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Kitmax Travel Section, Morocco Pages

Travel guide - recommended travel companion, published 2009
Morocco Overland, by Chris Scott

Trailblazer Publications £15.99
www.trailblazer-guides.com, Tel +44 (0)1428-606399
See review below this page

Morocco Off-Piste,
Deserts, Dunes and Gorges

Ode to the Sahara
"In this ocean of space, unhurried by time,
witness rhythm and balance supreme.
In these boundless sands dwell the silence of ages
Whispering hint of a pilgrim's dreams…"
Kit C-M 2001

Kit at 'Erg Chebbi', Moroccan Sahara
Scroll down to the newsletter which appears below the map.

Deserts, Dunes and Gorges

A photo-safari to the Moroccan Atlas region was completed on November 25th 2001. This trip explored Berber trails, camel pistes and mule tracks between the Great Western Erg (Sand Sea) of Algeria and the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. The vehicle was a modified Land Rover Discovery desert camper which perfomed faultlessly.

A Land Rover Voyage To The Moroccan Sahara

By Kit Constable Maxwell

Monday November 5th
I left the Loire Valley, France, and reached the Spanish border that night. I camped at a pull-in on the auto-route. Drove all day Tuesday and most of the evening to Almeria, Spain and took the 9pm boat to Nador, Morocco. The boat was full of Moroccans and I was the only European on board. I slept all night at the café table in 'head-in-soup' mode. Breakfast 05.30am, disembarked at 07.30am. I drove south towards the Algerian border. After only 2½ days on the road I was driving through a boundless expanse of north Saharan desert.
I stopped for lunch in the desert - just bread and jam, but what bread, delicious Moroccan flat-bap bread, and what jam, home grown Moroccan date jam, and what a site - virgin desert, sun, sand and wonderful silence. The whole organisation for this trip and months of pre-planning now became worthwhile at this one time!
I arrived at Tendrara with a sandstorm blowing up and spectacular desert rainstorm starting. (This was the time that Algeria suffered a cataclysmic storm that killed 800 people). After two police checks (Name: 'Constable', nationality: 'Britsch',) and I arrived at the small provincial town of Bouarfa. Here I bought onions, potatoes, carrots and green peppers in the vegetable market and pulled off to the outskirts and made camp. I was attended by many wild dogs defending their territory, with vociferous challenges to visitors, including me!
Thursday November 8th Drove East towards border town of Figuig but turned off just before to Al Mengoub. This piste is shown as 'prohibited' on the Michelin map, but there were no signs locally so I continued. This piste was demanding, exciting, challenging and picturesque. It wound it's way across a broad plain bordered by two steep jebels (mountains) which dictated the general direction.

Nomad girl in her Berber tent, Moroccan Sahara

I gave a Berber nomad a lift for the first 10 miles to an encampment of low black Berber tents. The piste got worse after this with many flash floods destroying all evidence of previous use - demanding long detours to continue. I used my compass and GPS regularly to maintain heading and position. Flash floods cut deep ravines across the plain and at several I bottomed out on the towbar drop-plate that I had failed to modify before leaving.
I came to a small fort at Ain Tanzara, the only mapped feature on the route. There were amazing rock formations here and precipitously steep valley walls.

The trail was very remote now with no signs of life or vegetation for mile after lurching mile. I came to a very difficult wadi crossing which required a long detour to get to a point where the steep sides were negotiable by Land Rover. After a perilously steep descent I had to drive down the wadi a little way to find an exit. With lots of scrambling and wheel-spin I emerged on the other side where I was able to continue with my intended heading.
Eventually the valley opened out and some vegetation appeared. I came to a small flock of goats tended by a shepherd boy. A little further I came to a crude mud hut and a wonderful nomadic family who welcomed my intrusion with great interest - I believe they had seldom seen a car before, and not for a very long time on this abandoned route. The family consisted of a young father and five children plus his wife and mother-in-law. All were very friendly and pleased, albeit coyly, to be photographed.
Later I came to big sand dunes drifting across the piste and clearly there had been no one down this way for months. Eventually I arrived at Al Mangoub on the old border railway, long abandoned now and near derelict, with rails lying buckled in the heat. No cars here. I crossed over and arrived at the Boudnib road. The end of my track was closed off with a large concrete barrier and a sign - No Vehicle Permitted!
I drove around it with a slight smirk, and continued to Boudnib. This proved to be a shabby, crowded town and I continued a few miles before turning off into the desert. I drove East for a mile or two and came to a slight land depression which I recognised as a wadi flood lake, perfect for camping, level and out of sight. It was dry and very warm in the setting sun. I had a bath in the washing up bowl and changed for dinner. I cooked up a chicken-and-vegetable dinner served with local bread and fresh oranges. Coffee with the rising moon, the distant call of wild dogs, and such silence. Retired to bed.

...amazing rock formations and steep valley walls

Friday November 9th Left at mid-morning and drove back onto the Er-Rachidia road. In a few miles I turned up an unmarked track to Al Goreme. This was a steep ravine with date palms waving on the wadi far below, and precipitous rocks towering way up above. The route was stony and rough, very desolate in parts; it took 5 hours to reach the other end which came out near the Gorge Ziz and a good road south.
I stopped at a very nice campsite called 'La Source Bleue', which owed it's name to an underground river emerging from a cave in a remarkable blue colour -caused, no doubt, by some subterranean mineral, probably copper. Even the fish in the pool were blue! The water ran out into a wadi which supported a forest of date palms; I parked the Land Rover here, made friends with the locals and camped for the night.
I met another desert traveller here, Fritz, and photographed his detailed piste map on my digital camera, from where I would import it onto the laptop computer and plot my route.
"Digital camera? Laptop computer? And all this in Africa?" Said the bemused Fritz…
When I had finished a Frenchman came up and said:
"Oh I have a spare one of those piste maps" and gave it to me.
Ah well…how friendships flourish in such places!
I then drove on to Erfoud and bought a nice wooden Berber thing for £6, negotiated down from £22. I then missed the all important turn for Merzouga. Some eager local lad pointed me down a bustling street market to a wadi crossing that had collapsed in the last storm. I had a ghastly time extricating myself, with people and products in close contact with the Land Rover on all four sides. Crawling speed was much too fast, and one trader after another had to move piles of vegetables, spices, pots, pans and marketplace merchandise to let me through. A small boy worked wonders for me moving people aside. I was very relieved to get out of that intensely Arabic gathering where tourists and their cars were not welcome.
Extricated at last, I drove out on a good track towards the picturesque dunes of Erg Chebbi. I stopped at an old fort half way down and took photographs of dunes and camels. I arrived at Merzouga's southern gateway and set off for the more difficult section to Taous. I arrived at the expected chott (dried up flood plain) and then lost the piste almost immediately. I drove into ever more hostile territory with holes, steep banks, deep cuts and soft sand. After a long way searching for the piste on the left of my heading (it was on the right), I decided to backtrack to Merzouga and start again. All very exhausting.
On the way I encountered a shepherd boy with a punctured bicycle. I put him and his bike on board and he directed me, not to the Taous piste that I was looking for but to another piste leading (eventually) to his own house. His sister appeared and tea followed, which was very welcome by then and I had a nice time chatting. Off again, the boy directed me to a different piste leading off into the hills and assured me it would take me to Taous. Well, it did, eventually, but the Taous villagers expressed some surprise as no vehicles ever used this abandoned trail. The difficult bit was a large wadi crossing near the end, with flood silt and other obstructions revealing themselves in the now failing light. I stopped to savour a wonderful sunset over the wadi between the hills.
I drove through the village and camped in a small valley two miles beyond. Alas, not far enough, I was joined quickly by one, then two, then three eager hustlers all trying to sell me fossils, camel rides, guided tours etc. Moroccans can be very persistent. I resisted their advances and eventually I was left alone in the starlight for a quiet and welcome night. It had been a long and difficult drive and I was happy to draw the curtains and snuggle down into the sleeping bag on the converted bunk in the rear of the Land Rover.
Next morning I awoke early and… there was yet another boy, Mohamed, sitting patiently in the morning sun waiting to sell me something. My first reaction (after a few uncharitable thoughts) was to go back to sleep again! I got up, eventually, and spoke to him about the route to Zagora. He informed me that the dried river crossing, Wadi Ziz, was 5 miles wide (8km) at this point and it had flooded recently, and the piste had been washed away. And did I want a guide…?
I was a bit worried that up-country storms (of the sort that hit Algeria so badly 4 days before) might flood the wadis and make them impassable. This wouldn't have been the first time this had happened to me in southern Morocco.
We negotiated a deal and I became the owner of some of his best Neolithic arrowheads at the same time. I hired him for the duration of the trip, about four days, and would drop him off at Zagora from where he would have to make his own way home. The fee agreed was £60. I took him back to Taous where he checked out with his young wife and son, packed a blanket to sleep under, and off we went.
The piste meandered off through the sand and then disappeared altogether. We struggled on through soft sand, ruts, baked chott, (dried flood lakes) and hamada (rock strewn plains). I was very glad to have Mohamed travelling with me, I would not have wanted to do this section alone without a local guide.
At his suggestion we diverted several miles across a flat, featureless, floodwater plain, and just as we appeared to be heading nowhere we came suddenly to a shallow land depression below the mountain range with a Berber settlement just below. There were only two or three families living here, each in their low, black, camel-hair tents, a brace of ass, some scrawny chickens and the all- important well.
Here I was invited in to the main tent, a straw and reed-bound structure laid inside with carpets and rugs made by the family. I shed my shoes in respect for local custom and sat cross-legged on the rich Berber floor covering. The older woman was working a Neolithic grinding wheel and grinding oat seed. Drawing her veil respectfully across her face, she fed small handfuls of grain through the opening at the top. The grain would drop down between the two flattened stones and spill out as a coarse flour onto the prepared collection cloth, all ready for baking. Round and round went the grinding stone in a steady rhythm, with mother chatting away to the others in a scene little changed since biblical times.
The two teenage girls were busily engaged on the loom. They were working in unison, threading, tying, knotting, tamping and dressing the emerging carpet. A Berber carpet may have 100,000 knots in it and each knot is looped by zealous hands practicing time-proved skills. None of these carpets were for sale, they would provide for the family's needs…
In the next tent another girl, Mahomed's nomad cousin, prepared tea and dates. I moved across to this larger tent and sat beneath the thick black camel hair covering, admiring the ornate carved and decorated centre plate which supported the centre. Several children remained politely outside, staring in silent fascination at this new visitor in their midst. I was sorry to leave this little settlement with those wonderful people, where every day made new demands and everyone contributed to the common cause. There was a spirit of generosity and friendship here, so typical of desert people. I took many photographs before finally bidding goodbye and continuing our journey to Zagora. We returned across the plain and rejoined a progressively worsening piste.
Suddenly the Discovery was stuck, bellied down in a deep soft sand dune with all four wheels churning helplessly. I carried sand ladders and had but hoped not to use them; they are hard work in the midday heat. I was able to shunt and wriggle and got enough purchase to reverse back down the slope. I tried again at a slightly different angle, and faster. I shot over the top and found myself skidding crazily down the other side. Mohamed gripped the dashboard and turned white...
Hazardous but successful, and I was back en-route.
Mohamed asked for some music on the cassette player, expecting the latest European pop hit. I selected a passing favourite, Mozart's Requiem.
"Is it in the hit parade?" he enquired eagerly
"Its 200 years old" I said.
"200 years…?" his tone was disbelieving.
"And written for dead people…"
"Dead people................?" He looked aghast, and the look on his face spoke volumes…
After a few minutes he said… "Please turn it off", with much laughter.
We picked up a youth near Tafaroute who rode on top on the roof rack, and took him to his three-hut village. He cooked us a splendid omelette on a portable desert oven called a tazin. We continued late into the afternoon, sometimes on soft sand and sometimes on black hamada. It's a very long way, I thought, and I wouldn't want to come this way alone. We didn't meet a single car for over 100 miles. The piste was deeply covered with blown sand which had lain undisturbed for weeks.
We stopped at dusk at a lone desert hut behind a mud wall. A family was living within and immediately made us welcome. Tea was prepared and it was agreed Mohamed could sleep in the shelter. The family consisted of a crop-growing Berber husband, his wife and 6 children, aged 10 years old downwards.
As I write this log I have three small beady eyed children sitting in the back of the Land Rover with me - watching every move intently. They smile but they don't talk, they just observe. I ask them their names; Ales, Elysa and Liiya. I draw 3 wide-eyed portraits, one for each, and they all laugh…

Nomad girl weaving

Dinner was announced. Mohamed and I sat with the farmer and his eldest son (8 years old) and we shared a low table, 4 spoons and one bowl of couscous and vegetable. The remainder of the family shared the another bowl.
Next day we drove on through picturesque mountain valleys interspersed with sometimes challenging sections of sand and rocks. We stopped at a desert well where the water was clear and cool. Eventually we came to signs of habitation, a few nomads grazing camels, then date palms and further on, sparse crops of root vegetables encircled with mud walls to keep the camels out. At last we joined the main road and reach Zagora, called the 'gateway to the Desert', and a charming camp among the palms. I was the only guest there.
Mohamed left to arrange some way of returning to Taous, and came back half a day later to say he had organised a lift half way and would worry about the rest of the journey when he got there. We shook hands and he left - whereupon he promptly returned and gave me, quite unexpectedly, a Moroccan hug and kiss. Charming…
Zagora 13th November 2001 I had a good day in camp doing maintenance, refitting and repacking. I wrote postcards and basked in the hot sunshine. I was greeted by Hassan who signed me in according the efficient Moroccan procedure, and then offered me his services as a guide. After some detailed interrogation to establish his credentials, I hired him. In the afternoon we drove up to Sugar Loaf Mountain on the outskirts of Zagora, then out to some dunes and a Berber hospitality tent to watch the sunset.
Later I bought an antique stone grinding wheel for Argan oil and a Touareg drilling tool from Hassan's uncle at his wonderful shop on the wadi. I negotiated a tough deal for both and reduced the asking price by 500%! Argan was brought to Morocco by the African Drua tribe from further south, who began to travel up-country looking for work around 1750. They gave their name to Morocco's biggest river wadi which became known as the Drâa Valley. These agricultural workers were known as the Haratin. Argan replaced the indigenous olive as a source of oil, and the grinding wheel has a carved collecting tray with a pouring lip. The whole piece represents wonderful craftsmanship and the work of countless months of carving and chipping at a hard desert rock, using only another rock and a carving tool.
The drilling tool is a central stick with a cross piece, with a circular stone balance-weight to give it momentum and drive. The cross piece is moved up and down the central stick and the camel leather traces wrap and re-wrap around it to create rotation. Typically Toureg, it is inventive, effective and ingenious.
Next day Hassan appeared on time and we left for Tagounite. We drove off into the dunes and through a fertile palmerie. Then we bought food and fuel in town. We turned off into the desert just before M'hamid and arrived at a Berber hospitality tent and a great welcome from Hassan's friend, Saïd, who lived there. Saïd was very friendly and I was given free use of the Berber tent. We sat on a hand woven carpet and drank mint tea in tiny glasses, following long established desert traditions.
Then the camel boy, Salim, was summoned. Salim was one of 10 children born to a desert nomad family, and was now about 20 and charming. He spoke of his upbringing in the desert. "We wanted for nothing", he said, "and had many things to do and much fun to be had". For the older ones, now, he conceded that the town life held many attractions, not least, education. He had never been to school and couldn't read or write. However he had learned French from passing travellers and we could converse very adequately together.
Saïd dressed me up in his flowing Touareg robe and a white turban and I was ushered outside where the camel, a big bull called Moushi, was 'couched' and waiting. By now I looked like Lawrence of Arabia. I mounted the camel, which rose to his full and considerable height. From aloft I could see the sand sea stretching away east to Algeria. Salim took the camel rope and set off barefoot across the hot sand, leading Moushi and singing cameleers chants. Camels have an uneasy rolling gait and you sit far back, staring at that great shaggy head and the sand beyond. It was a rare and not unpleasant experience, but I was glad I wasn't embarking on the 52 days camel trek to Timbuktu, the traditional destiny for Berber and Touareg camel traders in this part.
The ride over, Hassan produced me a wonderful salad lunch of chopped onion, tomatoes, green peppers, chilli, all topped with Moroccan sardines and Berber flat bread, baked that morning in Tagounite. I sat back in my black camel-hair tent, looking out over the sands while basking in this rich desert experience. I reflected how different this was from my life in a western urbanised environment …Could I swap places with Salim? Probably not, but I was briefly tempted!
A short siesta later Hassan reappeared and we remounted the trusty Land Rover and set off across the sand, bidding farewell to the hospitable Saïd and his camelier Salim and the wondering Moushi. In the Land Rover we followed varied and sometimes tricky terrain. We drove between dunes, over dunes and across dunes in an assortment of routes and headings that would have lost a navigator in minutes. I had GPS which showed me the straight-line route to any given point, but surprisingly there are few straight lines in the desert. We crossed a large area strewn with big sharp basalt rocks the size of footballs.
The Land Rover was unstoppable and tackled this lunar terrain stoically. This was probably the first time in a million years that anyone had passed this way, on wheel, hoof or foot. It was too rocky for camels, too dry for goats, and it led nowhere. Why were we on it? Because Hassan was lost, though he didn't admit it… and we were cross-tracking to pick up the piste across the wadi.
We stopped at a well and met two Belgians, Axel and Anne, and their old sheepdog. They were experienced desert travellers and were travelling to Chinguetti, Mauritania, where I had travelled recently. We exchanged news and drove on.
We left the main, if intermittent, piste and struck off East across a dried flood lake. Suddenly we were among greenery with many grazing camels. We stopped to talk to a herder and his young children. We continued through this small lush area and out into a picture-book desert of sweeping dunes, mirages and silence. Across one dune and over another, we came to a small Nomad's tent in the middle of nowhere.
It was a friend of Hassan - Moroccans have friends everywhere - and we were invited in for tea. We sat cross legged in the sand and swapped the day's news. The friend helped us select a picturesque dune with a sweeping curve and a sharp crest. Here we camped for the night. A wonderful sunset threw lengthening shadows on the dunes and the outlook changed every time we looked up.

...abandoned desert fort

Hassan cooked a chicken in a small clay tazin, a desert oven we had brought with us. Charcoal was laid on the sand and lit with a little dried grass and a single match. The meal consisted of two chicken quarters set on a bed of carrots, onions, potatoes and green peppers; all were cooked at once with a little cooking oil, thinned with water and seasoned with salt, cumin and pepper. The sun had set now and the first stars appeared in the crimson afterglow as darkness fell.
All was still and quiet. We sat around the fire and ate with our fingers. The silence was amazing. Desert memories are made of this, I thought, and this is as good as it gets!
After dinner we chatted in French, and Hassan told me he lives in the Palmerie near Zagora.
"And I have two camels…"
"And where do they live"? I asked
"Oh, in my house…"
We drank sweet mint tea under a canopy of stars so bright you could almost read, so plentiful you got dizzy counting them and so varied you became star-struck, watching for the next shooting star, 'un étoile filante', to pierce the night sky. The sudden shaft of light would streak across the starry canopy and cast a luminance about it that lingered on for precious seconds before it died into the night. Hassan went off, with his blanket, to settle himself down for the night on a sand dune, while I repaired to the comforts of my desert-prepared Land Rover.
I awoke to the splendour of a desert dawn with a golden rim of light haloing the highest dunes. I got up in my pyjamas, and barefoot, to take photographs - it was very cold, but so beautiful. I made coffee and returned to my warm bunk.
After a breakfast of Berber bread and date jam we left for a long and splendid drive from the dunes back to the piste, which we followed briefly. Hassan then turned off and we went to a well, where we stopped to speak to a grand old nomad lady. I gave her a carrot and she was delighted, striding off into the desert with it clutched under her djellaba. A young mother turned up with two small children. She got a carrot too and the children got a bon-bon each. I was now running out of carrots and bon-bons!
Later we picked up two elderly nomads striding across a great plain with no obvious goal. One was the father of the young mother. We took them a few miles and they pointed to a small wadi where they had a friend who could sell them flour. Off they went without complaint for the demands of their desert life.

...surrounded by boundless space and limitless sand

A little further and we reached Lac Iriqui. There had been no rain in this part for some years and the lake floor was dry. It was about 60 miles across, flat, level and interspersed here and there with soft sand, dry rivulets and the occasional rock. On the best bits I could do 60 mph.
Across the lake we reached the main piste which was in good order and we cruised into the little market town of Foum Zguid at around 2pm. We bought supplies and drove on to a small oasis where Hassan made another of his great sardine salad lunches.
Several locals dropped by to say hello - no hassle here, no pushy street vendors offering their wares - and it was good to have an interpreter to help converse and respond to their genuine desert hospitality.
We drove on up a track, past a silver-mine in the foothills of the Anti Atlas then off into a wild mountain upland on an appalling trail. We followed a big wide valley with mountain and cliffs on both sides looking like a Tibetan grazing plain. There were some stunted trees here, but no grass, no animals and no people.
We had to cross a very steep wadi - Hassan looked nervous but the Land Rover didn't falter. We joined a better piste quite near to Agdz and passed some beautiful unspoilt kasbahs in the setting sun. We got to Agdz at dusk and drove on up the hazardous mountain road to Ouarzazate.
I dropped off Hassan, went to the campsite and cooked up a sumptuous meal. It was now late but very cosy in the Land Rover with curtains drawn, candles lit, dinner with dates and nuts for desert, and music by Berlioz.
I stayed at Ouarzazate for another day then left to drive up the spectacular Dadès Gorge. I made frequent stops to photograph the ever changing gorge scenery. Got to the top at last and eventually found the turn off for Al Hani. It wasn't marked, but there was a small arrow painted on a rock and someone had written next to it, in English, the word "Tough".
This looked promising, I thought. I was high up the Atlas Mountains and still climbing, and I didn't expect this mountain trail to be either graded or maintained. I scrambled up a spectacular valley on a very tough track with everything rattling and shaking; any lesser car would have failed in that first 5 miles.
It was getting late and the sun had gone down so I didn't take many photographs. I didn't want to camp in this high, remote mountain pass so I urged the Discovery on above the tree line, with snow lying in sheltered pockets, and pulled up in a small clearing at dusk an hour later.
It was very cold, very quiet and one of the loneliest places I have ever been - or camped in. I lined up North/South so as to catch the rising sun at dawn. After dinner I watched the shooting stars against the stark contours of the rock cliff and bluffs above. Bandit country, I thought, and locked the doors as a precaution. This was wolf country too, but there was little I could do about that…
The night was cold, still and silent. I awoke at 4am and made some coffee. Another sleep and I woke with a bright rim of dawn outlining the surrounding mountains. I packed up and got under way with the heater full-on and breakfast postponed until it got warmer. The track meandered on, up and through some of the most spectacular mountain scenery. I stopped many times to photograph the ever changing vista. Scattered snow lay everywhere, stunted shrubs cropped up here and there, otherwise it was just a desolate expanse of rocks, crags, cliffs and boulders.
I went through another gorge before climbing steeply to 8,680 feet. Here I had a splendid view of the snow capped Mt Tademant, 10,521ft, a little way above my elevated position in the High Atlas mountains. An eagle soared high into the clear blue sky, while two ravens foraged lower down the slope. I stopped regularly to photograph the changing vista.
At another steep sided gorge I heard the melodious sound of a shepherd girl calling her small flock. This was the first indication I had that I was not completely alone in this spectacular landscape. The flock was far above me on the top of a perpendicular rock face bordering the gorge. I watched sheep and shepherdess move along the crest, sometimes silhouetted against the sky and sometimes out of site over the other side. The peace, beauty and stillness of that charged landscape pulsated slowly under a warm sun and a cloudless sky.
I drove on… Around the next cliff a young nomad girl came scampering down the steep slope. Clearly I was now under surveillance, and little brown faces would soon appear, to smile and wave in the hopes of receiving a bonbon or stylo in return.

...steep gorges in the mountains

This girl, Alyssa, was about 6 with piercing brown eyes and a wide shy grin. I gestured with my camera and she responded with an engaging repertoire of smiles. I took several pictures, and rewarded her with a polo mint and a tangerine. She was delighted.
The track wound it's way down valleys, up over headlands, across steep wadis and through more spectacular gorges. At last it ascended steeply up the terraced side of a rough and precipitous canyon. I drove up at walking pace in low ratio, first gear, and even that was a bit fast for some of the rocks, crevasses and gashes that scarred this abandoned mountain trail.
On top at last and the landscape opened up - lying far below was the valley floor and in the distance, the hamlet Al Hani. Here I would join the graded road that goes right down through the Todra gorge and on to Tinherir and the Er Rachidia road.
I drove down with some regret for leaving one of the most spectacular, demanding roughest cross country drives I have done. Todra is a splendid gorge too and is not to be missed, but is well exploited and over populated. It lacks the excitement, challenge and satisfaction of that High Atlas crossing.
I then drove to Er Rachidia and that amazing oasis at Le Source Bleue. I bought an antique Touareg couscous bowl, inlaid with camel bone and silver symbols of moon, sun and stars.
I continued northwards for a few days and then completed a long tortuous drive through the Rif mountains, right down to the Mediterranean at El Jebha. I was offered hashish everywhere - this is a prime growing area - and made it the port at Ceuta for the evening ferry to Spain.
All vehicles where searched here for drugs with eager, tail-wagging sniffer dogs. I took the new hydrofoil and in 35 minutes I was in Algeciras, Spain. A long drive through Spain - I did over 600 miles next day - and I arrived back in France at the end of November, with the speedometer showing an exhilarating extra 3,460 miles!
This was a wonderful trip, full of fun, culture and interest. Morocco has a lot to offer, and I was able to experience and enjoy some of the best of it.

© Kit Constable Maxwell

'Morocco Off Road' - Itinerary, November 2001
This was the approximate route and timing
Day Trip
Nov 05
Ciran, Tourraine depart A10 via Bordeaux
Barcelona Autoroute
Almeira Mediterranean Ferry
Nador Clear customs
Oujda Rif Mountains
Tendrara Desert
Bouarfa Desert
Figuig Algierian Border
Boudnib Desert
Er-Rachidia Mountain
Erfoud Desert
Zagora, Tagounite Wadi Drâa
M'hamid Desert
Foum Zguid Anti Atlas
Ouarzazate High Atlas
Tinerhir Gorges and Ravines
Midlelt Mountain
Al Jebha Mediterranean Sea
Tetuan, Sebha Sea port, Exit visa
Algeciras Arr Spain, via Seacat
Malaga, Madrid 'A' roads
San Sebastian Autoroutes
Bordeaux Autoroute A10
Ciran, Nr Tours Home

Travel guide - recommended new travel companion, published 2009
Morocco Overland, by Chris Scott

Trailblazer Publications £15.99
tel +44 (0)1428-606399

Review by Kitmax

North Africa’s cultural gem, Morocco, is easily accessible and exciting to travel. The Moroccans are friendly and efficient, and there is a wealth of diverse terrain just waiting to be discovered. The country hosts dunes, mountains, rivers and gorges. Tracks and trails weave through the Atlas Mountains and down to the Atlantic on one side and into the Sahara on the other. North Africa is sparsely inhabited, in parts extremely remote, and demands respect and good planning. And this is provided by Chris Scott’s book “Morocco Overland”.

Scott has spent over 25 years exploring every corner of North Africa from Egypt, Libya, Algeria to Morocco and beyond. No one knows more about planning off-road routes, and this book is crammed with essential information for committed travellers. The great wilderness areas are described with detailed routes showing mileage, waypoints, route-maps and fuel calculations. All this information is backed with helpful hints about off-road driving, fuel consumption, safety considerations and vehicle preparation. I am looking forward to driving some of his exciting new routes in the months to come.

Other Pages:

Morocco - Castles and Kasbahs 2011
Chinguetti - Holy City in the Sand
Mauritania travel article,
-click here
Vehicle Preparation
Hints and tips for overland travellers -click here
Land Rover Owner Magazine
One Man (Kit) and His Rovers... -click here
Desert Trip to Libyan Fezzan
Proposed trip across the Awbari sand sea, Libya 2002
Photo Gallery - 'Desert and Travel'
Desert and travel photographs - click here