Morocco stands for adventures, great landscapes and the beginning of the Sahara desert. Millions of travelers are visiting this beautiful, north african country year over year and even we explored Morocco by our own for the very first time.
Away from all the tourism, we conquered the Grand Atlas mountain range in central Morocco, we drove the Tizi N'Tazazert trail and many others with our JEEP Wrangler, visited the Dades and Thodra gorges and spent romantic nights in oases, filled with millions of palms. Our highlight of course has been the Erg Chegaga desert (which is a predecessor of the Sahara...WOW! 🙂 )
We also met some offroaders, riding the dunes with their trucks or smaller offroad vehicles.
Morocco is worth a dozen visits and for sure, we'll come back...better prepared, with a better setup and with much more time.
"Natural Wonders - MOROCCO"
There’s not so much more to say about Morocco … no… that’s not really true… there is of course, but one could write books about it and these books have been written already.
Morocco is one of the last places in northern Africa, which are easy to travel and which are safe enough for spending quality time, even if you are traveling alone. Beside the unumerous adventures, which you will experience on your trip, we have some actual Tipps & Tricks, which could be helpful for a safe and adventurous journey.
December in the Atlas Mountains
Traveling In December
December is a good time to travel to Morocco, the temperatures are between 14-18 degree Celsius in the lower heights, but in the Atlas they can decrease down to -8° Celsius. There’s less rain and the riverbeds are mostly dry, so perfect for an offroad ride… not too hot or too cold… just right!
Some spanish guys told us, not to take the ferry in Tarifa, rather than the one in Algeciras. The ramps in Tarifa shall be very rotten and because of this and the very bad overall conditions, some cars already have been damaged.
At "Carlos" in Algeciras [36.17920, -5.44124] you will get your ferry tickets. They're preparing all the documents for you (fiches etc) and you’re able reserve your ferry for a desired day in advance. Time of departure doesn't matter, which is great!
The guys are very friendly and helpfull and with some luck you'll get a cut in price (we paid 180€, instead of 190€ for 2 persons and our JEEP).
"Carlos" in Algeciras
When entering the border, just pass it like you would do in europe or elsewhere. It is exactly the same, even if it looks and feels a bit more chaotic!
You will see many people standing at the border and guys asking you for your passports. They're wearing standard clothes and offering their help.
DO YOURSELF A FAVOUR, DO NOT ASK THEM OR ACCEPT HELP AND DO NOT GIVE THEM YOUR MONEY OR YOUR PASSPORTS!
These guys are NOT official (even if they say, they are) and we spoke to several officers at the border. They definitely will steal your time and later on they’re asking you for money (they are really penetrant, they even jump onto your car, so please keep this in mind!)
These guys are more disturbing than they would be of help and it costs much more of your precious time!
If you feel offended or bothered: speak to one of the officers and they will "get rid of them"!
Border Control As Usual
The Internet Connection
If you`re blogger too and in need of a good internet connection, search for a "Maroc Telekom" shop in one of the bigger northern cities like Tetouan, Meknes or Fes. (One shop is included in our GPSpack’n’track with GPS coordinates)
The unlimited internet (LTE) will cost you 20€ for one month (2016) and it works better, than we thought (H+) (and better than in germany... no joke 🙂 )
Exception of course are the Atlas mountains, but even there ya'll get internet in some areas.
Maroc Telecom Shop In Meknes
There’s lots of police in Morocco, so you can feel very safe. Usually they won’t stop you, but if they do, it could be of help to have some copies of your fiche (they’re asking for them)
At www.sahara-overland.com/2014/12/27/morocco-documents you’ll find all the needed information.
The closer you’ll get to the Algerian border, the more curious the police will be, which sometimes can take quite some time.
The Car Insurance
Usually they’re asking you for the so called green insurance card (international insurance for your car in Morocco). If your insurance company isn’t offering insurance in Morocco, you are able to get an insurance at the border (for r.a. 100€ or so)
Accidently we didn’t get asked , so we forgot about it and drove without insurance in Morocco (which isn’t a good idea)
Broken Front Shaft Axle And Ball Joint
The Streets, The Traffic, The Cities
The main streets in Morocco are in a good condition, some of them are pretty new. But the more you leave the „civilization“, the more bad ass the streets will become. Lots of pottholes, obstacles or streets with just no tarmac rather than gravel for hundreds of kilometers. Nevertheless… most of them are easy to drive, so no need to worry.
The bigger cities can be very busy and chaotic, just stay calm and take your time… nothing is as bad, as it seems 😉
…more than enough and the quality seems to be good. Only in the desert regions, you should always consider a full tank.
Traffic Isn't A Big Deal
Forbidden Electronic Devices
We personally don’t like campsites, rather than staying in and with nature all the way. Wild Camping in Morocco is not a problem at all.
In the very north, down to the middle of Morocco it might be a bit more difficult, as there are natives really everywhere, but if you like to be entertained (or bothered) by the locals… just feel free 🙂
In the Atlas mountains you will find hundreds of nice places in the riverbeds, stone deserts or even in the upper heights. From the Atlas down to the south, the people are getting much nicer and much less strenuous.
Forbidden Electronic Devices
When entering some of our spots in our GPSpack’n’track, it might be a good idea, to deflate your tires. Of course it depends on your car, but we deflated to 1.2-1.5 bar on our JEEP. Deflating the tires will help you with much more grip, while driving through the sand and dunes and makes driving more comfortable when driving through the stone deserts.
I personally wouldn‘t recommend to drive alone, especially when you’re beginner, as we were. Riding the dunes or even driving through all the sand can be quite tricky and you will get stuck several times.
I’m not a pro and have been in the desert for the very first time. Surely, it’s easier done, than said, but you definitely should avoid to jump over the dunes.
Some of our friends already broke their car (axle-crash)
Getting Stuck In The Desert
I’m not an expert at all, so please ask locals how to do that, but here’s, how I crossed all those millions of tons of sand:
. When driving through deep sand, avoid to brake… keep the car going.
. When entering a dune, do it straight and with the direction of the wind, do not enter the dune at the steep side or too much diagonal.
. Torque is everything. With my (automatic) Wrangler I needed to start in the second gear, as the first one hasn‘t been long enough. Without torque and a proper speed, you won’t be able to enter the dunes peak.
. When entering the peak, do not break too early. Breaking too early will let you stuck. You’ll be lucky, when you roll backwards then, but if you get stuck, you'll need some time to digg out your car 😉
. Break shortly after you’ve reached the peak, so that the kinetic energy will bounce the cars front forward. Once the cars nose (hood) looks down, you should be fine.
When you’re doing so for a few times, you will get used to it very soon and the more you get used to it, the more fun it makes 😉