Activity: Overland Travel from Mhamid to Marrakech, Morocco

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Activity: Overland Travel from Mhamid to Marrakech, Morocco


It was departure day today. We slept in a little later today and got away from the camp at 9 AM. We bid good bye to our gracious hosts that took care of us and brought us drinks for the past 2 days.

Travel from Mhamid back to Marrakech, Morocco –
500+ km traveled

Our departure took us on a more direct route involving less highways. The path was three hours through the rough desert, then 6 hours travel through highways. The advantage was the ability to see different scenery on the way back. I wasn’t able to replicate the exact route on Google Maps since its programmed to stick to paved roads. If you can imagine an “as the crow flies” route from Erg Chigaga to Foum Zguid, that was pretty much the start of our route, following the blue path the rest of the way.

Abouyb, our guide, told us stories about his grandfather who used to travel by camel to Timbuktu in Mali to sell spices and salt. Their camel trip was 52 days in duration and they used to meet up with camels sometimes numbering in the 1,000’s as a group convoy. He indicated that the borders between these points were now closed as had finished the spice camel trade as a way of life for some.

The start of our journey took us though several rough sand roads which jostled the truck quite considerably. We passed another car convoy that had stopped where the passengers had gotten sick. Indeed, I started to feel sick after about an hour, even after having taken Gravol. It would set the tone of my overall drive home more than I would ever know at that particular time.

We eventually made it to the salt pan, which was smooth sailing for about an hour. The first part of the drive had great views in the basin.

After passing through the salt pan, the terrain got a bit more rough and off road “light”. We ended up stopping at a water well where we located a nomadic goat herder. The scenery was similar to Arizona south of the United States. How Ayoub found his way around is beyond me. Nothing was posted or signed for about 3 hours of driving…

Passing through Foum Zguid:

Finally, after 3 hours, we hit the gravel payment and the town of Foum Zguid. We stopped for a drink. I was so ill at this point from motion sickness despite taking the motion sickness pills I needed a few minutes to be still and not shaking or vibrating in a car. There was only warm sprite to settle my stomach, kept and sold in a fridge that had no refrigeration as was often the case throughout Morocco. Oh, the perils of travel!

After about 15 minutes rest, we continued northwards on R111. The scenery continued to be beautiful. We found ourselves in the more rustic backcountry area of Morocco. It seemed that some of the highway infrastructure was over run by flash flooding. There were mud and rock debris on a lot of the routes and small towns that we passed.

Lunch in Tazenakht, Morocco:

Eventually we stopped at the town of Tazenakht. This was the last available lunch stop for another two hours and it was already 1:30 PM. I didn’t at all feel like eating but we ended up stopping at the Hotel Ali Baba for lunch. The hotel had a typically African pool; totally empty. We met up with our other travelling companions from Brazil who arrived shortly after us in separate car. They also indicated that they were quite ill on their journey out. I was able to re-connect wifi and reconnected with the world.

After lunch, We bypassed the offer to visit the carpet store. We weren’t going to buy a carpet and had seen similar demonstrations in Turkey, Egypt and India. We continued onwards through Route 108 and some more rural terrain.

We eventually linked up with the N9 motorway near Ouarzazate and repeated our steps back towards Marrakech on the same route we came in on. I didn’t take many pictures at this point as it was the similar scenery and I was still feeling a bit green.

We were dropped off at the hotel at around 7 PM. It was ten hours door to door and we were totally exhausted. Towards the end of the journey, the owner / operator checked in with us by phone; something which I appreciated. We thanked Abouyb for our safe passage and he wished us well for our onward journey. I was feeling wretched by this point and I was happy to have arrived. I curled up in the fetal position when I got to the room. It took a good rest of the night for me to calm down from the body turbulence.

The Bottom Line:

The Erg Chigaga Luxury Tented Camp was an interesting experience. We were able to see a lot of Morocco in a very short time. We were able to learn that it is a pretty country that is full of interesting scenery. I personally hadn’t banked on the length of the drive; which was the Achilles heel of this adventure. I think I’m getting to the age where squeezing into a car for that dream overland truck African Cairo to Cape Town trip isn’t going to be as enjoyable an experience as it would have been in my twenties. I’d probably fly or break up the trip from Marrakech to Mhamid, Morocco in the future. In summary, I was happy to have had the experience, but I probably wouldn’t be going back next year. For global world travelers, the sand dunes at Liwa Oasis 3 hours outside of Abu Dhabi are easier to access on fully paved and straight roads and are much larger than the sand dunes in Morocco.


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