Sunday, 20 May 2012

Morocco, April 2012, pt 1

I travelled to Morocco on my motorbike in 2009 with an organised tour. 'Enjoyed Morocco but the format of an organised trip really didn't suit me. First time in my life I've done it, and probably the last. The deadlines and pre-booked hotels lent an air of urgency to the trip which meant I didn't see and experience as much as I wanted. But, it was an excellent intro and led me to suggest a trip to my pal Bernie for 2012.

One key thing to get your head round when travelling with your own vehicle in Morocco is, there's no breakdown insurance available. This was covered on the organised tour; we were shadowed by a 4x4 with trailer and mechanic, but Bernie and I would be independent, so if something went wrong with the bikes it'd be up to us to sort it.

We spent many hours discussing routes, what to take and prepping the bikes but, finally, on a very cold morning, 1st April, we left for the ferry from Plymouth to Santander in Spain. Following a 20 hour crossing, we'd take 3 days to traverse Spain from north to south before catching a ferry across the Med to Morocco.

A highlight was Salamanca's Plaza Mayor:

We'd booked two hotels in Spain and one in Tanger to get the trip off to a smooth start but after that we had no firm plans. Taking three and a half weeks in total we'd have 18 days in Morocco, enough for a relaxed tour.

Leaving Tanger on a grey, overcast morning, we travelled south to Fes where we spent the evening exploring the medina and souk, despite warnings from the hotel reception not go into the medina at night! We had great fun.

After a rainy Fes, we left for Ifrane in the Middle Atlas mountains. Being relatively cool, it's the location for the King's summer residence. As snow fell (yes, really) we booked into a hotel for two nights and on a sunny morning set off on the pistes (unsurfaced roads) criss-crossing the cedar forests. We found lots of mud, got the bikes well and truly stuck, but, with excellent teamwork, extracated them successfully. An interesting day.

We left Ifrane and headed towards the small, High Atlas town of Imilchil. On the way, we camped by the River Ziz for the night.

I had a long-held wish to camp at Lac Isli, some 7 kilometres down a rough earth piste near Imilchil. Unlike our previous foray, the bikes were fully loaded, so it was an exciting ride across to the lake at around 7500 feet above sea level.

There was no-one else up here save for the Berber shepherds and we enjoyed meeting Zahid and Mohammed who shared tea with us:

Next morning a heavy mist had descended as we rode back out to tarmac and our next destination; the Todra Gorge.

More soon.


  1. Bet you're so glad I suggested you took tents!

  2. Me and the Mrs took our R1200GS for a 100 mile ride this morning just to get the service book stamped up! Getting a bike serviced is an alien concept to me as its something I don,t normally let anybody else do other than me. But the bike came with little history and no owners manual. Totally legit and a little research identified that it did nearly 2000 miles off road as a demonstrator / training bike for BMW off road skills before it was released into the second hand market. That life meant it needed new final drive and new steering head bearings which were none for a previous owner under warranty. Its now got just 6500 miles on the clock which I have checked with the diagnostic tool. Knowing its history I thought it prudent to maintain the BMW good will should any of these bits fail again. The final drive bearing being replaced twice already??
    My favourit ride is my CCM FT35s 400cc road going flat track racer. So light, nearly as fast as the beemer but no good if her indoors is not riding her own Kawasaki but pillion behind me.
    We must be mad. Oh and I retired 7 years back.
    What was the question?

    1. Hi Clive
      Thanks for looking. Having been on BMW's off road course I can confirm your bike will have been treated rough; I'm sure your giving it proper attention now.
      Always enjoy your stuff in MMM.
      Happy travelling!


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