UPDATED: December 2022
For the moment Covid is pretty much over in Morocco
What they say…
Brilliant trip… Chris invariably undersells and over-delivers SS
My research on the internet into travel in the Sahara keeps leading me to your page. MP
It was one of the best trips I have ever done and far above any other tour out there… RZ
[one year on] I’ve been reflecting on it. Without question the best trip I’ve ever taken. PH
… what a brilliant trip that was. A great balance of challenge and relaxation. RS
an interesting mix of people and your amazing quiet knowledge made it all feel so easy. JT
Thank you for opening my horizons and revealing what I am capable of achieving. KD
A fantastic week. For me, the off-road challenges were just about perfect; lots of interesting routes RN
Many thanks for a great trip, it was well beyond what I’d hoped for in almost every respect. SR
Absolute belter of a week in Morocco. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience. RC
Come and join us on an easy introduction to small-group, back-road trail biking in Morocco, suited to seasoned motorcyclists who may have little or no experience in off-road riding, or of travelling in North Africa. Your time is maximised by flying in and renting a bike, before crossing the High Atlas mountains for a 1200-kilometre lap of southern Morocco. To read more about me, click the picture, left.
Using my 40+ years experience of riding in North Africa, as well as the knowledge based on writing Morocco Overland and the Adventure Motorcycling Handbook, we follow exhilaratingly remote mountain backroads to tackle easy dirt-road excursions of 1–4 hours, covering around 200km a day. With the scenery, deserted roads and trails, great food and cosy lodgings, it all adds up to a memorable one-week mini-adventure which will leave you satisfied rather than exhausted.
[your tour] was everything I wanted. From hotels, to pistes, roads and views and to the great emptiness of the Atlas and Anti-Atlas. RT
What a brilliant trip that was. A great balance of challenge and relaxation. RS
We would like to thank you for a beautiful trip that will remain in our memories forever. RBE
Interesting mix of people + your amazing quiet knowledge of the area made it all feel so easy. JT.
Thank you so much for all your help and guiding. The tour has been an indelible memory for me. JK
You’ve ruined green laning in the UK for me now ;-) TY
Great mix of rough and smooth, with a dose of true Moroccan culture. [And] the biking – just right. Loved it. BR
Many thanks once again for your efforts [on] what turned out to be a dream trip to Morocco. GM
If you’ve been there and done that, southern Morocco holds no great challenge. But just as it was for me back in 1982, first rides to North Africa can be a shambles. I came back from that trip dejected while having not seen or done half as much as I could have.
Today I still hear of first-timers stuck at the border on cumbersome, overloaded machines before getting shafted, ill or breaking down while tackling way over-ambitious itineraries at the wrong time of year as the days slip away. That can all be part of the adventure if you’re carefree and happily naive. For everyone else, a short guided tour can be a great primer to genuine self-supported adventure motorcycling or just a fun biking holiday.
I’ve refined my proven formula to make the ride more suited to the road-oriented BMW 310GSs. And I continually upgraded lodgings and tweak the routing as places change and routes get sealed but always with options in the event of bad weather or other setbacks.
The default bike is the BMW G310GS. Tyres are tubeless and usually do-it-all Mitas, as opposed to road-style Tourances and the like. But because we’re not on a rally and conditions are usually dry, you’ll be surprised how secure a road tyre is on the gravel tracks. It’s all about a smooth, non-aggressive riding.
The difference between the current 310s and an F700GS, F750GS is less pronounced. Therefore, although there are always six 310s reserved, these bigger bikes are now suited to the tour, assuming they’re available and you’re comfortable with the extra weight and additional rental costs.
Seat heights on these big bikes aren’t so different and lower saddles are an option for the 310s too. The bigger bikes from Loc2Roues (aka: BM Attitude) cost between 50% and 100% more to rent, Some are older and have higher mileages. Read my impressions on doing the tour on an old F700GS. as well as a newer 750GS.
You can do the tour with your own bike. Some consider this but in the end most just fly in and settle for a 310. If you ride a big bike, initially, the 310 will feel gutless, but after a few days you’ll adapt to its abilities on the dirt and find it a brilliant <100-kph canyon carver.
You fly to Marrakech and bus or taxi to a modern hotel where we all meet on the first evening for a meal and a briefing. Next morning it’s a two-minute walk to the bike rental agency. Once the rental payments and 15,000dh (~£1200) deposits are made and bikes packed, we set off for an easy, 110-km road ride to a remote mountain lodge up in the High Atlas.
Next morning we hit the trails and backroads, following spectacular mountain passes and desert pistes, right up to the very last day returning over the High Atlas to Marrakech. Until the last hour on the last day, traffic is negligible.
Where practical, you ride ahead to an agreed landmark or set distance and wait for the group to catch up. It’s important that you understand these instructions or follow someone who does. Because there’s usually only one road or track to follow, this works well enough, with me bringing up the rear. Occasionally it’s better to follow me, in which case catch-up stops are more frequent to make sure all are keeping up. At any time you can stop to take photos and so on. I may ride past but will remember who’s behind me and may pull over later to let you pass. The ride includes several exposed mountain roads and tracks with no safety barrier and big drops. If you have extreme issues with vertigo this ride may not be for you.
We use lodgings ranging from humble Berber home-stays to kasbah-style hotels, enjoying our hosts’ warm hospitality and freshly prepared food. It’s not all about riding; many riders regard the food as another highlight of the tour.
However, once we leave Marrakech some lodgings are plain and rustic, and while almost all are en-suite with sit-on toilets, bathroom facilities may not resemble the spotless fit, finish and functionality you may be used to back home. In particular, plumbing and associated fittings are often challenged, as I’ve found are all across North Africa. It’s all part of the adventure. If you’ve travelled independently in poorer lands (or can remember when Europe and the UK were not so different) it won’t be too much of a shock.
My knowledge of Morocco gained from researching and writing the Morocco Overland guidebook means barely an hour or a mile need be wasted getting to the places overlooked by most tourists, tours and other guidebooks. When things go awry and delays crop up, as they do, I know the region well enough to reschedule the itinerary or the overnight stay at the drop of a valve. On this trip we’ll barely see other tourists. When we do stray into their territory the whole circus can be quite a shock.
This tour is not a hardcore, off-roading, dawn-to-dusk challenge.
It is a laid-back but adventurous back-country trail and road ride through southern Morocco’s mountains and deserts without vehicle support.
However, you still need to be:
• experienced and level-headed to ride competently on exposed mountain switchbacks where any number of hazards lie beyond the next bend. As one seasoned rider wisely observed: it’s not how fast you ride, it’s how well you do it.
• fit enough to handle a few hours off-roading and be…
• flexible enough to accept the vagaries of back-country travel, lodgings and washroom facilities endemic to North Africa.
Sound like your sort of thing? Then please read the FAQs carefully.
Or check out the 2022 gallery here with more here and my post-Covid recce here. After each tour, I send everyone a huge batch of edited photos, making a great souvenir of your Moroccan ride.