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Morocco 2007

When mountain bikers look at a map, they mainly see the mountains and then think of the average rainfall. Wolfgang and I didn’t have to think twice about our next holiday once dry, hot Morocco with its 4000m high Atlas mountains had come to our attention. We roughly planned a two week trip around the highest mountain in north Afrika, the Toubkal and then booked the next cheap flight.

On the 21st of February, we took a plane to Agadir and arrived at sunset, so our first trip in Morocco was a nightride. Quite fitting for two racers of the team Supernova-Orbea. I tested a prototype dynamo light and Wolfgang the LED version. Judging from the reaction of the drivers, the glare was a bit too strong. After two hours at nearly 30 km/h we finally found an apparently suitable orchard to sleep in and there we set up our first camp. Here’s a picture of our first sunrise in Morocco:

TRIP DATA

MAP

TIPS

THIRD DAY:Tizi’n’Test to Marrakech

Day 4: MARRAKECH

Day 5: MARRAKECH- HIGH ATLAS

Day 6: MARRAKECH- HIGH ATLAS

Day 7: Crossing the Tichka Pass

Our first camp - without tent and therefore a bit cold and wet, at least for Wolfgang. I had an Ajungilak Tyin Winter sleeping bag... In the morning we discovered that the “orchard” was in fact an Argan tree plantation. The Argan tree sports particularly sharp thorns and of course I had a puncture on the way out. The result was that I couldn’t fill the tire properly with my hand pump and so I rode around with too little pressure throughout the whole trip. Wolfgang seemed to be uncomfortable about having his pictures published here, so I deleted him wherever he appeared.

The Atlas mountains were calling us! Me with Marcus’ steel Centurion weighing 35 kg with all the luggage.

We hadn’t travelled 50m when we met the two most frequent things in Morocco: goats and people who want money from tourists. The sheperds took 2 Euros for this picture. That is a lot, considering that an average farm hand only earns 5 Euros per day in Morocco. The goats are sent up these Argan trees to eat the bitter hull and then people collect the nuts inside from the dung to make precious oil.

The road to Taliouine:

We rode along this kind of road in quite a heat for about three hours, passing numerous towns and gigantic farms on the way. The Souss Valley is extremely fertile. Just before we reached the mountains, we met a small boy on a road bike who was soon joined by his couisins. The big surprise: they were wearing cycling tights! We’d been riding in long trousers despite the heat because we thought it would be more appropriate in a muslim country. Later, we would still put on our trousers in some situations and when we didn’t we were sometimes stared at by men in the shops and one by giggling peasant girls, but nobody ever openly confronted us about our attire.

Climbing up to the Tizi ‘n’ Test pass 82050m high).

Still a long way to go. You can see the pass just left off the middle. The road wasn’t very steep but long and winding.

There are cats everywhere in Morocco! Even inside the Airport or in the busy streets of Marrakech you can find them. Sweet little pussy, this one.

View down into the Souss Valley from our hotel.

When we had nearly reached the pass, a nice Berber asked us whether we weren’t tired and offered us rooms in a beautiful hotel for only 150 Dirhams (ca. 14 Euros) including dinner and breakfast. We had a great view from our room:

Note the Berber with his cellphone in the background. Everyone has them there and you can get a conection in the remotest valley. Amazing.

After a luxurious dinner (Tajine Berber - eggs with vegetables) and some tea, the Berber trader in the picture below offered to show us his merchandise and we foolishly accepted. He buys stuff from the nomads in the desert, then travels across the mountains with his donkeys and sells it in the city. Some of it is really fascinating and after two hours of friendly haggling in front of a cosy fire, Wolfgang bought a (far too) precious) silver and enamel bracelet cum jewellery box for 69 euros plus his old battery light. he also traded in his old running shoes for a “nomad swiss army knife”, a small knife in a camel leather sheath. I bought a silver snuff box and a letter opener as a present for my father, for about 50 € plus my thinner pais of gloves. The prices were not bad by European standards, but they were also not extremely cheap, like the shoes we would buy later, for example. Anyway - the experience was quite nice (for me at least) and talking to this enigmatic person was well worth the money.

THIRD DAY :Tizi’n’Test to Marrakech