The Atlantic Coast of Morocco

Mirleft is a lovely village on the Atlantic Coast between the cities of Agadir and Sidi Infi. While it is a small village now there is a lot of building development happening and in a short time hotels and resorts will dominate the beaches.

To get to Mirleft I chose a route through the Anti Atlas to Tiznit from Imlil in the High Atlas. This route was over small back roads and villages and avoided the business and hub bub of Marrakech. The type of thing I like. It’s an easy day ride this way from the High Atlas to the coast.

Between Mirleft and Legzira and its famous arches if you keep your eye out you might just find a rough dirt track leading down to the a deserted beach where you can find a deserted piece of the African Atlantic Coast.

The coast like between Mirleft and Sidi Infi is dramatic and beautiful, especially the rock arches around Legzira. Some of which you can only see from.the clifftop edge.

As I said Mirleft is changing quickly. The centre of the old town it’s own charm with the main street a line of blue painted arches.

One of those blue arched building houses a licenced premise. A different type of oasis in Morocco!

Well friends and followers there are more tales of Morocco to come over the last couple of weeks I’ve been in Spain and now Portugal. So time to change focus and enjoy the moment.

Riding a motorcycle in the Atlas Mountains

While the High Atlas Mountains with some passes over 3000 metres on some of the back roads that catch the headlines there is a lot more to the Atlas Mountains. The Middle Atlas to the north and the Anti Atlas to the south also offer some amazing riding.

Along the Atlantic Coast just north of Agadir the roads ride there wind up into the middle Atlas through Paradise Valley to the Cascades at Imouzzer des Ita Outanane.

Unfortunately because of the drought the Cascade was dry but the ride is worth the trip in itself. As is the beautiful Cascades Hotel

While most of the roads are bitumanised and pretty well maintained some of the dirt roads were more challenging on a big road bike.

But the views are worth it.

Into the High Atlass

The climb into the High Atlas Mountains offers a astonishing contrast to its neighbour the desert.

Its hard to believe that 3 days ride from Chegaga, the biggest sand sea in Morocco, you are in the mountains headed by Jeb Toubkal, at approximately 4,200 metres the highest mountain in North Africa.

From the desert there a few roads up to to the High Atlas, most of which take the traveller to Marrakech. But going via the Tiz n Test. The madness of the big city can be avoided.

Ok. So went to Morocco but not Marrakech!

Imlil is the main village in the High Atlass but others like Ouraganie on the TiznTest and Azmizmiz in the Anti Atlas a quite local Berber Villages with good accomodation.

The High Atlas and its Berber Culture is and amazing riding, travelling and cultural experience.

You may catch some high altitude soccer training.

Or buy a Berber rug

The motorcycle riding in the Atlas, high, mid and anti is something special. A topic for the next blog.

The run south to the Moroccan desert

Heading south east from Chefchouan through the middle Atlas there was warning of the hot dry run ahead.

Morocco has been in a drought for the last three years and the signs were there to tell getting drier every kilometre travelled south.

The mighty rivers were streams, streams were dry and in the dust of dry oasis the date palms struggled for survival.

Heading through the towns of Zaida, a bustling highway town, and Midelt, with its big apple, the trucks full of hay and the produce in the roadside stalls added colour to the scene but the air was dry and dusty.

But I guess it was coming down the Ziz Gorge and seeing the Ziz river just flowing bought home to me the extent of the drought.

Droughts are something we are used to in Australia.

Along the Ziz the date palm plantations still looked green

By Rissani 600 km further south and Zegora, futher on, the green had faded.

But this far south it’s the edge of the desert and that has its own charms.

And the hotels which are largely good and well priced offer there own little oasis.

M’hamad is the end of the road leading to the desert. The wonderful sand sea of Chegaga (see a couple of blogs back.)

The M’hamad oasis was bone dry scorched by the sun even as it set.

With Adventurers setting out into the desert in search of their dream in this nomadic life.

Tetuan to Chefchouan along the Mediterranean coast and in the Riff Mountains

Tetuan is just inland from the Mediterranean coast and invites the rider to take the long ride route Chefchouan along the coast any over the Riff Mountains.

In the centre of Tetuan is the Royal Palace on the edge of the old Medina. The Palace was a centre of authority the then Morocco Spanish protectorate.

There is a door into the old Medina on each side of the Palace and one of those doors led to a riad and a room for the night.

GPS is great but some times it’s not totally accurate and does not have any social sensitivity function.

This is where a saviour tout comes into there own. This is a local tout who you have ignored as one rides blithely on toward the pedestrian area. Who chases you up the pedestrian mall. And when you finally stop wondering why the military guys up ahead are looking quite quizzically at you.

The saviour tout appears in front of the bike and says ‘you can’t be here. That is the Kings Palace. You will be fined if you go further. Please follow me’

It’s only with the bike safely parked in secure parking and sipping tea in the comfortable Riad that one realises that all touts aren’t bad and shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand.

I have to admit my love for the services of touts was soon tempered in the Medina where every little twist and turn revealed a new tout trying to guide, sell, or befriend the unwary tourist.

By Chefchouan it had dawned on me that while whipping through the narrow streets of old towns on a scooter was a very different thing to navigating them on a fully loaded Moto Guzzi Breva 1100.

Ah the simplicity of a parking bay in a modern hotel!

Chefchouan is a relatively small city in the high lands of the Riff Mountains. It’s known as the blue city as this is the predominant colour in the Medina.

Chefchouan was far more relaxed the either Tanger or Tetuan. I guess a change of pace that is a difference between city and rural life in all parts of the world.

Also the desire to get to the desert in the south east meant it was just overnight stops along the way so maybe not doing these cities justice.

Travel is always full of compromise.