has written and also published such books:
(about the expedition of 15 days, 8 thous. km, 8 countries, 5 capitals)
Safari in Namibia (First ebook describing an expedition and hunting in Namibia)
Copyright © 2016 Krzysztof Wiśniewski
All rights reserved. Wszystkie prawa zastrzeżone.
Shakespir Edition License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your enjoyment only, then please return to Shakespir.com or your favorite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This book is dedicated to my beloved
wife Ania and daughters Ola and Hania
[+ - Warsaw -> Malaga (4 hour flight) +]
[+ 1 - Malaga -> Algericas -> Tanger Med -> Chefchauoen (355 km) +]
[+ 2 - Chefchauoen -> Volubilis -> Fez (293 km) +]
[+ 3 - Fez -> Ifrane -> Midelt -> Er Rachidia -> Tinghir (518 km) +]
[+ 4 - Tinghir -> Todra Valley -> Merzouga (323 km) +]
[+ 5 - Merzouga -> Zagora -> Lamhamid (Foum Zguid) (441 km) +]
[+ 6 - Lamhamid (Foum Zguid) -> Tata -> Akka -> El Kasba -> Legzira Beach -> Mirleft (543 km) +]
[+ 7 - Mirleft -> Tizi n’Test -> Marrakech (406 km) +]
[+ 8 - Marrakech -> Essaouira (176 km) +]
[+ 9 - Essaouira -> El Jadida (268 km) +]
[+ 10 - El Jadida -> Asillah (298 km) +]
[+ 11 - Asillah -> Tanger Med -> Algericas -> Malaga (293 km) +]
It was an exceptional expedition and the first time my bike started a journey ahead of me. A week earlier I’d dropped it off in Plock. Pawel (trip organizer), took it along with others and transported it on a trailer in a car to Malaga. This is a very good choice because I actually gained time and did not actually lose a few days on the trip itself through Europe. Pawel and Kasia rode three days one way, but it took less than four hours flying.
Another aspect was riding in a group and I do not hide the fact that I had much concern about this. In the end we would be riding together over several days and would meet for the first time and immediately plan to cover more than 4 thousand kilometers together. How would we get along and how would we solve difficult situations, which would probably occur? At that time a lot could still happen. On the other hand, I do not have to worry about the route, filling up, shopping, meals or accommodation. Almost everything is on Pawel’s head. We “simply” ride which is cool and quite different than riding yourself.
I had arrived in Warsaw the day before departure and I still had two business meetings to attend. At the end of the day, so as not to carry unnecessary things, I packed a small package with ‘official’ clothes and sent them to Poznan. The next morning being the day of departure, it was raining and delicately speaking it was cool, and I had only shorts and sandals with me. I regretted a little that I did not have some warmer clothes but it was a good job that I had a polar fleece.
I had a long talk with my wife Ania at the airport and then it was time to get on the plane since last call was announced. When I checked the boarding card, it turned out that I got the first row, which was just behind business class. I could comfortably spend the flight with legs stretched out.
We landed in hot and sunny Malaga in the afternoon. The hotel was literally a kilometer and a half away from the airport. I decided that I would go on foot, more so given the fact that Paul had asked to check the car parks in the area where we planned to leave the car and trailer. The remainder of the trip participants appeared shortly after arriving at the hotel. Motorcyclists quickly integrate. After a while, I knew that the trip would be successful and effervescent.
After a brief conversation we decided that we would go to the centre. The Old Town is not too big but very nice and very clean. There were a lot of tourists. We ate a late dinner and went for a short stroll. Pawel called in the evening that he would be approaching with the motorcycles. We took a taxi to get back to the hotel.
Off-loading the motorcycles took place very smoothly. I think we were all very excited waiting for the journey ahead. By the way I really am full of admiration for Pawel’s professionalism. I did not even assume how much equipment is needed to load, attach and secure 8 motorcycles respectively, so hats off!
In the evening there was still a briefing to get through. Pawel discussed the most important issues, reminded us about safety principles and gave us instruction regarding the schedule and labels and established the order of how we would ride in line.
Advice: Before going to Morocco, it is worth preparing in advance and printing the relevant documents. Pawel sent us the documents that were needed. Some being mandatory, while others are worth having in the case of police checks. Thanks to both briefings and checks, things ran very smoothly.
In the morning it was dark and quite chilly; our stuff was finally re-packed and added on the motorcycles outside. However, it quickly became light. After reaching the ferry in Algeciras, the temperature had already risen to 25 degrees. It took several minutes to purchase return ferry tickets; however, we waited much longer for the moment when we rode onto the ferry. It turned out that the ferry was delayed quite a bit.
Waiting to embark, I walked along the line to see who was going to Morocco and how they were going. There were two motorbike crews, trailers with motorcycles and several off-road vehicles.
When the ferry pounded to the quay you could see how the service people worked. I openly admit that it looked perfectly in Scandinavia. In Algercas, and later in Tanger Med I witnessed a total mess. Well it was “almost” Africa after all, so it was no wonder. Times are treated conventionally; delays are standard, and the lack of organization and operation … just mesmerizing. However, this was holiday time so I switched to “neutral” mode. This is Africa.
Interestingly enough, you do not have to secure the motorcycle yourself on the ferry – the ferry service crew does that for you! So, it’s sufficient that you position it in the right place. After the experience with the trip to the Nordkapp, I quickly packed the stuff that I wanted to take with myself and went on deck.
Since we were leaving the Schengen zone, we had to go through the first border checks on board. Entry documents and passports were subject to inspection and a special police number was issued. Each got the appropriate stamp and we could go and get something to eat. The menu was limited to say the least. Most importantly, however, there was good filter coffee and the air conditioning was working.
Overcoming the Strait of Gibraltar, I took note that my GPS showed that we were not sailing to Ceuta but heading west. We reached Tanger Med at 1430 hours.
Checks went very efficiently (apparently) given that it was Morocco and the police number assigned to each new tourist on the ferry was entered to the database. The documents, which we had already printed, were provided with this number and given to border guards. After literally a few minutes they gave back our papers and we could ride up 200 meters away where there were counters and where we exchanged Euros for Moroccan Dirhams. The currency exchange rate is MAD 10.68 for 1 Euro.
In the afternoon we stopped at the first break and a traditional Moroccan tea. I must admit that I had never drunk it before, and it was very tasty. The tea is brewed in a teapot. Its size depends on the number of glasses, which would later be filled. Fresh (green) mint is put into the glass and then tea is poured. Typically, tea is sweetened and it is very hard. Such a beverage is not only refreshing but also tasty and energetic.
We arrived quite late in Chefchauoen due to the delay of the ferry (a good hour and a half). It became dark before we unpacked at the hotel and went to visit the town. Chefchauoen is lovely, especially the Medina, which is very impressive. The whites and shades of blue look amazing. These colours are said to repel insects. The streets are narrow and winding. The Chefchauoen region is a major producer of cannabis. Despite the warnings, however, we did not meet any traffickers, so we had to settle for only a local cuisine and had dinner on the roof of one of the houses.
As for the food, “chicken tagine” was tasty but did not impress me because it was just a quarter of chicken cooked with vegetables, which was rather modest, and not enough. However, the ladies chose something else, which was couscous with meat, vegetables and sauce and looked much better and, in their opinion, was tastier.
In the evening we met back at the hotel pool. We exchanged our first impressions and discussed the plan for the next day. A wonderful view over the Medina at night spreads out from the hotel. Its comfortable sofas, pleasant coolness and appropriate wines meant that we spent a lot of time there.
The hotel was really nice with large, pretty rooms, or suites to be precise. Besides a bedroom and a large bathroom there was also a sizable living room with sofas.
I went to sleep just after midnight, local time (one hour earlier than in Poland).
Advice[*:*] When leaving the ferry, (motorcyclists are first) quickly head towards the border checks so that other cars are behind you. In this way you can avoid large queues and waiting a long time in line.
In the morning, just before 9 we were already by the motorcycles. We quickly loaded on our stuff and on the way we went. That day, the aim was to reach Fez. Along the way, however, we planned to visit Volubilis. Pawel modified the route a little. We left the main R408 road towards Barrage El Wahda. It is a dam on the river, which forms the largest drinking water tank in Morocco (second in Africa). Pausing for a meal and a cup of coffee we had the opportunity to see (part of) this enormous lake.
We got to Volubilis about 4pm. It is the ruins of a Roman city, the former capital of Mauritania Tingitana. I must admit that they are very well preserved. There is the Capitol, Basilica, with perfectly preserved mosaics and fragments of walls and forums and there is a most impressive basilica and a triumphal arch. It is definitely worth riding up here and taking the time to stroll through the ancient city. Even the heat is not too troublesome, and a light breeze blowing from the valley provided a little coolness.
Then we paid the next “my friend” for parking and went to Fez where we arrived before 7pm. Fez is a large city. A walk through part of the Medina took a lot of time. Unfortunately, we failed to reach the main sights of the city. Although we passed through the Bob Chorfa gate, there was no longer enough strength to walk the entire Medina. I confess that I very much regret it. I wrote it on a list of places that I would once visit.
Sam Fez is very impressive in the evening. Small shops and stalls are open everywhere and sellers engage and encourage the purchase of goods. The local cuisine is definitely worth a taste and in particular, a variety of sweets or even a prickly pear cactus fruit, which the seller peels. I had a good adventure with the rest of these fruits, but I will describe that later.
Advice[*:*] There is no problem as regards the exchange of currency and it is best to do it at the border. There are two or three exchange counters with a similar rate. Additionally, there are also exchange offices in large cities. Once I even happened to pay for souvenirs in Euros.
In the morning we decided to ride to the famous tanneries of Fez. They could not be seen, but we already sensed the smell of them. The leather skin is always transported in by cars and there’s always something that “falls” and will begin to deteriorate. In addition, waste is thrown into the river and often lies on its banks decomposing. The stench is terrible. Going into one of the buildings (the store with a roof terrace) the owner distributes fresh mint or other herbs, in order to be able to apply it to the nose and alleviate the odor.
However, there is a magnificent view of the tannery from the top of the hill. Last year it was renovated and now it is working in all its glory. Apparently, pigeon droppings are used in the tanning of hides and such an awful smell comes from them. During the dyeing only natural ingredients are used. After watching the whole process, you can put the leather on or products derived from them. The only pity is that the prices are typical tourist ones.
In the surrounding cedar woods near Azrou we stopped at one of the parking areas to see macaque monkeys, which are such a small tourist attraction. The monkeys are already highly trained by tourists and can surprise us by their cunningness and intelligence in the acquisition of food.
The Ziz gorge made the biggest impression on me on this day. Although the team was quite sharply racing ahead, I couldn’t resist standing and stopping to take pictures when seeing such amazing shades of red and orange. The unprecedented arrangement of rocks and their groove by the river created quite an amazing landscape. Coupled with the sunset and the play of colours and shades, no one will cross the gorge regardless. We went through one tunnel called Za’bal, more commonly known as Legionnaires tunnel, built about 1930.
At the end of the day, long after sunset, we got to the hotel a few kilometers from Tinghir. That day I was terribly tired. High temperatures, gorges, mountains and a lot of riding gave me life a misery. Fatigue was eased incredible by the atmosphere of the hotel, where the owner not only prepared a delicious dinner with a real tagine, but also sat down with us with a bottle of whiskey gave a great concert by singing and playing the drums. After a while there were also locally produced cigarettes.
Advice[*:*] In Morocco the GSM network runs quite well, but connections to Poland are very expensive. The alternative is the Internet. Unfortunately, most IMs are blocked when it comes to voice calls. Fortunately, text messaging functions. Throughout the trip I tried to connect by voice to Face Time, WhatsApp, Skype …but to no avail. I connected by Messenger only on two occasions. I also noticed that the WiFi network in hotels and bars couldn’t always connect by iphone. It is worth having any Android device with you because that connects seamlessly.
Somehow we got up early in the morning. We were ready before 8:00 to hit the road, in the morning, because we had to ride the extra-long section of the Todra Valley according to the plan. Its appearance changed with each passing kilometer. The walls began to get higher and closer to each other. A small river flowed at the bottom, but when it rains you can imagine what its destructive power is. A ride through the valley, then an ascent of nearly 2,652 m was one of the most beautiful stretches of the Moroccan expedition.
At the pass it is very dry, the sun shines exceptionally strongly, and you feel the thin air. The temperature dropped to 14 degrees. Nature is very severe, there is almost no vegetation but the colours and shapes of the rocks are beautiful.
We were concerned about the availability of petrol in this area. The first (and only time) we refueled from the “garage”. Taking advantage of the break we drank a great latte and saw what life was like in the village of Ait Hani.
Approaching Tinghiru, we stopped to once again look into the valley of the river Todra. The view of what was before us was breathtaking. Unfortunately, from that moment on, the temperature began to quickly grow and reached more than 33 degrees.
After about 180 km we got to Merzouga. This village is situated among the Saharan sands and is famous for its sand dunes, whose height reaches up to 340 m. Since it was already sunset, you could say that there were three dominant colours. There is red and orange which dunes are ‘painted’ with, and black, which the rocky desert is ‘heaped’ with.
At some point Tomek, one of the expedition participants took off the trunk box from the motorcycle and briskly headed into the desert. Despite his tyres not being adapted to this, he did perfectly well. He returned to the gravel parking area with a little help from his friends.
After riding through the desert, we stopped by for a traditional tagine, which tasted delicious. We even had a coffee and then headed to the hotel.
Thinking that this would be the end of the day’s attractions, it turned out that I was completely mistaken. Arriving at the hotel, I came up with the idea to take a ride even in the desert, and also started up the drone, which would be filming us.
After a while we were riding through the desert. At one point, I turned around and saw that a cloud was approaching from the northeast and it was getting dark quickly. After literally minutes, we realized that a sandstorm was approaching towards us.
Immediately we turned back to make it back to the “castle-hotel”. A wall of sand hit us at the same time literally edging towards it. I jumped off the motorcycle and at the last minute I landed, not without any difficulty, and later there was a nice film from the drone of this. Wind Gusts brought an incredible amount of sand, which was pouring in, through every crack in the window or the door. Furniture, the bedding and our clothes were covered with dust. Another thunderstorm passed through the night with rain and it got chilly.
Advice[*:*] The desert is the desert but it is always worth taking your rainwear kit and warm gloves. In my case, the BMW Rally 3 is a typical summer bike. In two cases: if it rains or is really cool I put on the complete kit and best as a two-piece one.
When we got up in the morning it was raining fleetingly. There were a lot of rain clouds that moved precisely in the direction where we wanted to go. Not wanting to risk a soaking, we put on our rainwear kits and secured the luggage from getting wet. As it happened, it was a very good decision. Although around midday it cleared up and we could take them off, it started to rain at the end of the day and we had to stop again to secure things.
Both in the desert and even more so in the mountains rainfall do not herald anything good. Water does not only soak in but also flows in torrents, and then there are large periodical streams of it.
Riding down the centre of the valley between Zagora and Foum Zguid, we encountered a dangerous situation. The valley has a width of 3 to 10 km, and a road runs down the middle as well as a periodic riverbed. If rain falls on the surrounding hills, it is provides an overwhelming view, but after about half an hour it gets terribly dangerous.
Water from the mud and stones from the river appears second by second, creating such a rapid current, that you cannot stand it if it reaches the knees. It gets onto the road by pouring in on sections of a dozen to several hundred meters. I encountered such obstacles.
Let me be clear, at some point we were full of fear. We rode along a large chunk of a flooded road; the level of the river was rising steadily, and was even more dangerous ahead of us. We stopped on a small hill, which was flooded after a few seconds. We made a flash decision, because in a while it would become impossible and the situation was really dangerous ….
It was then, when we were going through a dangerous section quite quickly, I was smeared with mud up to my helmet. It was a good job that I had lowered the shield. We not only took some interesting pictures during this adventure but above there was a lesson for us all as in the mountains or in the desert, you need to be on guard if it rains. The place where you are could in fact prove to be the centre of a river channel. We could still see the strength of the elements in the night and the next day we continued the journey.
Riding last, I noticed that we were passing by the riverfront, which was formed after the rains. I stopped on a small hill to take some pictures and to shoot some video. Believe me, in the beginning it all looks very innocent, but creates a huge impression.
We arrived at the hotel in Lamhamid about an hour before sunset. The hotel itself was located literally at the riverbed. After unpacking, we sat on the terrace and mentioned the events that we had experienced that day. Late in the evening we heard an incredible noise – the roar of the water. The front of the river with stones and mud filled the large size of the bed of the river flooding the bridge and ford.
At this point, the channel has a width of approximately 250 m, as it turned out, when the culminating wave passed by filled with water. It was such a big event that local village people came out of the houses in the light of flashlights to see it in the middle of the night, and even for them it was an unusual phenomenon.
Needless to say that going to sleep knowing that the wall that surrounded the hotel was in direct contact with the riverbed was a little worrying. I was not without nightmares about the rest and how water penetrates into the hotel through the windows and doors.
Advice[*:*] Do not run the risk. Had it not been for Pawel leading the group and who knew the way well (he’d already ridden along it several times) and its realities, sometimes you even have to stop and turn back. Find another way and don’t risk damage or destruction of equipment, and above all, health and life. That’s how we reacted the next day before noon, but more on this later.
When we got up in the morning and went to the hotel terrace to see what the river looked like, we witnessed what appeared to us an amazing view. A large amount of water, mud and stones was still flowing in the middle. I ran the drone and headed it towards the river to make a film and take pictures. See it for yourselves.
We left the hotel a little after 9. Unfortunately, a policeman was waiting just over the river. He stopped Pawel and at the beginning we were forced into a several minute stop. It turned out that it was nothing compared with what we were confronted with 10 km on. Then we crossed the river again. Unfortunately, it was impossible. The bridge that once stood there had been destroyed a long time before, and the dirt was still flooded with water at a depth of nearly a meter. We could not risk it. There was no chance to ride through it.
We decided to wait hoping that the river level would fall. At that time, we made ourselves a cup of coffee. Pawel went to examine whether it was possible to ride through upstream. Some of us also sought the advice of the local people as to the possibility of avoiding the ford. Unfortunately, even after an hour, even though the water had subsided somewhat, riding through was still impossible.
After checking the detailed maps and suggestions from the locals, we decided to check out a certain detour. It demanded going back about 8 km and riding a further 8 km along something that only resembled a road, and actually it was a trail creeping up the surrounding, small hills with stones on top and sometimes large sized ones in places.
Adam and Rafal overcame this section first. I got to the point where I thought that at least two of the bikes, which other friends had were not able to overcome these obstacles and I went back to the group with this piece of not so good news.
After about an hour, when the water level did not lower further and Adam and Rafal appeared on the other side of the river, we gathered to discuss the options as to what to do next. Brief consultations between Adam and me on the intercom confirmed that the most difficult section of the trail was through the hills just at the beginning, and later it would be easier. The decision was made quickly. We would try to cover the route, which Adam and Rafal had ridden along. In places where it was to be very difficult, we would help all friends on our RTs and GTLs.
In short, after a good hour of riding through the rocks, puddles and mud, the remainder of the group was helping each other on the other side of the ford. At this point I have to apologize to Grzes and Piotr for doubting their skills and abilities on motorcycles.
Given the fact we’d lost several hours, we continue the ride quite fast, more so that we wanted to reach the ocean before sunset. We saw a lot of wild camels along the way.
Approaching the ocean, riding downhill from the mountains, we had an amazing view of the sunset. We arrived at the famous beach at Legzira at the very last minute. We ran to take a few more pictures of these extraordinary structures created by the forces of nature.
The most famous and largest arch collapsed this year. The only trace of what had been was the place of its detachment from the top. The rest, namely the sand and rocks had been largely taken away by the ocean. Fortunately, there was one more bow under it where we took some pictures. I admit that going through it, running as a matter of fact, my heart was in my mouth.
Returning from the beach, really tired, we walked into a bar for fish and chips and Moroccan salad. At the end we were about 30 km away from the hotel, well…a guesthouse to be exact. Leaving the parking area, I rode up to the main road, but it was sharply uphill, and when I stopped to see if anything was coming my way, my sweetheart decided to lie down. Her legs were virtually finished, so I let her rest for a while. Fortunately, Adam followed me and helped me pick her up. There were similar situations, which had occurred on two occasions during the expedition to North Cape. I knew that my sweetheart would not get up herself, as it was impossible. And so the two of us made it extremely easy.
Feeling very tired, having done a total of more than 543 km to Mirleft, we arrived long after dark.
Advice[*:*] It is clearly evident that lights should be well positioned. As a matter of course, when you pack the motorcycle, check the regulation of the height of lighting and (if you have them) halogens. It is worth checking and recording the fact that turning the adjustment screw 5 times for example, reduces or increases the light at a given distance. This way you will improve visibility and thus your riding safety in the dark.
The Tizi n’Test road is marked as R203 and crosses the High Atlas between Taroudant and Asin. This is one of the most spectacular roads in Morocco. The road climbs to a height of 2,100 meters and the views are breathtaking. You have to have really a lot of courage and considerable skill to climb to the pass. The road is narrow, and mostly does not have any protection, and the depth of some of the gaps reaches up to 500 m. In addition, it is really damaged. Rocks and sand lie in many sections. If that was not enough, it is quite busy, and passing a bus or truck is definitely a big challenge, especially if it is on the side of a precipice.
That day we stopped frequently. In many places, there are simply amazing views. During one of the stops, even before the Tizi n’Test summit, we stopped to take some pictures, and even let our drones go in the pass to make a few nice shots. Then we lost one of them. A moment of inattention and it crashed into the slope. Unfortunately, we did not see exactly where it happened. Nearby bar workers helped us in the search but unfortunately to no avail. Only the last attempt of searching paid dividends. The drone was lying about 70 m below the edge of the pass. Fortunately it was not seriously damaged.
Coming from the south, the approach to Tizi n’Test is very steep and about 30 km and the exit towards Asin, continuing to Marrakech stretches over 70 km. You really have to make a lot of cornering. I have not overcome them all in one day in life. I admit that this passage was a great challenge for me for several reasons. First I rode at the ankles, and other friends had what seemed like road tyres, and trunks and luggage to boot. In order to keep pace, I had to really stretch myself on the bends on a motorcycle respectively making myself up.
We arrived in Marrakech in the afternoon. Since we were running out of our drinks reserves, and as you know one needs to take care of one’s health, before arriving at the hotel we stopped to stock up with an appropriate range of drinks.
Marrakech. I should probably have to write a separate article about this city and the people since this city and its atmosphere made a great impression on me and drew me to deeper reflection. What I saw and felt will remain in me for a long time.
We amused ourselves a little longer because after dark we went to the famous Djemaa el Fna square in Marrakech’s medina (Medina is an old quarter of Arab cities). Every evening a big market with stalls takes place where you can eat very well and all around musicians, drummers and singers were setting themselves up. Thousands of people gathered in the square, and it is they who make up this amazing atmosphere. They are nice and smiling. I saw them stop where musicians were playing, sit on benches or directly on the ground and listen to improvised concerts. I have seen couples that seemed to have come just to this selected concert. Right next door you could try your skill in ‘fishing’ for a bottle of soda with the help of rods and reels and elsewhere get a tattoo with henna (and not only) or meet a snake charmer. If you ever come to Marrakech watch out for thieves because the city is full of them. I saw for myself how several of them tried to steal from their victims.
A large part of the square was occupied by stalls with “bars” where food was served. It’s easy to notice that some of them designed for tourists are more colourful, the food is presented in a different way, cutlery appears next to the plates and the prices are several times higher than literally right next door.
Having learned from the experience, we just headed to the next row of stalls where mainly locals ate, and often-whole families. You have to try to imagine this for yourself or see the pictures, but it is even better to go and there and try yourself. There is a kind of kitchen in the middle where a variety of dishes in large bowls and pots are prepared. I suppose that some of the dishes are also prepared in a small back room and brought from there (chips, calamari, etc.). The kitchen is served by several men who serve small dishes of food.
You have to have some patience and set yourself up for someone who may seem like they are just about to finish eating in order to take a place at a common table on the bench. You sit down and then one of the men puts grey paper on the table, which the first dishes quickly land on. You eat rather quickly, starting with shredded eggplant, and later a very tasty fish is served (species unknown to me), calamari, fries, tomato sauce, chicken bits, pieces of bread, etc … After just a few minutes, you are filled with food. After finishing the meal, you wipe your hands on gray paper, pay a fixed fee – you can eat as much as you want, but you must remember, however, that the next customers are waiting behind to take your place. It was one of the best meals and most diverse that I ate in Morocco.
Then I went literally tens of meters to buy fresh fruit squeezed from juice. Later, I had a small coffee and cake and decided to absorb it literally in the medina. I entered the small streets with hundreds of shops and a few minutes I was literally lost. I was very curious to see what it all looked like. I watched as residents bought things, how to bargain and how to choose goods.
You can learn a lot from this and take advantage of the opportunity. You can be almost certain that if the local buys a commodity, firstly it will be good, and secondly, the price will be “local” and not “tourist”. In this way, I bought some very nice utility items that have become trip souvenirs such as the ornate, handmade openwork light … for the equivalent of 2 Euros, as well as bracelets or local cosmetics, oils and soaps.
After about an hour of walking I decided to return to the square. Luckily I had a GPS, which showed me the direction to return. Imagine my surprise when I entered the square not street, but through one of the shops.
Marrakech acted as a lens, which focused and showed that somewhere on another continent, in a distant country with another faith, culture and traditions, people can live happily. They probably have their own problems, face challenges but they are smiling, very open and curious. Meeting them, seeing how they have fun and how they live has given me a greater perspective and, in turn, allowed me to gain a greater distance to my own matters.
Advice[*:*] Always but always take a second, backup pair of gloves. At some point, I saw the Pawel stopped and it was a typical pit stop. I decided to also follow suit because I saw a lot of beautiful prickly pear cactus fruit at the side of the road. Without a moment of thinking, I alighted from the motorcycle and went to the first available bush to pick some fruit. A day earlier, we had eaten exactly the same ones and they tasted perfectly. I thought that we would have some for the evening. And then something unexpected happened. Literally after a few seconds, something began to burn me and poke my hands. It was a terrible feeling. The fruit fell out of my hand, and I was not able to bend even a single finger so as not to cause a terrible pain. I looked at the glove that I had put on and discovered that hundreds of small needles were pierced in there and in my hands I even had to take off the gloves. To this end, I used the teeth. Unfortunately, when I saw my bare hands, it turned out that they were still dozens of needles. The problem was that they were very difficult to remove. I went to the motorcycle and took out a pair of tweezers. Then, I spent a few minutes on removing the hellish needles. My hands survived but the gloves are lost forever. At this point I realized that I had in truth taken a second, warmer pair, namely Gore-Tex ones. Well, I was terribly hot but there is always the matter of safety and security. In the evening, I told the story of what happened to me. It turned out that Tomek had a spare pair, a second pair of summer gloves, which I borrowed. Here again I really have to thank him for it.
We changed our plans on this day. We did not go to theTizi n’Tichka (2260 m) pass. We headed directly west from Marrakech. I wish I had made the decision to go up the pass alone and join the rest of the group over the ocean in the evening. Well, this place will remain on my list to visit in the future.
We left Marrakesh before 10 am in order to check in about at 1pm in Essouira. We had ridden only 176 km that day. We had the opportunity to relax, go to the beach and swim in the ocean.
The port itself was a certain challenge. I had the impression that time stopped there several centuries ago. Fishermen were selling the fish caught; rubbish was thrown out for seagulls. Unfortunately, at the end of the day the stench there was horrible and effectively hampers hunger.
There were countless famous blue boats in the port. For centuries, fishermen also probably benefited from these small compartments with a blue door, where they stored their nets, motors and other items needed to catch fish.
There was a small stall at the end of the harbour where locals and tourists could buy grilled local fish. I admit, however, that I was not brave enough to eat there and it was not about the way of cooking but the terrible stench of the harbour. Our steps directed us towards the gate of the old city to stroll and to look for good pubs.
Essaouira is very nice. I want to be objective towards the local population mainly due to the Portuguese who built a fortress and surround that still looks amazing.
Late in the evening I broke off from the group to walk through the medina where I saw an old mosque of Ben Youssef – unfortunately only from the outside – and further to the market where it is difficult to come across tourists, but for that residents do shopping. Imagine my surprise when I met Adam in the middle of the square. We bought a lot of very nice souvenirs made of wood in one of the shops (chess, dominoes, etc.).
We returned to the hotel by taxi for 20 dirhams (2 Euros).
Advice[*:*] [_ Take a GPS with a good map on a motorcycle and for exploring. Some of you know me a little bit and have read previous reports. For those who do it for the first time, let me just mention that I always advise you to have a GPS with a good map. I would recommend OsmAnd +, which runs Android which worked very well during this trip again. In the first situation there was a failed search for a detour of flooded roads. There were not so many rarely frequented roads on the paper maps. OsmAnd had them and they were well drawn. They were well marked, but as for the metro that stony desert, when you have to turn and bounce in the other direction to find your way, trust me it can be difficult to the untrained eye. The second situation was walking into medinas. I cannot imagine that without a GPS you could easily find your way back to the square in Marrakech. _]
It was a day of riding along the ocean. Quite varied, because in places the cliff was sizable and provided impressive views. Another time we rode by, let’s call it a city full of tourist hotels. Unfortunately, it was like a ghost, because the season was in fact over.
Roughly half way along the road from the village of Safi, the landscape changed quite significantly and became more agricultural. My guess is that moisture and rain from the ocean allow for the cultivation of the earth. Interestingly, as you look at the satellite photo, it is a small strip of land extending about 2.5 km from the ocean inland where there are cultivated fields. Above Safi, where there are no mountains to block the influence of moist air from the ocean the cultivated area stretches hundreds of kilometers and huge banana plantations can also be seen there. What may be interesting is that the plantations are covered with materials and film forming like giant greenhouses.
Early in the afternoon we checked in at a very nice hotel in El Jadida. Late in the afternoon we went to the ocean and then in the direction of the old city. Right away it was obvious that the tourist season was over here or even there was not one to begin with since the beach and stalls looked awful. When we came to the centre and went to the local streets we did not come across any tourists. We felt quite strange. Everyone looked at us as if we had mistaken… the city. It was the only time I really felt uncomfortable taking pictures, and although I took a lot of them, it was always in hiding in order not to be exposed to unpleasant situations.
It was a strange city. Unfortunately, I was unable to visit the famous tank (areas where fresh water is collected and which were built in 1514). I have to remember to return to the city some day and visit several places, I forgot: the citadel, the seventeenth century Church of the Assumption, a mosque, a cistern, fortification walls and Bastion de’l Ange.
Advice[*:*] Riding in a group may make you lazy a little. Do not allow it because you will regret it. In my case, I forgot to check what the local attractions were and even though the group had wanted to go back to the hotel after, I could take a stroll and explore a little more of the city.
The last two days in Morocco were marked by our imminent return to Europe. We felt that the trip was coming to an end and we were tired too. That day the road was really easy riding along the coast with less than 300km to get through.
Although we did not have plans to enter Casablanca or Rabat, again I regret that we did not visit either of them. We arrived in Asillah even rested. The hotel was very good and so was the swimming pool. The best, however, was that there was a beach on the other side of the street and the ocean was literally thundering with huge waves.
Asillah is a lovely little town. There is a striking purity, especially this part of the city, which was built by the Portuguese. The massive ramparts and the possibility to get up them and see the town from the ocean made a huge impression on me. It was a game of colours of white and blue and the sun made an electrifying impression.
Since it was the last day when we could do more shopping, we set sail in a vortex of search, selection and price negotiation of all kinds of souvenirs.
We arrived at the hotel relatively early, and we realized that the next day we had to get up very early at 5 am to go in the direction of the Tangier ferry.
Advice[*:*] Watch out for local traffic. First of all signs and traffic rules are treated conventionally. Particular attention should be paid to the ubiquitous roundabouts. Their short cutting is the norm and the principle that the roundabout has priority is rarely adhered to. Tourists on motorcycles are treated very exceptionally, and are very often let through even though they don’t have priority. In such cases, however, you have to be very vigilant. Police officers at the checkpoints are very polite and help them go on without stopping at the check point (in most cases). However, when approaching it is necessary to slow down – often according to the 20 km/h sign.
We left the hotel at 5 in the morning and it was still quite dark. The road was empty. We were at the border about 7:30 in order to check in at 8am and board the ferry.
I did not feel good as I had slept badly at night. For the first time since the beginning of the trip my stomach began to hurt and I had to take a painkiller. As soon as we boarded the passenger deck, I went to the last row of seats and just lay down on the floor to take a nap. Fortunately the medicine helped, and the two hours of rest was really helpful.
I feel that in this way, the ferry sailed much faster. We were, however, slightly behind time and that’s why we continued our journey in Spain along a toll motorway. There were really a lot of things to do before departure but with a little time to do it. When Paul and I went to pick up the car from the car park, the remaining part of the team were preparing motorcycles for loading and re-packing things. I had the chance to use Pawel’s GS which was a cool machine. Compared to Adventurer, it is lighter, smaller and easier to steer.
When we pulled up at the hotel we loaded the motorbikes on the trailer promptly and effectively. We went to the airport after about an hour.
We landed in Warsaw in the evening. The wind was strong and it was raining. The temperature was 8 degrees. There was time for just a quick goodbye and we parted. I had to wait two hours for the plane to Poznan and was at home at midnight.
The photos are arranged chronologically, so you can place them according to the entries on the blog.
Krzysztof Wisniewski (b. In 1973, Zielona Gora PL) graduated from the University of Zielona Gora. Marathon runner, biker, explorer, hunter and CEO of the CONTMAN company. He is a freelance writer, editor and self-publisher. In 2013, he published his first book entitled “Safari in Namibia,” in the form of e-book, in which he described the adventure of the trip to the Safari. He spends his free time with his family and traveling.
Shakespir (my books):