Moroccan Dream Ride

We’re just back from Morocco and even though we mainly stayed between Marrakech, Ouarzazate and Agdz we were again baffled by the country, the roads and the people.

We stayed for 3 weeks and could ride about 1000km, but since we came across the same roads as before, we started to think about something different. Where would we like to go if we could ride on? …

And so we got inspired to turn this into our Moroccan Dream Ride trip, which at the end proved to be a resumé of all the trips we ever did in Morocco.

In the past 10 years we have been in Fes, Merzouga, Agadir and all the places in between; the idea for this Dream Ride was to go back to all these places, but take the time to fully enjoy the ride.

Our ‘little’ trip was a lengthy 4500km; we guessed it would be possible to do this in 14 days time, but something in our head said we that we should at least reserve a month allowing ourselves getting lost in the scenery from time to time. We have not done all the roads of this trip, so we also could not guarantee the quality of the roads and pistes, but hell, what would a trip be without a bit of unexpected adventure….

We chose Melila as departure point because it was easily reachable with the ferry (from Almeria) and we would cross a much more quieter area. We recently had some less happy moments when we crossed from Algeciras to Tanger Med, so we suggest you to choose for a smaller border crossing and the one after Melila is much more a travellers ‘gate’, so there are no complications with customs to be expected here.

We started our dream Ride via the coast to the west and from Ajadir on we plunged to the south via the N8. The first part of this trip gave us nothing but green hills and we had our the first stop in Fes. We had not done this road before, so we just added it to the route as it looked twisty on the map. We had visited in Fes and read all about the tanneries, but as usual we didn’t have the time to visit them. Now we did! From Fes we went to Sefrou. If would happen to be around in June, enjoy the cherry festival. The R503 lead us to Boulemane from there. You can also choose a slightly more west route to Bouleman from Fes, Via Ifrane. If you do, you might suddenly think you’re in Switzerland as Ifrane is all about Swiss chalets and skiing. The modern city was founded by the French as a mountain resort and builr following the - at that time - ‘ideal’ city guidelines. But we did not want to ski, we wanted to ride!

Upon negotiating the Atlas the R503 joined the N13 and we started to feel the desert. We passed Midelt and Errachidia, with the Atlas on the right, the dry land on the left. Our goal was Merzouga and the famous Dunes. There’s plenty of hotels just at the Dunes, in all price ranges, and even sleeping in a bivouac is also possible. Wake up early and discover the dunes, but be aware that sand is unpredictable and the locals can probably best show you around.

After waking up in the desert we headed heading back North West towards Tinghir. An important thing to know here is that if you’re a well-experienced off road rider you could follow our route. For everyone else follow the N10 west to the Dades Valley; for the others head north to Agoudal and then take the R704 to arrive in the Dades Valley from the North. We once did this piste in a 4x4 after winter and we were glad not to be on a motorcycle. So be aware that bad weather can change the piste from ‘rideable’ to pretty rough!

The Dades Valley road, probably as famous as the Tichka pass makes great pictures, but was in our view not the greatest road we know in Morocco. That’s the R307 a little further on our Dream Ride. Mind you, on a regular road bike this road is not the easiest. Adventure bikes are the better choice and you’ll understand why. The R307 starts a little before Ouarzazate before one of the biggest solar farms in Morocco along the N10. The beginning of the road seemed straight and boring but after a few km this changed. Winding through the hills the first valley you will find it is dark, black even in certain areas, with the high atlas in the back. And from there on it got better and better. The road however deteriorates and again, after winter it may be pretty tough! Sleep in Toufrine, a crossroad in the middle of the Atlas where people used to gather to the market to sell and to buy; afterwards they would disappear again to their houses in the desolate mountains.

After this adventure through the Atlas we went west just before Demnat via the P3108 via Ait Adel, Ait Abdi, Abbadou and onto the N9 from Marrakech to the Tichka pass. The road has been under construction for a lot of years now, so most pictures showing the marvellous road just before the Tishka don’t really reflect the condition of the road… pity. Still a classic road that should be on your ride through Morocco. We went over the Tishka, but instead of taking the main road we turned left onto the P1506 towards Telouet. The first part of the road was under construction (2018) but seen the progress it will be finished soon. Past Telouet the road is fabulous in eastern direction, the asphalt, the view, wow. Once it turns south the quality of the surface was less, but the view sublime. You’ll arrive in Ait Ben Haddou via the north, and even though this is a bit of a tourist trap, stop for a visit. It’s worth it…

Our Moroccan dream ride made a loop now from Ouarzazate to Agdz and the dunes of Zagora (Mhamid actually) but if you did Merzouga you may not want to do this extra loop. If you have the time however, just go.

From Ouarzazate to Tzenakht we would advise the Piste of Flint, but when you’re on a road bike follow the N10. Stop in Tazenakht and buy a carpet in one of the cooperatives instead of the shops on the main square. Buy an original and not a Chinese made and Moroccan ‘dusted’ carpet.

When leaving ‘carpet land’ our trip took us towards the Atlantic ocean. Most of the roads were unknown to us, but what could go wrong? Corners, pistes, colours and at the end of that all the waves and the beaches south of Agadir. Go to Legzira, the famous arches are pretty impressive. Also follow the coast past Agadir and with a bit of luck and a down period in tourist season you can take advantage of the empty beaches… Relax for a moment before the long ride back up north.

If you’re tired take the motorway to Marrakech, if recharged on the beach go via Taroudant. You’ll enjoy much more before the stop-over in Marrakech. We like the city, but we can imagine that after the many miles in the quiet south you will either love or hate it.

From Marrakech you can get to Tanger in one day; if you want to cut it short over the motorway - but if you’re not tired of it all - we can’t see why you would - keep following the inner roads and stop in Meknes, one of the 4 imperial cities in Morocco. Mekness was once the Moroccan Capital, and now is a great blend between European and Islamic styles. Also the big walls around the city are rather impressive…

Our last stop is Chefchaouen. The divine blue city in the hills. Tourist Guides will say it’s famous and rather touristic because of the colour and being close to Tanger and Ceuta, but a little sniff of the local air may give you a more accurate idea why there are plenty of Europeans around…

After a last deep breath of Morocco in this spiritual city it was time to say goodbye. We cruised north, and stopped in Tetouan. The end was near. We crossed the border in Ceuta and from there hopped on the ferry back to Spain, where - if you look around well - you will remember the great country you just have crossed.

If you ride a bike and think crossing the whole continent of Africa is just a little bit to much for you, go visit Morocco: it’s fabulous, it’s quiet, it’s different, but accessible. On any kind of bike! If you don’t choose an adventure bike be sure to check the routes before you set out!

Enjoy our Moroccan Dream Ride! See the trip in details and download the GPX files.

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Check out our Morocco dream ride movie:

 

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