The bike fired into action, sat nav checked, the bike lurched forward towards the exit ramp of the ferry with a sense of urgency. We were keen to feel solid ground beneath us again and begin our journey into what I can only describe as a mesmerizing country, full of intrigue, culture, incredible scenery and friendly people.
Scanning for exit signs, we were on the move and heading for customs. A brief stop to get our passports checked, stamped and our documents approved we were heading out of the port with a pocketful of Dirhams, which we obtained from the cash-points next to the customs offices. Morocco has a closed currency and virtually impossible to get any outside the country but its a breeze obtaining enough for the trip at the border cash-points.
We headed out onto the main roads and picked one that would take us the scenic route to Chefchaouen, an amazing town not too far from Tangier Med, just north of Fes. Chefchaouen is known for its blue houses, virtually all the walls of the homes that line the mountainside just below the old fortress wall are painted in a wonderful bright blue paint, some say its to keep mosquitos away but historically, Jewish teachings suggest that by dyeing thread with tekhelel (an ancient natural dye) and weaving it into prayer shawls, people would be reminded of God’s power. The memory of this tradition lives on in the regularly repainted blue buildings.
The contrast of the scenery and goings on are so different to that of Spain, the short ferry ride from Algeciras to Tangier Med drops you into another world. Cars with wings missing, men dressed in Baja Jerga Hoodies (a woven zip-less jacket with toggles, that looks like a hippy/gypsy coat) were milling about outside cafes smoking and drinking mint tea, or just standing still staring at passers by with no real purpose. Donkeys pulling carts laden with fresh goods and even old car parts would be stacked high on the cart pulled by aging animals. There is always lots going on and much to see in Morocco and every corner turned presents a new exciting experience.
As we arrived in Chefchaouen for our two day stop over we were greeted by dozens of animals, dogs and cats roaming around in the roads, friendly and very cute, they would cautiously approach you as you got off the bike, expecting food or scraps to be handed out. The hotel was magnificent, a traditional Moroccan style establishment with mosaic walls, low seating and tables with bright colourful scatter cushions and throws decorated in gold, blue and red fabric. Upon the walls hung aging pictures, accomopanied by brass bric-a-brac on the shelves randomly spaced about the place.
The lighting was subtle and subdued, small lamps placed around the edge of the living area and dining spaces, it was very calming and relaxing. A lift could be taken to the roof, where more seating, throws and colourful scatter cushions were neatly laid out for you to sit and admire the vista’s. I made my way up to the roof the following morning just before prayer to capture the sunrise over the Riff Mountains behind us. It was a glorious sight that kept me transfixed on the landscape for over 30 minutes before heading downstairs to breakfast, consisting of yoghurt, eggs, bread, coffee, juice and meat
Exploring Chefchaouen was and still is a very memorable experience. The blue painted buildings are incredibly pretty, Berbers milling around going about their business or just sitting in the shade contemplating, I often wondered what would be going through their minds as they Sat with their heads slumped in their chest. A cat Sat next to one of the Berbers I covertly photographed as if it was watching over it’s elder. It was a truly pretty sight.
Its was a fabulous day off the bikes, we ended up in one of the towns only watering holes. Alcohol isn’t available in many places in Morocco due to their religious beliefs. But we got lucky with the help of the local knowledge. We spent the rest of the evening drinking beer and munching on tapas, a mix of fish, crisps and chick peas. We talked with the locals and had a wonderful time, laughing, joking and getting to realise how friendly and accommodating the Moroccans are.
It was sad leaving the next morning. Chefchaouen is an incredible town and I can’t wait to return. Engines started, we waved goodbye to our hosts as we headed south, towards the High Atlas Mountains.
48 hours later we were in Marzouga, in the Sahara Desert. After packing a small bag for the night we were helped on board our new transport for the next 45 mins, a camel. We headed off into the Sahara, laughing and joking as the camels swayed from side to side, finding their footing in the soft sand. It was a wonderful experience. Arriving at the Bivouacs we headed for our tents, dumped our kit and did what every adventure biker does… We sand boarded! Having found a snowboard in the camp we climbed to the top of a large dune and began taking it in turns trying out our hand at surfing down the dunes. It was hilarious.
We then sat down to dinner and ate traditional Moroccan Tagine, fish and fruit. It was very tasty, washed down with sweet mint tea.
Retiring back to the top of the dune, we sat contemplating, realising we were Sat in the Sahara Desert watching the sun go down. It was a brilliant moment. Good friends, good food, miles from anywhere in the Sahara Desert, almost speechless, one would say it was perfect. Just perfect.
Heading back to the hotel the next morning on our camels we had a great breakfast, pancakes, fruit, cereals, toast, bread, there was so much to choose from all within a colourful and beautifully decorated dining room.
There wasn’t time for a dip in the swimming pool as the food had become the highlight of the morning and of course, one couldn’t miss the opportunity to stuff ones face!
Once again, we waved goodbye to our wonderful, friendly hosts and headed through the desert to our next destination, The Gorges in the Atlas Mountains. The next couple of days we were treated to some of the most magnificent scenery you could wish for. Stunning mountains and deep gorges lined the Base of the Atlas Mountains. It needs to be seen to be believed!
The tour continued but rather than me tell you all about it why not experience it yourself.
Having seen tears run down the cheek of a grown man, reminiscing his experiences of the tour, for me it was the pinnacle of my career. Emotions so genuine and true from what was for some the most wonderful experiences of a lifetime. Morocco has a mystical power that draws you in, only a few weeks had passed since our return and we all wanted to go back.
To experience Morocco yourself with a professional tour guide and have everything organised for you so you focus more on the riding, culture and scenery, then join us on our next epic adventure around Morocco. Some say we provide more adventure, more excitement and more scenery and fun on this tour than any other advertised. You can be the judge of that!