Facts and Figures
January 27th - February 2nd 2009
Morocco Cont. & Mauritania
Start Mileage - 4916
El Jadida - Essaouira
Repacked the necessaries in the morning and left the hotel after paying the ‘guardien’ to get out of the car park! We travelled all the way round the corner to the petrol station and café. After topping up with fuel and coffee, we hit the road around 10:45. The plan today was to head for Agadir for the overnight stop.
Although there are no motorways in this part, the main roads were on the whole much better. The villages were much cleaner and did not feel as intimidating when we rode through. We were getting concerned about the lack of photographs we had taken, so Lorraine got the camera out and took some whilst we were riding along. We stopped at a petrol station café around midday as we were starving. We had not eaten much yesterday, only a cereal bar at the BMW garage. The café did not have much to offer, only cakes, but they filled the gap. We had planned to stop in Essaouira for a late lunch which should have been on the road to Agadir according to the map, however….. At the last minute Lorraine spots a sign for Agadir off to the left, too late to make the turn. So we carry on to Essaouira as planned and will pick up the Agadir road from there. On this stretch of the road we encountered our first taste of off road riding. A new road was being built and we could see it nice and shiny and ready for use, but they kept us on the old road which would have been condemned a long time ago back in the UK. As we got back onto tarmac, we came over a hill with a beautiful view of Essaouira, so we stopped to get our breath back and take a piccy. This town is known for all types of surfing and we could see why as we saw the waves as we rode along the front.
Men kept waving keys at us from the roadside, and we had no idea what was going on until one of them signed sleep. It was keys for apartments that they were renting. As we had not planned to stay here, we ignored them. Lunch was very nice and fairly cheap. We realized that by the time we had eaten it would be quite late and dark again by the time we reached Agadir. There was no way we wanted to get any off road riding in the dark, so decided to call it a day after all. A gent offered to show us his apartment while we were finishing lunch. Lorraine went off with him as I finished my coffee. On hindsight, probably not a good idea, but she came back safe and sound. The apartment was good, clean and cheap, but parking would have been a problem, so we carried on along the front looking for a hotel. Yet another Ibis, again with secure parking, so we booked in for the night.
Start Mileage - 5078
Essaouira - El Ouatia
09:00 on the road hoping to hit Tan Tan before we park up for the night, as we only have 3 days left on the insurance, so we are going to have to cram some miles in before Friday. It was a good ride through the mountains and down to the coast and we stopped at Agadir for lunch. Morocco is definitely getting nicer the further south we get.
It was getting late and dark again by the time we arrived at Tan Tan, but we had the co-ordinates for an Hotel in El Outia which we decided to go for a few miles further on. We got stopped at a check point, the first one as we had been waived through the previous ones and asked the standard questions, passports please, where have you been?, where are you going? When we told him “Cape Town” the Gendarme asked if I had been drinking? Which I thought was a joke from him so I laughed, but he was serious, he thought he could smell drink on my breath, I hadn’t had any so I knew I was clear…. but he never pursued it, and let us on our way.
After once again chasing the satnav around trying to find the Hotel we were looking for, up and down the same road two or three times, into the port once where the security guard gave us directions, back down the same road we had been on before!! We went a bit further this time and cut back in a road or two and ran straight into it. The Villa Ocean Hotel, right on the sea front and with secure parking in the owners garage.
Start Mileage - 5412
El Ouatia - Boujdour
Awake at 07:30, another five minutes kip and then it’s 08:30 … we have to make more of an effort to get on the road earlier if we are going to clear the border before the insurance runs out!! A quick coffee, bike out of the garage and packed and rolling by 09:30, not too late. The traffic was as busy as usual i.e. not a lot of it and the roads were boringly straight, long and surrounded with sand dunes. We had planned to get at least to Boujdour and then see what the light/time was like and move a bit further on if possible.
We stopped at Laayoune for lunch, which when we pulled in seemed to be a military garrison town. We found an ATM and got some cash, filled up with fuel and then couldn’t find the “Centre Ville”!! So stopped a squaddie and asked him if he knew of an eatery nearby, he gave us directions to where he said he and his mates ate which was just down a side street and didn’t look at all like a restaurant, but when we pulled up the owner grabbed a chair from a café across the road so we could both sit at the table outside. There was no menu so we just asked for a sandwich and coffee, they didn’t serve coffee so we had a Fanta each and a surprise sandwich as they didn’t ask what we wanted in it .. but it was nice when it arrived, a plate of rice and beetroot followed by a spiced chicken and chips baguette.
Fed and watered it’s time to hit the road again, where are all the sign posts?? We rode round for what must have been an hour trying to find our way out, sweating buckets in slow moving city traffic and the midday heat, when we pulled over to ask a police guard for help, he said he had thought we were having trouble as he had seen us pass him on several occasions. He told us about his CBR 900 and offered to take us out on a ride when he finished work if we were staying in the area or if we were still going round in circles!!
Thanks to the police guard we eventually got on the right road and I decided that we wouldn’t pull off route anymore for lunch .. Service areas only!!
We arrived at Boujdour around 16:30 and called it a day and started to search for a camp site. We found Sahara Line Camping without any problem but when we pulled in it also had some nice bungalows which we thought we would enquire the price of, out of interest only. MAD 490 for a very nice house, living room with satellite TV, European toilets, shower with hot water and secure parking, a bit big for what we wanted so we asked if he had anything smaller, he thought we didn’t like the place but when we said we thought it was too big for us he said we could have it for MAD 400, done! Unpack, shower, settle in and watch the news on BBC World then a movie in English on Fox and charge everything up.
Start Mileage - 5725
Boujdour - Nouadhibou (Mauritania)
A substantial Breakfast was delivered to the bungalow at 08:00, we ate our fill and topped up on the coffee and made sandwiches for the road with the remains.
On the road at 09:30 for the last push out of Morocco. Empty roads long and straight again were the order of the day. We were hoping to get close to if not through the border today. I decided that instead of stopping for lunch we would just ride on and have quick stops every hour and a half, which made the riding a bit easier. If we got to the border early enough we were praying that we could get the Visa’s there and not be sent back to Rabat for them. We reached the border at 17:30 and confirmed that we could get the Visa’s ok … phew!!! But then made the mistake of going through instead of waiting till the following morning. It took about 45 minutes to get the passports checked and sorted, then customs to clear the bike out of Morocco, then another 3 more posts before we actually left Morocco into 5 km’s of no mans land …. Our first serious off road riding, rocks, sand and several routes that could be taken. It started off well, riding the rocks was quite easy, the bike bottomed out a couple of times and Lorraine wasn’t too happy with the experience. Then we hit the first sandy bit, the first few yards went ok then the back wheel just sank in and the bike toppled to the right but we managed to keep it up. Lorraine got off and started to push but just before I got grip back again, the back wheel was spinning and throwing sand up covering Lorraine from head to toe! I pulled off towards firmer ground and over I go, thrown off by the sand again. We try to pick the bike up but it’s too heavy with all the boxes etc. on but luckily a couple of guys who had just overtaken us had seen everything and came back to lend a hand. Bike upright again, they explain that the rest of the way is not too difficult but Lorraine could go in the car with them and I’d follow their route. All was ok till I got a bit cocky and hit some more sand a bit too fast and this time I came down with a bang. Ripping the right hand pannier from it’s mount and smashing the bracket for the auxiliary light, again the guys rescued me. The rest of the run to the Mauritanian post went ok without any further damage.
The border post was closed as it was prayer time and it was also pitch dark. No problems once it opened up again although they did say that normally they wouldn’t let anyone through this late but as we were foreigners they would let us through. 20:45 everything was sorted and we were on tarmac again to Nouadhibou and Abba Camping which was in the satnav although not the same co-ordinates. We found the campsite ok and had fun trying to put up a new unused tent in the dark after a day like today. Into bed about midnight .. Knackered!
Abba Camping Nouadhibou
Not much to report today. The camp site looked very basic in daylight but was good enough. We found out from the camp site owner where to get insurance for the bike but it was closed till Sunday. The rest of the day was spent mostly sleeping after the hard riding the last three days and the border crossing.
First ration pack meal was consumed tonight, I had Beef & Potato Hot Pot and Lorraine had Pasta with Olives, not bad for dried food and filling.
Start Mileage - 6158
Nouadhibou - Chami Saumatre
Up early with the chanting for prayers, but it took us about two hours to pack the tent down in the wind which I haven’t mentioned yet. Travelling down the coast there is a strong wind that blows off the sea, so strong we are riding at a 45 Deg. angle a lot of the time and it’s quite scary passing oncoming trucks or when a coach passes you at 100 MPH about two feet away from the bike.
Bike all packed up at last we go over the road to sort out the insurance. First off the guy says we can only get 10 days minimum but I only want 5. Eventually he relents and gives us 5 days but I didn’t ask the price for 10 days so he probably just charged me for 10 and gave me 5 on the certificate!! Total cost for insurance 2,300 Oog which is about £7.50.
With the time it took to pack the tent down and get the insurance, it’s now nearly11:30, I don’t think we are going to get far today!
We made the BIG mistake of leaving Nouadhibou with no water. About an hour after leaving we passed one of the many Auberge’s along the side of the road, which are just a few Bedouin style tents and a couple of shacks, sometimes, if it’s a posh one there might be a battered caravan as well. Lorraine spotted what she thought was a little shop in one of the shacks as we passed so we turned around for a look, and it was a well stocked little place so we topped up with 9Ltrs of water, some tea bags and some bread to eat. Lorraine's Camel Back seemed to be leaking all over her back, but on closer inspection it looks like it was just an overfill. We hit the road again, 3/4’s of a tank of fuel showing on the gauge, but about 30 miles further on the computer is saying we only have 90 miles left and there is nothing to see but sand in all directions as far as we could see. Not a big problem as I had the two Jerry cans, then in the distance we see a petrol station. They only had 15Ltr’s of super in a plastic can so we emptied them out for 4000 Oogs which gave me a 1/4 tank full.
A while later with the petrol diminishing again we spot a new Total Station which has lots of “Essence”, dispensed from a pump and this fill up only cost 8000 Oog, I think we might have been ripped off at the last place.
After fuelling up we had a coffee, the first for two days … niiiiice.
We asked the owner if there was an Auberge close by as it was getting close to 16:00, “yes” he said “ici”. It was a dormitory type of building with mattresses and pillows on the deck so we decided to call it a day and stay there. We couldn’t empty the bike yet though as the station was also a bus stopping place, and they were in and out constantly till about 21:00, with passengers changing babies nappies and eating where we were supposed to be sleeping. The owner did warn us though to take all the gear off the bike and keep it in view while the busses were in. A Dutch couple pulled in in a camper van and we had a bit of a chat with them and we finally got to bed around 23:00. The room was very hot, and I got paranoid when I heard a mossie buzzing around. The spray and net were in the pannier on the bike, so had a restless night.
Start Mileage - 6313
Chami Saumatre - Nouakchott
Up at 07:30 today - no call for prayers, WooHoo!! A quick coffee and just a quick pack needed and on the road for 09:30ish for a not too hectic ride into Nouakchott where we are going to see about our Visa’s for Mali. Once again, finding where we want to be proved to be a hit and miss affair, riding around asking people for directions and being sent everywhere except where we wanted.
A side note on the traffic we encountered in Noukchott … we have seen some BAD driving on the way so far, but, Noukchott takes the biscuit .. No signals, if the vehicle has lights that is, and they come at you from all angles paying no attention to signs or lights. We stop at a junction and they come round us on both sides, up on the sand verges forcing pedestrian traffic and animals out of the way. A red light just means “GO FASTER!”, and roundabouts … the bravest wins.
Eventually we found the Malian embassy at about 14:00, Lorraine went in and asked, it was ok to get them there. Lots of paperwork to fill in and passports inspected. Lorraine asked if they took Visa which they said they did, but when it came to paying they no longer took plastic, cash only, and they close at 16:00. The guy in the embassy couldn’t give directions to a bank and suggested a taxi, however, I remembered seeing a bank with an ATM so we took off on the bike to get the cash. Although I had remembered seeing the bank, unfortunately it wasn’t where I thought I had remembered seeing it!! So after a couple of miles we decided to head back to the embassy and get a taxi. On the way back a decrepit artic and trailer had tried to negotiate a small roundabout and snapped an axle on the unit blocking the road which forced the traffic either onto the verge, ”sand”, or into oncoming traffic on the wrong side of the road, “Suicidal”, so sand it was … all good to start with, nice and slow, the back wheel bogged a couple of times but managed to recover it, then, without warning, we are on our side again .. A**e!! Again a couple of locals assisted and no damage this time. Back at the embassy, Lorraine jumps into a taxi and sets off to the bank returning 10 minutes later to get the Visa’s sorted. I had been talking to one of the embassy guys while Lorraine was away and he had said there was an Auberge nearby run by a French woman or there was also Auberge Des Nomades, which I have in the satnav, “Just go into town and ask someone, everyone knows them” he said .. No they don’t! following the satnav we are heading to Auberge Des Nomades and it tells us we are right where we need to be, but can we find it? Then a guy appears (Abdoul) and asks where we are looking for, turns out he owns Auberge Des Nomades so we follow him, again up a sandy road, I hate sand, but with no mishaps this time. We would never have found it on our own and it seemed that the locals weren’t really that helpful as we had asked only yards from the place before Abdoul appeared with nobody knowing where it was.
We get settled in then Abdoul says he can get me a set of brand new Continental TKC 80’s to make life a bit easier on the soft stuff but will let me know tomorrow, we’ll see what he comes up with.
We found a restaurant over the road, Restaurant Prince, which seemed to be the one with most people in so decided to eat there, and at the time of writing this no ill effects!
Back to the Auberge and we are going to watch a film on the Archos, we get about 10 minutes into the film and a Dutch guy appears. He had seen the bike and thought it was a friend of his. We had a long chat with him, he has a car over here which he has driven down from Holland and spends a couple of weeks travelling each year, then parks the car up wherever he is and heads back home. After he had left we returned to the film only the batteries have gone flat.
Ready to hit the sack and the key wont open the room door, the lock has collapsed. A Call to the chap from reception and he couldn’t get it open either, after lots of pushing the key in and rattling it or hitting it with a screwdriver he decides the lock is broken. So he calls in a small friend of his who will fit through the bathroom window and try from inside. Still no luck. The lock was ripped off the door (and half the door came with it!) and replaced with a lock from an unused room. Half an hour later and we are all secure.