eggs in a tagine with some flat bread to accompany the usual jam and butter, freshly squeezed orange juice, and the required coffee. Eventually we got underway, after chatting with the

100km Foum Zguid — Nomad encampment

Posted on:
23 Feb 2007

As with most of our long days, we had no intention of going so far, but after an easy morning of very flat riding we quickly reached Tissint, a one-horse town where we had planned to spend the night beside the local waterfalls. Like the rivers of the day before, “waterfall” is a bit of

48km to Tata

Posted on:
24 Feb 2007

A slightly short day for us, thanks to our efforts the day before. We had a peaceful sleep near the nomad tents, waking up only when a couple goats wandered by during the night and brushed up against the tent. Maybe they were hoping for more vegetable scraps like we gave them the night before!

52km Tata – Tagmoute

Posted on:
25 Feb 2007

Our journey to Tagmoute took us first through a swathe of bright green irrigated fields just outside of Tata, then up into the mountains where we admired the layers of rock, forming patterns of swirls and waves across the hills. There were hardly any cars on the road and to us this was cycling paradise:

55km Tagmoute – Outside Igherm

Posted on:
27 Feb 2007

After a couple days of rest in the beautiful and peaceful oasis town of Tagmoute, we carried on up the road, the first day in a two-day journey to Tafraoute. Our friend Brahim, also known as our fantastic guide to the desert and all things Moroccan, suggested we take this route because of the wonderful

89km Outside Igherm – Tafraoute

Posted on:
28 Feb 2007

As February ends, we’ve been on our bicycles for six full months and travelled over 7,000km. We’ve seen a few challenging roads over this time but today will rest forever in our minds as a route with a rare combination of exceptional scenery and terrain that nearly left us in tears more than once, had

66km Tafraoute – Outside Tirhmi

Posted on:
2 Mar 2007

We thought this section of road might be quite challenging – following on the hills we’d seen since leaving Tagmoute – and vowed to take things slowly so we were quite surprised at how much ground we ended up covering. We didn’t get on the road until quite late in the day, after getting supplies

54km Outside Tirhmi – Tiznit

Posted on:
3 Mar 2007

After our numerous visitors the night before, we somehow managed to get up early enough to have breakfast on our own, before more friends came to see us. This time it was two women who were very interested to watch us pack up and enjoyed dressing Friedel in their headscarves, in exchange for a chance

99km Tiznit to Agadir

Posted on:
4 Mar 2007

Today was one of those days where you just have to pedal hard and get it overwith. The N1 road running between Tiznit and Agadir was overcrowded with traffic on it, littered with garbage on both sides, and contained far too many truck drivers, most of whom thought they were Michael Schumacher but in reality

89km Agadir – Imsswane

Posted on:
5 Mar 2007

We rose before dawn, part of our new strategy to get up early and beat the heat, and also because we were more than ready to leave the overcrowded, expensive and frankly depressing campground in Agadir. As we left the city, we couldn’t help but notice how much it looked like the developed and ugly

88km Imsswane – Essaouira

Posted on:
6 Mar 2007

Once again we had a peaceful night of wild camping, something we’d really recommend in Morocco as there are so rarely any problems and the sites you can find are so beautiful compared to the campgrounds. The morning silence was soon broken, however, by the return of the kids on their way to school, eager

53km Essaouria – El Mehattat

Posted on:
8 Mar 2007

After bumping into Kristian in Essaouria we decided to join up again for the ride to Safi. We met near his hotel in the center of the city and tried desperately to figure out the way to the coastal road to Safi. After a little hunting around we finally found it but it didn’t have

60km El Mehattat to Oulad Salmane

Posted on:
9 Mar 2007

With the wind blowing all night, we didn’t hear a thing and slept like babies in our tent. The skies seemed calmer as we poked our heads out and made our morning coffee. After a quick stop at the well for water, we were on our way. We followed the ocean most of the day,

28km Oulad Salmane to Safi

Posted on:
10 Mar 2007

The sun started shining into our tent about 7am, waking us up, but our camping spot just by the sea was quite cold, only 5°C as we got up to make the coffee. Kristian has a little thermometer with him, and this was the coldest morning in quite a while. Normally the nights are closer

112km Safi – Sidi Moussa

Posted on:
13 Mar 2007

There’s no worse place than a bicycle to be when you’re sick, but that’s exactly where we were today – a day which started well but ended with Friedel doing a dive out of the tent, sick to her stomach. As we set out from Safi the sky was a clear blue and the wind

43km Sidi Moussa – El-Jadida

Posted on:
14 Mar 2007

Considering we both didn’t feel at our peak, the distance covered was encouraging. Most of the field workers hadn’t gotten up by the time we started our journey so we had a quieter run than the day before. Again following the coast road north we saw more wonderful waves crashing. But about halfway to El-Jadida,

109km El Jadida to Casablanca

Posted on:
15 Mar 2007

We’ve been planning for weeks to avoid Casablanca (a city we found dirty and unattractive in the past, remembering it only for large slums between the centre and the airport) but we now realise that time is short if we want to meet a friend in Portugal and the coastal road through Casablanca is the

88km Casablanca to Temara-Plage

Posted on:
16 Mar 2007

Another big day on the bikes: it’s easy to roll long distances when the wind is on your back and the roads are flat, as they have been for the last few days along the coast. About a third of the distance we covered today was just getting out of Casablanca, an expansive and rather

78km Temara-Plage to Ahfayfah

Posted on:
17 Mar 2007

As we wind down our last days in Morocco, we have once again been fortunate to experience the hospitality of local people. We’d spent most of our day working our way through a string of large towns – Rabat, Sale and Kenitra – before finally finding a small road through a predominately agricultural area. Late

39km Ahfayfah to Sidi el Hachemi

Posted on:
18 Mar 2007

After a late night with our new friends we enjoyed a little bit of extra sleep tucked up warmly in blankets. The Moroccans never leave any chance of getting cold during the night, piling blankets high on top of you. Again we were treated to more hospitality as a breakfast of coffee, eggs, olives and

71km Sidi el Hachemi to Larache

Posted on:
19 Mar 2007

Morocco has been a fairly cheap country to visit and today, nearly at the end of our travels here, we found the best bargain of the trip: free camping in Larache. Thanks to the ferry companies who run services between Tangiers and Europe there are “rest areas” with hot showers and sparkling clean toilets. They

101km Larache to Tangier

Posted on:
20 Mar 2007

For days the landscape around us has changed our view of what we imagine to be Moroccan. Before we only saw sand dunes, camels and palm trees but now we notice rolling green hills that could easily be in England and fields full of cows that look so similar to our homes on the east

69km Tangier – Medina Sidonia

Posted on:
24 Mar 2007

We rose before the sun this morning, dragging ourselves out of bed around 5:30am for some last minute preparations before the first ferry to Spain. No matter how much we pack and unpack, we never seem to get any faster at getting our bikes ready for the road after staying in one place for a

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