Out and about in the Sahara: dirt, sand and stones

Table of contents

Out and about in the Sahara: dirt, sand and stones
Breakable

Out and about in the Sahara: dirt, sand and stones

Out and about in the Sahara: dirt, sand and stones

Out and about in the Sahara: dirt, sand and stones

Out and about in the Sahara: dirt, sand and stones

25th pictures

Out and about in the Sahara: dirt, sand and stones
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Enduro fun at Agdz.

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Snake charmers in Marrakech.

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The place: Anyone who loves the desert and hard riding on sport enduro bikes will not find anything better anytime soon.

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The route – Duration: 7 days – Distance covered: 1600 kilometers.

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Almost all of the buddies united: Jan, Robert, Nelle, Bibi, Essi, Max (from left to right). Unfortunately Olli is missing.

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Into the Jebel Saghro.

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The sympathetic moped nomad is happy about a muesli bar.

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Inquisitive children pop up everywhere and at any time.

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Su conjures a picnic on the hood of the Landy.

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The desert fox fennec is difficult to catch.

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Dune driving is like deep sea surfing.

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Everest offers no greater happiness on the summit.

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the “City of Orion” is Hansjorg Voth’s attempt to depict the constellation Orion in three dimensions as a large sculpture in the southern Moroccan desert.

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“Stairway to Heaven”, a huge staircase to heaven in the middle of the desert.

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The huge dune on Erg Chebbi is the highest in Morocco. You can only get up at full throttle in third, then second, then first gear.

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The world’s coolest guide.

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Drink, drink, drink – breaks are sorely needed.

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Spend the night in the Sahara.

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Market trader from Agdz.

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Sahara resident.

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Merchant in Marrakech.

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Extensive buffet.

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Fairy tale room in a kasbah.

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Johnny explains the dangers of fesh-fesh sand.

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The help of the locals was gratefully accepted.

to travel

Out and about in the Sahara: dirt, sand and stones

Out and about in the Sahara
Dirt, sand and stones

A group of moped buddies from the Ruhr area. Most of them in their mid-40s. Colorful biographies, some of them achieved, but should it go on until retirement? Once again they wanted the total motorcycle kick. No luggage, just adrenaline.

Markus Biebricher

02/03/2011

Once again the full program: dirt, sand, stones, desert at rally speed. Heat up on the secret slopes in the Moroccan hinterland on light 450-size enduro bikes without luggage. Driving where no loaded travel enduro can ever get. One last time, full risk, before the bones no longer take part, the stamina breaks down, the women become hysterical, and retirement threatens. “Guys, you do that once in a lifetime, the best kick I’ve ever had on the moped, you HAVE to come with me.” Olli promoted the trip for a year. At some point he had us ready. All of his buddies who used to go on motorcycle tours together once a year. “You will never forget that, we drive routes, you think you are on a strange planet.”

We meet in Marrakech. Jan, who equips ships, Essi, the ophthalmologist, Nelle, the development worker, Robert, business man, and Max, who does marketing for his company. Only initiator Olli did not come. Last minute withdrawal, serious heart problem, surgery. Tragic, but nothing to be changed. He encourages us to do the tour, wants news every day.

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Marrakech: the magic of “A thousand and one nights”, we get lost in the souks, soak up everyday Moroccan life, indulge in culinary delights. A bus takes us over the highest At-las Pass to Ouarzazate. John Griffith, known as Johnny Maroc, and his partner Su Downham are waiting here with the KTM 450 EXC. Su drove the Dakar Rally, Johnny is a friend of Cyril Despres, his son was his “Water carrier”. “Jumped off in time”, says Johnny, because everyone else “Water carrier” of the famous rally driver and Dakar winner are either dead or in a wheelchair.

Immediately behind the city gates, a stone road branches off to the west. The KTMs roll on brand new Mitas coarse clutches. Tires that we show the utmost respect in a very short time. The studs bite greedily into the dirt, Johnny sets a furious pace. Stony paths, sand passages, washouts, clay, total solitude. We rest in the middle of a breathtaking stone desert. Sweat flows down dust-encrusted faces, heat shimmers, Berber children grow out of the ground. Jan is racing away, diarrhea. Su comes with the extremely all-terrain Land Rover pickup. Transports our luggage, spare parts, fuel, water, groceries, emergency medical equipment and household, a Berber who Johnny trained as a mechanic. A KTM man from Mattighofen was brought in for this. Housein is proud, the machines are his children, he knows their individual peculiarities and cuddles them at every stop. Su conjures up lunch on the bonnet, the Berber families get their share.


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“Stairway to Heaven”, a huge staircase to heaven in the middle of the desert.

It goes on, dust and stones fly. We’re drifting south-east. Since this morning two new drivers have joined our group, both are called Dan: Dan one comes from the USA, Dan two from England. Suddenly a cloud of dust, a motorcycle whirls through the air, a body behind, then two Dan lies on the ground. Jan was behind him. Dan’s KTM had suddenly turned sideways, at high speed. Highsider and multiple rollover. It can happen in this terrain where the mopeds fly more than the wheels stay on the ground. Dan’s shoulder is deformed, a bone is sticking out. Su, who is quickly at the scene of the accident with the Landy, shows the highest level of first aid skills in the team with Johnny. We lay the injured man on the vacuum mattress and lift him onto the loading area of ​​the Land Rover. He is carefully maneuvered to Agdz, from there to Ouarzazate and flown out.

The remaining fighters get into a palm oasis and pass dilapidated kasbahs on narrow donkey paths. In the end, a delightfully intact, familiar accommodation, the Kasbah Azul. We can immerse ourselves in a swimming pool and enjoy exotic dishes. What relaxation after a day that was spent exclusively standing.

As the sun rises, we follow the legendary Draa Valley. Narrow, winding paths, kasbah ruins, countless talkative Berber families. This is where the other Dan falls: he brakes himself, falls heavily into large stones, is taken care of, but unfortunately also has to say goodbye. What remains is the group of friends who have known each other from the Ruhr area since their youth. But this tour is different from our previous ones “Luschen tours”, as Olli has been calling her since he drove with Johnny Maroc.

It now stops northwards, a narrow slope leads steeply uphill through the Jebel Saghro, the most spectacular mountain range in all of Morocco. Unearthly rock formations, but all your senses are on the slopes. Just don’t get into the deep washouts, that would be the end. It is indescribable what these motorcycles can withstand. Stone collisions, cracks, falls. The chassis is confident and stable, the Mitas tires with enormous grip on tar, stones, in mud and sand. The six millimeter thick tube and Excel rims withstand impacts that would smash other motorcycles.


Out and about in the Sahara: dirt, sand and stones


Breakable

Almost all of the buddies united: Jan, Robert, Nelle, Bibi, Essi, Max (from left to right). Unfortunately Olli is missing.

We leave the high Atlas towards the south, dust through its foothills, fly towards hilltops, take off. Behind it the slope bends by 90 degrees, straight ahead gorges with deep scree. Problems that need to be solved, instincts that need to be sharpened, hecks that wipe just inches past sharp rock edges in the Powerslide. Sometimes all that helps is full throttle and a scared wheelie to overcome obstacles in front of the front wheel. We rush through that “Valley of roses”, I’m getting fed up.

In the fertile Dades Valley, we come to a hostel that offers body and mind every imaginable comfort. Johnny, who used to be an industrial diver and had been in a decompression chamber for 28 days, asks how we are feeling. As if we’d been holding jackhammers for ten hours. I get angry: How can you race through all these beautiful landscapes and hardly notice anything because you have to concentrate on driving? He knows about the problem, offers that the more reluctant go to GPS and that you just meet in the evening. But you shouldn’t be slower than the Land Rover.

Jan, Nelle, Max and Essi are in rally fever and want to stick with Johnny. I can’t believe it: Why can these old sacks suddenly ride Enduro so mercilessly? Did they train in secret? Is it all still skills from the past? Robert and I slow down a bit, rumble through dramatic rock formations and then reach the edge of the great Erg Occidental. In a small desert coffee shop, we refuel at a mud hut made of bottles, meet our buddies, who are fresh and hot to leave after a long break. The Moroccans mixed diesel in our fuel. Johnny says the engines can take it and roll soot over sand tracks and dry river beds through the huge bed of the dry Lac Maider.

Infinite, incomprehensible loneliness, the dust plumes of the buddies on the horizon, a lonely lady’s shoe in the middle of the desert, camel skeletons. Then come six kilometers through underhanded “Fesh-fesh”. Everyone gets stuck here, falls, including Johnny. We eat this completely unpredictable, fine sand. The passage is hell, but not the end, because it still goes over stone slopes and sand drifts. A Berber tent on the edge of the dunes is the night’s camp in the middle of nowhere.


Out and about in the Sahara: dirt, sand and stones


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Enduro fun at Agdz.

The Sahara starry sky: unearthly, one is sucked into space and cannot see enough. Shooting stars and permanent goose bumps until the crescent moon creeps over the Berber tent at four. At five the flies come, crawling in the nose and ears. The only way to counteract this is to drive out into the dunes, where Johnny teaches us the necessary tricks. You need it especially on Erg Chebbi, Morocco’s highest dune hikes here. It’s a long way to get there. Endless desert, then a landscape full of acacia trees, like in East Africa. Again and again stony river beds, all of a sudden the KTM stands sideways or is catapulted into an inclined position, which can no longer shock me. This theater, day-to-day business for rally drivers, is slowly becoming real fun.

The 124-meter dune is a challenge. Everyone can do it and they all agree: Dune driving is the peak of motorcycling happiness. We surf along the sharp edges of the wind, sand fountains on the rear wheels, endorphin fountains in the body. But still have to go on to Erfoud, through the stony “Hamada” desert. Sand passages appear, only marginally reduce the pace. Fairytale hotel in Erfoud, then again endless expanse, the Atlas foothills on the horizon. Suddenly, in the middle of nowhere, a building like half a pyramid, the “Stairway to Heaven”, built by the eccentric German artist and architect Hansjorg Voth.

A few kilometers further on, the even more impressive mega-monument “Orions Stars” by the same author grows out of the desert, reminiscent of a palace on a foreign planet. The whole landscape looks like a strange planet. This also applies to the Todra Gorge. Every year the street is destroyed by floods. The river still carries water, the KTM plow through like jet skis.

Exclusive to Johnny’s GPS are the trails that lead us back over Jebel Saghro. A landscape too ingenious to describe. Then into the Atlas on a high plateau. Nice and slow through medieval Berber villages. The children want to come along, begging for pens and sweets, we slowly but surely get into a kind of intoxicating pleasure. Olli was right. This is the most grandiose tour that we Ruhrpottpenners have ever done. Not only is the body ultimately shaken, the soul is shaken forever.

Info


Out and about in the Sahara: dirt, sand and stones


Breakable

Morocco – capital: Rabat – area: 446,550 km2 – establishment: independent 1956 – currency: dirham – population: 3,200,000 – travel time: 7 days – distance covered: 1,600 kilometers.

organizer:
Moto Aventures was founded in 1995 in Andorra and has been organizing off-road motorcycle tours ever since. It is led by John Griffiths, a Tanzanian born British resident of Morocco, and Su Downham, who is from Andorra. The former Dakar finisher is the soul of the company. Known to the desert offroaders as Johnny Maroc, the chef is an excellent guide who speaks five languages, but hardly any German. Interested parties should therefore understand English. Moto Aventures offer off-road trips in Andorra, Morocco and South Africa, where they collaborate with actor and motorcyclist Charley Boorman (Long Way Down). The company has a branch in Ouar zazate. There a crew takes care of the well-being of customers and KTMs. John Griffiths has spent years exploring his off-road routes and considers them exclusive. His track knowledge and off-road driving skills are extremely well developed.

security:
Moto Aventures stands for professional emergency care. The medical equipment of the support vehicle meets the highest standards. Even a defibrillator is on board. John and Su are trained paramedics. The extremely off-road support vehicle is with the motorcycle group after ten minutes at the latest, even in the most impassable terrain. John is in constant radio contact with Su in the support vehicle, which in addition to the Land Rover 130 pickup can also be a Toyota Landcruiser or a Mercedes Unimog. All vehicles are specially prepared and carry mechanics, spare parts, drinks, luggage and half a hospital. We were able to convince ourselves of the highly efficient and professional use. Each tour participant receives a GPS device on which the routes traveled are saved. In extreme cases, this makes it easy to navigate to the group or the day’s destination.

Stay:
Moto Aventures tours are not cheap, but in return they offer above-average security and the best accommodations in the respective travel regions. In the case of the “Mountain and Desert Tour”, which the author took part, these were fantastic hotels in the style of kasbahs (Arab citadels) with luxurious rooms, air conditioning, large pools and excellent cuisine.

motorcycles:
Moto Aventures swears by the KTM 450 EXC. The company has 19 machines in operation, which are technically and optically kept in new condition for a period of about three years with a lot of effort. Other makes have not withstood the pace and load to the same extent.

address:
All information about the different tours, dates and prices at www.motoaventures.com. All Morocco tours are reduced by 15 percent in 2011 due to the 15th anniversary.

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