Morocco Pilot Journey
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In October 2002 we went with our friends Ivor and Charmaine (in a Land Rover Discovery) and Andrew and Angela (in their Jeep) to Morocco for a pilot trip.  Besides having a fantastically memorable journey together, Michael and I learnt a lot about how we'd like things to work for the 'big trip'.

We changed some of Nyathi's design based on our experience and reconsidered things like shocks, springs and air bags.

We worked out ways to pack and distribute the weight more effectively.  It also reminded us about myriad other useful things, which we had forgotten about since our last expedition up through Africa in 1994/5.


This is our first dinner stop, so we were still getting the hang of things.
 

We had a very exciting and eventful journey, starting with an engine fire in Nyathi within our first couple of days in Morocco.  Luckily we were able to roll the vehicle down a slope into a friendly farmer's olive field, where we did repairs and camped for the night.

We encountered some challenging, but not insurmountable terrain.  We drove through the river bed of Gorge du Ziz with nothing but the odd goat and a few excited locals to keep us company.  In fact it was much more remote and in many ways more spectacular than Todra gorge, which is one of the highlights for most tourists visiting Morocco.

We spent about a week in the really remote areas of the desert, where the sand dunes run on for miles, all the way to the border with Algeria, which we nearly crossed (well so the military guy who appeared out of the middle of knowhere claimed).  Our GPS information told us a different story, but it turns out he was rather friendly and probably just a bit lonely, as he invited us to stay the night at their military encampment, but we politely declined.

Here is a picture story of our trip...


Doing some maintenance while waiting for the ferry from Spain to Ceuta (Spanish enclave in Morocco).


Sandy shows Angela the art of a bush-style hairwash.


The scenery was spectacular right from the start.


So where did the fire start?


Camping in the olive field, while fixing Nyathi.  We provided some interesting entertainment for the locals.


We made friends with Aziza and went to visit her family for breakfast the next day.  Here she is with basket in hand, filled with bread, olives and eggs for the men, who were packing up camp down in the valley.


Market alley in the bustling town of Fez (photo courtesy of Andrew & Angela).


Sitting around the rather large log campfire in a campground just outside Fez.


Travelling through
Gorge du Ziz.


One of the local guys is trying to tell us we need a guide, but we convince him we will just follow the valley.


A local woman transporting her precious cargo of wood, which is hard to come by.


Looking for a place to camp far from the road and civilization.


A friendly visitor to the campfire (who provided inspiration for one of Nyathi's discarded paintwork designs).


Leaving our camp behind and heading out for another day of adventure.


Relaxing in the sun and enjoying cold drinks, before hitting the road again.


The mountains and valleys are so stark and rugged.


 


We only saw one nomadic dwelling along this stretch - it was pretty deserted.


Our first puncture... (there were two more to come as we later found out).


Todra gorge dwarfs the three vehicles.  It is impressive.


Chivalry is not dead.  Ivor gives me a piggy-back across the river.


So girls, which shopping mall shall we hit next?


Angela explains (in her best French) the finer points on how to politely ask for '
un bonbon'.


This pass was pretty high and very cold.  We camped about 100m higher up the mountain.


This campsite visitor was very timid, especially as I nearly trod on him.


We feel like we're on top of the world...


An afternoon stop.  There was much excitement as we had found a clean stream.


The water was freezing, but we all took advantage of the rare water source to have bush baths and wash our hair.


This was a fabulously remote campsite and our first foray into the more desert dune-like terrain.


A laden camel caravan saunters across the desert.


Forming our own desert caravan...


Michael is showing Charmaine the ropes.


Some trees provide welcome shade (if not refuge from the flies) at the base of some high sand dunes.


Angela and Sandy survey the surrounding dunes - sand, sand and more sand.

Nyathi loves the sand.  With a bit of air out of the tyres, this is where she performs best.


Time to play - the boys are having fun!


That was thirsty work...


Testing out the stakes to see if they are adequate anchors - in the sand, no!


Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil...


Angela gets buried by some mad guy sporting a Mohican - scary!


Sandy cooks up some nourishing oats porridge for breakfast.


 


You can lead them to water, but you can't make them drink...


Nyathi leaves everything in her dust.


Taking a break at Cascades d'Ouzoud.


Goat on a hot tin roof.


This little restaurant was surreal.  We were entertained by a variety of local and international patrons who were smoking marijuana, playing drums, singing and playing reggae music.  We had mutton lamb cooked in a tajine here.  It was so good we came back the next morning for breakfast.


The campsite toilet, however, wasn't too desirable.


Picturesque road stop on our route back north.


Huddled around the campfire, following a tasty dinner and
braaied (roasted) marshmallows for dessert.


At the Roman ruins of Volubulis where there are quite well preserved mosaics, carvings and baths.


Our last night in Morocco - what a way to go...


Michael making friends with one of the many strays we encountered on this trip.


Farewell Morocco...