Friday, January 1, 2016

Magical Morocco

 Erg Chebbi dunes near the border with Algeria
I was in two minds to try and fit a trip over to Morocco in during this season or not, sometimes it's best to cover less ground and spend more time in fewer places meaning you can really have a good look around. As it turned out visa requirements meant I had to spend some time out of Europe.... so Morocco was on. I discovered I could get a 3 day ferry directly from Italy to Tanger for a reasonable price of 150 euro and would save time riding in Europe.

So it was a very fast trip from Croatia and across the top of Italy to the ferry at Livorno, accidentally passing by a leaning tower on the way. I was hoping to arrive early and try and find somewhere to watch the All Blacks win the Rugby world cup but the correct ferry terminal was hard to locate and took for ever and together with looking at leaning towers I ran out of time. The 2nd day on the ferry was rough, in fact it was the roughest day in 6 months and as a result I was sick as a dog. On arriving at the port I was pretty tired and I still had to plan a route through Morocco so the plan was to find a backpackers, park up for a day or two, get some sleep, catch up on the blog and research a route through the Atlas mountains and out to the Sahara desert.

That plan went out the window though when another rider pulled up at customs on a rowdy old Yamaha after exiting another ferry. I got talking to Patrick, he was French and was riding with a couple of buddies. Before arriving in Morocco I was thinking it would be better to have some riding partners here so I asked straight up if I could tag along. Turned out to be a great opportunity for me, Patrick  had been to Morocco a few times and new some great routes and we found some fantastic riding. Also for me it was a great change from riding solo and I really enjoyed the company and the fun of fooling about in a group.

Morocco was for me one the best places I've ridden. Interesting culture/people and amazing landscapes. With the fun over and out of time I had to battle it out on motorways in winter conditions back up to Germany and park the bike back where I started  6 months and 30 000km earlier. And with that another chapter in the adventure has come to an end.

PJ, Patrick, and Gwen. I met these French guys at the ferry port and they were happy for me to tag along. Had an absolute blast with these guys for a week of riding.

The French Fellas and there bikes, Gwen on the Triumph Tiger 800, PJ on the Bmw GS 800, and Patrick on the Iconic Yamaha XTZ twin

Day 1 and we were having fun, the low guards on all the big twins causing some problems in the sticky mud

With the bikes going nowhere with locked up wheels it was time to give the locals some more entertainment!

The Blue town of Chefchaouen

The XTZ having a moment of malfunction, a broken electrical wire was the culprit and we were soon on the road again

Heading out of one of Morocco's larger cities, Fes.



Patrick about to create some balloon characters for a family living remotely in the Atlas mountains

Planning on camping out in the desert I needed to find something to replace my stolen camping gear, a big rug, a mat and a puff jacket purchased from a market should do the trick

Patrick's balloons were a hit with the local kids

It was an honour to ride with team Valloire for a week. Thanks Patrick, PJ and Gwen

Daytime temps were hot and nights were chilly on the edge of the Sahara, but the rug proved to be nice and snug.

Even in the middle of now where people pop up and want to sell you something, usually fossils

Play time in the Erg Chebbi dunes, a definite highlight of my riding to date

Patrick finds a soft pile and buries the big Yamaha!!

Moroccan food is great, but.....

....too much good food and desert heat and it's time for a snooze

Desert at dusk is something else

The rocky river bed terrain taking it's toll

Traditional made rugs, you have to be very determined to NOT buy a rug in Morocco, they are experts at selling you something that you don't want!!

A polished table top with fossils, I loaded the bike up with a small piece to bring home!!

I had great time riding with team Valloire, as group you can tackle some really challenging stuff and have a heap of fun doing it. Here, I'm back on my own out in the desert, the pace is slower, my attention is more focused on my surroundings and my own thoughts rather than other people, it's a whole different but just as amazing experience and am super lucky to have had both here in Morocco

Having enjoyed the dunes so much I went back for more, but this time I was alone and had to be wary of getting stuck, I always had an escape route and never ventured far from the edge.

The landscape was incredible, the riding a challenge and a real hoot blasting about in the sand, this is some of the most fun I've ever had on 2 wheels.

With the half worn 50/50 rear tire and the weight of the DR at time I sunk!

These guys from Spain had some nice light enduro bikes which would have been the ticket in the dunes, I think they must have been impressed with just what I've ridden on the Dr650 over the years though.

Love the earth buildings, cheap and they blend in with the surroundings

I spied a little village way up on a mountain and what looked like a road from a distance, turned out to be a Mule track and an interesting ride on a bike heavily loaded down with a big slab of fossil rock.


I've parked the bike in some interesting places but this small gaming and goods shop was different. The Owner, Rachid put me up for a night in his house above the shop, The kids challenged me at fuzz ball and I sampled some local moonshine with Rachid, a super nice guy.

Gotta love the food in Morocco, lots of meat nicely seasoned and smoked!

The Atlas mountains are just full of great little roads.....

....and curious kids

Coffee break in the trekking town of Imlil

New roofing project, bamboo supporting clay

Here comes the clay for the roof

Final days in the Atlas

My Ride out of Morocco and over to Spain, bit sad to be leaving, could have had a week or so more time exploring the Fabulous desert terrain

Rock of Gibraltar
Unfortunately these two cops were not friendly, I was pulled up and fined 200 Euros. 100 for listening to music via ear phones and 100 for a number plate that was not visible enough for their liking!!!! Their English was not good, they let me off on the ear phones but not the plate, thought they were a bit tough really on a foreign vehicle and reckon it was just my unusual No plate that got their attention and not the angle of it at all. I wasn't happy, I took a photo of them and they got very aggressive. In some countries I would have suspected this behaviour to be corrupt, they flipped open a credit card machine from one of the bikes and I had to pay or have my bike inpounded!! could have solved my winter bike storage I guess!!

Riding through France, time to add some winter modifications to fight off the cold temps, only a week prior I was too hot down in the Sahara!

My last day on the road, started off in the snow, after several big, cold days on motorways I was glad to have arrived back in Heidelberg, Germany. Seems like more than 6 months since I set off from here back in May. 

Giving the old girl a check over and making a note of things to fix or replace before storing for another winter.