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Thread: Moto Morocco Tour, 16-28 Nov 2007

  1. #1

    Moto Morocco Tour, 16-28 Nov 2007

    Ride Report

    Day 1

    Arrived in Marrakech at about 11am and Bill (Fanum) was waiting for me in arrivals as planned!

    We headed off in the Moto-Morocco Land Rover to the local shops so I could stock up on water, alcohol and snacks for the trip - I was surprised to see my first Camels and donkey-drawn karts on the sides of the main road on the way there, as well as families of 4 people (plus sheep!) riding on the same 125cc scooters! Let's just say I was in a state of awe for the first hour of being in this strange new land!

    We got to the hotel in Marrakech early afternoon and I was reunited with my GS that Bill had driven down from my home in London to Morocco on the back of his massive trailer. The rest of the group were already out on a short ride, so Bill and I went out on a local piste to do some exploring on our bikes.

    I'd only been 'off road' twice before (thanks to 'The Other Paul G') and so I was a little slow to start off with, but Bill rode to my level of confidence and soon we were exploring small pistes and even ventured into a tiny village on the piste - where Bill got stuck up a one way 'street' as it was so narrow and the locals had to come and pull him and his bike around so we could head back the other way!

    I was already beginning to see how friendly and amiable the Moroccan people are - and the help and warm welcome they showed to the two of us as we slowly picked our way through their tiny village filled me with confidence and even more desire to see their wonderful country over the coming days.

    That evening we returned, and I met Mike (rear support rider and film cameraman for the trip), Martin and Jackie (customers like me - Martin on a 1200GS and Jackie on a 650), and Al - a Canadian who'd ridden his 1200GS down as a customer from where he is now based in the Netherlands! We all enjoyed a beer, peanuts and olives in the hotel bar and then headed off to the large square (F'na?) in the City centre for dinner......which was amazing!

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    We started off with snails in peppered boiling water, and then after much haggling and shenanigans ended up eating in a open air eatery where we had kebabs, bread, salads, chips, pastir (kind of sweet meat strudel!) and berber whisky (mint tea!) I've never been so hassled by people trying to get us to eat at their establishments - but I strongly recommend you experience it at least once in your lifetime as you feel a mixture of delight (at their attempts to attract your attention) and fear as you desperately try to explain to them that you're not interested! LOL!

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    We also had a wander around the large Souk/covered market that's there and ended up haggling some more and buying some odds and ends....including Bill's now legendary Berber wool jacket (check it out on the photos)!

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    Neil (Steptoe) flew in that night and was to be our Land Rover driver and fixer for the rest of the trip.

  2. #2

    Day 2

    After brekkie we setup our bikes and headed off to our first pistes!

    'Absolute Beginners' by David Bowie started playing on my iPod as we rolled out of the car park, and I don't think a more apt song could have appeared on its random playlist had I chosen it myself!

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    After we cleared our first two graded pistes, riding along the famous Tizi'n'test road we stopped at what seemed to be a Cafe at the top of the World, and enjoyed omelettes (something that was to become a habit!) and the spectacular views.

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    Another 2 hours down the road we neared Taroudant, where we spent the night in a fantastic Palace (yes you read right the first time!), equipped with pool, nice rooms and even roaming peacocks!

  3. #3
    Day 3

    After a great breakfast including freshly self-picked oranges and limes from the Palace gardens, we soon hit our first 'fesh fesh' (soft, powery sand) which was fun to learn to ride over/under/in! We also stopped in a tiny town where the local children came out to see us all......I only had Extra Strong Mints on me to give them, so my lasting memory will be of us leaving them sucking on these firey hot sweets with looks of disgust as to why on earth I'd give them such a horrid thing!

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    Lunch was tins of sardines and bread eaten at the side of a spectacular series of bendy roads - unfortunately my tins ruptured in my badly packed rear tin BMW top I smelt like Sardines for the rest of the trip

    We arrived early in Tafraoute so Bill and I went out to play on the local 'Blue boulders' whilst the others joined us in the Land Rover - It was (up until that point!) the most fun I'd had on a motorbike - bombing around open plains of firm sandy ground, and climbing up small banks and rock shelves - fantastic! No speed cameras, pedestrians, oily roads or traffic jams to worry about!!

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    Amazing sunset that night!

  4. #4
    Day 4

    We all went to play in the blue boulders some more, where we had our first 'oops' moments - with Martin driving and getting stuck spectacularly into a tree(!), and Jackie slipping off her 650 on a really tricky descent!

    No real injuries occurred to either of them thankfully, but the 650 took a bit of a beating and lost its left mirror in the process!

    After this we headed on to the famous Palmery Piste where we had a nice lunch (omelette again!) and a stunning ride through lush palm tree forest!

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    Again we stopped in a local town and the locals took the chance to sit on my GS and pose for a piccy - something that was also to become a bit of a habit as our adventure progressed!

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  5. #5
    Day 5

    We headed to Tazenakht today and covered some nice hamada covered pistes, as well as stopping off in a tiny little town to have tea, coffees and pictures taken with locals - I really enjoyed it and was even asked to sent a pic back to them so they could stick it up in the village shop!

    We had our first of many many Tagines in a small place near Taliouine which I enjoyed, and then headed to Taz' very slowly as we were close to running out of fuel and the local towns weren't in stock!

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    We arrived in Tazenackt without any problems - a small truck stop town - where the local hotelier and Neil arranged for us to put all the bikes in the hotel's food store pantry for safe keeping.

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    As it was a 'dry' hotel, we managed to polish off a fair amount of Bill's private supply of beer (thank god for his on-board fridge!), and a litre of vodka with our fruit juice very discreetly during dinner ;-)

  6. #6
    Day 6

    Another amazing day - this time a proper Desert crossing (this time including Neil in the Land Rover) to Zagora!

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    A mix of tarmac, graded piste and sand was on the menu for the day, and other than me dropping my GS a few times, the funniest thing to happen was during lunch......whilst we sat under the 4x4's awning eating sardines and eggs and generally feeling pretty good and macho at the 50k's we'd done so far across the desert plain on our beefy bikes, a little fella on a 125cc rocked up to us (no helmet, gloves, water or food on him!) asked if we were OK (as he was a mechanic!) and then joined us for lunch!

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    He was a lovely chap - only able to converse in German with the rest of us via Mike - but it was quite deflating in a funny way to think he probably did the exact same route each day on his little putt-putt bike, ha ha ha!

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    The heat was intense as we continued our crossing and after passing some camels, and a small derelict sand-town, we arrived on gorgeous tarmac in Zagora - the beer we had that night was probably the best deserved and sweetest tasting I'll ever have!

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  7. #7
    Day 7

    A shorter day today as Jackie wanted a day's rest from riding and we didn't all fancy going too far, so Bill, Al, Martin and I went to play in the Sand Dunes of the Sahara!

    This pic says it all really!

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    We ventured over some new pistes (to Bill as well!) and had fun haggling with locals as they helped us dig our GS's out of their 'streets' of sand - as and when they got stuck!

    On the way home we stopped off at a friendly mechanic Bill knew ('Gordito') who built him a brand new side stand extender for about £4 (and it looks the part I can tell you!), and cleaned up some bolts on the 1200GS bash plates.

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    You can guess what we had for lunch that day.......;-)

  8. #8
    Day 8

    Another day i'll never forget - doing the Tizi'n'Tazazert pass - a challenging (for me at least!) mountain pass that took us most of the day to clear.

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    Rising to 2200 metres, this really pushed us all to our limits, and I think we all (bar Al) experienced an 'off' at some point as we ascended the mountains.

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    It was one of those experiences where you can't really believe you're doing it, start to get fearful of it, get downright knackered and tired, and then dig even deeper before emerging the other side and thanking yourself (and Bill!) for pushing you to do it - I will never forget doing it and will always be proud of having managed it on my bike!

    The ride home to Tinerhir was dark and very cold, so Bill lent me his home made heated jacket (read about this on another thread in the forum) which I can highly recommend to you all!

    The hotel was really nice (as most were) and dinner that night was, again, well deserved and accompanied by many a beer! ;-)

  9. #9
    Day 9

    Was wet!

    So we all went out in the Land Rover and explorer two local gorges, and then a lengthy piste which at one point had us using 4 wheel drive AND locked diffs to ascent!!

    Lunch was at the top of the famous 'wiggly' road we've all seen and heard about - and it's even more stunning in real life to look down upon.

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  10. #10
    Day 10

    Left Tinerhir to head toward Ouarzazate and met a fellow GS'r on the way at a cafe - didn't catch his name but it sounded like he'd been touring Morocco for some weeks alone - so all due respect to him!

    Visited Ait-Benhaddou (where they filmed Gladiator) and had lunch there before arriving in Ouarzazate for 2 nights.

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    Martin picked up a nail in his rear tyre so we were all given a class on how to repair them before setting off on a few piste's and then heading back to the hotel where we spent some time fixing up Jackie's 650, and chatting over beers on the hotel veranda.

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  11. #11
    Day 11

    Today we covered a brilliant piste leading to the Tizi'n'Tichka pass - again very challenging for my level of off road riding, with a mix of dread, fear and excitement coursing around my body throughout!

    Jackie left her bike with a local guardian back at Ait-Benhaddou and had the thrill of riding pillion with Bill up the piste!

    I managed to get run off the road by a tourist Land Crusier expedition on the pass track - thankfully Martin stopped the procession of Toyotas and gave them a telling off (he was designated French speaker for us all, as it looked as though the rest of us hadn't paid much attention in French class back in our school days ;-)

    No real damage was done to the bike so the guys helped me up and we continued along the piste track......ending up in snow capped mountains at the end!

    The ride back to Ouarzazate was furiously fast along some of the best twisty tarmac'd roads I've ever been on.

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  12. #12
    Day 12

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    A short (130 mile) run to Marrakech back up the road we'd come 'home' on the previous night. This took us over the same snow capped mountains, where we stopped for another omelette lunch ;-) at a small but friendly cafe, before rolling back to our very starting point 12 days prior in Marrakech.

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    I must admit I had a bit of a lump in my throat as I entered the secured compound that was to be the resting place for my bike before being driven back to London by Bill and Mike in the trailer. The trip was over and my head was swimming with the sights and sounds that i'd experienced.

    We all mopped up a fair few beers in the bar that night whilst looking over the 6500MB of photos we'd all taken!!!

    Bill, Mike and Neil then took us all for one final night's fun at a superb restaurant (including belly dancers - see pic below of Mike enjoying video taping them!! Can't believe I didn't get any snaps of them myself!!!?!)

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    When I first saw a 1150GSA I knew I wanted one, and later I, like many i'm sure, was a sucker for the 'Long Way Round' when it aired a few years ago.

    I feel really privileged to not only be able to say that i've been lucky enough to own my dream bike, but to take it to Africa and complete my dream adventure holiday. The Moto Morocco adventure genuinely surpassed all expectations I had when I originally signed up to do this trip whilst slightly tipsy on red wine one dark Friday night in August ;-)

    I must say a huge thank you to Bill, Mike and Neil for making the trip such a memorable one that is rich with stories that i'll be telling my grandchildren one day (and i'm only 27 now!) The whole Moto Morocco team were fantastic and even when things got a bit hair-raising up mountain passes and whilst crossing deserts, they remained rock solid in their confidence and determination to help us out and get us through the challenge - and their support is something that I don't think I could have completed such a trip without.

    Thank you also to Neil for driving our clobber about, sorting hotels and rooms and generally being there to help us rip the piss out of Bill (which was most of the time!) ;-)

    Also thanks to Martin, Jackie and Al for being great companions on what I'm sure you will agree was a fantastic experience (oh and sorry for all the sleep talking Al!)

    If any of you UKGSers are thinking of doing some proper off roading abroad and - like me - feel like it would be good to have some support, direction and comradery to help you achieve it, then I can do nothing better than recommend you go on one of the Moto Morocco trips - I know I'll be doing one again!

    All the best,

    Anders, Dec 2007

  13. #13
    Great report and photos, and the summary sort of, well sums it up

  14. #14
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    north staffs
    [QUOTE=Anderz_R;1202673]Day 6

    Excellent read - sounds like an adventure amongst friends.

    Anyone else noticed a certain mans extreme tan on this photo

  15. #15
    opinionated, me? Click here to find out how to Subscribe
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Kelsall, Cheshire
    That was an enjoyable read, thanks!
    Just when you've got this rat race licked, here come faster rats!

  16. #16
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    glos england
    travel reports are my favourite thanks for taking the trouble to post it

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