Spring is beautiful! Enjoy the pictures!
Spring is beautiful! Enjoy the pictures!
Pictures mostly around Taza – incredibly nice enduro trekking possible there!
Qued Ifniss – Casablanca
Km today: 360
I start the morning with an amazing breakfast and making some music in the café of my hotel next to the road. My host gives me applause after every song so we really have fun until I finally leave around lunchtime. I have been riding the road to come in the last days – time to have some fun, I turn on rage and the machine and hit the road (and I hit it hard). About an hour of deep down curves later I approach Marrakesh. I make a few detours but don’t really feel sympathy for the city – I go on to Casablanca as I planned.
Soon after leaving Marrakesh the sky becomes dark and a little before Casablanca it start to rain for the first time for a long time. Still I can’t really enjoy it knowing that my rain tires are waiting in the box which is todays destination. A few kilometers before I arrive in Casa I get stuck in a traffic jam and recognize the clutch cylinder finally gave up. Seems like the curve festival was too much after more than 60000km. Fair deal I got a spare one with me and the mechanic is only 20 kilometers away. And I make it, through rain and evening traffic in a huge town on slicks and nearly without clutch – Mashallah!
I am done when I stop the bike in front of a café next to the mechanic. Its evening and the mechanic is closed so I get a café and ask the people who sit around me for a hotel. A very sweet old guy asks me a few question about what I am searching for and runs away. Just when I finished my café he comes back and leads me the way to a hotel around the corner. 20 minutes later I have a very hot shower and relax after an exhausting day.
Next day is still rainy, I go to the mechanic early morning and then come back to get breakfast. After the breakfast I take a long walk in a very charming town to be back at the mechanic just after lunchtime. I got a new rear tire, oil and oil filter changed, clutch cylinder changed, air filter cleaned and the mirror fixed for a little less than 200 Euro! Yeah!
Guelmim – Sidi Ifni – Taroudant – Qued Ifniss
3 days: 60km-230km-157km
Early in the morning Mike wakes me up one last time so we can have coffee together and say good bye. I have a lonely breakfast a few hours later and leave about lunchtime. The road to Sidi Ifni offers quite amazing curves compared to the straight roads until horizon of the sahara. On the way I take a coffee to arrive at Sidi Ifni early afternoon. The currents in the sea are amazing to watch from above for five or ten minutes… I decide to leave next morning heading towards Atlas mountains. I am not really in a riding mood that next day and tha road becomes boring and straight again too. In the evening of the second day I stop 60km before the beginning of the mountain road in Taroudant. A pretty and laid back desert town. Anyway I leave again next early morning, the road map on the gps temoting too much to taste this roads up there. The first break this third morning I make in a small village a few kilometers next to “my” road exactly where the mountains start. On the way back to the road I recognize a huge rock far in front of me at the road. It hasn’t been there 20 minutes ago and its still moving? No rock its one of the turtles living here crossing the street. I take some pictures and take racing position on the bike then. The curves to come are WUUUUHUUUUUUU!
In the evening I stop at an amazing place at a river in the mountains – birds are singing and the river does a nice sound too, trees are flowering and bees are humming, spring is here and the roads around are incredibly amazing… I decide to stay one or maybe two days.
Enjoy the pictures!
Mauritania – Western Sahara – Morocco
Km (miles) today (feb. 23.): 540 (335)
24.: 560 (350)
25.: 645 (401)
Next day (21.) in the evening I recognized I got two Emails from Mike whom I met in Kartong on his Yamaha Tenere. I wanted to meet him in Rao but he didn’t show up. He is in Nouakchott too and wants to head north early next morning. I got everything ready, just would like to change some money in the morning so we decide to go together. I pack all and when I check the bike I find out the oil level is low. Internet is turned off already so I am not able to inform Mike about me having to see a mechanic before taking the ride through the Sahara.
So I get up early next day, Nico shows me the mechanics place and then I go to inform Mike at Auberge Sahara about what had happened. Mike decides to wait for me and takes the chance to change his chain. I am pretty sure a seal in my oil system is a little broken, I already had this problem but the oil level is now ok again and the mechanic says its probably just petrol. He rips me off for this information which I know is bullshit but the oil level is ok now and its incredibly hot! Mike and I decide to spend the evening at Nicos place and hit the road a little past 3am heading to the border which is around 450km away.
Its incredibly cold on the bike and I am freezing all the time even though I am well dressed. We arrive at the only petrol station (with not only diesel) exactly in the middle between Noakchott and the border a little past 6 in the morning. Everybody is still sleeping so Mike gets out his petrol cooker to make some fire to get a little warmer. The petrol station opens at seven so we fill up and are on the road again when the sun is rising.
Arriving at the border at little past 10 in the morning I am a little worried about the Mauretanien stamp in my passport having not paid for a visa. Mike was sent back when he tried to enter Mauretania in Diama without visa but he didn’t have my magic police letter… (they sent him back to Dakar). At the first stop Mike has to do fingerprints and interview about where when and why, I can pass with none of this. And so it goes on at the Mauretanian side for me no problem, no question and for Mike the usual routine. So my advice when u try this – Get that police letter for residential visa when u are in Nouakchott and show it on the way back when entering! Saves obviously money and time! The letter itself only costs a little time.
After crossing the 5km No Mans Land between the borders the good luck turns around. First stop in Morocco no problem but at the second one they don’t want to stamp my passport. They look at all the visas in there again and again and start discussing. Half an hour waiting later they finally give me my entry stamp and I can move on to the customs. The border here has changed since I was here last time I recognize. Much more officials: military, customs, police….
I fill out a form for the bike get it stamped then go to another officer who searches my boxes very rude and impolite, drops my insulin on the floor and leaves me in a complete mess. At least I get the stamp so back to the office to get another signature on the form. Finished, I think when I have it and recognize a customs dog at the vehicles that leave morocco – that’s new too. The way out of customs area is blocked and a minute later I see Mike waiting in front of a big hall – all vehicles coming to Morocco and all trucks going out get x-rayed – at the moment the x-ray is blocked by outgoing trucks.
Its around 2 pm now and we are on the road for 11 hours, still not in Morocco and still 80km to go to a place where we can finally sleep waiting for an X-ray of the motorbikes. When I was asked if I have something to declare I told them only the kalaschnikow in the guitar bag. They laughed at me but did not look. Nobody took care of the bag that was always on my back if there would have been a kalaschnikow inside I would have had imported it legally – at least I had declared one…
Finally after more than 4 hours border procedure I wait at the petrol station after the border for Mike who is trying to get himself an insurance. He takes some time and half an hour later we finally start todays endspurt. Arriving afternoon instead of lunchtime we eat and pass away early evening. I sleep amazingly well until next day morning when Mike knocks at the door around 6 o clock. Like every morning when doing miles I drink a red bull from the ones I bought in the Gambia while I pack.
When the bikes are ready we drink a coffee to hit the road a little before sunrise. Todays target is Boujdour, little more than 500km north of where we start. I slept there in a nice and cheap hotel so its comfortable as we don’t need to search and can just follow my gps.
The sunrise in the desert is mind blowing and I enjoy the day starting at the same moment I start the engine! (Well coffee before was great too) The wind is blowing little less than on the way down, but now in our face and not in our back. We need incredible lots of petrol (both more than 9 on 100km) so I have to stop at the first petrol station after 160km.
We drink a coffee while three cops are just about starting to build up a checkpoint (= they stand on the street staring in different directions). It looks funny in the middle of the desert so I take a picture out of the window of the coffee. That picture costs us half an hour as one of the cops has seen me, they are really bored and have nothing better to do than to check if I have taken pictures of more “military objects” (like petrol stations or bored police officers). I am glad I haven’t and delete the ones they don’t like.
Today we enjoy the road taking many breaks for coffee and petrol and have fun. Late afternoon I see dark spots of several hundred square meters in the sea and it takes me about an hour before I realize it’s the shadows of the first clouds I have seen in weeks! Still the temperature is perfect all day and we arrive in Boujdour in the afternoon. We get all we need soon and find ourselves then at a restaurant eating, drinking coffee and chatting. What an amazing day this was!
Again we leave early and enjoy the desert sunrise on the road. Today will be the hardest one as we expect sand and wind on the way to come. After the first nearly 200km the first town after Boujdour is Laayoune. We stop a little before at it harbor to get petrol and breakfast. For the first time we can choose now: Highway or along the beach to Tarfaya? Of course we go along the beach – the desert landscape of this road is as amazing as itself is tire eating.
I like Tarfaya and we make one of todays many breaks there. It is amazing how we manage to do such a milage together and have so much fun on two so different bikes! Mike can go 400km under this conditions and I have a maximum of 240 maybe while my bike is much stronger and faster. But I wait while riding and we drink coffee every time we get petrol (mostly for me). After Tarfaya the next stop is in Akhfenir. I get petrol and they manage to put 10.5 liter in a 10 liter tank with 2 liter inside before already…. DON’T PUT PETROL IN AKHFENNIR! There are 3 petrol stations with at least one having digital measurement a few kilometers north of town at the police checkpoint!
Between Akhfennir and Tan Tan there are a few lagoons on the beach and in the first one I recognize spoon bills! I brake sharp, stop the bike and get out the big camera. That is one of the birds I wanted to see but until today haven’t! Mike passes by so I hurry up and go on. In the next lagoon again a shoal of big wading birds a little further away. They look a little like flamingos but I am not sure because of the distance. I take a few pictures and find out later that I have really seen two big groups of flamingos out there!
Mike waits for me at a roundabout a little before Tan Tan and we get a coffee in town around 4pm. The decision to go to the next town Guelmim was already made in Tarfaya, its only 130 more kilometers and we have well more than two hours until sunset. At the end of the day we find a cheap but luxurious hotel, great food (well, chicken&chips) and diet red bull! I had the last one this morning so this is just perfect!
Tomorrow Mike will go on heading quickly north while I will only go about 50km to the coastal town of Sidi Ifni. Thank you Mike for these amazing three days, for all the things I learned from you, for your great company and your permanent smile and good mood. There is only one road on this planet and it is connected all over. I hope we meet again out there one day and share another thousand miles!
Save journey my friend!
Tan–Tan – Cape Bojador
Km today: +/- 500
I didn’t sleep very well and jump on the bike as soon as I wake up. Without even having coffee I hit the road and decide to take a coffee at the next possibility. About 1.5 hours drive through the desert I stop at a petrol pump which is the next possibility to get coffee either. Its pretty windy and all is full of sand. In the east it looks like a thunderstorm in the desert and to my right is see the sea most of the time under a blue sky. I am in between with a few drops hitting me every now and then. After having coffee I get stopped at the police station and my passport is being checked. Like in Pakistan they write down my details before I go on – and like in Pakistan this procedure is reapiting itself several times this day. Seems like I arrived in Western Sahara! Arriving in Tarfaya I notice the petrol is a lot cheaper here too – only a little more than 70 cent per liter! After Tarfaya the road turns left and I go more or less directly south now. The wind is blowing a surface of sand on the road hitting from the north so it soon looks like I am riding on clouds! Hard to describe but it looks fucking awesome! This way the wind not only produces great optic effects but also enhances my speed. I arrive in Cape Bojador around half past four which means two hours before sunset. Ad Dakhla is still 350km away and in between there is only a very small village offering a café and two petrol stations. I am tired anyway and take a nice, clean and big room with a nice hot shower for 150DH. Garage for the bike included and wifi available. This place IS recommended!
I have no idea why the pictures are completely mixed up – they have numbers at least…
Jan 21. and Jan 22.
Km today: +/- 500
Tuesday I get bad news – It will be not possible to get the vaccination anywhere in Morocco but in Casablanca. I don’t want to get 500km back and forth again on the motorbike so I ask for a bus. Fortunately there is an overnight bus to Casablanca for just 7 euro so I will lose just a little more time. I pack my stuff and prepare everything to go to Casablanca at night with small luggage. Just as I am about to leave my good friend, Gudny from Iceland who travelled the same route last year, tells me I can get the vaccination in Mauritania as well. Awesome! I go riding again on the beach at sunset and as the things are already packed I can enjoy the evening at the beach.
Next day the alarm wakes me at half past seven. I get up, drink a last coffee with Rosina and hit the road. Today should be sunshine everywhere and tomorrow rain in Agadir. If I can do the 500km to Tan-Tan today it shoukd be sunny tomorrow. I pass Agadir around lunch time. Until now the landscape was desert like but still pretty many trees – now this changes! I feel more and more like in Balochistan as the landscape becomes reddish and empty. And like every time when I approach the really dry places of the planet….. it starts to rain! However I arrive in Tan-Tan a little before sunset and the local Moped Gang helps me finding a hotel. Very cheap for 60DH including a place inside (in the restaurant for the bike! I take a little rest and get some food. I feel a little itching and find out there are obviously bed bugs in the bed. A little later the lady who owns the house comes to ask for more money so I show her the bites. She moves me to another room but still asks for money. I close the door of the new room. That’s just a little too much now.
By the way I got stopped by the police twice today, once for speeding (well there was a 60 in the middle of the nowhere in the desert) and once for driving without helmet in Tan Tan on the way back to the hotel after delivering my hotel find helper back home. Funny enough both expected somebody from france on the bike and when they found out I am from Austria and understand not a single word of whatever they say they just told me to go (which I didn’t understand).
Enjoy the pictures I really had an amazing day on, and for the first time of the journey off the road. I took several kilometers next to the road and it was great fun!
Jan 19. And Jan 20.
km: around 50 to Essaouira and back
Sunday is sunny and I let my birthday be a lazy day. I enjoy the sun on the rooftop and sleep all afternoon. Totally relax!
Monday morning I go to Essaouira with my host Rosina. I still need to get my yellow fever vaccination so we go to the hospital. The doctor there says they don’t do it here and I have to go to Casablanca which is more than 500km north. I cant believe it and decide to go to a private doctor. When asking for one people ask me why I didn’t give money to the doctor… Well he didn’t ask me and there were sign not to do so everywhere. I maybe should have taken that as a hint. The private doctor writes a prescription, no problem. Vaccine is not available at the pharmacy so they order in Casablanca (no need to go there myself surprisingly) – will be there within 24 hours.
I ride back to Sidi Kaouki alone, have a café on the beach and then decide to make a horse ride as the horses look very nice and Ibrahim who is a real nice guy whom I had met on the first evening here comes with me. The last time riding is very long time ago so I need nearly half an hour to get back in balance with the horse. I can literally feel what the horse is thinking about me during that time. Hopefully Ibrahim is an unpatient teacher so after half an hour we ride along the beach in full gallop. I have a lot of fun and decide to do this again tomorrow as I have to stay another day for the vaccine anyway.
Jan 16. – Jan 18. 2014
Km: approximately 570
Next day we get up early to get our Mauretania visa in Rabat. We get stuck in the traffic, take a lot of time to take pictures and get photocopies of passport and visa form but still manage to be at the embassy before the deadline at 11 am. We can collect the visa in the afternoon at three they tell us. We decide to have a rest at the surf camp in Medhia and come back by motorbike (in the morning we went by car because of predicted rain) in the afternoon. Heavy rain started at lunchtime so we went back to the city by car again… At three there were a lot of people waiting in the pouring rain in front of the embassy. At around 4:20 pm they finally opened the gates and we got our visa. It took only a day and went pretty straight forward but be careful with weekends: closed from Friday to Sunday!
Friday is the day to say good bye to Joe as I will go on south a little faster now next stop being the hippie place Essaouira where Jimmy Hendrix was and Mick Jagger got arrested. Its already pretty late when I leave and I make a stop at a modern shopping center a little before Casablanca. Even though the weather is supposed to be ok it starts raining more and more in the afternoon so I stop at a small town called Al Jadida and look for a place to dry and sleep. Hotels are getting cheaper again and I easily find a place below 100DH to stay. It’s a nice small town with the Medina reminding me a little of Yazd in Iran. After coffee and walking around for some time I find a place to eat. The waiter is a nice guy who studies linguistic and speaks amazingly good English. He invites me to come for breakfast next morning and take my guitar then. I agree and say good night just in time to get a nice shave on the way back to the hotel. In the evening the rain had turned into a heavy thunderstorm and late at night even hail is falling.
When I wake up this Saturday morning I still hear rain at the window so I get a picture in my head of spending all day in the room and not going on. Anyway I pack my stuff and step out into the rain to get coffee just a little before nine. I look up in the sky and its blue – still raining though on this obviously sunny day. I go to get coffee where I had been the day before. Sitting outside with the guitar nobody takes any notice before I go inside and ask for coffee (there definitely is service outside). Inside the TV and radio are switched on so the guitar remains in the bag until I go to pay – then suddenly the guys are really surprised and ask why I leave without making music. They ask me to go up to the second floor (its like a big balcony inside overlooking all the café), turn in music and TV and serve another coffee. Soon two more amazing guitarists arrive carrying another guitar and we make a really nice morning session. I enjoy a lot! And I make one or two really nice videos of the guys. (will be online when I am back home like all the videos). I manage to be back at the hotel just in time for the check out at 12 so I leave Al Jadida at 12.30 asking myself if it is a good idea to leave such a nice place regarding tomorrow is my birthday… Still I am attracted by th hippie beach of Essauoira and anyway my Mauretanian visa lasts only one month starting at the day of issuing so it is no good idea to waste to much time – I will be back in this town when going back to Europe I promise to myself.
The ride along the coast offers amazing views! The weather is a little wet every now and then just to keep the lense wet on my first attempt to use the Gopro remote for taking pictures. Never mind. Between the villages I am at the coast of Ireland and whenever I see people I feel like I am in india. The waves are amazing and sea sun and clouds create nearly surreal views with a fog lifting from the wet lands under a blue sky with black clouds to my left. I pass Essauoira in the evening moving on to a small village recommended by the host in Medhia beach. After being offered a rat hole of a room sharing kitchen and shower with a german couple for 200DH I have to laugh and leave quickly. As soon as I am out I get offered a room just around the corner run by a spanish girl. Clean, lots of light, Indian interieur and a kind of family place for 100 only.
I get food, coffee and after some time Andy, a guitarist from Great Britain arrives. We have a lot of fun together this evening even though I am not sure if I like this place so much. It seems to be very touristy and a little more expensive when it comes to food and shopping. However I will stay here for my birthday and I will try to get yellow fever vaccination at the hospital here.
km: around 620
I spend some more days in Tangier and on Thursday I feel healthy enough to move on. Next stop is Moulay Bousselham where another nature reserve for migratory birds including flamingos attracts me. Arriving there I am just in time to enjoy sunset. While having my first guy a young guy who either just arrived comes to me and starts talking. He has lost his passport and is pretty finished. His name is Joe and he is from Teneriffa travelling overland in a Jeep from one beach to the next mostly for the waves (He is an 18 year old surfer). We decide to take a nice apartment on the beach together and next day in the morning we take a boat out to the lagoon to do some bird watching. After half an hour on the boat my small movie camera falls into the water at the bottleneck of the lagoon. The tide is up so the water doesn’t move… We try to find the camera for some time using nets but when the tide goes down the current becomes stronger and we have to give up. I am pissed.
Next day (Saturday) morning Joe goes back to Assilah where he believes his passport to be.while I try everything to find a possibility to replace the camera I lost (even though the files including one nice sunset in Chefchauouen and the ride to here are lost). As I expected there is no possibility to get a gopro camera in Morocco and sending would cause problems because of customs. Fortunately I find a small shop in Ceuta who is Gopro dealer. Fernando, the shop keeper whom I contact via Internet reacts immediately and is extremely helpful so I decide to go back to the north to visit his shop to replace the camera. Joe fortunately gets back his passport so at least this problem is solved.
Sunday morning I agree with Joe to meet on monday in Kenitra (260 km south of Ceuta close to Rabat, the capitol of Morrocco) where he will go today. I go back to Ceuta border where I stay for the night. Monday morning I quickly (no joke) cross the border to go shopping and then take the motorway south. Fernando invites me for coffe in Ceuta, gives me some tipps as he is travelling on two wheels either and of course gives me all I came for. If you need any GOPRO supply in this area visit Fernando! His “Corner Shop” is located inside the Benetton store and you will find it at N35°53.258’ W005°18.666′,by clicking this link or just calling him at 0034636023039 – his phone.
I arrive in Kenitra around sunset and take more than half an hour before I turn round to check out a hotel I had seen close to the highway. Joe didn’t send me a message until I left the morrocan border town so I need to check internet anyway and if the hotel is not to expensive and there is no message I could maybe stay there. The hotel is amazing but way to expensive. Fortunately Joe has written a message so I get a coffee and try to find him. My front light is finished so it is little hard to ride all through the city with far distance lights only but the traffic jam is way better and I find Joe about an hour later. I had been raining all day so the road to the hotel is covered with lakes of water to a depth of more than 30cm. You never know when riding into one how deep it will get so I have some little adventures before arriving at medhia surf club.
When I get there all is fine. We quickly get some food and go to bed soon. The next days I fix the front light and wednesday evening we want to drive and ride into the sunset at the beach. Joe had told me about driving along the beach for 40km so I can’t wait to do it! We do hardly 50 meters down to the water until both of us get stuck at the beach at a beautiful sunset. Joe fortunately manages to free his car by taking some air out of the tyres and then goes up to the surf camp to get some help. Four of us easily manage to get the bike up to the road again too so we are lucky and again have some adventure today.