Morocco 2023 The Motor Journey

Morocco 2023 The Motor Journey.

“Why-why do you need rivers this wide?

Why-how- high are the mountains? “

This nursery rhyme had not left me for the entire six-hour flight, until the Moroccan Airlines Boeing 737 landed at Casablanca Airport. A couple of months ago if I had been asked what I knew about Morocco I would have said it was a country somewhere in Africa, with Moroccans, a desert, camels, tangerines and a city with the exotic name of Marrakech, about which there was a funny song by the popular in the 80′s Goombay Dance Band. Perhaps this story would not be much different in meaning and content than Donna Rosa d’Alvadores’ description of Brazil in the famous comedy “Hello, I’m Your Aunt!”

The idea to take a motorcycle trip through this mysterious country, as always, came out of the blue. I found out by chance that a fun company of my friends from the BMW crowd was going there, so I asked to go, so to speak.

Morocco greeted us with warm, sunny weather. A clean modern airport, a long line at the passport control, consisting of representatives of all races and nationalities of the planet, a cab … And after a few hours, having settled the simple formalities with the paperwork for the rental of motorcycles, we were already trickling through the dense stream of cars through the narrow streets of Casablanca. Nine days of adventure and adrenaline lay ahead!

Casablanca, one of the largest metropolitan areas in Africa, did not, in general, surprise us. A huge European city with an eastern flavor. Chic hotels, restaurants, shopping centers, dense traffic of different class and cost of cars, the same motley crowd – from beggars and intrusive traders following you on the sidewalk and begging to buy all kinds of unnecessary crap, to respectable men and women talking at the tables of expensive restaurants overlooking the ocean. The famous Hassan II mosque, the second tallest minaret in the world, did not impress us much either. At least not from the outside, and we didn’t go inside. Only the thin green laser beam coming from the top of the minaret and piercing the night sky above the city reminded its inhabitants that there is no hiding from the all-seeing eye of Allah even behind the stone walls. The evening stroll through the city ended with our return to the hotel toward midnight. Tomorrow we leave for the south of Morocco.

The distance from Casablanca to Esauira is about 400 km. It can be covered on the autobahn in four hours. And see nothing. Or you can take a good asphalt road along the Atlantic and have an incredible amount of fun! The narrow road took us south, skirting the coastline, up and down the cliffs with a great view of the ocean, then down to the endless sandy beach, and sometimes it went so close to a cliffy shore that I had to wipe off the splash of waves crashing on the rocks with my visor.

El Jadida, Oualidia, Beddoza, Safi… Small ancient cities on the Atlantic coast struck us with their inexpressible oriental flavor. Many of them have preserved architecture and lifestyles that didn’t seem to change over the past few hundred years. Mighty fortress walls line the old part of the town, here called the Medina. Narrow crooked streets paved with stone, brown walls of houses, arches, small windows and low, cracked wooden doors, donkeys pulling luggage carts, a market that sells everything from oriental sweets and delicious hot cakes for one dirham, to expensive rugs and handmade leather goods.

Everything is unusual and appealing! And the hundreds of photos we took can hardly convey even a small fraction of the oriental spirit in which we were able to immerse ourselves for a few hours that day!

Essaouira is one of the oldest cities on Morocco‘s Atlantic coast.The streets of the old Medina, over which flocks of fat gulls circle with distinctive cries, fill with people from early morning.

The doors and shutters open in the little stores, the owners put their goods on the street trays, donkeys wheel carts with their hooves on the sidewalk, and the city comes alive…We wander through its alleys, peering through open doors and under low stone arches that connect the houses standing side by side. There are a lot of cats, and they, like people, look us over with curious eyes.There is also a huge fish market in Essaouira, where you can buy everything that swam in the ocean just yesterday. But unfortunately we did not get to it. If you are in Morocco – be sure to visit this city!

Early in the morning we say goodbye to the beautiful town of Essaouira and drive along the ocean coast to the fairly decent modern city of Agadir.

After refueling the empty tanks, we drive through it and go inland to the east. We choose the “walking route” category on the map and take narrow country roads past villages, some abandoned greenhouses, and through thickets of three-meter-high cacti we head into the mountains.

Steep serpentine leads to the pass. Beautiful!!! The weather is perfect. After sunset, we enter the small town of Tafraut, where a luxurious dinner and a warm bed in a small, cozy guesthouse await us. We spend the evening talking with our compatriot Olga, a very open and cheerful woman who is also the wife of the host Mustafa. What a wonderful day!

Morocco-2023. Tafraut – Tissid.

We say goodbye to our hospitable hosts and leave in the morning, heading east to Tissid.

The sky is overcast with clouds and in 15 minutes it starts to rain cold. We ascent the pass at 1700 m, the temperature drops to 6 degrees, a piercing cold wind – very nasty weather. During two hours we were soaked through! As soon as we go down into the valley, the sun looks out, colors appear and everything around is transformed. Insanely beautiful chocolate mountain ranges that look like a layer cake.

We leave the highway on the gravel road and after a couple of dozen kilometers we come to a roadblock with a poster MILITARY ZONE. A man with a submachine gun looks unkindly in our direction. They turn us back. We take a detour through the desert. Sand and stones, the ground looks a lot like the Mongolian steppe. About an hour later we see an oasis on the horizon, tall palm trees, mud-brick primitive houses – a small village in the middle of the desert. There are no people.

We stop at the last house, which looks like a box, covered in clay, with a single creased door and small windows with iron shutters. After a few minutes, a young Arab appears and invites us in with a gesture.

After a glance, we agree. We enter the house, which is empty inside. We are invited into a large room where there is nothing but carpets and cushions on the floor. A young Arab offers us some tea. Suddenly a man appears, with his legs and one arm chained together. We look at each other and an uneasy tension hangs in the air. Who is it? Why is he chained? Meanwhile a young Arab was engaged in a rather cunning procedure of making Moroccan tea. Then an elderly Arab with a long beard and in a robe appeared, said hello and sat down next to him. Unfortunately, they understood only Arabic and French, and the conversation was conducted through gestures. An elderly woman came in and offered us something to eat. We politely declined, confining ourselves to a delicious herbal tea and dates. The hosts were very friendly, and the shackled man was also around all the time. They categorically refused the offer of money and sprinkled us with some very fragrant incense. We left the place with mixed feelings. On the one hand they were very hospitable and friendly, but on the other hand we did not understand why the guy was chained, maybe it was a punishment for some crime?Going deeper into the desert, after a couple of hours we stopped at another checkpoint. Who-where-why… checking documents. When we say that we are from Russia, the men in uniform smile, give us the name of our president, and let us go on, wishing us a happy journey. Once again the desert, sand, mountains, rocks, a small river… We reached Tissida at dusk.

Morocco-2023. Sahara.

The small village of Mhamid is located at the very beginning of the Sahara Desert. It is crossed by the bed of a dried up river, and although the river itself does not exist now, only stones and the outlines of the banks, there is water somewhere.

Palm groves surround this oasis on all sides. They save the village from the desert, which daily tries to swallow it, along with its primitive clay houses, stores, donkeys and people. The dunes come right up against its buildings, slowly crawl into the alleys and even encroach on the main street! And this struggle between man and nature has been going on here for hundreds of years. So far, man is winning. He wrests new territories from the desert, paves roads, builds new cities and hotels.

We parked our iron horses in one of such oases. Of course, it is possible to ride them over barchans of fine sand like flour. But not for a long time. A heavy motorcycle is not the best way to get around

in the desert, it’s more like a physical exercise in lifting weights. So we decided to choose a more comfortable mode of transport. The light quad bikes flew along barchans like scarab beetles, easily got on their tops where we could enjoy crazy views of the endless sand sea of the Sahara Desert.

On the way back, we were caught in a sandstorm. Not a very pleasant thing. It blows so that you can’t see anything at a distance of ten meters. Sand gets in all the places – eyes, ears, mouth, under our clothes and shoes, and then it crunches on our teeth for a long time.

That is why the local Berbers walk in long robes, wrapped in shawls, both women and men.

Souk is Arabic for bazaar. Every city has one, but if you go to Essaouira, Marrakesh or Agadir, you will get the impression of an Oriental bazaar. But for the most part they are geared toward tourists. And that is understandable. And today we were at a real Berber market in the small town of Rissani.

Where there are no tourists and you will not be enticed by merchants of souvenirs, Chinese fakes and other nonsense. Here you can buy everything from oriental spices to a camel. Here is a woman dressed in black parsing huge bundles of some greens, an Arab pulls a huge cart loaded with just bought mutton. Long stalls piled with fruit and vegetables. As I pass through the butcher’s rows, I stop at a huge leg, apparently a camel’s leg, suspended on a hook.

At the market you can get a haircut, have your clothes made, have a knife made, or have a plate and a spoon carved from a piece of wood. It is interesting to watch how the trade goes on. Here are two Berbers, a seller and a buyer, trying to agree on the price of a ram. Loud, emotional conversation with gesticulation and inexpressible facial expressions – a real show! The buyer walked away, or rather pretended to walk away, three times, and the seller brought him back until they hit it off.

By the way, the average lamb here costs 300 dirhams, which corresponds to 1800 rubles. A camel – from 70 thousand rubles. A kilo of tangerines – 60 rubles. A huge strawberry is the same price. But the prices are very relative and if there is a skillful trade one can reduce the price many times!

I could not take a camel and a sheep with me, so I bought a rusty metal figurine from an antiques dealer. He assured me that it was an antique item stolen from the tomb of some pharaoh. Wanted for it 400 dirhams, agreed on 250. Expensive, of course. But on the other hand, the thing is antique! ))

This is what the streets of small towns in the south of Morocco look like. Residential neighborhoods, so to speak.

Morocco is not the poorest country on the African continent. But the difference between north and south, as well as between large cities and small villages is enormous!

A typical Moroccan village is one main street, along which are all the main “attractions” – cafes, stores, tire dealers and garages-car service. There is usually a mosque with a minaret. And parallel to this street are one or two more, but they are only houses and farm buildings, standing close to each other. The streets can be so narrow that two motorcycles cannot pass each other. The houses are mostly made of homemade blocks made from a mixture of clay, sand and straw. The ceilings are made of palm trees and raw tree trunks of some kind. The walls are not painted on the outside, so 90% of the dwellings are the same color – brown. Everything looks very poor. There are a lot of children on the street, you can often see men and women sitting idle. They sit right on the ground with their feet tucked up and are busy doing a very serious thing – watching people passing by.

Moroccan children are completely relaxed, when we drove through the villages, they ran out to meet us, shouting and waving their hands.

The houses are also mostly empty except for the portrait of the king on the wall and the carpets and pillows on the floor. Garbage is almost everywhere. Many adults and children do not hesitate to come up and hold out their hand and ask for money. If you give a coin, they will ask for more.

Women all walk around in some kind of ridiculous, baggy hats with their heads covered, or black burqas up to their heels, completely hiding their bodies and faces. Men often wear robes of coarse cloth with a pointed hood. In contrast to our Central Asian republics, I did not see a single woman wearing a beautiful dress.

In the provinces and small towns, mopeds and donkeys are the most common and universal means of transportation.

These sad animals are ridden, carried various loads and harnessed into carts. In the territory adjacent to the desert and in the Sahara itself there are often herds of one-humped camels, they are mainly raised for meat and also used for riding tourists, which in these places are as many as donkeys and camels combined. Particularly numerous are herds, that is, organized groups of Chinese, which are brought exclusively by huge buses. A popular tourist spot is the town of Merzuga, located right at the foot of the high sand dunes. It takes you less than a minute to enter the town and a local offers lodging, food, tours into the desert on camels, quad bikes, jeeps and even on foot. It will not be so easy to get rid of him. But the intrusive oriental service and “active sales” are common only where there are tourists. Once you turn off the beaten tourist routes, away from big cities, as people’s behavior immediately changes, they become much easier, more modest and artless. Morocco, however, is no exception in this regard.


Morocco has a very tasty and varied cuisine. You will not go hungry here. In a cafe or a small restaurant, which are in every village, you can have a decent lunch for about 100 dirhams (600 rubles).

For this amount you will be offered, for example, tajin – a national dish cooked in a special clay plate with a cone-shaped lid and is a meat stew with chopped large pieces of vegetables, raisins, herbs and spices. It cooks for 1.5-2 hours. There are many kinds of tagine depending on the type of meat and other ingredients. You will also be served a separate vegetable salad, very tasty bread flatbread, butter, honey, jam and Moroccan green tea with mint, which is brewed in a small metal teapot and comes with a glass cup and a lump of sugar. If you are lucky enough to be invited to visit, you will be able to see the process of making this divine beverage itself. It really is a whole tea ceremony!



Driving in Morocco by car and motorcycle is a pleasure! Quite well-developed road network covers the whole country, the coverage is close to perfect. There are toll highways. In the south of the country the highways are half-empty, we often wondered for whom they were built?

It is possible to drive a dozen or so kilometers without encountering a single car or oncoming car. The local traffic police are present on the roads, especially in localities, they measure the speed, but travelers on motorcycles they just ignore, at best they greet with a wave of the hand or do not pay attention at all. We had driven 2,800 km through Morocco and we had never been stopped for a document check or traffic violations, although, to be honest, they did happen. But is it possible to drive at a speed of 90 or even 110 km / h on a straight as an arrow highway? In this respect, Morocco is similar to Iran, although the drivers here are more law-abiding. But in the cities you have to be careful, there are a lot of motorcyclists and animal carts moving around without any rules at all.

The roads in the Atlas Mountains are beautiful. The sheer walls of the gorges, precipices, serpentines – fascinating scenery, and the snow on the passes! Snow and Africa for me were two incompatible concepts, but I have not seen much before … ))

Gasoline in Morocco is around 70 rubles per liter. There are plenty of gas stations, they are almost everywhere.



We arrived in Marrakech in the evening. The weather had turned bad and it had been raining for hours, but in spite of this, the streets of the city were full of people. The small private hotel booked on with four rooms was located in the center of the old town, the medina. We spent an hour trying to find it on our own but it turned out to be next to impossible. We had to use the help of a young guy who led us through the maze of narrow streets, in some places they were so narrow that two donkeys would not separate.



We arrived in Marrakech in the evening. The weather had turned bad and it had been raining for hours, but in spite of this, the streets of the city were full of people. The small private hotel booked on with four rooms was located in the center of the old town, the medina. We spent an hour trying to find it on our own but it turned out to be next to impossible. We had to use the help of a young guy who led us through the maze of narrow streets, in some places they were so narrow that two donkeys would not separate.

Within ten minutes the hotel was found and in gratitude I handed the “guide” a bill of 100 dirhams (600 rubles), thinking it was a very good reward. But the fellow, without blinking an eye, took the money and said that his service was worth 200 dirhams. In reply I took the hundred-dollar bill back and told him to fuck off in Russian.

The entrance to the hotel was an old wooden door in the wall with a small brass sign above it. But inside it was a real oriental rich house with a patio and a swimming pool.

Marrakech is one of the four largest cities in Morocco with a population of about one million people. It is famous for its medina, probably the largest in the world. It is an old city surrounded by a fortress wall and is a huge maze of streets, alleys, cul-de-sacs, intersections and a large central square Jamaa el-Fna. Most of the city is one huge Oriental bazaar. It sells everything – food, clothes, carpets, souvenirs, and on the square there are musicians, snake tamers, acrobats and other representatives of local amateurs.

If you stop at one of these improvised scenes, one of the “artists” will immediately run up to you with his hand outstretched, demanding money. Tourists here are trying to fool everyone, from beggars to sellers, who sell their goods at five to ten times the markup. In order not to be cheated you should know how to haggle and simply ignore those who want to “free” to improve their financial situation at your expense. And there are a lot of them…

But despite everything, Marrakech amazes with its inexpressible oriental flavor and spirit, which permeates every stone of this amazing ancient city.

Interesting travels:

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