View Full Version : Moto-Morocco Novice Trip Nov'07 - Another Story

12-12-07, 22:24
I have now been back over two weeks and it is about time I posted my report from our Moto-Morocco November 2007 novice trip. It is raining, Christmas shopping nearly done, and I have finally finished colour adjusting, cropping and editing my photos (all 360 of them). It is amazing how many shots you can take on a digital camera that can leave you wondering “why?” later …. I have run out of excuses now.

Trip Preparations
Now this is how to travel. Send your luggage and equipment on ahead. Bill - many other names here, but Bill has the least letters to type wrong – arrived about a week before the trip to collect our bikes, so we stuffed helmets, boots, jackets, trousers, gloves, wet wipes, Diareze and other such like into the back of the Landy too. Handed over the keys and V5 documents and waved them goodbye……

November 15
Arrived at Marrakech with a coupe changes of clothing and other gubbins, but mostly travelling light; I actually had to pack more than I intended in order to protect camera charger and such like from Gatwick Baggage (mis)Handling.
Marrakech has to be one of the few airports I have visited in the world where the baggage is on the carousel before passengers hit baggage reclaim. Top marks there.
For those that have not met Bill, he is one of life’s larger-than-life characters and is easily spotted in arrivals; bags into back of the Landy and off we go to the throbbing metropolis, and our base for the next few days, Hotel Menara. The hotel’s most endearing feature is its very large protected car park, and the car park’s 24x7 protection.

Mike was still recovering from his insect accident earlier in the day, beer being the largest part of his recovery program. To protect ourselves against the affects of insect bites during our stay we joined in. That night we eat around the corner from the hotel. at a restaurant chosen as much for the way the Maitre’D stopped six lanes of traffic to snare us in than the menu itself. This was the first time I tried Pastilla, a filo pastry parcel of cous-cous and chicken, dusted in cinnamon and icing sugar. Sadly, it set a standard that was not to be matched for the remainder of the holiday.

November 16
ARASpitifre (Al) was already in Marrakech when we arrived, and one person had had to return home on the way, leaving Anders and Steptoe (Neil) to arrive today to complete the group. Whilst Bill went to meet them at the airport, Mike took us out to play on some nearby pistes. At last, a chance to lay some honest mud and sand down on to the London grime covering my bike. By the time we got back, Anders and Neil had arrived; Anders had been out with Bill to play. For this first night with us all together we strolled into the Djeema-El- F'na for an evening’s entertainment of snails, haggling and eating. By night the square is a bustling throng of music, story tellers and food stalls. We ventured into the first few metres of the souk, to the north of the square, with shops selling all form of tourist trappings, slippers, watches, bags, hooded cloaks and jewellery. Browsing is free, as so many hawkers and commission hungry touts insist, getting out may cost more though ….Food prices at the hundreds of food sellers are not negotiable, but which one to eat at certainly is. No shopkeepers could match the veracity of the food stall touts.

12-12-07, 22:27
November 17 Ouled Berhil via Tizi’n Test
Time to leave… bags packed and loaded into the Landy, then off we set for Ouled Berhil via the Tizi’n Test pass. With a mix of pistes and tarmac, and Berber omelette for lunch at the top of the pass, whilst we admired the view of our descent. Then on to the Pascha’s Palace in Ouled Berhil. What a hotel, suite sized rooms arranged around a carefully tended orangery. Ornamental ponds, a pool and peacocks.

November 18 To Tafraoute
A case of Gastric Fall Out meant I missed the most impressive looking pancakes for breakfast, and decided it would be best to spend the day on liquids only…

From here we went off to play in some fesh-fesh. For those that have not ridden on this, or seen LWD, this stuff looks like fine sand, feels and behaves like wet mud, very wet mud. You can feel it splashing over your boots as you plough through it. The technique seemed to be to get the weight back and steer the bike like you would a drunken bull.

At the end of this we paused in a village, to be surrounded by all the local kids. One girl kept staring at Jackie, not quite sure if she was female or not. The look on her face when Jackie took her helmet off was priceless. Anders tried them on some form of Extra Strong Mints as a surprise. They were kind to us and tried to look as though they were enjoying the sweets, but I am sure they were relieved when we finally left.
Back on the road, we chanced upon a flock/herd of 120 goats grazing in the trees, not something you see every day.

November 19 Tafraoute

Tafraoute is most famous for the actions of a French man, back in 1984. Clearly troubled by an excess of Dulux sky blue he disposed of it by painting a few local boulders. Art. It almost felt like sacrilege to use the surrounding rocks as a playground, almost. At this point I tried venturing higher into the rocks, please with my new found rock riding god-like status I got a bit over ambitious and found out what happens when your ABS decides to let the brakes go...

An advertising agency was shooting for the next Rohan catalogue, and recognised the sheer beauty of yellow 1200GSs and asked for several drive by shots, vagaries of advertising not-withstanding they may be in next years summer catalogue.

From the rocks we went off to find the palmery piste for lunch. There is a video of this piste on the Moto-Morocco site. Neither video nor photos can do this piece justice. Somewhere, about halfway, we stopped for Berber omelette (a common lunch)..From here the piste lead on through an ancient looking mud village perched on a hillside, complete with satellite dishes.

12-12-07, 22:32
Excellent so far, only about 353 pics to go!:thumb

12-12-07, 22:33
November 19

12-12-07, 22:35
November 20 Tafraoute to Tazenakht
One final play around the blue rocks, then a mixed day of tracks and road to get us to Tazenakht. Plan A was to hit Talioune, but if Neil could find rooms in Tazenakht plan B was to push on to there to avoid a very early start the following day.
Plan B it was.
The last day had left us all a bit short of fuel, and to avoid delays we had left Tafraoute with out topping up; we entered Irherm with most of us showing less than 60km/40m to empty.
The petrol station in the centre had fuel, but the pump was not working, it was in fact laid out on the forecourt, so we would have to press on, hopefully to Talioune, but lunch was calling too…As we turned to leave the town we spotted a likely looking restaurant, which, as chance would have it, had 6 tagines ready to eat.
Guess they saw us on the way past to the petrol station. The tagines were excellent, I had the fortunate position of not being able to see how they were prepared, Mike was not so lucky, as a fine connoisseur of Tagines he was not so impressed. Bellies filled we head off towards Talioune ( next petrol). Once re-filled and hotel in Tazenakht confirmed we legged it there like a fine bunch of hooligans, staying well within all limits, of course.
This was a very basic hotel and the first time the night-time cold was apparent. All available covers were thrown onto the bed. Bikes were locked up in the hotel garage, whilst all the drinks normally stored there were left outside.

12-12-07, 22:37
November 21 Tazenakht to Zaghora
We were warned this could be a long day… About 40 miles of road towards Foum Zquid, then mixed pistes for the remaining 90 miles to Zaghora, mostly crusted sand with spells of soft sand, interspersed with hermada (ridged piste, great for juggling your eyeballs). At El Mahmid, just before the rough stuff, we stopped to stock up on tinned sardines, eggs, bread, squeezy cheese and soft drinks. Here we encountered a very bizarre pricing system. All items were priced in Moroccan Dirham, but when it came to adding it up everything was multiplied by a factor of around 20, to give us a price of DH1030 ( about £65, or 100 EUR).
Yo ho ho, we thought and prepared to bail. It did not feel like we were being ripped and the shopkeeper carefully demonstrated how the sums had worked…Somewhere around 14 eggs at 1.5Dh coming to 420DH I clocked the aforesaid multiplication factor. Armed with this we got the bill agreed at DH249 (now showing as DH2030 on the calculator!); better, but still expensive at £15, about equivalent to an Asda price for all we had. The day was not getting any shorter and our options were limited so we paid. Out of the 250DH proffered the shopkeeper took a DH200 note, gave back a DH100 note and said the 3 was not important (not enough small change). WTF !!! Like some parts of France it seems there is a tendency to add up in Ancient Dirham, which certainly explains why it looked so complicated some times when bills were being added up.
So lunch in the Landy and off we set, with Neil bringing up the rear.
God it was hot. Shirt soaked in about 10 minutes…
We stopped for a picnic lunch in the middle of nowhere, and like the shopkeeper in Mr Benn as if out of nowhere a man on a moped appeared.
Like just about everywhere we stopped, his first question was whether we were alright or needed help. We confused the hell out of him by offering him an egg and a finger of KitKat.
Lunch dispensed with we spent the rest of the day getting various bikes stuck in the soft sand as we encountered it. At the end of 8 hours in the saddle the end of the piste has never been so welcome, thoughts turned to the film Ice Cold in Alex, hopefully the hotel in Zaghora would have cold beer .. It did.

12-12-07, 22:39
Mike gets all Operatic on us - Heatstroke ?

12-12-07, 22:41
Sand which lunch..

12-12-07, 22:42
The end. at last.

12-12-07, 22:44
November 22 Day off in Zaghora Option to play in the sand…Who could resist? Bill offered to take anyone interested down to the edge of the Sahara to ply in some dunes. Jackie, Mike and Neil did, Anders Al and myself just had to give it a go….

On the way back we went for an explore, taking a track through a village, both 1150GS sank almost immediately up to their axles in the main “square”. Local kids came running to help extricate them , then demand money, sweets or cigarettes for helping…After a tour of the back streets we found a way out of the village and headed back to Zaghora through a Palmery. Once back in Zaghora, we headed off to meet the famous Mohammed Gordita for a few running repairs. In next to no time, my centre stand stop was straightened, Al’s bash plate reattached, Jackie’s mirror welded to its mounting post and a side stand extension fabricated for Bill. Stickers were applied to all bikes to authenticate the experience.

12-12-07, 22:47
November 23 Zaghora to TinehirThis is the day we had been dreading, the Tinehir loop – well, half of it anyway. From Zaghora north to Nekob by road, then gnarly mountain track to Tinehir.
Somewhere not far out of Nekob “road” works had started, which seemed to involve randomly emptying barrow loads of large stones into some of the ruts. Jackie took a bad fall here and lost half of her F650 beak to a stone wall. Possibly the only stone wall for the entire 60 mile length. Sadly the fall, the gnarliness of the track and the sheer drop offs wore Jackie down into submission.. Between Bill, Mike and myself we ferried Jackie and the F650 up to the top. Bill descending frequently with either me or Mike on the back, once we managed to blag a lift from a passing tourist Nissan 4x4. Once the mountain was crested and the going eased, Jackie took over and rode down. The views from this track are truly stunning. The restaurant at the top was sadly closed, so no lunch available, the “Berber” shop, however, was open for lukewarm Coke and signing their guest book. They recognised the fear in our eyes and handled us all gently, in fact gifting a bracelet to Jackie, truly gifting, no money asked for or expected. The sheer terror of riding the track is why not many photos were taken. This was not just outside my window of comfort; we were now in an entirely different building! The sense of achievement, however, on the descent made it all worthwhile. It was also rather deflating to see the odd Mobylette laden with lord knows what on the same trail looking as though this was just a normal daily commute.
The final 30 miles into Tinehir was completed on tarmac, with night falling fast. I did not notice my jacket zip had started to open from the bottom up – I was truly frozen to the core by the time we arrived at the hotel – thank god they had gas heater in the dining room.

12-12-07, 22:48
The Day Goes on

12-12-07, 22:51
November 24 Tinehir
Rain, lots of it. Being hardy no-nonsense Brit (and Canadian) bikers we set off to explore the Dades gorge and surrounding countryside – by Land Rover. Neil and Mike spent the day mostly in bed, it seems. Lunch at the restaurant at the top of the gorge is obligatory, overlooking the twisties and switchback turns of the road up. Much fun was had trying to find mud slopes that the Land Rover could not cope with. None existed.
Heavy flooding was causing mayhem on the main road; it was deeper than the road side markers so traffic was guessing where the edge of the road was.

12-12-07, 22:53
November 25 Tinehir to Ouazazarte
Road ride to Ouazazarte, then on to Ait Benhaddou for lunch. Unfortunately somewhere along the way I had picked up a six inch nail, or length of heavy gauge wire. Time to play with the Innovations tyre plugging kit. Unfortunately, with all the equipment to hand we could not much pressure into the tyre, so Mike, Jackie and me headed off back down to the main road in search of an air line, whilst Anders and Al went off with Bill to explore the Telhouet loop. No air til Ouazazarte, so we headed on to the hotel. The evening’s entertainment was stripping Jackie’s heated grip down to repair a break in the element sustained on the route from Tinehir.

12-12-07, 22:57
November 26 Ait Benhaddou
Just outside Ouazazarte there are a few studios with mock ups for various biblical, historical or otherwise mythical settings. Our visit was not welcomed, but our path led us past old and new sets, from here we had a couple of fordings to get to Ait Benhaddou, then the Telhouet loop… Stunning, and gnarly, and busy. A caravan of tourist tour 4x4 was also passing along the loop, but in the opposite direction, with little or no skills in off-road driving, often forcing the bikes onto the edge of the path nearest the drop off, and once making a total pig’s ear of reversing 3 metres. Anders was forced right off the track, then fell, whilst the offending Nissan drove off. Once they had gone we could enjoy the trail and the sights of the valley below. This was a long day, back to Ouazazarte in the dark.

12-12-07, 23:00
More from the Telhouet Loop

12-12-07, 23:02
November 27 Ouazazarte to Marrakech
Road day, up and over the Col de Tishka, then a descent into Marrakech for the final night in Morocco, and the famous belly dancers. This completed the full set of weather conditions; we did not experience any snow ourselves, but signs of recent falls were apparent everywhere. Time also for some last minute road-side shopping. On the final run into Marrakesh I was definitely feeling like some quantum shift in my riding had happened over the previous 10 days. You never really feel that you have travelled until you return to the start; all the way back to the Hotel Menara. The belly dancers were almost surreal for the way they suddenly started, then finished. In the middle of the meal …

Special thanks must be extended to Neil for lugging our baggage around Morocco and d the long days in his own in the Land Rover. We all sped off on the next day and we did not have time to say a big thank you.
Thanks also to Mike, always there to catch the stragglers and provide welcome words of encouragement. Last but not least thanks to Bill for putting the trip together and taking our comfort zones to new limits, and tirelessly picking up and delivering our bikes.

Would I do it again? Soon as the bank account recovers. Would I recommend it to anyone else? Only if it did not endanger my chance of getting on the trip!

Morocco struck me as having many parallels with the Spain I used bum around in 20 odd years ago. There are signs of change, Europeanised cities, many new roads being built and a strengthening economy. If you are thinking of going, go now, before it succumbs to the form of Europeanisation that has standardised most of Europe.

12-12-07, 23:17
Awesome dude!... (That's Canadian eh?)

I guess I'll have to get something together soon... I keep getting intimidated by what's come before though...


13-12-07, 00:27
Nice one Martin. I enjoyed that. :thumb2

Awesome dude!... (That's Canadian eh?)

I guess I'll have to get something together soon...

Al...Yeah, get on with it Al. We need to know more about Ander's nocturnal activities and you are the only one with the first-hand evidence. :D

13-12-07, 09:19
yea but... unlike you and steptoe... We weren't making bedroom multi-media presentations!... :D


13-12-07, 09:58
Nice one! Enjoyed that, thanks. :thumb

13-12-07, 10:50
Sand which lunch..

I see you took the southerly track:blast:D

Looks like you all had a great time:clap

13-12-07, 13:27
I see you took the southerly track...

There was another one ??

13-12-07, 13:35
There was another one ??

Yup.....Neil took the left fork of two or three options...the more Northerly route along the Zagora end of the valley tends to be more stony and the Southern (that we did) more sandy.

Great report BTW- I haven't heard anything from the Rohan guy yet but ya never know...it'd be fun to see you in their ad!


13-12-07, 13:41
Yup.....Neil took the left fork of two or three options...the more Northerly route along the Zagora end of the valley tends to be more stony and the Southern (that we did) more sandy.

Great report BTW- I haven't heard anything from the Rohan guy yet but ya never know...it'd be fun to see you in their ad!


Well, I enjoyed our way all the same...I hope we did not put you off running another Novice trip.

I did check the Rohan site (natch), but they are still in Winter mode.

13-12-07, 13:53
I too am really glad we took the Southerly route there....

I felt my riding advanced to a whole new level on it...

(how to ride with hard knotted shoulders while padding along with feet out and telling yourself to 'loosen up... loosen up...' )

3 hours of adrenaline terror... some people pay a lot of money for that... :cool:

Actually for myself... I was glad of every advance we made in the difficulty of our rides... from my point of view, it was almost as if the trip was tailor made for me...


13-12-07, 14:15
Many thanks for the write up, a really good read - sounds like you had a fantastic time and were well looked after in true Moto-Morocco style :thumb

16-04-12, 20:01
Hi Folks

Read your diary with interest, and what stunning pictures you managed to grab along the way...!

Regarding your Green Card insurance for your trip, did you manage to get it at home (UK), or did you buy it at the border?

I'd be interested to know, as I'm having a real game trying to get some sorted before I head of next month.


16-04-12, 21:29
I sorted it through BMW Insurance. Phoning them was useless, I even had one person sayin that of course it was covered 'cos it is Europe - until I pointed out that it was in northern Africa.

Eventually I wrote to them becuase there were varying reports of success, and got a reply to sya they would do it. Pen mightier than the (mouse) cord, perhaps?

You can get cover at the border. It will not be green card extension of your own policy. I'm sure I've seen a sticky on here about insurance, it has always been a hot topic for Morocco. The behaviour of BMW Insurance ( then run by Devitts) from nearly 5 years ago may not be so relevant today....

If you manage to arrange cover from the UK for a trip do post it up on the site for others going that way.

16-04-12, 21:43

Many thanks for the prompt advice. I'll keep trying, and feed back my findings

It wasn't this difficult 10 years ago when I last visited Morocco....!

It seems loads of people are going, but few agents are offering cover. What's going on?

If anyone can advise on "approx" opening times of border agents, and experiences I'd be grateful.

Thanks again

23-11-12, 13:21
More from the Telhouet Loop

pretty amazing pics man :) when i was in morroco or i saw were medinas and agressive beggers (some call the "guides") but if i had a bike that would have made leaving them behind easier. Next time i go your way instead :)