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This tour offers 7 days biking including the extra day in the Cathedral dunes, or you can opt for 6 days and a day off in the dunes and relaxing by the pool, at Merzouga. About 90% off-road, this special adventure is aimed at off road bikers who want extra sand and dune riding and some experience is preferable for you to get the most from your ride, but not imperative. Moto Aventures' fully equipped support truck follows not far behind bringing Hussein, your mechanic, to sort out any punctures or make a quick check over after an off.
During this tour you will stay in twin-shared rooms in a desert inn, a 200 year old converted kasbah (castle), and overnight in a desert bivouac.
You will arrive at Ouarzazarte airport and a short transfer to your four-star riad style hotel, or by minibus road transfer organised from Marrakech. Your bike awaits your arrival. Freshen up, do the bike paperwork, then free to laze by the pool or wander into town. Dinner is a buffet in the hotel.
Breakfast will be at 8:00 a.m. and you will leave at 9:00 a.m. Ride 17 kilometers (11 miles) on the asphalt before turning onto your first track of the day, it will be 80 kilometers (50 miles) before you see the asphalt again so plenty of time to get used to your bike and the terrain.
The track is twisting and undulating with a few loose rocky sections. A refreshment stop at the tarmac, then you are off again along a 50 kilometers (31 miles) fast but twisting section of hard packed sand. Watch out for the surprises.
Picnic lunch under an acacia tree near the gold mine at Bou Azzer. After lunch some nice desert riding through some low hills before hitting the plateau leading towards Foum Zguid and your hotel for the evening. Your hotel has a great pool and beer waiting for you.
On leaving your hotel it's five kilometers on road to the town of Foum Zguid where you refuel before heading out into the desert. Rocky at first, you will soon arrive at the dry lake bed of Lac Iriki. 40 kilometers of fast riding across the lake brings you to the western side of the Chegaga Dunes.
For those up for it there are also around 40 kilometers (25 miles) of medium sized dunes to be crossed before you arrive at the bivouac in the dunes, where you will stop for lunch.
Those not wanting to commit to the dunes at this early stage of the tour (there are plenty more opportunities to dune ride later on) can take a 60 kilometers (37 miles) diversion around the dunes, you will have a 18 kilometers (11 miles) sandy riverbed to negotiate before the lunch stop though.
After lunch there is some fast riding across a plateau and some small dunes to cross before you reach the asphalt at Mhamid. Six kilometers (four miles) on road brings you to your three-star hotel, where as always, pool and beers await.
A fast days ride following the Algerian border along the old military road. Leaving at 9:00 a.m., you will head the six kilometers (four miles) back up the road to Mhamid where you will refuel the bikes. From here straight back into the small dunes and sandy riverbeds as we head the 40 kilometers (25 miles)north towards the village of Tazzarine.
Refuel and set off winding through the palmerie alongside the river Draa. Once back into the desert you can expect to be stopped by the Moroccan military on at least two different occasions as the border with Algeria is not far away and this has become a sensitive area once again.
Great, fast desert tracks once used on the Paris / Dakar rally await you. Stop and say hi to the South African Elmer Symons who died here in 2007 whilst participating in the rally. His crash site is marked by a large stone cairn and a waypoint on your GPS and is a reminder to take care on these fast desert tracks.
Lunch will be at a desert auberge on Lac Maider, a large dry sodalake. From here its 60 kilometers (37 miles) of sand and 'fesh fesh' (bull dust) before arriving at your desert bivouac for the evening. located alongside some medium dunes.
Ascend an 80-meter dune and toast the sunset before having an amazing meal and listening to the local drummers whilst sitting around a blazing campfire.
A short day today to maximise your time in the big 'cathedral' dunes of Erg Chebbi. After breakfast you will leave the bivouac at 9:00 a.m. and set off for Morocco’s highest dunes at Erg Chebbi. There are more than 20 cathedral dunes that are more than 100 meters in height with the highest being 205 meters above the plateau, for those of you up to it we will ride them all.
The track from the bivouac to the dunes traverses an open plain with many acacia trees. This area reminds one of East Africa - just missing the giraffe grazing in the trees. Expect some sandy and rocky sections on what is in the most part a fast couple of hours riding.
On arrival at the hotel you will have a quick coffee and move into your rooms before venturing out into the sand. Back for lunch at the hotel. After lunch you will relax by the hotel pool and then maybe venture out into the dunes again.
Back in the hotel by 5:00 p.m., you will have more relax time, drinks by the pool until your dinner in the very colourful restaurant.
This extra day at Merzouga means time for a longer breakfast before those wanting to go out into the dunes get kitted up and on their bikes. Lunch will be in a colourful restaurant and then riders can choose to do more dune riding or have a pleasant afternoon relaxing by the pool before tomorrows long day. Evening meal in the hotel.
Your longest day today with some fast desert riding and some slow mountain sections as you traverse the Jbel Saghro mountain range. As usual you will leave your hotel at 9:00 a.m. The first 50 kilometers (31 miles) today are the same as the last 50 kilometers (31 miles) on arriving from the bivouac.
From here to your lunch stop you will have some very mixed riding on what are totally new tracks for you. Ranging from a very 'messy' 10 kilometers (6 miles) as you try to cross the Gheris river to long fast sections across the many wide open plateaux to be found in this area.
There are many areas where the sand has been blown up against the hills making some very spectacular long dune climbs that we can explore. Lunch will be arranged at a small local auberge in a desert village where we will have the best beef tagine in Morocco.
Lunch over you will refuel and set off again on some of Moto Aventures' favourite trails in this area. Lots of hard packed sandy tracks, a memorable 12 kilometers (7 miles) sandy riverbed as well as the very picturesque Jbel Saghro mountain range.
Your hotel this night is a beautiful kasbah hidden in the palmeraie of Dades Gorge. Pool set amongst the trees and lots of nice garden corners to sit for a drink. Dinner.
After breakfast refuel and then up the Dades Gorge and off in a westerly direction following the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Undulating, fast sections interspersed with rocky trails through major washouts and gullies, bringing you out onto a plateau.
Picnic lunch somewhere up on the plateau. A sandy twisting riverbed and a further 20 kilometers (12 miles) of fast trails across a flat plateau bring you back to Ouarzazarte and your base hotel. Handover of bikes for Hussein to check them over. Relax by the pool before buffet dinner.
After breakfast, your transfer to Ouarzazarte Airport, or back to Marrakech if the transfer is arranged for this.
Moto Aventures requires a 700 EUR deposit against bike and / or GPS damage which will be returned at the end of the tour if none done. Please bring this in cash - dollars and pounds also accepted.
A full biking license is needed - so bring it with you! Sorry, if you don’t have it with you, you won’t be allowed to bike.
The assistance vehicle has limited space to carry luggage so Moto Aventures supply a barrel type soft bag - 40 liters - for each client to put their personal effects and clothing into for the tour. Only this bag is permitted. Bear in mind you will be in biking gear most of the time so please think carefully what you bring. Moto Aventures would also appreciate keeping the weight down.
JohnnyMaroc as he is known in the bike world, was born in Tanzania. He worked for the 16 years prior to Moto Aventures in the oil-related diving business before biking solo from London to Cape Town. He has hyperbaric medical training and experience from his years working offshore as well as his Wilderness Medical Certificate, and safety on our tours is one of his main concerns. John is also responsible for track finding and checking, plotting the routes for the GPS and together with Su, setting up the logistics for our tours. He is a very experienced off-road rider.
You will ride through the three Ergs (sand / dune areas) - Chegaga, Ouzina, and Chebbi, where you will attempt the ascent of the highest dunes in Morocco at 205 meters. You will also cross the spectacular Jebel Saghro mountain range with winding trails and some major drop offs into the valleys below, and pass through the "Monument valley" of this very austere and lunar-like terrain.
You will have half board meals as well as picnic or cafe lunches. All meals during lunchtime will be in a café.
Marrakesh Menara Airport
Transfer not provided
Please book your flight to arrive at Ouarzazate Airport (OZZ). A general transfer will be arranged for those requiring it down to Merzouga. (2.5 hours on road)
The tour will end in Ouarzazarte and you can either fly from Ouarzazarte Airport (transfer included) or from Marrakesh Menara Airport (RAK). Transfer can be arranged and the cost is split between however many take this trip. Please contact Moto Aventures for more information.
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