The Sahara and Us Morocco 2011

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Sahara at Last

Camel trek at sunrise when its cool

Next day we leave Fes with a long day ride to Merzouga which is in the Sahara desert. The scenery changes from Fes as you head south are very interesting. The first mountainous area is through Ifrane an area that is straight out of alpine Germany. Then things begin to hotter and dryer as you lose elevation and finally you pass through another set of mountains that have gorges that have a water source, either springs or a river, and the areas are a stark contrast, dry versus lush in 15 feet or less.

I begin capturing video footage as we ride these different areas and I am really glad because this will really extend our memories of this area. What continues to amaze us is that there are people everywhere even in some of the harshest and remote conditions

Finally after 450 kms we arrive at Erfoud the Tijuana of the Sahara where everyone warned us of the hustle to sell rooms trinkets etc. And they cover up the road signs so you have to pay someone to give you directions We can‘t thank our kids enough because we drove in and out of town without incident. Sandra actually swung several times at a guy who chased us for a bit on a moped trying to get us to stop. Yes Sandra!!

We continue south on the road and it turns to gravel and then completely disappears into the Sahara. Where’s the road. So using the GPS I roughly follow the markings on my electronic screen heading in the direction of Merzouga. After 25 kms of brutal rough conditions we begin to rethink our strategy but soldier on. We do see 3 other bikes off in the distance and eventually we meet up with them, and as it turns out one of the couples had dumped their bike a Honda Africa Twin in the sand which is wicked in spots as it drifts in. The other couple are riding older KLR600’s, air cooled bikes from the early 80’s loaded with gear.

As we talked with them and swapped taking photos against the backdrop of the Sahara we are invited to join them as they search out a particular Kasbah, the Mahoyut which we do find in the sand and stay at. A few minutes later 2 other couples arrive on bikes from Portugal and I visit with them quite a bit as well as Josef is a Chief of Arrest warrants with the Portuguese  National Police. We always seem to find common ground to talk about. 
Massimos, Sandra, Me, Mauro, "Betty", Elisa, in the Kasbah
Kasbah Mahoyut Garden

Pool at Night very warm

Pool during day
That evening we visited till after midnight and really enjoyed their company and today when we left to go our separate ways with was with the exchange of emails and addresses and photos. We will try and look them up when we get to Venice where they live. This morning they told us a story they are very passionate about, about the nw bridge built in Venice which is very controversial. We laughed hysterically at this continued saga and to hear it from them was even better. Since I had the only mapping GPS we discovered and I mapped a route to find the paved highway which got us out of the area better than the way we  both came in. They are very thankful for our mapping GPS as well now.
We had such a great visit, too bad it ended so soon. Maybe see you on Venice!

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