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Morocco Trip - Marrakech to Ouarzazate

  Posted at 02:20:00 PM
  File under  Personal Travel
  Author: Mike Werner
  Location: Normandy, France

 Marrakech to Ouarzazate
The planned ride from Marrakech to Ouarzazate was going to be the highest one, since we'd be reaching 2800 meters. There were three cols to climb.

Although the distance was only some 200 kilometers, we took 8 hours to ride it. Often you were stuck behind a truck that was on the climb, and very little space to overtake.

We also still encountered some ice on the road, specially in the morning.

Ouarzazate is the last large city before you reach the desert. It is also the city where there are two movie studios, both used extensively by Hollywood for producing desert movies (like the Mummy).

At Ouarzazate we encountered Gilles, a Frenchman who cruises around on his 1100GS. He works for the movie studios, but his passion if motorcycles. Usually, when he encounters bikers, he invites them to stay at his 10 bedroom house. Since we'd already got a hotel, he invited us to his home for coffee, and got us settled in for dinner in one of the better restaurants in Morocco.

Total Distance: 200 kms
Road Condition: Reasonable (some ice)
Time: 8 Hours
Police We started out by encountering one of the many police convoys. If you're on the opposite side, you'll see a motorcycle cop appear waving his left hand, meaning that you should pull over.
Truck on other side It's a smart move to pull over, since the cars they are escorting, usually trucks, drive on the other side of the road !!
Bridge One of the many bridges crossing small rivers. Often the rivers were dried up.
Cactus Again we start seeing cactus around the hillsides.
Pollution Check out the pollution these trucks generate. No kidding, it's really bad.
Impressive scenery Again, some of the scenery was spectacular !
Mountains The mountains and passes we'd need to climb (and descend) were looming straight ahead.
Strange farm We saw this strange "farm". It looked like they were growing cactus.
Scenery Roads are starting to get twisting.
Hill climb The initial climb is now starting for earnest.
Winding Road The winding road continues.
Old Village Some of the villages look like straight from a history book.
Old Village They are clustered together, and all have more or less the same shape.
Col ahead The tallest col is looming ahead.
Donkey The ever present donkey in every village.
Climb out Now the serious climb starts. Some curves were protected by barriers, but some weren't, and it was a sheer drop...
Roadside shop And even high up, you'd find hawkers selling their stuff alongside the road.
Bare scenery The scenery here has turned very bare. Virtually no trees, and a lot of sand. We're getting close to the desert.
Straight road The roads have straightened out, and we're riding on another plateau.
Alternate road Here, at least they were repairing the road. But you were left on your own in finding an alternate route. Often when the road was gone, you'd be in sand, or worse, deep gravel.

When the road was substituted by sand, they pour oil over it so that it doesn't blow away.
Western scenery We felt like that at any moments, you'd see a stage coach and indians...
Clouds On the plateau, the first clouds started appearing.
River Whenever we saw trees, you'd see a river close-by.
Roadside restaurant We stopped, again, at a roadside restaurant for lunch. This one was totally isolated, with no houses nearby.

Also, no built-in butcher. This was a Berber place, and we had a Berber omelette.
Roadside restaurant It was only 4 or 5 tables outside. The guy did say that he could accommodate several people in his house, but one look at the toilet, and we decided to pass..
Start of Desert The ride onwards would become even more desolate. This is the start of the desert (not all desert are just pure sand).
Village Very special these villages. Looks like straight out of a movie.
The road The road continues towards Ouarzazate.
Clouds And the clouds start to look menacing.
red clay village Yet another red clay village...
The final 10 kilometers. The final 10 kilometers.
Movie Studio One of the two movie studios. The biggest one is the Atlas Studios, but they're building at 16,000 hectares one, which is a joint production of all Hollywood studios.
Main square One of the main squares in Ouarzazate. They were getting ready for some festival of some sort...
Hotel inside the studios This is the hotel we stayed in. It sits right inside the Atlas Movie Studios (not that famous people stay there, since there are 5 star deluxe hotels in the city), and is full of movie memorabilia.
Movie props Outside the hotel you can see many of the movie props. The jet fighter in the background was used in the Michael Douglas movie "Jewel of the Nile".
medina area The Ouarzazate medina area.

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