Having started our motorbike touring activity in April, we were quite busy planning and scouting the routes and handling the many rental clients. Then mid-April we have received a mail from a Canadian couple asking for a custom motorcycle tour in Morocco. They had limited time but wanted to see the desert and explore the Atlas. We pride ourselves to be real quick in providing a reply to any request and we didn’t disappoint. Viki immediately combined a proposal including various stopover and accommodation options so they can select and adapt the tour according to their budget. Being a bit worried about the road conditions, the luggage requirements and security, we duly addressed their concerns, so they finally made their choice and our first custom motorbike tour was set.
I met our Canadian guests – Roxanne and Rod – at their riyadh in the medina of Fès at 5 pm for the introduction and welcome briefing and we spent more than an hour going through the details of the trip, the itinerary, accommodations and the compulsory safety and group riding rules. Due to the limited time they had and the distance to be covered we agreed to leave at 8 am the following morning.
I woke up early and headed to the parking straight after breakfast to move the bikes in front of the riyadh where you can’t park overnight due to the narrow streets. Our clients were ready as discussed and we set off as planned. Getting out of Fès was rather easy and soon we were heading towards the climbs of the atlas where the heat of the city turned into a chilly weather. The day before it was above 30 degrees and as the road twisted and climbed we had to stop to button up as temperature was around 15…
Our first stop was Ifrane – a mini Switzerland in Morocco – where we had a short coffee and tea break and took the time to take a couple of pictures by the fountain surrounded by tourists which was a pure contrast to the empty roads we rode until then and made even more bizarre by the classical music background provided by the fountain at the square.
After a short pause we were back on the bikes heading to the cedar forests near Azrou for some time with the barbary apes living in the area and some light off-road riding.
We then continued to climb the Atlas to the high plateau through twists and turns and the weather soon returned to ‘normal’. We stopped from time to time – not only to drink but also to take in the views and use every opportunity to take pictures. One of those stops was just after the French Foreigh Legion tunnel of Foum Zabel. We got off the bikes to take pictures of the water running below the road when a young man approached us trying to sell hand crafted camels made out of palm leaves. We started a discussion with him and it turned out he comes down to the road from the mountains and tries to make some living from these sales but he also needs to go to the river to get water as there is none up where he lives with his family. He actually lives 7km from the water and when we asked him how much time it takes he proudly said “only an hour” and showed us the soles of his sandals where he had sewn used car tyres for better grip. He told us when they come with his brothers and mother, the journey is twice as long. That makes four hours to get water and they carry two barrels of 5 litres each. We wanted to give him some money but he was offended and told us he does not need charity so Rod ended up buying a camel which he proudly attached under the top case of the bike.
By the time we descended to Errachidia, it was 35 degrees. Just before Merzouga and the sand dunes we stopped for the usual tourist picture of the camel crossing sign and our clients were happy to get off the bike after a long day of riding filled with great memories. We had a tea and paused a bit at the hotel where we left our luggage and the bikes before our guide drove us in the sunset to the camp in the dunes for a quiet night and an excellent dinner.
You can read the remainder of the tour in another post…