Morocco 04 – Following the footsteps of the real “Paris-Dakar”

The Zagora-Merzuga is a historic stage of the African editions of the Paris-Dakar. Pape, Fabio and Nunzio had planned it since the beginning and they can finally travel through it! Filled with fear and wonder, with some fall here and there… and a huge satisfaction. As they tell us in their daily report

 

On the road book of our three friends the date of Tuesday, December 5 was marked as the busiest day of their trip to Morocco. On that date they scheduled to travel along the track that links Zagora to Merzouga, names with a mythical echo for those who waited for the nightly television reports of the famous stage race in Africa.

Once the bikes are loaded, they make a stop at the city centre to get a refill of fuel, water and … chocolate bars. They load the track on their GPS and finally off they go.

There are still 146 miles of road ahead of our trio. And a lot of tension for each one of them. “Everyone we talked to gave us a different impression concerning the path we are about to deal with. Someone advised us to take a guide, someone has warned us about all the sand we’ll find, others just said we won’t encounter any problem… well, we’ll have to find out ourselves! “.

The interior of a Moroccan Riad (photo courtesy of Elmehdi FIHR)

The first 19 miles run fast on a paved road that leads to Tazerine, then they find the detour. The track is relatively well defined: from time to time there are piles of stones. The compact bottom, with few stones, doesn’t create any problem and allows the three friends to drive at 45-50 mph. All of this while the landscape changes constantly. At first, they skirt mountains in a plain far from being wide, then they pass a crossing and find themselves in a boundless plain with dozens of tracks, as far as the eye can see. Here is the landscape that accompanies the next 60 miles of our friends, who from time to time take a few stops.

Suddenly in the middle of nowhere, they find a Riad, a typical Moroccan house, those with a garden or a courtyard inside. An off-road vehicle is parked outside. A boy approaches our friends and assures them that they are going in the right direction. They will find “only” – he says – around 3 miles of fech-fech, fine talcum-like sand. The boy also sells them 15 litres of petrol. Time to move on!

Everything goes fine and, as indicated, after roughly 12 miles the trio crosses a village. From then on the real hard work begins. The bottom of the road becomes sandy at times, and our three friends rely on the GPS, to look for all possible detours to avoid the terrible fech-fech. But they just can’t escape the obligatory 3 miles the boy from the Riad warned them about. “We get stuck in the sand several times, we all fall, we push, we pull … in the end we get out of it near the village he had told us about, where we stop for a cup of tea”.
“The last 30 miles that divide us from Merzouga seem endless. We are tired and the sun starts to set. But the sight repays us of everything, the mountains around us seem to catch fire, the shadows are getting longer and longer. It’s beautiful, we’re living a magical adventure !!! “.
“Finally we reach the asphalt. We’re only 9 miles away from Merzouga, where we will arrive after the sunset. We reach the hotel, then we shower, then we have dinner, then we go to bed, at last.
See you tomorrow!”.

Previous chapters here
Morocco 01 – Alberto’s Mal d’Afrique, when saudade crosses the ocean
Morocco 02 – Pape, Fabio and Nunzio in Morocco!
Morocco 03 – The African way of life

Next chapter here
Morocco 05 – Chilling in Morocco

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entrance to Merzouga (photo courtesy of Anderson Sady)

 

Typical Merzouga Street (photo courtesy of Bjørn Christian Tørrissen)
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