Morocco Overland 3 – Updates & Corrections

M3upd
Updates & Corrections to v 3.0 of the book published October 2017.
Latest: November 2019
Future reprints – 3.1, 3.2 etc – will include all previous updates and corrections listed here.

 

Update 3.0.17 – 12 November 2019

I am told the classic crossing of Jebel Sarhro (MH4) is now sealed.

Update 3.0.16 – 16 September 2019

immicardThe white immigration cards you used to fill out on arrival in Morocco have been dropped from today at airports in a bid to speed up immigration procedures.
They’re set to be dropped from maritime ports too in a month or two.


Update 3.0.15 – 13 May 2019

Ian C (KTM1290) writes:

We weren’t allowed out of [Nador] port without buying insurance there. The guy told us it was around 20 euros more expensive than in the town, but we had no choice, and it was all very official (AXA printed docs). Don’t remember exact price, maybe 140 euros for a month?

MS9 is now virtually abandoned, and included one rocky ascent and a lot of riding along a river bed. By contrast, MH7 continuing west from Anezal was a breeze, and a pleasure.

So MS9 is no longer a route to try on a big bike. Ian made some nice videos too, using a kite tied to some balloons.
MH19 going on to MH18 and the Anergui Gorge, as mentioned in the previous update.

MH13 – the Tangounsta Tunnel

 


Update 3.0.14 – 4 May 2019

Updates following a month’s ride out there.

Turning up at the counter in Algeciras, a month’s return with Balearia ferries was just €86.

The new credit-card sized TVIP at the port was issued in just 10 minutes (but I was first off the boat). You can’t do them online in advance any more.

MH16KM132 (MH18KM55): the track alongside the very narrow Assif Melloul gorge to/from Anergui is straight forward and a great ride. There are no ‘frail bridges’ that need to be crossed or avoided by fording the river. After the last hamlets, it gets slightly rougher and narrower at the eastern end where it gets close to river level, but nothing a 2WD with clearance couldn’t manage.
Coming north out of Anergui (a climb over 2500m) the newest fuel is in Tagelft (54km) or Imilchil (68km).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At the MH18KM132 junction the high road is now sealed and takes the old (longer) way down to the head of the Ait Bouguemeze valley where dirt resumes on and off.

MH18KM153. There is village fuel in the Ait Bouguemeze valley from a lock-up with a red door, 200m west of the police checkpoint junction where the tarmac starts at KM153 (and where MH19 goes south over the Atlas). Call the number on the red door; he’ll turn up eventually.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn fact, I am beginning to realise what may have been obvious: many remote villages accessible by cars but far from fuel stations will sell fuel from shops or lock-ups, and it won’t necessarily be dirty, diluted stuff and I’ve found prices a reasonable 10-15% more than a garage.

MH18KM183 From this col the southern loop climbs a bit more then drops down through villages, crosses an unfinished bridge and leads back north through a defile and the odd ford, then over a final col and a descent to a sealed road in the main MH18 valley. This option ons the main road a bit further west than the book suggests.
It’s all reasonably straightforward.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Amzeria (‘Amezri’ on maps). On the MH12 High Atlas crossing, a side road over a bridge leading east of Tourfine (KM57) ends in a few kms at a ford south for Megdaz (on Google). Carry on along a northside track to Ait Hamza. From here it can be tricky to access and  locate the washed-out track in the stony Oued Tassaout riverbed, but it’s just about clear enough all the way to Ait Oubaten (or similar; <10km) where tarmac resumes to Amzeria, then back up to 2200m and down to Skoura. On a bike expect to get wet feet.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It looks like they’re extending what looked like a never finished track from Agdz north to Skoura via Bou Skour mine. For me it ended at the point below. More here.

bouskour

The once gnarly 30-km section of track between Assaragh and Adadir Melloul on MA13 (the cover of Morocco Overland 2) has been widened in preparation for sealing. It means the track on MA12 NW of Timdrart, KM139 to KM163 joining the road, may become obsolete and fall into disrepair.

North of Igli on MH6 KM77, a newish road leads west nearly 100km to Sidi Ouaziz back on the N10. The very highest section at around 2500m is currently  now sealed for 8 kilometres. It’s an epic high route (pictures). Where the older tarmac ends on the west side at 2250m (near picture below), it’s possible to follow a rough but Transit-able track a few about 20km to KM23 on MH20 (click for update). More pictures here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The gite in Igmir (MA2) is closed. The next nearest place south was Bordj Biramane in Icht, a pricey but popular overlanders’ camp with a bar plus huts or tents.
The gite in Assa mentioned in the book on p210 was a nice place to stay, an authentic rustic, low-headroom adobe town house (below).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

MW6 is now sealed all the way to Labouriat (KM126). From here a more used and corrugated track continues east towards Mseid. Don’t miss your turn-off at KM157, where the Dakar minds commence. It means there is only about 150-km of easy to follow piste, but it’s enough.
Having finally ridden the full length of MW6 (with a 4×4), I’d reiterate it’s not a track to do alone on a big bike with road tyres, even if the 400-km range is not a problem.
mw256gorgeAlthough this time I made less of a mess of the unrecognisably easy Oued Kara crossing at KM247, the dry sandy gorge at KM256 was a struggle on a fully-loaded bike, just as it was on the WR250R in 2017 when it was actually a waterhole (as evident in the Bing image below). A 4×4 can crawl across these sandy ruts, a bike either has to attack them (risky), or be paddled or walked through for a couple of hundred metres (tiring). I had to be pushed out, then once on the firms stuff (left) went over the stony hill (as I did on the WR) to get out on to the plateau before the drop to the chott.

mw6km256

If you need moto inner tubes in Layounne (including 21s), there’s a bike and scooter shop round about here, just south of the MacDonalds square.

Subsidised fuel in Western Sahara now seems to be the same price – 8 dh for diesel or petrol.

There’s some road building going on west of Fort Bou Jerif ruins, but the book description of MW8 from Sidi Ifni still stands.


Update 3.0.13 – 11 March 2019

Moto Plus in Casablanca. Probably miles from where you are but a good place to despatch motorbike tyres (and maybe other generic parts) cross country.


Update 3.0.12 – 23 Feb 2019

A recent video of MA6 so you know what you’re letting yourself in for.
Car and especially bike, definitely less hard southbound.


Update 3.0.12 – 15 Feb 2019

Thanks to David Q for pointing out two waypoint typos:

• MS2 KM77, east end of Ait Ouazik village should be: N30° 41.00′ W05° 37.59′
• MW7 KM81 and KM133 co-ordinates are duplicated. MW7 KM133, the fork for the short-cut to the SE should be: N27° 29.02′ W10° 38.53′

He also says ME8 out of Figuig via the new dam is getting sealed. The new routing is clear but may not match the book’s description.


Update 3.0.11 – 2 Jan 2019

The option to fill out and print your D16 TER temporary vehicle importation form online in advance has been dropped. They now issue you with a credit-card sized TVIP at the port – in my case just 10 minutes waiting.

More here and here


N9-ToubkalUpdate 3.0.10 – 7 Dec 2018

Alternative road routes over Tizi n Tichka


Update 3.0.9 – 13 Nov 2018

upd309A lot of rain in October has roughed up some southern pistes and the Tichka pass northside has more construction than last year as road-widening spreads down the mountainside. Whole sections of rocky hillside are being cut through to straighten the road, and in the rain the muddy old road could get slippery and slow.
On the south side of the pass, the road between Telouet and the N9 looks like it’s nearing completion, but is more disrupted than ever.
Version 2Coming down the cliff below Assaragh (MA12, MA13; right), they finished a sealed bypass around the west of Aguinan, but coming down it’s more fun to stay on the steep concreted track through Aguinan village and oasis.
It’s said the new road to Assaragh across the hills from Agadir Melloul will be finished in a few months which will means MA13 will ease up and MA12 from Timdrart village (KM139) back to the P1743 road at KM163 may well become disused and consequently unmaintained.

On MH4 Jebel Sarhro they say 20km out of Nekob is now sealed, but it’s hard to think the link to Iknioun tarmac will be completed soon.
On MH14 Sarhro West, ‘KM20’ start of climb just after a village is more like KM22.5.
Up to KM31 village down in the valley is easy enough on anything with wheels. Northward, as the book suggests, gets gnarly and may be becoming disused in favour of upper MH15
Version 2We crossed the oued at KM31 and second left took the link piste west to MH15, now called ‘MH145′ which I descended in a car about a year ago (see below).
Westbound, the 9-km climb is now toughest right at the start as it climbs steeply on a washed-out track below the butte. From there on it eases up bar the odd, short, washed-out mh145mapclimb. Amazing views when you get a chance to take your eyes off the track as it meets MH15 at KM69.
As expected, reversing MH15 southwards felt easier than climbing it, as I  did in 2017 on a WR250, but has become more washed out. A beginner wouldn’t want to do this little-used-track alone on a big bike with alloy panniers bashing off the sides and shoving you over the edge. Below: exposed descent (southbound) around KM48.

mh15drop

As the descent ends to meet the valley track at KM42, the sandy ramp side valley has filled right up with loose sand. Again, heading northbound on a big loaded bike, this might be a bit of a shock and would require a good run up in a 2WD.
It’s possible that the high-altitude hamlets get serviced from the north along the improved mine haul road so this dramatic section of MH15 has now become one of the harder pistes in the book.


 essclockUpdate 3.0.8 – 26 Oct 2018

At the very last minute Morocco has decided to not put the clocks back an hour for winter. It will now stick with GMT+1, all year.

What that means for most of us who visit the south during the winter period is chillier mornings and longer evenings. The EU has talked of introducing similar changes.

dstThe rational behind clock changing makes more sense the further you are from the equator. Daylight in Dundee varies by over 10 hours over the year, but in Ouarzazate it’s only about 4. Most of the world does not change its clocks twice a year.


Update 3.0.7 – 25 April 2018mh20desc

New route: MH20 High Atlas crossing.


Update 3.0.6 – 2 April 2018

Insurance at Nador port seems to be available again.


Update 3.0.5 – 28 February 2018

A few tips on campervan insurance if you don’t feel confident in buying border insurance. Also, extending your Moroccan insurance can be tricky in the country:

Warning: Although the visa extension was easier than reports on the web, extending our vehicle insurance was not.
There are assurance offices in most large towns, but they will only do Moroccan registered vehicles. That includes AXA. The frontiers insurance seems to be a monopoly with CAT Compangie D’assurance Transport based in Cassablanca. They have relatively few agents and you have to visit the agencies in person to get a new assurance certificate.
It cost us 1952 D for 3 more months (the same as at the border).

And contrary to what I thought, I’m told Bike Sure-Adrian Flux can issue Green Cards for Morocco.


Update 3.0.4 – 18 January 2018

corkBrittany Ferries announce a new ferry route between Cork and Santander – 26 hours each way, twice a week from April to November.
More here.

MS777New route MS777 (right) from Fred W; a smoother way to or from Foum Zguid to Lac iriki via MS8. Download the pdf route description.


Update 3.0.3 – 9 January 2018

MS8 – correction/updates
Belgian travellers Fred and Jo (contributors to my other books) observe:

MS-rev… the initial route description [out of Mhamid] makes it quite a bit more difficult then it ought to be … it sure keeps you busy and makes it more adventurous. The zigzagging between the dunes can be avoided by following the main trail right out of the village to the south for Erg Chegaga which makes a big curve under all the messy bits. It is drawn (more or less) like this on most GPS maps (eg: left). It then picks up the described route again close to Erg Chegaga [KM75]. This is the route as given to us by a local guy so it is relatively well travelled and thus quite easy to follow.

There is an additional checkpoint around KM181, just before the oued crossing and ‘chicane’.

Possibly as a result of flooding KM204 will better read now:
        KM205 (109) Cross the Oued Mellah at an army checkpoint: N29 39.62 W07 12.02

We are probably not the first ones to be confused there, as there were already tracks leading from the KM204 waypoint straight into the oued… If you do cross here you will come to a halt shortly by a lot of water followed by an unsurmountable ridge.

Western Sahara map
Revised with new road north of Bir Anzerane. May link up with Bou Craa road eventually.


Update 3.0.2 – 26 December 2017

‘MH19’ southbound added
See this.

MH4 KM0–57 – correction/update
Now all sealed through to Iknioun. At KM0 (Shell/Afriquia) continue 800m SW to the next roundabout, then turn SW.
At KM3 fork, right is for Ouaklim village; left then turning right (SSW) at KM7 avoids the village. Both routes join up at KM11. From here all clear to Iknioun.
Within a year they say the classic MH4 may be sealed to bring in electricity pylons from Nour solar plant. Hard to believe, but in late 2017 the approach to Nekob was already a dirt motorway.

MH14 KM72 – correction
Turn right off Olaf… I always get those two mixed up!

MH145 link route
In December we did the 9-km link route down from MH15 KM69 to MH14 KM31.
The impressive 500-m decent (below) is doable from either end in any vehicle that has managed to get this far.

mh1415link

MS77
We did MS77 in the same rental 4×4 pictured above. Expecting the worst, I have to say it was much less rocky than decribed, but the Mitsubishi was softly spring. I doubt an old HJ60 would have been such a magic carpet.
MS77Around KM44, before converging with MS7, things got quite sandy and rutty (left); fun in a car, less so on a loaded moto with road tyres.
chegagaBefore KM72 the main track seems to bypass the dunes mentioned, so that’s not an issue. Then, heading NW then W after the desert camps is more sandy ruts. Again,  fun in a fourbie, but would require commitment and knobblies on a bike.


Update 3.0.1 – 20 October 2017

Marrakech airport arrivals
With the flash new terminal at Marrakech Menara airport, the grubby old #19 ALSA bus stand is now a couple of hundreds metres away from the exit. 20 one way, 30dh return.

Insurance at Beni Enzar/Nador
No longer close to the Melilla border, as on the map p54.
Now 12-km away in Nador town: see new map here.

MH4
Once you leave the road [KM57] the piste is a bit washed out than usual towards the summit.
Over the summit initially rough as usual. A new road is working its way up from Nekob with some diversions.

‘MH19’ (not in the book)
In good shape; see this.

MA7
It’s now asphalt to Amtezguine [KM56], but from there the climb gets quite rocky and washed out for about 10km until the first hamlet at the northern, near the mast. On a big bike I’d say southbound is easier.

MA13
I’m told they will be sealing the middle section between Agadir Melloul [KM105] and Assaragh [KM137], but I imagine that may take a while.

M3upd

1 thought on “Morocco Overland 3 – Updates & Corrections

  1. Pingback: Morocco ~ Routes | Sahara Overland

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