Morocco : Atlantic Coast, Oued Draa & Sahara Desert
DAY 1 Tarifa to El Jadida. Journey time of 5 hours 10mins.
We will meet the evening before at the Hotel Dos Mares where Neil Hopkinson will run through today's roadbook. Our last meal on Spanish soil is at a nearby restaurant before an early night!! to ready ourselves for Morocco.The port of Tarifa is only 10 minutes away and it is here that we take the fast ferry to Tanger. Nowadays Moroccan customs is but a formality, the days of waiting three or four hours to get all the paper work done are well behind us and within an hour of arriving in Africa you will be speeding on a very modern Paege that runs along the Atlantic coast to El Jadida and the Ibis Mousafir Hotel. This hotel looks out onto the Atlantic and is an ideal place to rest after a day on the roads of Morocco.
DAY 2 El Jadida to Essaouira. Journey time of 4 to 5 hours.
After breakfast and a briefing on today's route you will head South crossing rural Morocco all the way to the coast at Essaouira. On the way you will cross a river and drive on a gravel piste across the hills near the sea. This gives you plenty of practice with the roadbook because the junctions on the piste may have changed slightly because the locals often forge new tracks across our route. By late afternoon you will have arrived in Essaouira and be settled into one of the Riad's that are hidden away inside the walls of the old town. Your car will be in secure parking and looked after by one of Morocco's famous Guardian's.This fishing port is incredible. In the harbour the fishing boats are moored almost on top of each other in a very haphazard fashion and the quay side is full of stalls where the fishermen sell their catch.Herring Gulls walk amongst the hustle and bustle looking to snatch a fish that has been discarded onto the quay. During the evening it is a delight to wander around the blue and white alleys of the town. Shops abound and it is easy to get carried away and fill your car with Moroccan gifts.
DAY 3 Essaouira to Aglou Beach Hotel. Journey time of 4 to 5 hours.
The temptation is to linger at Essaouira's beautiful fishing port but what is to come is just as exciting, so reluctantly you will start your engine and continue your journey south, getting ever closer to the Oued Draa and the Sahara. Today's route runs along the coast and near Agadir the road clings to the side of the High Atlas where the mountain range plunges into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Half an hour or so after Agadir you will be able to practice your roadbook skills again as the Impala route takes you across fields towards the sea and the small village of Aglou. The Hotel Aglou Beach is a delightful place that was built during the heyday's of the "hippy time" in Morocco and it still exudes that air. After another exciting day you will be able to enjoy a gin and tonic to the sound of Atlantic knowing that the journey south will slow as tomorrow the pace slackens as most of the time our route is off road.
DAY 4 Aglou Beach to Bou Jerif. Journey time of 5hours.
DAY 5 is a rest day at Bou Jerif
Sidi Ifni perches on a headland overlooking the sea and it is here where you will re-provision for the next three days. The first off road track, some 12km after the town takes you down to the sea and along the stone and sand. Halfway along the beach is a small estuary and depending upon the state of the tide you will either cross the estuary or climb on loose sand onto a track above near the road. The tracks eventually head inland across low hills towards a river crossing near Fort Bou Jerif. This campsite is absolutely magnificent and you will have the option of staying in the Hotel if you would like to. When you stop to absorb the surroundings it seems surreal. We will be staying here for a rest day so you can just sit, relax and soak it all in. Pierre has owned it now for five years or so and his staff always cook a good meal for us to enjoy over a glass of wine or three!!
DAY 6 Fort Bou Jerif to Plage Blanche and the Oued Aounet el Ksab. Journey time of 4 to 5hours.
After a relaxing breakfast you will leave Fort Bou Jerif and drive across the hills towards the sea and the Oued Aounet el Ksab. The highlight of today is a forty kilometre drive along the Plage Blanche itself and we have to carefully pick the time to go onto the beach as there is a 3m tidal range here which makes it dangerous to drive when the tide is high, but you will be guided by one of the Impala support cars taht bwill be waiting for you at the start of the beach. The campsite in the mouth of the Oued Aounet is set back against the enormous dunes that run against the cliffs along the river valley. This will be our first night to enjoy the warmth and companionship of a camp-fire.
DAY 7 Oued Aounet el Ksab to Tan Tan. Journey time of 5 hours.
After a night wild camping in the mouth of the oued we pick up a track which takes us to the top of the cliffs and eventually to the mouth of the Oued Draa itself. You will have some time to enjoy the view before the roadbook takes you down to cross this famous river near the desert town of Tan Tan. In Tan Tan you will have time to re provision for the journey along the Draa Valley. You must leave the town by 1600 if you want to make the second wild camp before nightfall.
DAY 8 Tan Tan to the Draa Valley. Journey time of 4 to 5 hours.
We will leave the sea behind us today and head East into the Draa valley. Our first track is little used, you will climb over passes from one valley to the next before joining a new tarmac road for a few kilometres. Near the town of Misit there is a mountain range that stretches as far as the eye can see from west to east. We turn left and follow the river valley that runs in its shadow. Our camp for the night is set in amongst some acacia that grow along a course of a dry stream bed.
DAY 9 Draa Valley camp to Johnny's Camp via the rock carvings of Azrou Klane. Journey time of 4 to 5 hours.
We begin our day criss crossing the bed of the Oued Draa before heading north through a narrow gorge to burst out onto a valley that by rights should be a few hundred miles south. The valley is full of Acacia and quite beautiful our nights camp is here but not before you have worked your way up a river bed to see the incredible rock carvings of Azrou Klane. Some of these carvings are over 1000yrs old but interestingly the local Berber still carve here as you will see.
DAY 10 Johnny's Camp to Tata Wild Camp. Journey time of 4 to 5 hours.
Lac Iriki is a fantastic place to drive. The lake bed is completely flat and in places smooth enough to drive at very high speeds. You will also experience sand tracks and rivers as well as the dunes of Chegega which are two hundred meters high, we will be driving deep into its heart. The last day and a half is almost all dunes from high to short and steep and confused, you will arrive at the incredible Hotel Azalay a consummate sand driver.
DAY 11 and 12 Lac Iriki and the Hotel Kasbah Azalay, Mhamid. DAY 13 is a rest day at Kasbah Azalay
Today is a rest day after the excitement of the desert. You will be able to service your cars in preparation for the long drive back to Europe. We have a fantastic mechanic at your disposal,Said and his brothers have maintained and repaired Impala cars for many years and can be trusted completely to do an excellent job. Their skills at repairing vehicles with few resources are superb and have to be seen to be believed.The afternoon will either be spent relaxing or you could enjoy a route that we have put together to visit the village of Bono which sits beside the Oued Draa and is at least 700 years old and may be a 1000 years old.
DAY 14 Mhamid to Ait Ourir and Le Coq Hardi Hotel. Journey time of 8 hours.
Eight hours north of Mhamid is Marrakech and we have booked you in at an hotel close to the heart of the Medina. You will be able to explore the Place'D Fna(Place of the Dead)and enjoy either its mobile restaurants where the waiters try to coax you to eat at their restaurant over all of the other one hundred or, you can find behind elaborately carved doors, some very good but expensive restaurants serving traditional Moroccan food and entertainment.
DAY 15 Marrakech.
Marrakech has some magnificent gardens to visit, Jardin Majorelle which boasts a magnificent restaurant where we would recommend you enjoy lunch and La Menara which is very picturesque and relaxing. You may prefer to enjoy a horse drawn carriage ride through the streets but you will enjoy the essence of this amazing city.
DAY 16 Le Coq Hardi to Spain. Journey time 7 to 8 hours
There is a new paege which has allowed us to enjoy the day before in Marrakech. Tanger is only seven hours driving away and it is possible to easily catch the late afternoon ferry from Tanger to Tarifa in Spain.
Conditions to Expect in Morocco
Temperatures will range from 45°C at the hottest part of the day to 15°C at 2am
Sunshine all day. Shade is important
Warm wind from a zephyr to force 8
High winds will mean that sand will be airborne
Stones (small to large), flat rock, dry lakes, sand rivers, mountain passes and sand dunes 200 meters high
Camps are basic. Hotels vary from good to excellent
High Atlas, Anti-Atlas and Cedar Forest
Temperatures will range from 35°C during the hottest part of the day to -5 °C at 2am
Weather is variable but generally warm and clear (tends to be colder in the Cedar Forest)
High winds will mean that dust will be airborne
Rock or sand track abound. Flat rock, mountain passes and if it rains very slippery mud will be an interesting challenge
Camps are basic. Hotels vary from good to excellent