We visited Morocco a year ago - there was even an entry about it: Morocco - is it cool? I do not know. In the middle of this post there was such a statement:

This is an entry about how we did everything very badly. About the fact that Panda will never return there again, and I count the days to gather the boys, gravele and go with the sleeping bag to the Atlas mountains. (It will never happen! - Panda note.)

And here is a surprise - 13 months later I go with my friends, gravels and sleeping bags to the Atlas Mountains. Panda stays at home.


Most important: How much does weekly bikepacking cost?


PLN 488:  ticket for man
350zł  : bicycle ticket
866zł  (2130MAD): 7 nights + food

or: 1704zł

and it can be a bit cheaper, of course.

We withdraw money with Revolut from an on-site ATM (2,500 dirhams for about PLN 1,000). Interesting fact: the ATM withdraws from the zloty account, not the Moroccan one - the loss is already good morning. When leaving Morocco, we exchange the remains in the exchange office - 4 of us get 35 euros, the fifth 45 euros. It seems that the lady in the exchange office makes the calculations slightly "on watch" - so that "roughly" agrees. I have an irresistible impression that everything is in the country by eye, especially when it comes to tourists' money.

 


10 things to know.


 1. Morocco is two worlds.

Big cities like Marrakech, Agadir, Casablanca are pathology, muck, noise, chaos. Virtually everyone will try to cheat you or offer unwanted help, for which they will demand money later. Even when buying rolls in the store, the seller can completely spend 50 PLN on purpose. A nice lady selling pies on the street says that the price is 5MAD, but when the moment of payment comes, it turns out that it was the price of a bald pie, without extras. For more examples, I invite you to last year's entry.

The other world is villages and small towns where people are nice, kind and helpful. Everyone is waving, screaming, the prices are low, known and no one will fool you ... I think. There are situations in local shops, when the seller pays 900 for a few wafers, and when he sees our consternation and desire to escape, he changes the price to 50 dirhams. Initially, we thought it was a fat scam attempt, but the situation repeats several times. So either the Berbers have a separate currency that the internet doesn't write about, or they are very weak in cheating.

Is it if everyone is trying to press x20 on you?
this is already a scam
or just such a practice?

 2. Atlas stores are like RUCH kiosks.

As for stores on the route - it's hard - even in larger cities. The shops look a bit like our traffic kiosks (without the press) and are carefully camouflaged. A bit like a typical shoemaker's factory in Prague. As for the assortment, it is very unobvious. Usually they are oranges, 20 types of wafers (which differ only in packaging), a bit of chemistry and with a bit of luck some ulepce Delicacies. Very often they don't even have water in them. Well, damn - if you earn practically nothing and live in the countryside, which nobody visits, why would you buy water in a plastic bottle? At the store there is usually a dustbin used to burn garbage.

Four riders are riding, they are riding
Four riders are riding, four are riding
You are the first to hunger
Hunger everywhere in your body
It brings you hunger that you don't want and which you will get anyway

3. Week on bread, water, olives and wafers.

This situation means that we are permanently hungry for a week. In "hotel restaurants" we get either classic tajine (that is some potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, peppers and a minimum amount of meat), which waits for a minimum of 90 minutes, or bread with jam, melted cheese or humus-olive paste. With any luck you can also get an omelette. However, everything is so small and so inaccessible that we spend the evenings scraping with the last piece of bread after the tajine plate to get some burning to taste. I don't know what the melted cheese is all about, but it is the most popular addition here.

Generally, when spending an average of about 10 hours a day with a bicycle, no food strategy works here. So we embrace the proven technique: "survive for another hour and then come up with something." We extrapolate it for the whole day, then for the week.

Tap water and streams did not kill us, but we also tried to use treatment tablets as a preventive measure. Although while driving we did not have a situation where we would be close to death due to dehydration (capacity of water bottles ~ 1.6l), be careful and do not go below the emergency supply of 0.5l of water and several hundred calories in a bag.

 4. In hotels rather empty

We find some absolutely absurdly dead season. In none of our accommodations (except Marrakech) we will meet a person other than service ... and the service usually consists of one person. We fall everywhere without a reservation. This means that we have to wait a long time for everything. For any food (the guest must go to the store), hot water, lighting the fireplace, etc. In some rooms, the temperature drops below 10 ° C, so we sleep in an owl, in a sleeping bag and under blankets. Blankets are everywhere and save the situation.

 5. On the roads, rather empty

On most of the sections we cover, we don't see more than a dozen cars a day. Bitumen is very good but also very bad, and most of it is rough and disappears altogether in towns and on sharper bends.

Tourist places are an exception. The crowd is quite big there. Bicycle and scooter lanes are marked out on the main roads around Marrakech. When it comes to drivers, I don't think it is more dangerous than ours.

 6. Top20 things to see in Morocco.

If I were to advise someone on a trip to these areas, I would recommend doing it like this: enter in Google "top 20 places morocco", mark them on the map and avoid. Tourist places are crowded and pathology. It's easy to meet - for example, you drive through the mountains and suddenly guests with camels appear.

 7. Like the Pope or Wałęsa.

Traveling by bike around Morocco is not an obvious tourist activity. Passing through most places in the Atlas, we feel as if we were the attraction of the day (or even a week). Everyone waves us, everyone greets, children run after us, shouting and cheering. The words "Bonjour" and "ça va ?!" we hear about 10 million times. In the villages we are like a pope passing by papamobile, in larger towns like Lech Walesa, from whom everyone wants to recover their 100 million.

I am reminded why I decided to go for a black bike:
Yellow Canyon picks up all its attention
leaving my unnoticed

Just stop for half a minute in any village to be immediately surrounded by a bunch of kids. On the wilderness it takes a bit longer, but they can appear out of nowhere. Children are also quite characteristic, because in most of them there is no sense that maybe something is not right. They can stand 14cm beside you ruthlessly and watch you fight the change of inner tube for 35 minutes. Then, of course, they'll ask for money for visual assistance.

Kids can sometimes joke around with full impetus, but they don't know that Strength comes with us. If you are wondering whether it is possible to make a fivefold toe loop, I answer: with the help of this hand it is.

If they were Polish children I would say that they are good pitchers (in such a positive context)
but they are not
so I guess it's not right to say that

Generally, in the Atlas Mountains we wave much more often than on Sunday noon on the road to Góra Kalwaria. Not only that, in many driveways there are so many children running (and screaming) that we feel like Froome on TdF. Sometimes it is depressing, because in the case of ramps it is enough that they go. And of course everyone, but everyone is wearing jackets and long pants - it's winter.

 8. Average temperatures very good.

We visit Morocco at the end of February and the weather should be completely different. Total drought finds us - even cacti dry out enormously. Lokalsi they don't remember when it was raining for the last time, the green areas are rather grayish, and the slope that we plan to visit is closed. The temperatures on the meters fluctuate between 57 ° C when we are driving in the sun, in an asphalt pan, to zero around the mountains, in the morning.

 9. It's worth having toilet paper with you.

Generally local guys they don't use such luxuries. It is a bit puzzling when you visit a toilet in the back of a pub, and there is no paper and only a bucket with a tap, and a washbasin without soap outside. Awareness of health and safety rules must be abandoned quickly. Everything is done here with bare hands. After a week we are professionals in this. Grimy with sweat and sand, we enter the stores and naduszamy more breads to judge which is the least hard.

 10. It's nice ... and it's hard

The Atlas Mountains are spectacularly impressive, but the routes are rather hard. These landscapes are somewhat similar to Canary, but such "much more". The combination of weather, lack of food, steep slopes and poor accommodation make it not necessarily a good choice for bikepacking beginnings or for cyclists who like coffee on the promenade. And they have our storks, which often build nests on minarets, and this raises a very important question:

What if the storks are Muslims,
who just fly to colder countries for the summer,
how Poland


Equipment:


They crossed the route:
Romet Boreas with 37mm tires,
Rondo Rut Al with 40mm tires,
Canyon Inflite SL with 40mm tires,
Factor Vista with 35mm tires (but tubeless - as the only one without a defect).

Bags are a full cross-section - from Podsacs, through Topeak to Apidura, as well as their location, but the minimum set, i.e. under the saddle, under the heart and under the frame, accompanied everyone.

Conclusions: 35mm tubeless is enough for 95% route, the other 5% killed my back. I recommend taking 40mm and tubeless (because stones).

You have to accept the fact that in such a dry and dusty environment full of flying stones, your bike will come back in a much worse condition: visually and technically.

In my bags, among others:

two cycling sets (shorts + T-shirts), 3 pairs of socks (including one warm), cycling sweatshirt, down jacket, ultralight jacket, long civil pants, civil jersey, two sweats, powerbank, cables, a pair of bars, mass of patches, 2 inner tubes , multitool, spare hook, 2 pairs of long gloves, sleeves, legs, sleeping bag, inflated mat, bivy (such a sleeping bag instead of a tent), first aid kit, insulation tape, towel, hand sanitizer (and other places), bicycle fastener, water treatment tablets. The whole, along with the bicycle and empty water bottles: some 16kg.

Useless things:

The cycling jersey was not used even once. Mattress and bivas (camping cloth) also, but they were treated like a first aid kit - for a rainy day.

Things deserving of the prize:

Down jacket - it turned out to be a brilliant solution - it is much smaller and lighter than a sweatshirt, warmer, more pleasant and you can sleep comfortably in it when it is cold, and in a civilian you do not look like a fool. Whether it's Rapha or Forclaz from Decathlon. I'm joining the down cup to the obligatory bikepacking list.

Tubeless tires - because not one nieprzygody. I change the recommendation for tubeless from "noł goł" to "goł".

Abus helmetwho survived (though suffered) repeatedly meeting low frames - this is in my opinion the greatest danger of Morocco.

TriEye glasses - this is not oakley quality of vision, but man gets used to the rearview mirror very quickly. Especially when it's worth knowing that a truck is approaching you from the horizon.

Eroe shorts - I still think it's the best.

Hammerhead Karoo, because although it weighs as much as Garmin 1030 with glued 820, not a single day the battery has not fallen below 50%, and the maps are used super comfortably.

Destination Lycra, which we met along the way (so I confirm that it was there) described here all the logistics in the MTB version and partly sleeping under the cloud, here:

-> -> http://www.destinationlycra.com/destination-morocco-2020/ <- <-


Route:


Surface statistics by Komoot:
unpaved: 135 km
Compacted Gravel: 10.7 km
Cobblestones: 2.63 km
paved: 78.2 km
Asphalt: 656 km

total: ~ 900 km / ~ 16000 m

lowest point: Marrakesh (around 460m asl)
the highest point: Tizi n'Ouano (approx. 2,910m asl)

It is hard for me to assess the facts, but it seems that the surfaces nieasfaltowe They accounted for some 20-30%, which is just right.

We look for nights in the dark, but we have marked on the maps where to expect them.


Potential Dangers


Dogs are totally fired on us. They are more afraid of us than we are of them. With a bit of bad luck you can probably find a shepherd's madman, but he will be far enough to be prepared (evacuated)

Among the people we didn't meet anyone who was rude to us (we once met kids with stones, but they gently aimed at the tires and rather for fun).

There is a good chance of tumors and concussion due to super low door frames and all kinds of doors in the rooms.

Roads have no barriers and the surface is often conducive to flying out of the bend. Especially on asphalt roads which lose this asphalt during a sharp turn

Apparently there are scorpions - the internet says you don't die, but it hurts a lot. For wild nights, check your shoes.

The chance of dehydration is high, but not enough to carry more than 2l of water with you. In the case of food, you must be able to live on wafers and oranges. In a gate situation, any lokals should save us, because they are nice people.


Day I


Marrakech Menara - Zerkten
We check in at Marrakech Menara around noon. Airport designation: RAK says everything about this city. We turn bikes in the arrivals hall and this is a good time to tell the boys about fuck-up from Taiwan when we turned our bikes in front of the security gate and we couldn't leave the facility. We laughed in the empty hall, we turned everything smoothly and together with the crowd getting off the plane we lined up to ... security gates. Well done us.

We had a lot of time in queue to think about how we would pass the unpacked bikes through the check-out-tunnel-to-transport-water. It seems that the customs officers did not come up with a good way either, and eventually we go sideways, without any control. With heavy bikes under the arm and cardboard boxes on the back.

Here is a curiosity for fans of books (and I know from Instagram that there are many) - urinals at Menara airport are in the bathrooms so high that with a height of nearly 190cm I had to pee in a horizontal line. How are the lower ones doing? I don't know ... in time we began to wonder if they were actually urinals.

We leave the cartons at a car rental approximately 1km from the airport (Jasami Car) in exchange for a box of marshmallow. The deal was already established by e-mail, although I am not sure if this form of payment has been agreed. I have the irresistible impression that when we receive them in a week, it turns out that in fact storage costs a cardboard box, but already spending 100 euros from the head. Anything is possible in Marrakech. We set off.

Along the way, we hook up to an ATM that cheats us on money (withdraws from the zloty instead of dirham account) and we are PLN 20 in the back. Then, a visit to the store preceded by a long conversation with security "where you can and where you can't" lean your bike. We lose the conversation and park in a nearby restaurant, where we decide to eat, as it turned out later, the last reasonable meal this week. Like Enzo Gorlomi, we order "spaghetti quattro formaggi", which in 95% was "spaghetti uno formaggi" ... which is a luxury among local pasta anyway. For reasons unknown to us, in every conversation we use all the Italian / Spanish words that we know assuming that since most Moroccans speak French, we will get along. After the fourth day, calling for accommodation we limit our words to "Helo! Hotel OK ?! Today ?! Chamber OK?

Then we only have 90km of not very pleasant route, because you have to leave this pathology, and it takes two hours to the hills from Marrakech. I learn from Instagram that Piotrek from Destination Lycra is in the area and is just drinking tea in the town where we plan stay looking for accommodation. The matter makes it much easier for us, because he deals with a guest from tadżinowej booth that he will find us 4 beds, and Piotrek himself will move with the tent to the terrace.

A paragraph that explains why people don't come with us.

To make the trip more attractive, Andrzej breaks the hook in the driveway. There is no spare. Like real colleagues, we leave him by the road, determining that "somehow it will be" and "somewhere we will meet someday." The old motto of our trips is that "most participants must survive come back ”, so we look at each other with a somewhat suspicious look at who the last will be abandoned (there were 5 of us). We arrive in the dark, the road being renovated, thanks to which everything is crackling, including teeth.
Overnight in Zertken is the worst. Piotrek, who cleverly reserved a window seat, not knowing beforehand that the window is a hole, not a window, while it is extremely cold outside, he moves with sleeping to the restaurant floor. Slamming curtains, barking dogs, noise cars are just an addition to sleep, which Michał tries to effectively drown out snoring. For breakfast we get bread with a paste reminiscent of oil and hummus. Thanks to this, we get to know the toilet system, which consists of a room with a window (also without glass), holes in the floor and buckets for draining water. The bathroom is gone, so as we slept for dirt, we don't care.
At this point, I would like to sincerely apologize to the owner of this object - we did not know that the pipes in such shrines are so unobstructed, and the surrounding Kreta stores do not sell. For the sake of blog level, I won't go into details. Let me just say that it was a sloppy incident.

Day II


Zerkten - Ait Blal
https://www.strava.com/activities/3128660314
132.5km / 2756m

The second day begins with a bit arduous, but quite charming uphill at 1800m above sea level, alternating with asphalt and gravel. It is also a day on which we discover only interesting things:
- that there are very few stores
- that it is very warm in Morocco and water is very difficult. When stopping in the center of Demnate (bread with melted cheese), the thermometer shows 39ºC, which is 33ºC more than when we set off
- that our kilometer plan is not feasible if we plan to drive only during the day (because why visit at night if you can't see anything)
- that the hills are very steep
- that we are a huge attraction for all local children

But above all the fact that it is really nice and really empty. It is a land created for the bikes we came with. Covering 132 kilometers takes us nearly 9.5 hours (including 8 the same ride) and we know that we will not reach the planned accommodation. Even not so much accommodation, but a place where accommodation could be. In Ait Blal, we see a plaque that suggests that there may be hope for us. Before Piotrek pulls out the phone, we are already surrounded by ~ 20 children, and all the people around us look at us as if we were naked Cersei Lannister.

We have perfect accommodation - it's probably a ski resort judging by skiing in the hallway. Such a large cottage, villa could be said for local standards. There are rooms, beds, a normal restroom, a huge living room with huge windows overlooking the mountains and high life in general. After 1.5 hours of waiting for the tajine and photographing our passports by nice gentlemen officials, we go to sleep in a small room with 4 beds. Called: Tizinoubadou.


Day III


Ait Blal-Cathedral
The third day is one of those that had the potential to delete at least one of us. From the first kilometers we appreciate that the previous day we were not tempted to (planned) attack the last hill. While the first 10km was relatively pleasant despite Krzysiek catching the gum, the following fragment named Brutal climb up to the Happy Valley, i.e. 2.5 km with an average of 12% was not easy. And of course it's a shame to do such a scenic route in the dark.


It may not have been easy, but it is definitely worth the ride. For the first time we cross the 2000m altitude border and our eyes are showing real, large mountains. The downhill is excellent, both scenic and cycling.
The previously mentioned valley bypasses the "main" road through the mountains, squeezing gravel roads and asphalt through small towns. We are starting an endless ramp to an altitude of ~ 2750m, where I see snow for the first time this winter. We are there 7 hours after leaving the accommodation, and the meter shows a magical 75km, which is half of the planned distance. It doesn't worry us too much, because now there is only the way down.

Only, of course, this is not the case, because while the beginning of the exit is a cycling highway worthy of being placed in an Alpine resort, then it does not get quite good. In Zaouiat Ahansal, the asphalt ends and we begin over 40km of wandering around the stones. I would describe driving as not very comfortable.
It is nice, because the place is a substitute for the Dolomites, but so what, since you look constantly under the wheels, and the head flies like a man on the washing machine Frania was sitting.
After a long and pleasant descent, this area hurts twice.
Darkness reaches us at an altitude of 1850m and the last 12km of descent in the dark on stones is now a free American. Tired hands hang on the door handles, and our heads are busy with virtual thumbs so that one of the stones does not hit the corner of the wheel - the flight down would be long. Fortunately, it's already dark enough that you can't see how deep the valley is.

In the first of the potential accommodation there is no place - local guys they sleep on the floor alone and stuffing 4 smelly cyclists there is problematic. They only ask if we need water and suggest going a bit further - apparently there are accommodations serving rafting trips. In the current hydrological situation, such a trip would be rather a downhill ride. We get to Gîte La Cathedrale, where we are greeted by an empty hotel-restaurant. We get a tajine, the owner smokes in the fireplace and we start cycling discussions about whether this should be the vacation.
We spend the morning patching up inner tubes and wondering where to get food for the road. We have about 37km to the nearest town on the route, so what could go wrong ...

4th day


Cathedral - Imilchil
https://www.strava.com/activities/3134554475
101.6km / 2734m
It was supposed to be a beautiful day. The first 34 kilometers we go through the river gorge - gravel is pleasant, and huge, rock walls give a nice coolness. Everything was beautiful, were it not for the adventure that began about 3 kilometers before the end of the canyon (behind which civilization was waiting for us). A rock landslide covered the road. On the one hand a large wall, on the other a river. There is a goal ahead of us, behind us 30 kilometers of stepping back through a gorge and over 100 km of a detour. Piotrek crosses the river to make a provisional check if something is visible. We agree that you can see and that it is better around the corner.
And it really is, but the next one is bad again.
Emotions add to the fact that we pass something that looks like a barrier made of stones and we hear the excavator above us. This means that probably a new road is being built somewhere above us, and the landslide is being tapped with stones thrown by it. We calculate the probability that the stone will fall on us, we go and start rock climbing with bikes on the back. It takes a very long time, to put it mildly - enough that I decide to add water from the river to the water bottles. We come to Anergua, where there is a waffle shop and bread with an omelette.

Wearing a bike by walking lightly on a slope full of stones may not sound particularly bad, but when the sun burns mercilessly and the skin on the right side of the body is clearly a different color than on the left (because on the 4th day in a row we go the same way), and the bike weighs 17kg, all sensations are multiplied.

A little fried in the stomach and we are immediately ready for over 10km of the driveway with an average 10%. It is so warm that it can't be warmer - bubbles appear on my wrists, and Piotr's watch shows 57ºC. It is the hardest mentally uphill route - also because you can see the top from the bottom. You drive along winding asphalt without any shade. It's probably one of the warmest days in my life. Although I drank nearly 2 liters in the store at the foot, I start calculating halfway up the drive for how much the rest is enough for me. I also hope that the summit will be colder.
The hill is again very nice, and we pass even more cut off from the world of the village. One that I would describe in a word: strong. Somewhere in the middle of nothing, a shepherd runs to us from the horizon shouting "énergie!" He did not mean supporting, but he simply wanted to ask about some food. In the distance I see his hut built of blankets. He also mentions something about money so that he can buy socks.
It's such a not very pleasant feeling, when you ride a bike in tens of thousands, rolled away in Rapha, you gasp hungry and tired in the driveway, when next to people in extreme poverty are wondering "why, why ?!". After all, you could just sit in your luxury at home. I have no answer.
On this day, the dark catches us around 2400m above sea level, but it is extremely warm. In the dark we pass Lake Tislit - it is fairy-tale-like. A sky filled with stars like in the Bieszczady Mountains, a lake surrounded by snowy peaks and a quick asphalt ride straight to the town of Imilchil. We stay in a hotel "in the suburbs", we are the only ones there again. This is our most expensive accommodation, because we pay about PLN 100 per person, but dinner and breakfast are worth it! This will be the only day we leave the hotel full. Full but cold - the hotel has a one-digit temperature.

We sleep in Espace Imilchil.


Day V


Imilchil - Boumalne Dades
https://www.strava.com/activities/3137583193
160.4km / 1751m
Relaxation day. In fact, the whole down, with one minor exception - that's why the distance is slightly larger: 160km. The first 35 kilometers to Agoudal fly like a whip. Asphalt even, minimal slope - nothing but drive.
We divide imperceptibly into two groups of two and in the aforementioned town the locals shout to us that we are going badly. That the two guests who were driving in front of us turned in a different direction than the trail shows us. We know these tricks! They probably want to cheat us, so we decide to ignore them ... for a moment, because they prove to be very credible. In fact, after a while we see Piotr and Michał coming back. In all this confusion Krzysiek children steal a banana. In exchange for theft, they decide to lead us out of the village by bicycle and direct us, following the trail, to the desert gravel road. That's where the adventure begins.
The air is so dry and warm that I don't stop sipping blood from my nose by the end of the day. We enter reminiscent regions deserts in Nevada. We are huddling with these impressive gravels up to around 3000m above sea level and the view known from the Grand Canyon of Colorado spreads before us. You could easily call it the Pretty Big Colorado Canyon.

The driveway itself is not particularly tiring as we start it quite high, but it tends to be a bit mental, because the winding roads to the top can be seen from afar. When I think that a month earlier we were wondering if these roads would be passable at all, a smile of pity appears on my face. We expected snow here by the waist - at least this was what the people from the internet and their photos claimed. It's a shame. We had an alternative prepared for it - sideways, through Tinghir, goes the highest asphalt in the country. There is also a famous canyon Les gorges du todrawhich one on Google Street View looks at least impressive. However, we have no way to include this episode in our route. This is one of the few things that we would include in the trip if there was time ... or a way that allows a sensible loop there.

Another 16km kills my back. This is a rocky downhill, for which my studded to nearly 4 atmospheres, 35mm tires were not prepared. At the bottom I am only suitable for an urgent visit to a physiotherapist, and we are still close to a hundred. Michał at the end of the reunion begins the festival of catching slippers, Krzysiek flies through the steering wheel on one of the corners - there is no shortage of emotions. The road motivates effectively not to shoot corners (see photo above).

This is probably one of the worst downhill rides in my life. The plus is that it's better to go down than to go. The stones are too big.

We spend the next kilometers on accelerated regeneration of each part of the body.
At the bottom there is a moment-culmination. The moment for we all waited we should wait. This is the road to Boumalne Dades through the famous Gorges Dadés gorge. If you type in google top10 or possibly top20 roads of the world, or something like "the road that the cyclist should cross before his death", then there is a very good chance that this fragment will be there. It is even on the not too long list The world's most epic cycling roads in the Komoot application, which we have been using more and more recently. Experienced with life, I approach all these roads with a great distance. Atlantic Road it's not cool at all, the path above Taiwanese Moon Sun Lake it's a joke Albanian Leqet e Hotit does not impress compared to what is around her, Stelvio it's cool, but the traffic on it is not necessarily Troll's way it's cool but worse than many nearby Zoncolan it is not so heavy and so on ...
Here, however, the beginning gave hope. A piece of boring flat through the villages and then some really nice views ... and very empty roads for such good bitumen. A huge turn that has been renovated along the local equivalent Horseshoe Bend or viewpoint Pavlova Strana in Montenegro, a downhill ride from the Alps, interesting rock formations and finally on - an epic canyon.
I will try to be objective. The access road to Dadès Gorges is impressive, you must admit it. Maybe it's not enough to remember her in the future, but it doesn't matter.
The ravine itself is a moment when you look at this path, which you have seen many times on the Internet, you say under your breath "wow" and go on. Cool, but what's the big deal - I don't know.
The problem is also that the more we are in (and behind) the canyon - the more tourists, hotels, shops and all the other cycling disadvantages.
It also turns out that just behind the canyon there are super-interesting rock formations called: Monkey Paw Mountains. We arrive there at sunset, so the roadsides are full of photographers. So we don't even stand for a moment and press down, look for food and accommodation ... or not.
As usual, we leave for Boumalne Dades at dusk. The center is located in a different direction than our route, so we stand in the first pub we encountered, which gives hope to order anything other than Tajin. We order kebab sticks and probably the poorest pasta in the world (of course fromage), which consists of overcooked pasta sprinkled with a cheese-like product. It's perfect ... only 10 times too small.
We are also launching Operation Leniuszek. Our route provides for the next day some 120 km of country ride without a roadside (Piotrek from Destination Lycra warned us against it) - neither particularly pleasant nor safe, nor the views not so good because on a flat (~ 500m down). We ask the waiter if there is any transport for people with bicycles to the city of Warzazat (written Ouarzazate). This is a place where films are made, for example Helicopter in Fire or Gladiator.
The taxi driver is obviously at the table next to us and says that he will transport us. I mean, the waiter says so, because the taxi driver can only speak Berber - unlike anything.
It has not been several minutes since eating dinner, and we see Dacia Lodgy approach the restaurant and the driver starts throwing 4 bikes on the roof rack. By the trunk, of course, I mean a large, metal breath, to which things are attached with string. After longer negotiations, we decide on 3 bikes in the trunk, 5 people in the car and one bike on the roof.
We spend the next 140km on not looking at the windshield, so as not to see the chances that we will die, listening to bicycles colliding in the boot and replying to people on Instagram after I wrote that it was Dacia Logan, not the lodge.
The driver commutes and nothing suits us. The matter is simple: he thought we were going to Tabounte - the district of Ouarzazate, and not Tabourahte - a place distant from this place by nearly 30km. It seems that he does not know at all where this place is, so trumpeting he drives another taxi driver, gets out of the car and goes to ask for directions. I have the impression that Moroccans need 10 times more words than we do to convey the same message. As compensation, we pay the taxi driver a little more than was agreed - for 140km we gave about PLN 240 (to be divided into four).
We sleep in D'art Joud.

Day VI


Tabouraht - Arba Tighedouine

The sixth day was also to be a big attraction. The very popular Tizi N'Tichka Pass (2260m above sea level) was waiting for us. You can probably say that the most popular mountain pass in the country. Remember how at the beginning of the post I said to collect "the best places to visit in Morocco" and not go there? This is such a place.
Access from the south is a large section of a nice road, but for us quite boring and sections of a pleasant canyon, although it also did not impress us anymore. It turned out to be the first day of those where I stop taking photos. This means only one thing: you could go home. And in fact, if I were to recommend our route to someone, I would suggest ending it at Boumalne Dades, because the rest did not bring anything new.
Again, we go along roads full of tourists (as for the local conditions), again camels and coaches appear. We reach the summit extremely easily, we meet there applauding trips fascinated by us, eat omelettes and go to the famous viewpoint.
To be honest I have to admit that the road is actually interesting, but it doesn't matter. The asphalt is full of cars, and as if that was not enough, the exit is under renovation, and we hit a huge rally of Renault 4 cars. This means that after the initial, perfect asphalt, which can be seen in the pictures, we only drive in dust, traffic jams and exhaust fumes .
We try to forget about Tizi N'Tichka as soon as possible. We quickly escape to the side road being the driveway to Montée vers Tighdouine. A very pleasant, almost 8-kilometer segment with an average slope of 6% ... it would have been, were it not for the fact that there are some downhill runs and a large part of the driveway consists of two-digit percentages. But that's okay, the road is very nice, great views upstairs and the impressive Toubkal peak in the distance.
We arrive at the village with the planned accommodation: Tighedouine. It soon turns out that no one here has heard about the accommodation we found on Google. A short walk through the surrounding gardens and houses quickly confirmed us in this - the eyesight of the inhabitants of these houses also.
I decide to go on YOLO and look for sleeping. We quickly find the inscription on the wall: Cafe & Restaurant. We are greeted by Dżamal, a guy who looks like he has just finished an NBA match - we are not mistaken, he has actually spent half his life in the States.
Dżamal is a man-made institution - he arranges for us accommodation in a hotel that is just developing, bringing food and telling how it was at this moment that he added his hotel on Google Mapsy. The problem is only that Jamal returned to Morocco, probably mainly because of the smell of marijuana floating in the area - everything he does takes eternity, and every proposal from his mouth drags a number of unknowns. We wait an hour longer for the evening tajin, which will be in half an hour. We get it when the streets are empty. Again, we will not fall asleep at a reasonable time. I would link this accommodation but you know - Jamal probably adds it, it will end soon.

Day VII


Arba Tighedouine - Marrakech
https://www.strava.com/activities/3142387355
127.3km / 1709m

Day 7 no longer brings anything new - we are just following the circular route to Marrakech.

We have an emergency plan prepared for this day, for the ambitious - the Oukaïmeden ski resort, but if there is no snow, we skip it. In addition, Andrzej checked that it could not be closed in a meaningful loop and you would have to come back the same way. It is a pity this is the second highest asphalt in the country (2.650m), and the driveway itself is also impressive - from the side we drive it is 37km with an average of 5%, and then the exit to Marrakech: 70km with an average of 3%. Najsss.

Our route on this day is limited to a slightly longer and a bit tiring section grawelowej, visiting the crowded city of Ourika and climbing less than 1900m only to then go straight to Marrakech.

And I will not write about Marrakech anymore, because I try to keep the positive tone of this entry.

In any case, our boxes waited where we left them, and the plane, along with us and the equipment, returned happily to Warsaw.


Is it worth it?


I can't recommend the Atlas mountains to anyone with a clear conscience. First of all, I do not recommend going there with your girlfriend. At 86%, she won't like it there.
However, if you are a home-grown explorer who prefers raw nature to tourists and a hint of adventure over a coffee ride with buddies then this is it. For anyone who wants to explore something in Africa, but "a little ticking". This is one of the safest directions on this continent.
A visit to the deep Atlas villages far from everything can also quite well appreciate the world in which you live. The one in which our biggest worry is: will we not gain weight for the holidays. I do not place Morocco in the top places of my private list of the best routes and views, but as a whole it is quite high on it. In addition, it is relatively close (for such a different world) and cheap. Just stay away from tourist places and big cities.
... well, it's worth remembering that Morocco is definitely bigger than the Atlas mountains themselves. I also mean deserts and the shoreline ;-)
I would also like to officially add that the fact that the first case of the coronavirus in Morocco was announced shortly after our departure has nothing to do with our high fives all around.