Moto-Morocco September 2007


UKGSer of 2014 (Dead)
UKGSer Subscriber
May 15, 2004
Reaction score
1st to 15th September.

Eight bikes, one Land Rover and ten people (including Bill and myself in the Land Rover support truck).

Two bikes were transported down in the trailer by Bill, the riders flew in to Marrakech, the remainder made their own way, some were including the two weeks in a longer trip, others rode down specifically for the tour.

Saturday 1st, saw everyone gathered at the Marrakech hotel where the trailer and unwanted luggage etc would remain under guard.

Those of us that flew in that day had a few hours forced acclimatisation in the car park where last minute fettling took place.


Ken, who was to become known as "Ken-eville" for his 'attacking' approach to some of the pistes, or "Indiana Ken" for his pursuit of fossils, tries out the 1100GS hire bike (he rode down with Wayne (V-Strom) and Steve M (1200GSA) on his Triumph.


He's already starting to look proud of his "new" mount and that's before he was impressed by its capabilities during the next two weeks.


Those not on Conti TKC's already were taken to a nearby tyre fitter where the swap was done.


Steve M with his 1200GSA newly shode with TKC's.


Wayne's modified Strom now sporting knobblies to complement the jacked-up suspension.


There followed some 'pre-tour bonding' for some.


Left to right: Tony (Yamaha 600), Andy in the foreground (R1200GSA) minus his pillion Diane (taking the photo), Bill (Fanum), Dean (Honda Africa Twin) not yet displaying his camera-whore credentials, Ken, Steve M (R1200GSA) and Steve D (R1200GSA).

Once the support Land Rover was sorted with everything stowed for the tour, unwanted luggage stowed in the trailer along with Ken's Triumph, we were taken by our "leader" to sample the delights of downtown Marrakech.

As was to be expected it was an assault on the senses. The sights, sounds and smells of the busy Medina and Souk are an excellent introduction to Morocco. The throngs of people milling around interspersed with horses, hawkers and the sights and smells of the food stalls exceeds what the imagination can conjure up.


Some sampled snails from a stall as an appetiser before we found a food vendor to satisfy Bill's gastronomic demands (substantial!).



After a wander through the Souk, we headed back to the hotel and a last beer before bed.

Day Two.

Breakfast (such as it was) was despatched and then it was load the Land Rover with riders luggage, all to a nearby fuel station where we all filled-up and bottled water purchased in substantial quantities. Bill then led the convoy out of Marrakech and south along the N9 to Tizi N Tichka.






Lunch was taken on the cafe terrace.


Berber omlette (it tasted much better than it looked).


After lunch, I pushed on down the N9 heading for Ourzazarte to that nights hotel while the riders took the piste after Tizi N Tichka to Ait Benhaddou.


I have the photo's taken by the riders on this piste but as I wasn't with them, I'll leave it for the participants to provide narrative at a later date (some will not be back for a few days yet).






Meanwhile, I'd been on to the hotel and complying with our Leader's instructions, I was to RV with the riders at Ait Benhaddou.

Bill had stabbed a finger at the map and pointed out a road that turned off the N9 with the words, "It's okay, it's tarmac."

I had duly noted the indicated junction and headed back towards it (passing another turning signposted Ait Benhaddou on the way. I assumed that this particular road wasn't suitable for the Land Rover! :nenau).

Arriving at the finger-marked junction on the map, my Navigator did indeed show a road but what I was looking at was a piste for as far as I could see and the sign said 16 km.

Oh well, maybe it was tarmac further on?


It wasn't too bad for much of the distance.


No sign of tarmac and the further I went, the worse it became. It was slow going and in three places I had to get out and find the best route on foot. In a couple of places the piste had been undercut by run-offs. Heart in mouth time!

Eventually I could see the tarmac road that the piste joined. The only trouble was, between me and it was a wadi. Getting down into it was easy enough but there was a fairly steep but short step-up to get out. The wadi was strewn with medicine ball sized boulders that reduced the available navigable route.

Someone had packed some boulders into the step where it was crumbling. My first attempt was too square-on. The Landy wasn't having it. I had visions of being stuck here or trying to turn around and retrace my steps.

To be honest, a couple of the sections I'd negotiated to get here were bad enough not to seem attractive for a second time.:eek:

I added some more boulders to the shored-up section and carefully reversed up the wadi to attack the step at an oblique angle (those years of driving Land Rovers in the army and your taxes were not wasted!).

The old girl dragged herself up and out, albeit with some slightly alarming rolling at times!

It doesn't look much in this photo but you can see my tracks from the first attempt.


Regaining tarmac, I turned and headed towards where the piste taken by the bikes would join and was quite surprised to see an old British army Bailey Bridge spanning one wadi outside a village.

Using the skills acquired from watching Tonto in the Lone Ranger TV series, I found TKC tread patterns in the soft surface at the end of the piste and realised that the bikes had already passed.

Retracing my route and on to Ait Benhaddou, I drove through the town and took the obligatory photo's of the "Gladiator Town" beside the wadi.



No sign of the bikes but a text message from Bill revealed their location, feet up, drinking cold cokes nearby.

I set off for the hotel ahead of the bikes and thought I'd go back to where my little adventurous piste joined the tarmac and 'waypoint' it for the future.

The riders meanwhile had set off at a lick down the road that I should have approached on and I was playing catch-up having to show them the way to the hotel!

I was pressing on and approaching Ourzazarte when I fell foul of a speed trap!

Sods law! That's the first time since 1977 that I've been pinged for speeding and it happens in Morocco!

Adopting the most grovelling manner, I offered a Salaam Wassalaiakum Shareef, looked suitably puzzled when I was shown the speed readout of 74 kph in a 60 limit and sent on my way with a polite warning and a salute! (They don't do themselves any favours do they? :p)

I found the bikes fuelling-up in Ourzazarte and then led them to the Hotel La Vallee.


There is a walled and secure area where the bikes can be parked but two (Andy and Steve D) took up the offer to park inside the building.

Andy launches his 1200GSA up the steps.


La Vallee is a nice hotel. The food was good and the staff very accommodating, nothing seemed to be too much trouble. Only the car parking guard/attendant having been given a cap to signify his position of importance was true to form not happy unless vehicles were parked within an inch of where he deemed suitable!


Day Three

Another early-ish start, breakfast done and dusted, baggage back in the truck and I had to retrace my route back towards Marrakech before swinging East towards Beni-Mellal skirting Marak on the way.

This was a pretty uninspiring route by road once I turned off the N9. Worse was the fact that Beni-Mellal is pretty uninspiring too! It's a modern town by Moroccan standards. Most of the hotels were either modern bland affairs or fronted onto busy streets with no off-street parking. Well at least those that I could find. The place was very busy and it was proving to be quite difficult to drive the Landy around somewhere strange whilst negotiating the throngs of people, mopeds, carts and cars simultaneously looking for somewhere to stay.

In the end, thinking that the riders would be turning-up at any moment, hot, tired and dusty, I opted for one of the modern, characterless four-star options.

Hotel Chems had the advantage that it was just within the town limits on the road that the bikes would come in from, it was securely walled and gated with security patrols and I was able to negotiate a reduction for the group on the price of the rooms and the Plat de Jour.

The rooms were good and the restaurant was open until 10.00 pm. Plenty of time for the riders to arrive, shower and have a beer before dinner (or so I thought).

I advised Bill and as it was 5.30, I was surprised to hear that they were still at least two hours away!

I unloaded the baggage and moved it to the rooms, showered and then drove out onto the main road to await the arrival of the bikes to show them the way into the hotel.

Just before 9.00 they rolled-up! I'll leave the others to explain.

The staff were obviously looking to get away but they did provide a good meal and everyone was fed and watered, even if the later arrivals had to take whatever was ordered for them in case they were too late.

A long day for everyone. Most were suffering from the Moroccan microbe effect. Andy was probably suffering from the early stages of heat exhaustion but at this time it wasn't apparent. We all just thought it was the stomach bug but to make things easier for him, it was decided that next day Diane would travel in the truck with me.

(Right I need a break. More to follow later).
Day Four.

Beni-Mellal to Midelt.


First thing after breakfast we needed to do some work on Dean's Africa Twin. He'd had a spill the day before and his bars were twisted out of alignment.


At fist it looked as though the risers had twisted the mounting and we'd need to dismantle it and try to straighten the single bolt that holds the handle-bar clamp to the top yoke.


Fortunately Mr. Honda had designed the single bolt arrangement with some thought. The bolt is in a sleeved rubber bush, designed to take the shock and all that had happened was that the bush had done what was intended and was now out of alignment. Just re-aligning the bush was all that was required (although the bars were slightly bent, a rigid mounting would have meant more damage than actually occurred).

Especially for Timolgra, Steve D models his 'Twat Jacket' :D


Diane and I set off and had a fairly uneventful journey that took us through the Cedars.


Over a high plateau and some quite remote villages.


Along our own pistes.


Looking back over the track we had come down.


Judging by the number of lorries trundling along the road with huge tree trunks aboard, I don't think that the cedar forests will remain much longer!

Midelt and the hotel Kasbah Asmaa was reached in good time. The owner of the hotel was standing in the local elections and parties of his supporters were being transported around the area in a frenzy of electoral excitement. Elections are still a new phenomena in Morocco and the people are all too willing to exercise their franchise.


The bikes were parked inside.



Steve M modelled the latest GSer headgear at dinner that evening.


Day Five.

Midelt to Merzouga.


The last part was circling the dunes.


As we were loading the Land Rover, two youngsters approached us. One of them had a nasty fresh gash on his foot.

Moto-Morocco First-Aid team swung into action and he was seated on a camp chair, his foot put on Dean's Zega top-box and half a dozen well meaning westerners all giving nurse Oates their advice!




You can tell it's the morning in this photo because Tony's bouffant has been restored! ;)


With Nurse Oates back in the role of Fuhrer, oops, I mean Leader :eek: the bikes set off ahead of us but we soon caught them at the next fuel stop.

Bill having developed a taste for situations medical, had decided that Andy was too unwell to continue to ride.

In fairness, he was correct. Andy hadn't slept properly for several nights, he had been riding with Diane as pillion on pistes that tested solo riders and was suffering from both the heat and the Moroccan microbes. In short he was suffering from heat exhaustion.

This was the only time that Andy failed to smile on the whole trip. Something was definitely not right.


Rather than assemble the bike trailer (carried in the Landy) we assembled the Spec-Cradle and put Tony's Yammy on the back.



Tony rode Andy's 1200GSA while Andy rode in the Land Rover and tried to get some rest. The fact that in these temperatures he was complaining that he was cold was an indication that he was suffering from heat exhaustion or similar.

Along the road we passed this huge lake.


We didn't know until rounding a bend that the bikes had taken a diversion to the lake shore when we caught up with them just regaining the road.



The road took us via the Gorges du Ziz. At one point the whole vista was barren desert and suddenly like a vision of Shangri-La the desert opened and revealed a verdant sea of green.

This photo doesn't capture the first sight or the impression.


By the time we had passed through Erfoud and Rissani, Andy had perked-up a bit and was starting to return to his ever cheerful self.


We knew we had to turn off across the sands to the Hotel Kasbah Mohayut but we turned off a bit early and had a longer than needed route over the rutted washboard surface.


Bill decided to come and guide us in over the piste, Wayne opted to come along too.


Some nice views on the way.


Plus some badly parked camels in our way.


On arrival, the hotel rooms were very well appointed and the owner very welcoming.


We had an excellent dinner served by the pool then those that opted for a night in a Bedouin tent departed, the remainder of us took to our rooms as there was a 5.00 am call booked and a camel ride into the dunes to see the sunrise.
The night in the Berber Tent

............ Was interesting, surprisingly cold and windy and we did get to hear the "Confessions of a v-strom owner" :eek:..... The best bit was getting the benefit of "Moha" and his 2 mates on the bongos - pretty impressive the tunes that can be made on a simple drum.

We were then woken by the sounds of Mike, Bill & Co on their camels ... have to say that even in the half-light of dawn at 5.15am, the Camels looked a lot better than their riders ;)


  • Berber drmmer.JPG
    Berber drmmer.JPG
    89 KB · Views: 3,439
Day Six.

Merzouga to Tinehir and Hotel Tombuctou (after the camel ride and sunrise).

An early call, just before 5:00 am, congregate in the passage to await our leader and then follow your nose (or the guide) to the camel park.

The beasts were in pairs, each with their own owner (I presume) who would lead us in the darkness to where the remainder of the group were camped.

I was the first to get saddled-up (or whatever the equivalent is). I worked out that I'd rather have the rear end of the lead camel (and Bill's rear end come to that) ahead of me in preference to the bitey end of a camel behind me, so I opted for the second of the two in our pair.

It was dark enough not to be able to see the animal clearly. Just their plaintive grunting at being made to work at such an early hour plus the smell made us aware of their presence.

Until of course they were made to stand! At one point the rear end is standing while the front is still kneeling. Then the front stands, to the accompanying grunts and groans (from both the camels and their "riders" - in truth the riders are just so much baggage).

It was still dark. Dark enough for Bill not to realise that the head of my camel was inches from his back-side!


Bill looked distinctly uncomfortable on his ride. I don't think that he knew how lopsided his seat was.


There's obviously a knack to getting comfortable on a camel. They have such an irregular gait that hardly any rhythm exists that allows a human to get into sync with. They are incredibly clumsy too! Mine wasn't the only one that stumbled and was prone to slipping down the dunes, sometimes running into the back of Bill's mount.

We collected the others and headed off into the dunes where the first false dawn was just illuminating the horizon.

A tall dune rose ahead and we were making for it. I was relieved when it became apparent that we were not going to ride to the top. It seemed pretty steep and I had visions of Bill's camel slipping backwards into mine! :eek:

We dismounted, after the front half knelt down while the back bit was still stood up before it too sank down into the sand at an alarming rate.

Off with our footwear and then scrabble up the dune to the top where without exception we gratefully sank down into the soft warm sand and awaited the dawn.

Wayne replaces fluids lost in the climb!


Before the sun rose fully, the dunes were thrown into glorious shadow.





Tony decided to set off for a run!


Still going!


Steve M just stands and watches Tony. No doubt the same thought crosses his mind as it does with us all, why? :confused:


Still Tony's not as barking as this bunch......


Who trekked out to the dunes then stood there engaged in some sort of ritual sun greeting, making shapes!

Bill poses on his 40th birthday (and has a surprise coming that I'd been sworn to secrecy over).


Andy is now back to his usual self. He and Diane have an 'ah' moment!


By the time Tony returns, the sun is high enough to bleach the colour of the sands.


The obligatory group shot is taken by one of the guides.


The guides colourful garb makes a nice contrast in the early light.


Back at the camels, the drivers/guides roll out their wares. Steve M is a difficult case for them. They've probably not had much experience of trying to sell to a Yorkshireman before!

"You want how much for a fookin stone?"


Mind you, Indiana Ken is a sucker for a fossil.


In fact, rumour has it that one of the fossil vendors at Col du Tichka has retired on the profits of his sales to Ken!

All bartered out, we remount the ships of the desert and are led back to the hotel.


Bill signals a left turn while I hide behind my camera.


Steve D, Tony and an unfamiliarly camera shy Dean.



I thought that I'd got the hang of camel jockeying until we got back to the hotel and dismounted where I discovered aching muscles that I didn't know existed! Good job we didn't have the time for the optional longer ride! :eek

Breakfast was taken on the roof top terrace, then bags were stowed, bikes started and we set off across the hard packed sand to the road.

Diane opted for another day in the Land Rover to give Andy more time to fully recover. I wasn't complaining. It was nice to have some company, although she did have to put up with my musical tastes, she did so without outward complaint and even tapped her fingers occasionally!

Andy stopped beside us at the road and waited for the others to arrive.


They were not far behind and I managed to get some film of their approach while Diane snapped away with my stills camera.





On our way across we spotted this mini tornado.


Just short of Erfoud we caught up with the bikes as they re-fuelled. Wayne was feeling a bit delicate so opted to follow us on the road route rather than take the piste. A sensible option in the circumstances and one that makes having a support vehicle worth its weight in gold. If Wayne had felt worse, we always had the option to trailer his bike and not risk him riding in a bad physical state.

Another uneventful road trip followed. Finding the hotel Tombuctou in Tinerhir was easy. Tinerhir is really a one street town. On the one junction with traffic lights, there's a sign to the hotel but the hotel entrance is well camouflaged. It is just a tatty looking wooden door of unknown age. Possibly old enough to be wood from Noah's Ark!

Once inside though, it's a veritable paradise (but the staff are a bit too laid back. You have to work pretty hard to get them to do anything like serve you).




As "staff" Bill and I were in a small room away from the main rooms. It had a traditional ceiling.....


and was compact and bijou....


It had a working shower and decent aircon. It was to be our first two-night stop.

Tony decided to make a splash in the pool. His choice of swimming attire certainly challenged the GSer shirts in my opinion!


Before dinner, our birthday boy slaked his thirst and opened his pressies.




I'll leave Bill to explain the present from Rosie. We were all filling-up with the emotion.:tears


Bill cracks the Champers I'd been dragging around with me since arriving (check out that left hand ;)).


A nice note to end this entry on I think.
Day Seven.

Two very different days for Diane and me versus the riders.

The plan for the bikes was that they'd head north on a piste and then west coming out in the Dades Gorge, where they'd turn south down the road through the gorge to the cafe.

We'd go by road to Boumaine, then turn north up the gorge to meet the bikes at the cafe. I could then film them as they negotiated the switch back road that descends from the cafe.

Diane and I, thinking that we'd best not keep the bikes waiting, didn't hang around and were at the cafe by 10:30.

We slaked our thirsts with cold bottles of pop and water, took some photo's and waited for the riders.


Looking down from the cafe into the gorge.


The often posted view of the road.....


A family had stopped for a meal at the cafe. The youngest children played on the swings there.


A European couple had cycled :eek up the gorge. They didn't go much past the cafe before turning back again but the little girl (above) had a go on the ladies cycle. Her grin was worth the drive to the top alone!

Diane spotted some bikes coming so I switched on the camcorder, focussed and then realised that I was filming a German registered K100RS 16V! (under-rated bike in my opinion).

After a couple of hours, we drove on to see the narrow bit of the gorge for ourselves and hoping to meet the riders coming the other way.



We climbed for a while then turned back and resumed our vigil.

By 2:00 pm there was still no sign of the riders. There'd been no message informing us of a mechanical problem or worse and as Diane wasn't really here to sit around in the Land Rover, we decided to return to the hotel assuming that the riders had found another piste and probably opted for a different route.

I took my time returning to the hotel and stopped to take some picture of the Dades lower down in the hope that the riders would overtake us.



It's quite spectacularly green wherever there's a constant supply of water.

We got back to the hotel and after an hour in the handy internet cafe next door, waited for the riders to either return or call.

Oh and it's amazing how difficult it is to use a non-qwerty keyboard!

The riders all returned safely an hour or so later. It transpired that the piste was was particularly difficult. Many stories of their experiences were told over dinner that night.

I hope I'm not stealing anyone's thunder but this is worth posting.


Ken was most annoyed that everyone stopped to take pictures in true UKGSer style before rushing to his aid! :D

It's evident that the pistes can change dramatically from one year to the next depending on the ravages of winter or the efforts made to repair/restore them.
Mutley will be comforted from the last picture:D
Day Eight.

The riders will be on a totally different route and I will have to take the long road via Ourzazarte and Agdz to Zagora.


Diane opted for another day in the Land Rover and once everyone's luggage was aboard, we set off.

The first stretch was familiar to us from the previous day, Tinehir to Boumalne and then south west on the N10 to Ourzazarte.

From Boumalne the road follows the Dades valley. The river flows all year so for as long as the road follows the river there are towns and villages making use of the constant irrigation. It's very green by Moroccan standards.

It's a reminder of how important water supplies are in this otherwise parched land.

Everywhere along the roads, in the early morning, you see donkeys laden with bundles of recently gathered crops but more often it's women who carry these large bundles!

Getting a photo wasn't easy. I didn't want to cause offence by pointing my camera at these ladies as they went about their everyday chores. I thought it prudent to snap a sneaky shot from behind.


It's always polite to consider the sensibilities of the local customs in my opinion. What we may consider quite normal can easily give offence.

The same applied at the local launderette. All along the river there were groups of women doing their washing. Many photo opportunities were missed because it wasn't possible to stop without being intrusive.

When at one point crossing the river, we saw a local car stopped on the bridge and the occupant taking photo's, we pulled-up past the bridge and were able to take our own shots.


Even so, one young boy saw us and made a song and dance about hiding his face. He appeared at the side of the Land Rover within a minute and was quite happy to receive a Dirham for his troubles. I don't think he was at all worried about the photo's being taken, rather he knew an opportunity for a little profit when he saw one!

We made pretty good time to Ourzazarte and knowing the location of a little supermarket, stopped off for some necessaries, crisps and bags of ice being the main items but we did indulge in an ice-lolly each! The temperature gauge was showing 42.2 degrees C!

The first stretch of the N9 south east to Zagora was quite spectacular. At first the scenery was just grey barren rock but then the road started to twist and turn as it rose. As it did so the view was still barren but the colours changed and the elevations were very rugged.



The different colours of the rocks can be quite stark. The greenish looking areas are really a grey-green when you get close. It's not vegetation, it's the colour of the stone and soil.





We arrived in Zagora mid-afternoon and apart from one minor diversion, found the hotel Fibule on the road towards Mohammed.

Rooms were obtained and the bags put into each rider's allotted room.

While booking-in, I was questioned whether "Ali Baba" was with the party! Who could that possibly be? :nenau :D

The view from the room.


The hotel is in a walled area the other side of which is a palm grove.


There are shaded lounging areas near the pool and the outside bar where cold ones can be consumed in the protection from the sun and the inevitable fall-out from the many birds that are attracted by the trees!


A couple of hours later we were joined by a bunch of hot, dusty riders. The bikes were parked within the compound,


Then thirsts were attended to in the bar.

Meanwhile, the arrival of the bikes had not gone unnoticed and the local mechanical wizard, Mohammed "Gordito" had turned-up on a shiny moped enquiring whether any bikes or the Land Rover needed his services.

He was pleased to be informed that the 1100GS would be delivered to him to repair the bash-plate mountings and to fabricate a new toe peg on the gear lever. He was also given two pairs of boots to have repaired.

With everyone levered away from the bar (eventually), washed and dried, we ate dinner in the hotel, served by two waiters who were the Moroccan equivalent of Little and Large; one squat and cheerful, the other long, thin and deadpan serious.

Day Nine.

A rest day (of sorts). After dropping off the 1100 with Mohammed "Gordito," Bill took the Land Rover and those who wished to go, to Mohammed. Steve D and Tony opted to ride there to play in the sand, while I stayed by the pool for an hour or two, then took Bill's bike for a ride.

Breakfast was served by the pool.


We had company.


The birds in turn had company, they were being stalked by a cat. Throwing crumbs near where the cat was stalking wasn't enough to persuade the birds to get too close however!

I strolled the mile or so into town in the mid-day heat to use the internet cafe and enjoyed the dry heat (it's humidity that does for me). There was a hot desiccating wind too! (Tony ;)).

Back at the hotel, I got kitted-up to take Bill's bike out for a spin. I had brought minimal kit, just gloves, BMW summer trousers and my lightweight Daytona boots. Bill had a spare, ancient Tour-X and one of those "Armadildo" mesh jacket things for me to use.

I had no intention of doing any serious piste riding, a) because I was alone and b) my gear wasn't really suitable (especially in the footwear department).

I don't have an Arai shaped head and within seconds I knew that the helmet would give me a headache. It was also very old and not a little whiffy! I decided that as it was Bill's helmet, Bill's deodorant spray would best be used to address this issue!

Thus fragrantly attired, I sallied forth astride the familiar (to me) feel of an R1150GSA. It was odd to glance down and see that the paint had blown off revealing the primer and it did seem to blunt the performance somewhat! ;)

I had managed to refuel and get some miles out of town when the rattling from the damaged bash-plate together with the increasing headache got the better of me. Backtracking, I sought Mohammed's workshop to see if he could do something about the bash-plate (unfortunately even he was unable to re-shape my head to fit the Arai!).

The 1100 was fixed. It's bash-plate re-attached and a new toe peg on the gear lever ingeniously fabricated.

He and his team of apparently 10 to 12 year old apprentices set to work on Bill's bike. The bash plate was off in seconds revealing that the right-hand rear bracket that the sump guard attaches to and is in turn attached by rubber bushed bolts to the engine, had sheared.

Well I thought, that's buggered!

Not so. Mohammed despatched one of the 12 year olds on a scooter for something then asked me where the battery was. We lifted the rear of the tank, disconnected the negative terminal and then one of the 10 year olds set about welding the snapped bracket back together in situ (I guess 10 year olds, being small, can lie under a bike with greater ease than adults!).

The 12 year old returned and showed me a handful of rubber bushed bolts. The only difference between these and the original BMW ones was that the bush was square instead of round. Still I suppose Bill will get them replaced for the correct round ones once he's back home? :augie

There was much grunting and rapid instruction giving by Mohammed as the whole thing was swiftly reassembled. On start-up the clatter had disappeared, now the only slight rattle was from the Vern's World-beaters where they had been beaten by hard chunks of Morocco that had obviously never heard of Vern!

Time was getting on so I decided to head out towards Mohammed (the town) and meet the returning Land Rover. This was duly accomplished and I rode back with them to the hotel to hear how their day had gone.

Here's some of their photo's. Some are self-explanatory, no doubt the others will flesh out the tale in due course.











Again we dined in the hotel and spent a second night in Zagora.

Next day we had to pay Mohammed for his services, then bikes and Land Rover were on the same route. Quite interesting that turned out to be too!


Just spent two sodding hours doing the next entry and somehow the whole thing has vaporised!

Day Ten.

First things first, we troop off en masse to settle-up with Mohammed "Gordito" for the bike repairs, a job on the Land Rover and two pairs of repaired boots.


Ken adopts a local stance while the receptionist checks that Bill has made an appointment. :rolleyes:


Ken, no mean tyre fitter himself (see below) contemplates a possible new future for himself and his fossil collection in Morocco.

After settling-up, we get fuel and then head to the sign to Tombouctou that gives the distance in days travelling for the obligatory photo opportunity.




The first section of the route we are taking today.


Bikes and support vehicle are on the same route.

On some maps this is shown as a road, on others it's piste. Bill had recce'd the route at both ends and it was then graded. Graded routes are effectively a raised and hard packed surface of sand, soil and small chippings or stones. Often these graded surfaces remain in that condition and are maintained as such. Other times the grading is a preparation for a tarmac top dressing.

I set off along the tarmac and very soon the riders caught and passed me. As they did so it went from sand blown tarmac to graded.

These surfaces soon take on a washboard surface. A few centimetres deep and across, the ruts are torture in a four wheeled vehicle. No speed variation seems to reduce the harmonic vibrations that threaten to shake the vehicle to bits.

If there's room and the 'road' is wide enough, taking an oblique angle across does reduce the vibes but then the swinging back and forth across the width has the Land Rover heeling on it's springs.

Two choices: rattled and shaken or sea sickness!

The bikes were long gone when I came upon a barrier of earth across the track. It was obviously designed to stop four wheeled vehicles, even four-wheel drive ones.

There was a slight dip in one place and the bikes had crossed it but the 'berm' was shaped like a Toblerone bar with steep sides and a sharp peak.

Any attempt to cross it would leave the Landy stuck on its belly with the wheels breaking contact. Even the old ruse of an angled approach to allow each wheel to articulate in turn wouldn't have worked. Looking ahead I could see that this was just the first of a whole series of similar berms.

There was nothing for it but to turn around, retrace my route until I could find a suitable place to get down off of the raised section and onto the original piste.

This would put me even further behind the riders.

Eventually a suitable place was found and I joined the original track, or tracks. There were many to choose from but all heading in generally the same direction. Some were plainly new and drivers had blazed a new route to avoid the worst ruts of the older ones.


The surface varied from loose sand (the Land Rover was happiest on this), to washboard and large stones. Some of the stones were viciously sharp. I didn't fancy changing a tyre on this surface so studiously avoided any pointy ones.

My first sight of the bikes was in a sandy dip where Wayne had suffered an 'off' and lunched his "Fray Bentos" panniers (again).


This time more than a little straightening was needed so they went into the back of the Land Rover.

The soft sand was good for me and I could make better progress than the riders but it even claimed Andy and Diane.


Not for long though, Andy and Diane :bow followed by Dean (who had a minor off shortly after this).


Ken shows that there is life in an old dog (the bike. Well both actually! ;))


Tony had less problems with the sand on his 600.


Steve M, sans screen on his 1200GSA (the brace bar was bent so the screen was removed and carried on the Land Rover).


Bringing up the rear, our Leader!


The riders stopped at a ruined village where Steve D took a "natural" observed unnaturally by Wayne!:eek


Of course, with such a bunch of poseurs, it turned into a photo shoot!



On the sand I was able to get alongside some of the riders on a parallel piste and get some movie footage that will later be incorporated into a DVD.

Dean was off on his own when he had another 'off.' This time he was stuck under the bike and waving his arms to attract attention. The Land Rover came into its own as I could make good progress over the sand to him faster than the bikes. He was pinned by an ankle. Lifting the bike, Dean was able to crawl free. Fortunately the combination of soft sand and decent boots meant nothing more than some bruising and discomfort.

Dean admitted that he'd lost concentration, he'd been looking at some melons that were growing wild in this arid and barren land.

A lesson for everyone, loose concentration and risk a tumble.

All too soon for me and not soon enough for the riders, the piste changed back to harder packed and stony surfaces.


Flying saucer or cloud?


The track surface slowed me considerably and I didn't see the riders again for quite some time, then there was a gaggle of parked bikes with the riders crowding around one of them. At a distance my heart was in my mouth. I was concerned that someone hadn't come off on this hard and unforgiving surface. In retrospect I realised that I needn't have feared for the worst because I'd have received a hurry-up had that been the case.


It turned out that Steve M's 1200GSA was misfiring. The problem turned out to be the side-stand switch (Andy's had already given-up and been by-passed some days earlier).

Some surgery was in progress as I arrived.


The surgeon's favoured instrument, the Multi-Tool was in evidence (I think everyone had one in their hand at one point!).


With the switch isolated, we all set off again. The bikes sped off into the distance.


Once again I was soon alone with just the scenery and my iPod for company.


I've reviewed the footage that I stopped and took from the roof of the Land Rover, it still doesn't convey the distances and sense of isolation out here. It was fantastic.

The piste became more and more rocky with some fairly deep wadi's to negotiate. A couple were steep enough to cause the tow hitch to ground out as the front started to drag itself out of the depression even though I was taking them at an angle at tick-over.

At last, after several hours, I re-joined the riders at the start of of the graded section at the end of the piste proper. Washboard or not, it was quite welcome!

At the end of the grade, it had a tarmac surface when it reached the R11 road. I turned left (south) and headed for Foum-Zguid where I knew the riders would be waiting.

With the Land Rover parked, we had a very late lunch of Berber omelette, frites, bread, cold cokes and water. There was even mayonnaise or ketchup for the frite! Very civilised!


It was getting late and we still had a fair distance to travel to our overnight stop (from the end of the purple marked track, up the R11 to Tazenakht, then the N10 to Taliouine.


The R11 is little more than a graded section with a thin ribbon of tarmac that's very frayed at the edges. Any oncoming traffic means you have to take to the graded verge. Sometimes it's quite a step down so prudence dictates a decent reduction in whatever speed is being maintained (not much in my case).


I was now heading due west and the low sun on a filthy windscreen was making things very difficult. After several attempts to clean the screen with a chamois pad that put more shit on the screen than it removed, I finally cleaned it enough to make progress with damp kitchen towel.

The low sun did mean that decent shadows were thrown onto the surrounding views.


I passed the bikes in Tazenakht as they were re-fuelling but it wasn't long before I was re-passed by them on the N10.

By the time I got to the squirrelly bit of the N10 outside Taliouine, it was pitch black and the temperature had dropped to about 30 degrees C. Low enough to feel distinctly chilly after the daytime temperatures we had been enjoying. I even put the windows up and closed the scuttle vents! :eek:

Bill met me outside the nights accommodation and I delivered the riders bags so that they could get showered before dinner.

It was chalet accommodation but it was clean and comfortable enough for a quick stop-over. The only drawback was no alcohol at dinner!

Oh well. Such things are sent to test us!

More coming soon.
Thats where i got stuck for the night [URL=""]HERE[/URL]
Ahh, happy memories :D
I read that the first time around and was awed, shocked and amused in equal measure. Now having driven the same route, I'm certain that I'd not now attempt the piste alone, even with a proper tent and summer length days! :eek:

I think I must have met your shepherd boy's sister. When I stopped and gave her a bottle of water she said, "Tic Tac's you cahnt!"

Take your bestest ear plugs in November if you are sharing a room with Bill!
Day Eleven.

Destination Tafraoute via the R106 through Irherm.

The morning dawned cloudy and cool.


The bikes and Landy all safe and well overnight.


Time to inspect Wayne's panniers. They can travel in the Land Rover until they are needed. The base is split from the side on one but they will bash out enough to refit for the journey home.


After breakfast, baggage re-loaded and fuel obtained just up the road, I set off ahead of the riders. Another day taking the same route so it's likely that the bikes will arrive before me.

The road is a great bike route.


Plenty of scenery.



Some interestingly loaded trucks.


Opportunities for interaction with the locals.






Strom owner gets his comeuppance!


We tried prickly pears from the cactus at the road side. We all know now why they are so named! :rolleyes:

I arrived at the hotel minutes after the riders despite arriving in the town ahead of them. Minor diversion by yours truly! :blast



Enough time left in the day to have a few cold ones by the pool.


And to watch the colour changes as the sun goes down.


An excellent dinner was followed by a screening of "The Worlds Fastest Indian" on the hotel TV courtesy of Bill's Archos thingy.
Top notch trip report so far, thanks Mike :clap

Excellent stuff.......I'm really jealous, wish I could have



PS Heard from the Scarborough contingent last night....they arrived in the pub at home two hours before I arrived back in Harwich having dropped off the bikes to the boys on the hill......all safe and well and should be popping up here soon to add their contributions :thumb2

PS another 5 stow-aways on the trailer but I'll save that story for a bit later ;)
Great write up........great ride/experience etc.......:)

PS Heard from the Scarborough contingent last night....they arrived in the pub at home two hours before I arrived back in Harwich having dropped off the bikes to the boys on the hill......all safe and well and should be popping up here soon to add their contributions :thumb2

I know the Scarborough contingent, only too well......used to work with 'em........A right pair of "know nowt, shirt lifters" if ever there was......:D

Nice one lads.............:thumb :)
Day Twelve.

Today is a rest day or a please yourself day. Steve D, Tony and Andy set off for the coast. Dean decided to do some fettling on his Africa Twin (still trying to track down a persistent rattle), Diane opted for the pool, Bill, Wayne, Ken and Steve M went for a local ride to look at some pistes.

Bill and co returned later in the day and reported a must-do piste through a veritable oasis.

Late afternoon, Bill, Diane and myself set out for the Blue Rocks, accompanied by Deane on his bike. On the way we'd see 'Napoleon's Hat' a rock formation that is said to resemble the little Corsican's preferred titfer.


Not all the rocks are blue.


Some are more blue than others.


Some are a bit weather worn now.

Apparently a Frenchman who fancied himself as an Avante Gard artist decided that it would be a whizzo idea to paint some rocks.

Unfortunately for him, he wasn't hailed as the next Matisse or Renoir mainly because his art was difficult to hang on your wall over the fireplace!

I expect that the colours were much more vibrant when first applied but they are getting more difficult to see at a distance.




Napoleon's hat (apparently :nenau).


We had another excellent meal in the hotel and made plans to ride the piste through the palms that Bill and the others had found before our next stage of the trip.

As Ken had ridden the piste today, I would get a chance to ride the 1100GS before reverting to the Land Rover duties.

One other thing. This evening another guided group turned-up at the hotel. They were French and all were riding Suzuki 250's (?) supplied by the tour company. They seemed very subdued by the sight of all the UK registered lardy dual-sport machines covered in mud and dust. Their morale took a steeper dive when they asked where our group had been and the answer was "everywhere you have been; and one has a pillion!" :D

Top Bottom