Three months on the road means our third blog! Last month was full of exciting, but also unexpected events. We made it to Morocco, drove Jack through the desert and massive canyons, but all this was after Jack's rebirth. We got stuck on a campsite in Southern Spain for eight days and were denied at the Moroccan border the week after... However, if you trust the 'travel flow', you know it will be alright. It all worked out fine and we spent almost two weeks in Morocco now, enjoying a really different landscape and culture.
Jack game over 2.0
We started this month in Sierra de las Nieves, a beautiful national park west of Malaga. A mountainous area perfect for hiking and mountain biking through green forests. Besides that, it is also close to the famous Caminito del Rey, the world's most dangerous hiking trail up to 2015. We have to admit, the new path is not that spectacular, but it is still a beautiful walk. Next we visited Malaga city, which didn't impress us, and later we decided to drive towards Almería instead of Gibraltar due to very bad weather projections in the most Southern part of Spain. But on our ride to Almería disaster struck. A strange noise made us visit a garage which told us that our drive shaft was too badly damaged to continue driving. No garage around could help us with this 'weird Suzuki oldtimer', but even in these bad times, our luck was near!
Back in Holland we have a box with a few spare parts for Jack and believe it or not, a new drive shaft was in there. To reach a campsite we removed the broken drive shaft, put Jack in 4wd mode and slowly drove to Almería, where we would take the ferry next week. In total we spent eight days between the winter birds from Northern Europe exploring the province of Almería. Despite the relatively good weather and beautiful park Cabo de Gata, it is not our favorite part of Spain, but maybe that is just because we missed building up our rooftop tent too much... Once our package finally arrived, we fixed Jack to take the ferry to Melilla, a European city on the African continent.
Denied at the Moroccan border...
The plan was to leave Melilla directly and drive to Morocco, but the officers from the Moroccan border thought differently. After four hours of waiting, they told us that we miss the right stamp that allows us to drive Jack in Morocco. Without this stamp they cannot give us a temporary visa and therefore we had to drive back to Melilla. Some phone calls with the homefront were made to fix this hassle as soon as possible and the next morning we got the stamped documents in our mailbox. Back to the border and after another four hours of waiting, we were finally able to enter Morocco.
Once you have crossed the border, you directly feel you are in Africa. Chaos on the streets, markets everywhere and a lot of donkeys. The plan was to drive to Merzouga, Morocco's most famous desert destination, as our first big stop. On our way we slept in Gorges du Ziz and got familiar with Morocco's dry landscape. People along the road desperately waving at us for drinking water made us realize how good life in the Netherlands actually is. In Merzouga we found a campsite where we experienced Moroccan hospitality. We were welcomed with a glass of tea and received fresh bread and pancakes every morning. In total we spent five days in the desert with cycling around, walking through the sand, snowboarding from the highest dunes, watching sunsets and being the tourist riding a quad. We enjoyed the red desert sand so much that Christmas went by without even noticing.
After Merzouga we left to the Atlas mountains where the Todgha gorge was our first destination, a canyon with walls up to 400 meters high. A mesmerising place with giant rock formations popular among the climbers. We rode our bicycles through the entire gorge to the highest point of the mountain pass at 2645 meters, a spectacular ride with waving and smiling children all around. The next day we hiked through the mountains and met the traditional nomad families, living in tents and caves. With temperatures around freezing in the morning we are loving our warm 'Dare to be Different bedroom' more and more.
We changed the Todgha gorge for the Dades valley to spend our last days of 2022. An area perfect to explore by bike with the world famous hairpin bends of the Dades Gorge, the highest mountain pass of Northern Africa (2920 meters), the Monkey Paw Mountains and the authentic Moroccan Valley of Bou Tharar. While we get more used to the Moroccan state of affairs, knowing about the extremely cheap vegetables, flatbreads and great tasting tajines, we increasingly appreciate this beautiful country full of friendly people.
'Oliebollen' in Morocco?!
While staying on a campsite in the Dades valley, we got an unexpected visit from a group of 15 other Dutch campers. Couldn't be better timed with New Year's Eve coming up. The past weeks we had been telling each other that the lack of 'oliebollen' is our biggest loss this year. But then on the 31st of December the frying pan emerged from one of the campers and the 'oliebollen-party' started. That's the travel flow right?! The coming weeks we will drive further down south and cross the Atlas mountains to end up at the Moroccan coastline to do some surfing. Let's see whether our rooftop tent is as good surfing-proof as desert-proof... :) See you next month!