What a difference a Cape makes. The Atlantic Coast of Algave

Cape St Vincent (Cabo de São Vicente) is the most Southwesterly point of the European Continent. It’s juts out into the Atlantic at the bottom tip of Portugal. It’s funny to think that only few weeks back I was at the North West tip of Africa.

East of the Cape the coast gently curves toward the Gulf of Cadiz with its generally warm calm waters. (As seen in the previous blog)

To the west and north the Atlantic up to its reputation of icy cold waves and wild beaches.

The beach at Carrapateira a wild wahing machine of a place.

Arrafina is a lot less wild. sheltered by a headland with a little fishing port giving some shelter from the wind and a better set of waves.

Is the water icy? Well at under 18c it’s chilly but not as cold as the Southern Ocean off the Victorian, Australia coast where I have swum for many years.

But not intolerable!

The cliff top provides amazing views up and down the coastline.

And of course facing west the clifftop provides a great sunset viewing platform.

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.

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.

Morocco, back to the beginning and arriving from Spain.

It’s a quick ferry ride from Tarifa to Tanger and a long trek through customs into Morocco.

Many stories proceed a trip to Morocco- tourist touts, poor roads, mad drivers mint tea and the physical beauty of the country.

Tanger being the sea gateway to Morocco one both arrives and departs from Tager. So maybe coming in and out of Tanger is a good time to compare my cautious and naive thoughts on entering Morocco and the utter thankfulness that I had had a month travelling in Morocco ( I could have spent 3).

So after some sickingly sweet mint tea, some haggling with money changers and a very greasy omelette it was into the seemingly crazy traffic and on the road to Tetuan.

Coming up the the Atlantic Coast back to Tanger and the Ferry back to Spain. Asilah is one of the first towns in Tanger province with a small Medinain the old Portuguese fort right on the ocean.

Rubbish on the Moroccan Beaches and in the country side is a sad scare on the landscape and if you read the guides Asilah is about the worst. But Tanger province has made a big effort to clean up its beaches and as you can see in the photos

Cape Spatel is the most north western point of the African continent. The lighthouse is called the Hercules Lighthouse. The Greek legend is that here and across the Strait in Gibralter is where Hercules tore the African and European continents apart and let the Atlantic ocean flood in to form the Mediterranean Sea.

A little south of Cape Spatel is the Grote de Hercules where legend has it the strong man slept while undertaking the slightly daunting task of ripping two continents apart.

While I had been warned about Moroccan drivers I found it the safest place to ride but you need to understand the codes.

Let me share an anecdote.

I use a GPS it’s my guide but it’s not infallible. Coming into Tanger the GPS went to send me down a road the was blocked by roadworks.

As I was readjusting a scooter zipped past slowed down and gave me the slow down and follow me sign. A little way along the rider pointed to the road on the left. Gave a wave and zipped off. The road led straight to the port.

I’m sorry I didn’t see more of Tanger. Maybe next trip!!!!