Monday, December 18, 2006
Motorcycle touring in Morocco
Our previous post about the Paris Dakar rally reminded us that we should mention how popular motorcycle touring in Morocco has become. With the advent of GPS navigation a lot more interesting routes around the country are getting some attention. In general the GPS info is accurate, although some bikers have mentioned that the odd Berber village appeared in the wrong place.
If the idea of touring in Morocco appeals to you, then check out some of the dedicated websites where the GS experts have gathered a lot of essential information. If you are not a biker, GS stands for Gelände-Strasse (German: Off-Road / On-Road; motorcycles).
So why Morocco?
Here is what the British website Morocco GS Knowledgebase has to say:
Morocco is the most exciting GS riding venue that's within relatively easy access of the UK. The roads are generally good quality and great fun, there's not much traffic, and the scenary is awe-inspiring. Accommodation and food are good value, a twin room is typically £10 to £30 per night. There is a wealth of well-documented tracks (pistes), the weather is fairly predicatable and it's a brilliant combination of safe, exciting and inexpensive.
Your options in getting to Algeciras are to either ride through France and Spain (1,400 miles from Calais, 1,250 from Caen), or to take one of the overnight ferries to northern Spain which means you then have 700 miles to ride to Algeciras. Brittany Ferries does an overnight from Plymouth to Santander which takes 18 hours. P&O Ferries has a 34-hour service (two nights on board) from Portsmouth to Bilbao. P&O is normally cheaper, but Brittany Ferries uses a higher quality 'mini cruise' ship and is quicker. A second player on the Portsmouth to Bilbao route is http://www.acciona.ferries.org/
WHERE TO GO, WHAT TO DO
Morocco has four main mountain ranges; from north to south these are the Rif Mountains, then the Middle Atlas, the High Atlas and the Anti-Atlas in the furthest south. The best bike roads in the mountains are probably the Middle and Anti Atlas; the High Atlas is something to ride over, rather than through, and the roads in the Rif are often less well surfaced.
To the east of the Middle Atlas and the south of the High/Anti Atlas lie the hamadas--stony desert with excellent pistes (tracks for 4WD cars and bikes). There's a small area of sand near Erfoud and another near Zagora.
The coastal plain to the west of the country is generally flat and uninteresting, however the coastline itself is often pretty.
WHEN TO GO
Morocco is an all-year-round destination, however in the winter the smaller mountain roads can be blocked by snow, and the summer months (mid-June to end August) are normally extremely hot. My personal preference is for April/May--the country is incredibly green and the days are much longer than September/October. Having experienced Morocco during Ramadan I suggest you try to avoid it (2007: 12 September to 11 October).
The quoted website is run by Tim Cullis and you will find it here: Morocco GS Knowledgebase
Tags: Moroccan Morocco Fes, Maghreb news