I've always wanted to get to Africa, preferably the usual way (flyandride). In February, the opportunity arose and friends, so we went for it. Unfortunately, we only had one week to have fun, which turned out to be not enough in retrospect. It is comforting that two would have been enough.
The plane landed in Agadir, the western tip of Morocco. At around nine in the evening, all three of us rode our assembled bikes towards the accommodation. 4-star big bay on the ocean coast. Being still inexperienced, as soon as we saw a Meki we quickly went in to grab something, we didn't want to destroy the travel supplies, and we couldn't find anything else open in the city. We only got beer at the hotel, at a high price. I think that if there is a negative thing to mention about Morocco, it is the drone confiscated at the airport - of course it was returned upon exit - and the lack of beer. Being a Muslim country, alcohol consumption is prohibited and is generally observed. The tourist spots are prepared, they even have their own beer called Casablanca, but we didn't go to those places.
Entering is not easy, you must have a pen with you, because you have to fill in a short form, name, occupation, purpose of visit, etc. Packages are checked and screened, even at the very end upon exit. It is forbidden to bring drones into the country, as well as cameras. Here it was not revealed exactly what kind of camera they were looking for, but the cameras and the gopro were allowed through. The drone was taken, however, and when it was returned upon departure, a customs deposit was charged. Therefore, it is not worth announcing its actual value. Anyway, I think you can try it by taking it to pieces. Fortunately, our brandy was in the bottles of the bicycles, so it didn't catch anyone's eye either.
The next day, at the Agadir decathlon, we got a gas bottle for our stove, which of course was not necessary, but we made it work. We filled up with water and set off for the Atlas. The plan was to take advantage of the time, stay up on the mountain as long as possible, and hit the end quickly on the flat return. Where we were on asphalt, there was not a lot of traffic, and although everyone warned us that traffic morale was terrible, we did not experience this. They paid attention, they got out of the way, we even got priority. The first destination was Paradise Valey, which is about 1000m high north-east of Agadir and can be reached by cycling for 40-50 km. Here we usually drove on an asphalted road, there were no shortcuts that were worth it.
The road leading to the canyon was also wonderful, its last section already led through a narrow valley, in a landscape that is not suitable for the local conditions, between palm trees and argan forests. As far as we could, we traveled by bicycle on the narrow single-track path, but the only way to get into the canyon was on foot, jumping from stone to stone, and climbing the wall in some places. By the end of the trip back there, it was almost dark. The sunset was between 6-7 and it got dark very suddenly. We checked out the small terrace of a cafe, had dinner and mint tea, and then negotiated with the hosts to sleep on the terrace. It was great, we weren't too high up, the weather was pleasant even at night, with temperatures above freezing. We left after breakfast, we didn't make it early enough, because the family slept much longer than we did. The destination for the day was La Grotte Timdouine, which with its terraced rock walls could be compared to the Grand Canyon.
Its interesting feature is a stalactite cave on the side of the canyon, which is 7 km long. Although we had a lamp with us, we got there quite late, and at the accommodation we suddenly found, they were already waiting for us and we were very hungry, so we only went a few hundred meters in the cave, which is otherwise active. We were also disappointed by the amount of water, there was no change of shoes, and it was not too warm to ride in the wet, and nothing would have dried out the next day either. In any case, this cave is on the bucket list, you have to spend a day there.
Our hosts were extremely kind here as well, we had divine tajine for dinner, which was made from chicken here. This is one of the most typical dishes of Moroccans, it is prepared in a special clay pot, which is also called tajine. The bottom is flat and the lid has a peak, so the food cooks on the bottom and steams on the top. Onions, meat (chicken, beef, lamb, or goat) and all kinds of vegetables, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, peas, lemons, raisins, olives, spices. It is very easy to make. You put the charcoal under the pot, it takes 1.5-3 hours, depending on the meat, and it's done. It's very tasty, for lack of a better word, I made it at home in a cast iron wok and in the oven.
The next day, after the usual breakfast of pie, honey, olive oil and mint tea, we continued towards Argana. to hit the mountains again. We had brutally strong winds all afternoon and it wasn't too hot either. The landscape also changed, and we had to be more and more careful about buying water. We were prepared for the lack of water and carried water purification bottles so that we could drink almost anything. From this point of view, the weather was favorable, on the one hand it rained sometimes, and on the other hand it was not too hot either. There are no shops or eateries in Argana, but there is a bank where you can at least exchange money. We didn't go on the main road, we found a shorter one, but it turned out that if we wanted to top up our supplies, we just had to go back to the main road. We got everything here in the store, and even a cubed cheese-oily fish combo packed in a pie, that made it for lunch. Leaving Argana again, we headed east towards the higher regions.
We moved slowly because of the wind, but the landscape is beautiful red hills, opposite the snowy block of Toubkal in the distance. We hiked up until dark, but we didn't want to spend the night too high, we stopped at around 1100m to look for a place to bivouac. A small dried-up wash provided sufficient protection from the wind. We camped, gathered dry twigs and cooked our usual smackle soup, which we washed down with some brandy. We got into our sleeping bags in time and zipped ourselves into the Yakpack. It was a cold night, well below 0 degrees. The sky was crystal clear, I had never seen so many stars in total as that night. You could almost read by the starlight. Compared to the fact that we had +10 sleeping bags, we did not freeze to death. However, I wouldn't trade hot coffee in the morning for anything.
We set off early, saving energy and water, because getting water from here on was not an easy task. There were no villages and no streams. We had to climb 1600-1800m, on relatively well-traveled roads, which in some places turned into a narrow donkey path. We were relieved when, from the ridge, we saw in the distance a valley with bright green terraces and lush vegetation. We were sure there was running water there. The descent went quickly, in less than an hour we reached the small Berber village hidden in the valley.
The children immediately jumped in front of us, they don't often see tour bike drivers, obviously we were in for an event. They even managed to convince us that there is a shop in the upper part of the village. Well, it wasn't a shop, but they took me to the head of the village, who saw us as "guests". We also entered the typical Berber, windowless cube that doesn't inspire much confidence from the outside.
Inside, a completely different world greeted me. The fresh flowery courtyard is surrounded by the rooms, which are clean, tidy and decorated in cheerful colors. Apparently, we were seated in the living room, where apart from a small table, there was a TV. Mint tea, honey, olive oil and cake. This was the menu. Well, we didn't go to the wall, but when the old man moaned about how many euros he wanted for the hospitality, well, almost.
In the end, we bargained for 20 euros, which was still the most expensive mint tea of the trip. We didn't really regret it, he went to a good place, seeing so many children. Not to mention the experience of being able to see such a portal from the inside.
We started for the next pass, it was already clear from the village that it would be quite a climb. Fortunately, we had food, oranges, and water, although the food would not have comfortably lasted the next day. We drove through beautiful rocky countryside, with a magnificent view of the Oued Souss valley.
Until late in the afternoon, we mostly go uphill with small lifts, after Tafrauten we started to descend more steeply. I was hoping that we would find some accommodation up on the mountain, but it didn't happen like that. We were getting hungry and tired. The situation was somewhat saved by Bala's stock of dried beef. We were forced to trickle down to Taroudant and leave the Atlas behind.
He continued. next