A Travellerspoint blog

March 2010

Wednesday 17th March - Saturday 20th March

The Spectacular mountains and Gorges

Wednesday 17th March

Up early and said or goodbye’s to the Jones and headed off to Tafraoute. This would be a trip of 108km back to Tiznit and then 107km of mountain roads. It was a long drive through twisting uphill roads, though with great views. As we passed through the villages before Tafraoute, the scenery was amazing, red mountains and a feeling as though it was a film set. We arrived in Tafraoute and parked up outside a campsite surrounded by mountains with the sun out.

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Thursday 18th March

Woke up to sun and palm trees and the tops of red granite mountains, it was lovely.

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Decided to get the bikes off and to go find some stone paintings and carvings in the area. The ride was hot and uphill, but surrounded by red boulder formations and baron land.

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After a while we gave up finding the carvings and headed back into town for some shopping.

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First though, the biking had made us hungry to try our first Moroccan tagine. After a few times biking around trying to decide on the venue, we settled for a hotel with a Bedouin style tent set up outside. We sat and ate in the tent, it was lovely and the tagine very nice. We would now defiantly have too buy a tagine cooking set.

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Now to the shopping, Tafraoute is home to many small stalls of Moroccan style shoemakers. We had a look around many stalls and shops and got taken to see some rugs. We ended up though buying a lantern made from recycled metal, from a stall making amongst other things buckets.

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Friday 19th March

In the morning headed back into town, to buy some shoe’s and tagine pots, we didn’t get round to buying yesterday! After, we drove off towards some near by gorges and an Oasis.

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After some very steep and pretty much single track mountain roads we ended up driving into a huge red mountain gorge, with palm trees running along in the narrow valley.

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We found some parking right in the Gorge, just off the track surrounded by Palm trees and the small river. We paid the guardian 20Dh and this would now be our new home for the night, perfect. Off with the bikes again and further we headed into the Gorges-d’ait-Monsour, as the track wasn’t good enough to drive down.

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The bike ride was great, lazily pedalling down a track covered in palm trees and surround by very steep and high red cliffs. Everywhere we turned to look was a stunning view and there were some strange noises around, we think it was the frogs. We ended up sat overlooking a small open valley full of Palm trees, It was a lovely Oasis.

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Back at the motorhome, the couple of cars that were there left and we were now alone.

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This would be our first night wild camping in Morocco, as the guardian too had gone. We could see no houses, although there were a couple in either direction. Very peaceful spot although a lil spooky at night with the noises!

I am really enjoying the living outdoors life, relaxing in the evening outside with great weather and great scenery. At night in high winds or out the way places, you can feel vulnerable. Although when we wild camped in the UK we also felt that. It’s part of the course I suppose, but worth it for the places you see. The scenery up here in these mountains and down in the gorges was just something special.

Saturday 20th March

Headed up and out of the Gorges, up and down mountain roads back into Tafraoute. From there we kept on along the mountain roads and back to Agadir. The scenery again was amazing, beautiful mountains and flowers in spring.

Back in Agadir and back to the supermarket to stock up, before getting to the campsite we had stayed a few times before, just before dusk.

Posted by marklorna 12:56 Comments (0)

Friday 12th March - Tuesday 16th March

Mirleft to Sidi Ifni

Friday 12th March

Somewhat disappointed with Aglou Plage, we headed further down the coast to the town of Mirleft. It was a nice drive, with deep blue sea on one side and green hills on the other. Arriving in Mirleft we drove around trying to find the campsite, before finding it tucked away down some rough town roads towards the sea. The main part of the small town was set by the road, back away from the sea. Then towards the sea homes were built, well streets but the roads hadn’t really been started. The campsite was a lovely small walled parking area, like someone’s back garden.

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It was still early, so off we headed for a walk down to the beach on one of the bays. We decided to spend the rest of the day on the beach in the sun, until a rain shower put an end to that.

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Later we took a walk over into the small town and had a wonder around the main couple of streets. It was a lovely friendly place, with lots of small artisan shops selling local craft. We then stopped for a mint tea at the hotel Atlas, a charming and cosy place. We found a spot on the balcony and watched the comings and goings of the street below. After the tea we realised they sold wine, so in a speakeasy style we purchased two glasses. There we met and got chatting to a nice British couple, who were staying at the hotel. As it got dark and chillier we headed downstairs, although we were not allowed to drink the wine downstairs. Instead of finally trying a Tagine, we opted for a very nice pizza.

We got back to the campsite in the dark and arrived to find the gate shut, latched and no one there! After a few attempts, in the end we managed to get the gate open and back to the motorhome.


Saturday 13th March

Headed further down the coast to just outside Sidi Ifni, a bay called Legzira. This bay is famous for it’s red rock arches into the sea. So after a drive down a steep track, we arrived just above the couple of small hotels and cafes on the bay. We paid the guardian 20Dh to be able to sleep there the night and parked up over looking the bay.

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We had a stroll over to the stunning red stone arches, but we couldn’t really go under them as the tide was still in.

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So headed back for some light lunch overlooking the beach at the small hotel. After a large group of para-gliders turned up, we decided to take another walk down to the arches.

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They were pretty spectacular, against the Atlantic ocean. Just like most Moroccan beaches though, there was plastic and litter all over the beach, a sad state of affairs. Plastic, it has moved us so far forward and yet is destroying so much.


Sunday 14th March

Arrived at the coastal town of Sidi Ifni, which today was when they held their local souq. Sidi Ifni was until 1969 in Spanish hands, it is a port town with 1930’s art décor buildings. Today it is slightly dishevelled looking, but still has some elegance about it.

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We parked up at a campsite near the beach and walked to the souq. It was slightly smaller than the one in Tiznit, but was dry under foot and more open. We spent a long time wandering, looking, buying veg and being told to come look at the rugs or jewellery. I met one friendly ‘blue man’ stall owner and he showed me his photos of where he lived in the Sahara with his father’s camels. We had a good chat and I bought a small necklace from him.

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Later I had a walk back into town to get some meat for my tea, a treat, as I am pretty much a virtual veggie at present! Only through ease of not cooking two meals and the fact it’s cheaper eating veg. Anyway, after I purchased some lamb off the bone, although it wasn’t what I intended on buying! I was looking forward to getting back and cooking it. On the way back I was sitting overlooking the bay and all the surfers, when I got chatting to a local musician called Badir. We each had a play on his guitar and a chat before I went and saw where his little café was. He said he knew some other musicians and they often played later at night in the café. I said I would try to get back later for some music and headed back to the motorhome.

After lovely meat dish and some wine, I never managed to venture back up the hill into town.



Monday 15th March

After some motorhome chores, headed out down the coastal path for a walk.

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The path ended pretty much just on the beach, so we took a walk down that instead. On the way we got chatting to Aziz, who lived in Sidi Ifni. He was a real interesting guy, talking about Morocco. He offered us to sit with him and his friend on the beach, join them for a tea. After a short walk down the beach we headed back and joined Aziz and now a couple more of his friends, sitting relaxing and chatting on the beach. It was very friendly and welcoming of them and we shared mint tea, discussing the realities of living in Morocco. The big divide between rich and poor, the government and police still being corrupt and the money never making it back down to the people. Like many a struggling nation their hands are tied by the politics and corruption of the country. We have the simple freedom to be able to travel to other countries, we have our rights in law to be able to challenge a verdict. All though we have these things in sorts, imagine against a corrupt controlling authority. Money can pay your way out, having no money means no option, a very unjust way.

After the sun started getting lower and the heat dropped a little, we said our thank you’s and goodbye’s and headed back to the motorhome. I took another wonder into town to see the musician guy from yesterday. I ended up in his café for some time playing songs with him and his friend. Before bumping into some of the lads from the beach on my way back to the motorhome.


Tuesday 16th March

We decided on heading off today and on with the journey as we still had a lot more we wanted to see of Morocco. Went back inland to a campsite that had some hot thermal baths, we had been told about. In the evenings the baths were open to mixed Europeans, as in the day the men and women have separate baths. We parked up at the springs and we met again the lovely Jones family, who were from New Zealand originally. The have travelled far and wide but at present have a big wheeled 4x4 motorhome, come small truck, to see them around Morocco.

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At night we headed into the thermal bath, not really knowing what to expect. Both of us never having been to one. Well it was like taking a bath in a swimming pool, in your swimming stuff with other people! Was very nice although strange, but warm and relaxing.

Posted by marklorna 12:46 Comments (0)

Tuesday 9th March - Thursday 11th March

From Agadir to tiznit

Tuesday 9th March

Finally headed out from Agadir and south towards Sidi Ifni. We aimed for a campsite on the edge of a natural Park, in a village along the coast called Sidi Ouassai. We turned off the main road, following a sign towards the campsite and passed a herd of camels. It is bizarre and amazing to pass close by to camels, but I’m sure we will see a lot more the further south we go.

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We passed through a few small towns and down small roads, until we were driving over rolling hills with the sea in the distance. We came to a campsite sign pointing down a sandy dirt track, with the distance scrubbed off. We turned off following the sign, as most campsites seem to be down tracks in Morocco. The track though just kept going on and on and on. We would get to one brow of a hill, to find the track would head further to another brow. All around us was grassy hills and no houses, just the sea still in the distance. We started to think someone was having us on, as the track just continued. It was a single track and when we did meet something, they normally had to drive off the track completely to get past.

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Finally at one of the brows we came upon the sight of a village and drove into the campsite. This was well situated overlooking the beach, but although the sun was out so was the wind in a strong sand-whipping mood. So after a walk around, spent the rest of the day inside out the wind and with the view.


Wednesday 10th March

Decided after a rocky night and more of a breeze today, to head away from the wind and back down the long track. We headed for the town of Tiznit, as we wanted a look around the town and go to their weekly Souq. This was happening tomorrow, so we found a campsite to stay at. Also the indicator unit we had fitted had now blown, but there was a camping car repair garage here. The campsite was right against the old town walls, it was small though and crammed full of mainly French motorhomes. Still we found a sort of spot around a corner and went to explore the town.

The town was full of specialist Berber jewellery stalls and small shops. We were greeted on the street a few times, then asked if we would like to come and see their shop. In Morocco it is sometimes hard to judge people when they come up to you, of what they want or wanting to sell. Also there are many genuine people who are just being very friendly and welcoming. We had also noticed the further south we go, the friendlier and happier people seem to be.

We headed back to the campsite, on the way passing a lot of scramblers and a race podium set up outside one of the hotels. It seemed to be a Moroccan rally of Polish bike riders and we would keep seeing them.

Thursday 11th March

Walked just out of town to the weekly souq, this was our first proper look around one. We had driven past a few, but never stopped to go around. Each town has a weekly outdoor Souq (market) full of tents and stalls selling all range of items, most of them mainly fruit and veg.

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We stepped into the maze of canvas-covered stalls and piles of different coloured vegetables stacked up on the ground. It was narrow, busy and intense but great to walk around taking the sight in. We even remembered to actually get some fruit and veg, rather than just observe it.

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Off then to the repair shop and me trying to explain the problem, Adil the young man running the shop didn’t really speak much English. On his suggestion, he jumped aboard and off we headed to an electrical garage in the town. After a very short while the mechanic had sorted the problem. I also showed Adil another problem, one of the rubber seals over the drive shaft was cracked and leaking grease. By now we were getting to know Adil well and he took us round to a garage and got it fixed and replaced for 250Dh.

As the work was going on, Adil took me on the back of a scooter around some light shops. We needed some bulbs for one of the interior lights, the trip though wasn’t successful.

Back at the garage Adil kindly asked us to come over to his families house for tagine and couscous, with them. We would of liked to but I’m afraid we declined, as we wanted to drive to the coast before it started getting dark and to our next campsite in Aglou Plage. The motorhome was now fixed and we paid the mechanic and said we would take Adil back to his shop. Adil told us his services were free as it was a pleasure meeting us. On the way back he talked about going out dancing with his friends and us. We took his number and said we would contact him when we came back through Tiznit. Then headed out to Aglou plage, passing the scramblers on route. The campsite resembled more of a car park, but it was overlooking the sea. It looked like they were still finishing off some more buildings. Although in Morocco the look tends to be unfinished

Posted by marklorna 12:39 Comments (0)

Thursday 4th March - Monday 8th March

The windscreen finally arrives!

Thursday 4th March

After waiting most of the day for the ADAC women to contact us, we rang her. She told us she came out to the campsite yesterday to collect the paperwork she needed and couldn’t find us and we weren’t down in the book. We explained we were here all day and it must have been different campsite. We were now 90km away from her office and she didn’t ring yesterday to say she was coming out. I think she just went to the campsites along the coast near Agadir. Couldn’t find us despite our email, she had replied to, stating where we were. Anyway, we wanted to get the windscreen sorted and telephone contact with her was hard at the best of times. We decided on heading back down the coast to nearer Agadir. This we hoped would save more confusion, to be able to meet her face-to-face to find out exactly what was happening. She had mentioned the glass would be in Agadir tomorrow. So if we were already there we may even get it sorted by the end of the day or Saturday at least.

Although the location is great to stay here longer, the windscreen needs to get fixed and our waiting around finished.

Friday 5th March

A little sad we left the campsite and headed back down the coastal road to Agadir. We ended up driving into Agadir and to the campsite, near The ADAC office, for her to come and meet us. Face to face she ended up a lot easier to communicate with and us able to get our point of view over. We both decided that we wanted to end the situation as soon as possible. We found out though, that the windscreen wasn’t due till six or seven pm today. The problem then being, that customs would be closed by then and not be opened back up till Monday morning! We would have to wait a while longer and stay near Agadir. Still although not yet resolved, the situation was a lot clearer to us and the end we hoped was near.

After a supermarket stop, we headed off to find somewhere cheap to camp. We had gone about 10km north, when suddenly I wasn’t able to change down into a gear. In fact, now I couldn’t put the gear stick into any position and was stuck in 5th! How many more things can go wrong? How much was this problem going to cost?, What had actually gone wrong! And what the heck are we going to do? We didn’t know whether to laugh or cry!

Luckily, we were coming up to a large campsite and we had read that they had a mechanic opposite. We pulled up outside and I went to reception, with fingers crossed. Ten minutes later a mechanic from across the road was looking at it and around an hour or so later it was fixed. We were now 500 Dirham (£41) less, but the sheared off part had been replaced and we were now back on the road. Morocco seems not a bad place for things to go wrong, the work is a lot cheaper than Europe.

With the light fading, we ended up at the original campsite we had stayed in when we first left Agadir.

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Saturday 6th March

Rained heavy last night and today was a mix of cloud, sun and occasional light rain. So it seemed a good day for some motorhome and general maintenance.

We had picked up an internet dongle for Morocco, a month for only 200 Dirham. Which was a great deal as the internet time was unlimited, although it would probably only work well near larger towns or cities. Still, it is a better deal than any of the European countries we had tried so far.

Sunday 7th March[/i]

Had a long walk down the coast to Tagazoute, a small fishing port that is full of surfers. There we sipped a soft drink and whiled away the afternoon at a café overlooking the sea. After a wonder around the stalls, we headed back up the road. The way back ended being longer, as we tried to cut over the hills up tracks.

Monday 8th March[i]

Up early and headed off to the ADAC office to get our windscreen finally sorted. Arrived just after 9am, to be told someone had already gone to customs to collect it. We sat waiting in Hymer opposite for about three hours, before I went back and checked with the rep how long it would take? She informed me he was still waiting at customs, but customs were now closed for lunch. Moroccans don’t tend to do the whole in a rush thing. We decided to head off for a while and pick up some bits from the supermarket. On the way we collected, from the town campsite, our now refilled Spanish gas bottle. We had given it over to a guy who was offering a refill service, telling us they would drop it there.

Back at the ADAC office, we were told the windscreen was now at the garage waiting for us, typical! After initial worries, as the glass looked too small, they got to work. A while later after some adjusting they had the windscreen in place. The only problem was, from the crash the one side of the frame was not the same shape. The glass was fitted in fine, apart from the seal in the one corner. It was firmly assured to be in place and all they could do due to the frame, saying we would have to get that fixed in Europe. We then paid up 1600Dh (£125) for the fitting and off we went. Well as far as round the corner and to another motorhome repair garage. While getting the windscreen fitted we had bumped into an English couple, Stan and Barbara, who I had met back at the campsite. They were having some work done to their motorhome next door. We now needed to get the indicators fixed, so we tried the garage her. We were told it was the flasher unit, but they didn’t know if they could get another. They tried a couple but to no avail and then went off to collect another. The day was now getting on and we also had to go and collect our Vehicle import documents from the ADAC office, as they had forgotten to bring them to the garage. As we couldn’t really drive the motorhome, Stan offered to give me a lift on his motorbike. I have never been a huge fan of motorbikes, being more of a scooter man as it’s a lot slower. It was a very kind offer though and I gingerly got on, as we needed the documents before the office closed. Off we went, with me gripping hold of the seat strap for dear life. Moroccan town roads are chaotic at the best of times and on the back of a motorbike, I felt open to the dangers. We got there safely as Stan was a good rider, I collected the documents and off we headed back. On the way back I relaxed and enjoyed the ride, with Stan telling me to go with the flow.

A bike seems a good option of getting around quickly and being able to leave the motorhome parked up. Although cycles keep us fit, they can only go as far as your legs want to go! We had seen a lot of pedal start bikes around Morocco and I was beginning to think, if we could get a cheap one they would be handy? Or is that just lazy?

Anyway back at the repair shop, they couldn’t find the same flasher unit. They did though manage to fit one that got the lights flashing, but didn’t display on the dashboard. Anyway we now had indicators, so off we went. The light would soon be going and we wouldn’t make it any further south, so back to the campsite. Driving back was very strange, I had got used to driving with the glass cracked all over the shop. Now we were seeing through a clear glass screen, it seemed like there wasn’t a windscreen. It was great to see clearly again.

Posted by marklorna 12:25 Comments (0)

Thursday 25th February - Wednesday 3rd March

Relaxing in the Sun!!

Thursday 25th February

Had breakfast outside in the heat of the morning sun. Decided although the campsite was good, we didn’t feel at home. We decided we would rather continue further up to a campsite we had been told about that was full of a younger generation and was a bay big on surfing. If were to be waiting 5 to 7 days, this would be a better spot we thought. So we banked on their being a bank and a cash point in one of the few towns we passed and headed off. After a lovely sunny coastal drive we got to the campsite, again down a bumpy track and found a great spot overlooking the one side of the bay and the village on the other side. We had passed no banks or cash points on the way so hoped there would be something in the village. Seeing it from afar and speaking with an English couple already there, we found there was only a couple of shops or café’s and no bank or cash point. We should of thought really, still getting used to Morocco I suppose. We were parked up in a great spot and the weather was hot and sunny and by now it was 2pm. Only problem was we had no money on us, to pay for the campsite or any food and drink, which were needed. We knew we had to head off in search of both.

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So we carried on up north along the coast towards Essaouira, hoping to pass one before we got there, in a village, as it was 90km there. We wanted to be back here before dark so we could actually enjoy one of these sunny days without going driving around. We passed no banks and arrived in Essaouira around 4pm. We found a cash point and we also found out there was not enough money in the account to draw anything except 100Dh (£8). So we then wondered around to find a internet café and put more money in the account. Finally we were able to draw sufficient funds out. So with the time now after 5pm, we had a quick failed attempt at finding a supermarket and decided we would make do with what ever was in the village so departed back towards the campsite, hoping we would make it before dark. As the light was fading, I decided to take the earlier turning to the campsite, bad idea. The road was small and after every turning kept going on and on, and we were driving on the edge of the cliffs overlooking the sea, probably a beautiful drive in the day, but with the light gone it wasn’t great and at some points the road was corroding away. Still we made it back to the campsite eventually and settled down for the night.

Friday 26th February

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Woke up again to great weather and had tea under the awning in the sun. Behind us on the hill a herd of camels was being led including baby white ones, it was a lovely sight. We then headed off into the village to get some bread and veg. The village and port was very small, very laid back and hassle free. There were a few shops, a couple of surf shops and a few café’s. We enjoyed an apple juice sitting in the sun at one of the café’s watching the local fisherman sell some fresh fish, then go and cook them for a group of people. On the way back to the campsite we passed sea front shacks, chickens and surfers wondering around with their boards or sitting on rooftops playing chess. The bay and village was very idyllic and mostly full of surfers, giving it a bit of a westernised feel. Spent the rest of the day lazing in the sun watching the bay and waves.

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Saturday 27th February

It became very windy last night, although it remained 30 degrees all night the wind was even hot. We opened all the roof windows and in the morning there was a layer of sand over everything! Most of the day was windy so we spent it inside, I spent the time typing up a over a months worth of this blog! Mmm think I write too much, I certainly wont be getting this far behind again.

Sunday 28th February

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Good day weather wise, so we again relaxed. On another wonder around the village we had a look at some stalls selling some lovely Tangiene cooking pots. Want to get one as they seem a good idea to cook with, but I suppose we need to try some first! Also we found an Auberge that sold alcohol, that you could also take away, but due to the price just one bottle of wine was bought.

Monday 1st March

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Another good day weather wise, so another day relaxing in the sun. Feels like were on a summer holiday, it’s nice. Another wonder into town to get our daily bread, tomato’s and onions and I received a call from our ADAC woman. Again she was difficult to understand and I couldn’t really work out when she was saying the window was due. She wanted the temporary vehicle import document, for importing the windscreen in. We were now a good 2 hours drive away from Agadir and I only wanted to be driving again when the windscreen was at the garage awaiting fitting. She asked to fax or email her the documents as she needed a copy of them first. Then she would come and get the originals or have someone pick them up. Why she didn’t think she would need them before and got them off us when we were with her, I don’t know! I headed off in search of a fax machine, but Imsouane doesn’t have any land telephone lines let alone a fax machine, so that idea was shelved. There was one Auberge with expensive internet access, so Lorna had the idea of taking a photo and emailing her that. We also asked her to text or email rather than call, as the calls were costing me about £5 per conversation. Mostly due to the fact she rambled without ever saying anything clearly or directly answering questions! I’ll be glad when we have the window in place.

Tuesday 2nd March

Woke up to a windy but sunny day, perfect for washing and drying some clothes. Checked the email at the Auberge for a reply from the ADAC woman, and surprise no reply! I emailed her asking again for a reply saying I was there for 20mins on net and still no reply. I think she only works a couple of hours a day. The heavens then opened on and off for the rest of the day. So the rest of the day was spent inside watching the rain come down over the great view of the bay we had. That was until a French motorhome managed to park up in front of us, so the view was now a shiny motorhome! No shame.

Wednesday 3rd March[i]

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Most of the morning was rain and failed attempts to get the washing out to dry. Late in the afternoon the rain finally went away, so Lorna and me took a walk along the coast. Watching the big waves crash and explode onto the rocks.

Posted by marklorna 18:29 Comments (1)

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