I’m going to skip out Europe and start with Morocco. I apologise for boring people with tedious details about borders etc but I’ve found reading other people’s experiences has helped me hugely so far this trip.
At this point I was travelling with Richard and Eddie, we had been riding across Europe together. I met both of them through the HUBB (vital website for any overlanding).
The night before the crossing we holed up in a cheap hotel in Algericas (couldn’t find anywhere to camp) ready for the crossing on Sunday morning. We rode to the port at 8, spent around €50 on a ferry ticket and a couple of hours later we were crossing the straits of Gibraltar bound for Tangiers.
We were the first off the ferry and cleared customs in under an hour. We had to fork out around €60 for insurance for the bikes, some uk insurance companies will cover Morocco and you might find that a cheaper option.
For the first few days the Moroccan roads were generally in pretty good condition. The driving was considerably worse than back home but still better than what you see in Italy. Toll roads were expensive but far less congested than going through all the towns.
It’s hard to describe the sense of excitement as I saw miles of Moroccan countryside fly past. After months of planning and a some last minute doubts I was finally crossing Africa.
Apart from incinerating all my socks, part of my bag and a liner on the exhaust I was happy with what I had brought with me. Both the others seemed to have packed considerably more than myself, I had tried where possible to save cash and weight.
Camped up outside Marakech I had a spare moment to try and fix my burnt bag. I had picked up a pair of oven gloves with the hope to fashion a heat resistant patch out of the material. I also used an oven tray to stop the bag from rubbing directly on the exhaust. Combined with a slightly further forward position it’s been alright so far (I write this in Dakar)
For the sake of ease I’ve incorporated Western Sahara into this post. It’s a disputed territory between Morocco and Mauritania, however all the parts I went through were under Moroccan military control. We seemed go through almost ten military checkpoints per day and have to hand out all our details to the military as well as passport checks. For the sake of ease we had printed out leaflets with all these details, this significantly sped up the process.
By this point scenery was exclusively a dry and arid desert. For miles all you could see was bare ground. This along with the rapidly deteriorating road conditions and military presence really started to make the adventure feel that much more intrepid.
Going through Western Sahara we also linked up with a spaniard called Javier and Bevan from the States. Javier decided to stay on for another couple of days whilst Bevan joined us for the Mauritania border.
Photo: Javier, Eddie and Richard (left to right)
I’m not even sure where to start with this border, I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. It took about two hours to get stamped out of Morocco, after this we had to traverse an area of No Mans Land before entering Mauritania. This consisted of a large expanse about 5 miles wide between the two countries. No roads, no track or signposts. Just a large expanse of bed rock and soft sand with abandoned vehicles scattered everywhere. Somewhere on both sides is a minefield so you really don’t want to get lost here.
Halfway through crossing I realised I still had a small bottle of Aberlour whisky in my bag, not wanting to incur a €3000 euro fine and a night I’m the cells I had no choice but to neck the bastard before I reached the border. After a while we started to see what appeared to be some buildings in the distance, to our relief it was the Mauriatian border. With all four bikes safely across it was time to navigate through fixers, scammers and Mauritanian bureaucracy.