The final count down...

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Africa » Morocco » Rabat-Salé-Zemmour-Zaer » Rabat
May 20th 2016
Published: May 22nd 2016
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So the Drive down to M'hmid was short, but an ok road with a small mountain pass and the edge of the desert to look at. We arrived at the campsite way to early, so the guy showed us around and then showed us one of the air conditioned rooms, so we choose one instead of camping. Lunch was really nice and after the owner discussed what extras we were interested in doing. It was at this point he told us the dunes were still another 40km's away, so I wouldn't get to cycle them with the fat bike! The next day, we realised that the sand was just behind the place, all of a mile down the road, and that the dunes he claimed were 40 km away were the big dunes that you have to drive around and can them camp next too, for a price.

Not knowing this at the time, I decided I would ride the Trek around town or some where, only to find the rear tyre was flat! All the miles it had sat in the truck, and now I want to use it, it has a flat! Breathe in, breathe out, OK I'll fix it, so I found the new inner tube and replaced it. The tyre was being a real pig to go back on, so when I finally did it, and began pumping up the tyre, I realised it already had a puncture! Now I was starting to see red, I had checked the inside of the tyre and there was nothing, I later found out I had pierced it with the tyre lever while struggling to get the tyre on. By this point I was getting hot from the Sun and fed up with this, so I bundled the bike back into the truck and stomped off. It was unfortunate that the fat bike was such a bastard to get off the roof and reassemble, as I probably would have done that instead, and still managed to go for a ride, which would have meant I would have found the sand too.

Later that evening, the parents had booked a camel ride, so while they did that I swam in the pool, then watched films till they got back. Dinner was nice with soup for starter and beef couscous for main, followed by orange canellel for dessert. The next day we went to N'kob via a route the owner of the last campsite had suggested, but it was just a long boring tarmac road with the odd water melon field. When we arrived at the campsite in N'kob, the place was deserted, so we parked up and chilled till someone came and found us. Eventually a guy appeared and we paid and setup. The site was nice, but for some reason the place was infested with little flies that were relentlessly trying to bite us, so we were happy to leave. The next morning I had decided to fix the puncture on the trek, which went fairly smoothly. I found spare tube and carefully replaced it making sure I didn't pinch it with the tyre levers. This was successful, for about 300 yards, where it then went flat. The reason being the original patch had got too hot and had allowed the air inside to push it off, and the new patch I replaced it with had now done the same. Back at the truck, I realised that this had been my last tube as the rest all had too many pinch punctures and all i had were glue-less patches, which it seemed don't like the heat.

Once we were all packed up we took a track off of the main road that headed towards Tinehir. This started out as an awesome route, that wound its way up and down the mountains, past palm tree oasis' and through rock passes. This was obviously a popular route as we meet a group of Belgian quad bike and motor bikers with a support van going the same way, then later we had to move over for a couple of groups of 4x4's going the other way. The route ended at a tarmac road, which we assumed would run all the way into town, but just the other side of town the tarmac ended and it became a dusty track which just went on and on with very little to see. When we reached Tinehir we found a cafe for lunch and picked up some more cash from the bank, then headed off to the Goulmima campsite. The main road to it was dull, as it was a very straight road across a rocky dessert, but Dad was able to photograph a herd of camels.

I had stayed at Goulmima on the first trip in 2012, but it now had different owners, and was locked up like fort knox. Once inside it was very nice, with a really good restaurant. After dinner I googled why FaceTime and Skype was failing to connect to family in the UK. It turns out the major telephone companies in Morocco have blocked all free types of contact, as they don't get any extra money from them. This had apparently been lifted for WiFi, but wasn't working for us, so I had to install a proxy which went around the block, which worked well. The next day we headed for Midelt, though the campsite was actually a fair few miles further on. This turn out to be the one we had stayed at on the last trip in 2014. We had arrived with plenty of time to do the final load of washing for the trip, but there wasn't a laundrette, you just left it at reception and they would clean and dry it, and have it ready for you in the morning. This meant I had time to take the fat bike off the roof and build it up. This is a bit of a faff as the rear axle has to be tightened in the right order or the disc will rub or the tyre rubs, add to this the tyre was flat, it took a while. But once assembled I took it round the site for a test run ready for a ride in the morning.

That evening we had dinner in the on-site restaurant, and it was very good. The parents chose the Trout while I stuck with the chicken brochettes. The next morning I woke early to take the bike out. The campsite is on a main road, so the first half of the ride started off a bit boring, so I rode off the road and on to the hard shoulder which was scrub land. I then found a track that didn't look like it was someones drive way, and headed off across the rocky desert, until the track looked like it would take me too far away from the campsite, so I took a footpath that headed back. Unfortunately this took me into the back yard of a couple of farms before putting me back on the road, though luckily it was too early in the morning for the farmers to be up.

Dad had looked at the map, and had chosen a track off of the main road that was covered in view points, instead of the boring main road. This turned out to be an excellent choice as the road was amazing winding its way up and around the mountains, but this time we were near the cedar forest so the mountains were green with plants and trees. We also ended up driving through a local market, much to the bewilderment of the locals, who I don't think thought much of having tourists driving through it. This morning we headed out to find the apes near the old tree, and after a bit of an around the houses route, we found them. The last time we drove here, we then carried on up the same road, but it's now blocked off with walls both ends. By early afternoon we arrived at the Marjane for some lunch and to get the shopping. After this we split, I carried on to the campsite while the parents parked up near the old medina to do a bit more shopping.

Today was an experience! It started off as normal, with the with the local baker flying into the campsite beeping away to announce his arrival, then we drove off to Rabat, for the second attempt. Last time it was hammering it down so we sped off to the south to escape it, this time the weather was perfect. The route begins by cutting across small country roads, which last time had young sunflower plants in them, and they had mostly flowered, which was amazing to see and drive through. Once back on main roads it wasn't long before we were in Rabat. This didn't start well as it was busy with traffic, and the parking lot tom-tom had taken us to was full. So we tried some spaces along the road, which were no good as we could only be there for an hour, and there appeared to be a protest going on not too far away, so we tried again. This time round we ended up at the train station, where the local attendants parked us and then when we asked for a petit taxi, they organised a tour guide with his own taxi instead. This felt wrong at first but then, for the price, made sense so we agreed, though this didn't quite go to plan. He dropped us off at the market, which was opposite the Kasbar. As there was a cafe at the Kasbar we went there first. Once seated at the cafe, a guy brought over a huge plate of pastries which all looked amazing, so Mum had 3, I had 4 and Dad had 7 or 9? I wasn't counting but I can guarantee the baker was. After we walked back over to the market and walked and walked, and though this was nice to see, we did end up losing track of time, which went the taxi was a bit pissed off and demanded more money for the time. Next stop was the Hussain tower which has only been but up to a certain height because they ran out of money, so in true Moroccan style, it was just left. He then took us to the Kings palace, where he currently lives. Now the guide/taxi driver spoke a little english, but not a lot, so his information was a bit patchy at best, especially when we first entered the palace. We didn't really know where he was taking us, and upon entering the palace wall, the police stopped us and took our passports! The taxi then drove along the main drag inside the palace grounds and he pointed out what all the buildings were. He then parked up and pointed to the main palace for us to go and photograph, which we did, but very cautiously, as the place was covered in every type of police force and army, all armed to the teeth!

Our last stop was to be, what we think was, the mausoleum, but we weren't entirely convinced so while our taxi guide went off to the loo Dad took a shot of the main entrance and we headed back to the cars. Now, I had assumed the guy had a planned route, at which point he would show us a few things then collect our passports along the way, but no, it was just that he had forgotten all about them, so had to turn around and go back, much to the amusement of the police officers who were a little confused at first as to why we were diving in again, rather than driving out. The tour stopped on the opposite side of the road to where are cars were, which worked in our favour, as this was where all the restaurants were. Then after an amazing meal, we went to collect our trucks, in the mean time, the park attendants had had a shift change, and the new crew also wanted paying, to which they were sternly told to jog on!

Originally we had planned to camp at a site ten miles south of Rabat, but the campsite in Kenitra was only 25 miles away in the right direction for tomorrow, so we headed there. Rush hour made this a long awkward journey but we did it, the only problem now was it was only 136 miles to Tangier, our final destination, so the plans have changed, and we will spend our last day touring Tangier, before crossing back into Europe.

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