Thursday 17 May 2012

Return home, and a few toughts

Like every good thing, our journey had to come to an end, it's been a week now that we returned, and my feeling is that we did a lot, but we left still so much to do.

Us finally at home

I want to leave 2 pieces of advice/warning, first be very carefull on your driving, expect the unexpected, always go slow no matter what, specially in cities, villages, etc.

On the last day, already on the road to Tanger, when I was going to overtake an old truck, I noticed it started to veer to the left, and to my big surprise the complete front axle came loose !!! It happened really fast, in split seconds the trucks was on its side on the oposite side of the road. Unfortunately a couple ridding a small motorbike was coming on the oposite direction and was hit by the truck ! We stoped immediately to give help, the truck drivers was ok, just in shock, but the couple from the motorbike were bad, but luckily it wasn't fatal. It seems that helmet's are optional in Morocco.

Another advice is in relation to young kids in the villages, I was told by the locals that the kids miss school to go and beg on the streets, which is something that is been encouraged by travellers for many years.I know every situation is different, sometimes they are really in need, others they just want something no matter what it is. We prefer to give to schools and social institutions where there's a better change for our offers to be of real use to the ones that really need it.

Below is just one of those schools

final warning, there's a small village along route MS6, Tagounite -> Merzouga, called Tafraouite, where the kids don't just beg for pens or sweets, they demand it, and when we gave then nothing ( we where on the last day of desert pistes, even if we wanted, we had nothing left to give ) they started shouting and throwing stones at the land rover. Also there was lots of touts, when we stoped in lake Maider near this village we got so much hassle,it was unbelivable !

After said all of the above I really hope I didn't discourage anyone from visiting Morocco, its a wonderfull place to visit, with lots of beautifull landscapes, and extraordinary people.

For us is definitely a country to visit again.

Monday 14 May 2012

Sunday 13 May 2012

Portuguese Prison near Rissani

Near Rissani there's a old prison ( carcere ) made by the Portuguese, taking advantage of the shape of a rock formation, it was only necessary to build a wall to close the entrance.

Tagounite to Rissani via Merzouga, route MS6, part II

The route was done in 2 days, the second day started with a visit to the "lost city"

This was our last day on the pistes, and also the hottest, for the first time I saw the water temp needle rise above normal, and oil temp was around 90º, when usually is below 80ºC

The wind was from behind, so that didn't help either. During a stop for lunch I got this reading :

It's common image that the desert is a hot place, which is true of course, but on this journey the heat was not a problem, but the wind was something else. It never stoped, going from a breaze to a mini tornado capable of blowing a tent into the air.

this picture marks a moment of great hapiness for us, we had finished the pistes, the desert routes where done! I know its not much of an expedition compared to others, but for first timers, alone with a old Land Rover, it meant a lot.

Finally a deserved rest !!!

I found that after 2 weeks and 3000 kms on the land rover, the camels fell a lot more confortable, lol.

Having fun driving on the Erg Chebbi dunes

Monday 7 May 2012

Tagounite to Rissani, via Merzouga, route MS6

After a deserved rest on the TABARKAT Hotel, we were ready for more action. The route starts with some ascents and descents on rocky mountains, with the highest point at 951 mt.
Note: Military Checkpoint at the start and end of the route. ( don't forget the forms )

After the mountain pass, we arrived on the plateau

Erg-Chegaga to M'hamid, HotelTabarkat

The route from the Erg Chegaga to Mahmid is very nice, you can follow Olaf's map or Chris Scott's book, or there's an alternative track a little to the south with less stone. but the nice bit is the last kms all done in sand.
We want to leave a recommendation, we found this hotel ( ) by pure change and we are very happy that we did, all that you could ask, big clean rooms, nice food, really nice decoration,swimming pool and above all very frindly staff, that makes you feel right at home.

Tata to Tagounite - Route MS8

For me this was the start of the "big" pistes, something I've been dreaming for a long time . But before I still had time to visit Tissint and the waterfalls

After Tissint starts the piste :

on the book it says to go south around the army base, but has soon we where in their field of sight they waved us to pass trought a army checkpoint. There we got a nice surprise, the military where very friendly, making us feel welcomed. Have a form with all your details ready , they love it.
Some photos below:

Finding our way to Erg Chegaga

For that night the plan was to camp on the piste, but it was so windy that we asked the guy at the only auberg on the lake if we could camp there , for a small fee of course.

Next day, on the way to Erg Chegaga

On the Oasis Sácre there's a know landmark for Land Rover fans

the perfect end to a day on the piste, sunset on the dunes

Route MA3 - Tafraoute to Akka

Worried that my wife would have a second crysis, I cancelled this route, going to Tata by road, but still with very nice scenery.

one side note, forget camping with a ground tent in Tata's municipal camping, the ground is concret !!!

Blue stones of Tafraoute

Sorry for the lack of updates, the internet dongle is not what it promised to be. Like I said on the last post, my co-driver ( aka wife ) got sick and had to be taken to the hospital in Tafraoute. I've to say I was twice worried, first for my wife, and second by the bad things I had been told about the Morocco's hospitals.
The hospital indeed was simple, but very clean, with the same standard of work I'm used in other western european countries.Now the big surprise came from the medical staff, specially the Dr.Mohamed Azaou, is interest in helping us even though we didn't share a common language was beyond belief. I cannot thank enough what this man did for us.
The next day ,while I was filling up the land rover at a petrol station he came to me ,asking how my wife was, and even though it was is day off, he insisted in going with us back to the hospital to give her more medication and double check everything was ok before we went for the pistes.
if you need a Hotel in this area I can recommend this one : Hotel LE ROCHERS PEINTS

Below I leave a couple of pics of the blue rocks near Tafraoute