Cycling Morocco’s Mountains and Deserts – Introduction
With nearly 2 years after passing since my last tour I was starting to get itchy feet again. Having finished college and settled into a 9-5 job I was starting to get restless and there was only one cure for it, another cycle tour had to be planned. The only question was, which country to travel to this time. Similarly to last time I was looking for somewhere not too far away, yet reasonably exotic and adventurous. After a bit of research I had the trip narrowed down to either Georgia, Tajikistan or Morocco. Seeing as Aer Lingus do direct flights to Morocco and a half price sale appeared just at the right time, this swayed my decision slightly. The fact I had really enjoyed the culture on my last trip to the Middle East, which would be very similar to Morocco, didn’t do the case any harm either.
While doing my original research I had come across a lot of praise for southern Morocco, particularly around the Atlas mountains and the start of the Sahara desert. So with that in mind, I worked out a 14 day loop around southern Morocco starting and finishing at Agadir airport.
Starting in Agadir, I hoped to head straight across the Souss plains to the High Atlas mountains, crossing the two main passes, Tizi n Test (2100m) and Tizi n Tichka (2260m) in the first 4 days. I would then take a direct route to Zagora at the edge of the Sahara desert where I planned to take a day off to take a 4×4 into the dunes at Erg Chicaga. Once back from this, the plan was to follow a rarely bicycled piste through the desert from Zagora to Foum Zguid. From here I would continue across the desert (via tarmac this time!) to Tata and then climb up into the mountain villages of Igherm and Tafraoute before descending back to Agadir airport. The whole loop was over 1200km and I would have 13 days of cycling to complete it.
With this all sorted I set about getting my bike in working order again. My cheap trusty Land Rover bike has somehow been running perfectly for over 6 years now with minimal maintenance required. All it needed in the end was a bit of oil, a new gear cable and a quick tune up of the gears and it was ready to go. So, on Saturday the 6th of April I packed up my bicycle and all my gear and set out for a 2 week adventure around the mountains and deserts of Morocco.