From El Ouatia (Morocco) to Guerguerat (end of Morocco)

Morocco finished with an eeeeeeeennnddllleeessss monotonooouuuussss desert (which continues in Mauritania): rocks, stones and sand (and if you’re lucky: camels).
You can see our itinerary on the map (2nd pic). The red dots are where we slept : couchsurfing or just knocking at people’s door. Our average distance is 64 km/day since the beginning (including breaks in cities). Record: 137km in one day (Lakhsas-Ras Oumlil). We did a total of 320km by truck in the desert.

Physicallly the Sahara was not that difficult but mentally discouraging (especially for Lucie). We started to listen to music and podcasts (Alex is becoming an expert in paleo-anthropology) which help to pass the time. The desert wasn’t what we expected : very secure (many security checkpoints on the road : the gendarmes always wanted to know where we intended to stop and sleep; they asked us two times to sleep with them), temperatures between 15 and 22, often big fog at night, always something in sight (antennas, trucks, cars, gendarmerie, small villages, electrical wires,…). We had great moments with the Sahraouis who have their specific way to prepare the tea : they create a big frothy head in each glass because the froth traps the sand and keeps it at the top. At each time they drink tea, they are used to drinking 3 glasses. We also shared delicious fresh fish with Sahraouis.
We spent a few days in Laâyoune and then in Dakhla. We also continued to visit primary schools in the desert. Can you spot Wikoo on the pic taken in Laâyoune?

We spent 41 days in Morocco. Here you can see pictures of our last moroccan moments. Each bikeday finished with the meeting of Moroccans who welcomed us very warmly. Moroccans are the most generous people we have ever met. We shared lots of amazing moments and interesting discussions with them. We discovered many cities and villages along the coast and our discoveries made us want to travel more in Morocco.

Morocco has 2 official languages : Arabic and Amazigh. Actually people speak an Arabic called “Darija” which is different from written arabic. “Amazigh” is the language of Berbers and has recently received an official recognition. French isn’t an official language but is present everywhere : shop front signs, administration, road signs, press,… At school lessons are usually given in French in the morning and in Arabic in the afternoon (which is very difficult for the pupils).

We are mad about Moroccan food : tajine, couscous with rye, dates, pastries, … Alex is now good at preparing Moroccan tea. In Morocco we particularly appreciated the importance of the group : food is served in one big dish placed in the middle of the table, the main room of the house is a large living to spend time together (with a mint tea),…

In Morocco we liked :
– Generosity and warmth of Moroccans
– Food
– Visiting primary schools and discovering learning activities
– Sun
– Biking along the Atlantic ocean
– Assilah, Larache, Rabat, Safi, Dakhla
– Discovering dailylife and moroccan customs

We didn’t like :
– Waste along the roads
– Monotonous landscape in Sahara
– Humid nights in Sahara
Well… Lucie didn’t like the Sahara except for people we met

 

From El Jadida (Morocco) to El Ouatia (Morocco)

The red dots on the map are where we slept between El Jadida & Tan-Tan (El Ouatia).
Our average distance is 65 km/day since the beginning (including breaks in cities)

 

In Morocco almost every evening starts with the same ritual: we ask to put up our tent, we put it up while discussing with our hosts and then they propose to share their dinner and tea with us. Eventually we sleep in their house. But every evening has its particularities:
– in El Jadida our host guided us through the city and challenged Alex to go swimming under the rain;
– in Safi (Safi is the pottery capital of Morocco) an old woman took care of us as if we were her kids;
– in a village close to Essaouira it was like the family was waiting for us (our host invited us in before we said a word);
– in Smimou a young man (Mohammed) welcomed us in his house. We spent a funny evening with his family and Alex repaired Mohammed’s bike the next morning;
– at a warmshowers host in Tamri (thanks Habib!) we met Houcine who hosted us the next day in Agadir. He also guided us through the city and drew our portrait to celebrate our 4000th km;
– in Lakhsas we slept inside a house which also hosts a donkey, sheeps and goats (…& a grandma who couldn’t stop talking!!);
– in Ras Oumlil (first night in the desert) our hosts lost the key of the garage in which our bicycles were so we didn’t have our stuff for the night.

 

The landscape has changed from Safi : it has became more and more arid, rocky and hilly and we’ve seen less and less fields, trees and houses.On one pic you can see Kristof and Alex somewhere between Smimou & Tamri. We spent a great bike day with Kristof who is a Belgian cyclist from Mechelen. After Agadir we clearely noticed that the desert wasn’t far away. Guelmim is the official entrance of Sahara: endless sandy landscapes, long straight roads, no more trees. We visited several schools in the desert but we have now a long weekend off because of the independance day (18th November).

 

From Tanger (Morocco) to El Jadida (Morocco)

From Tanger we have basically followed the coast. The roads are well made and people are surprisingly bicycle-friendly and always encourage us. We experience new types of traffic : donkeys, horses, delivery tricycles.
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The red dots on the map (1st pic) are where we slept : warmshowers or just knocking at people’s door. The cities and villages were we slept are: Tanger, Assilah, Laouamra, Ben Mansour, Salé, Casablanca, Dar Bouazza, Lamharza Essahel.
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Our average distance is 61 km/day since the beginning (including breaks in cities).
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On our road between Tanger and Rabat, we biked across Assilah and Larache (2nd pic) which are beautiful cities. We spent 2 days in Rabat with a lovely family who took care of us as if we were family members. We visited Chellah (3rd pic), the “kasbah des Oudayas” (4th & 5th pics), the Hassan tower (6th pic), we walked along the marina (7th pic) & through the medina (8th pic).
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There are no words to describe how much Moroccans are welcoming. It’s unbelievable! When the sun goes down, we knock at people’s door: “Hello, can we put up our tent in your garden?” and we don’t have to wait for the answer to be: “No, come on in and we’ll offer you food, drinks, a room, a shower.”
When we stop along the road, people give us fruit, tea, bread,…
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In Casablanca we visited a primary school, Habous quarter (9th pic), the old medina & the majestic Hassan II Mosque (10th, 11th & 12th pics). The traffic is hellish in Casa which is very polluted.
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So far we’ve visited 5 schools in Morocco but from November 1st to 12th we won’t visit any school because pupils are on holiday to celebrate the Prophet’s birth and the anniversary of the Green March (end of Spanish occupation in Western Sahara in 1975). Wikoo (our mascot) always goes to the schools with us : can you spot him on 13th pic?
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Moroccans are very attached to eating : they always encourage you to eat more and more. Now we know that more meals are always waiting to be served and we aren’t finished until we see fruit or tea. We tasted several traditional dishes : seffa, harira (a soup often drunk to break the fast during Ramadan – Lucie is completely mad about it!), tagine (14th pic), couscous (eaten every Friday),… Moroccans say : “A Friday without couscous is like a week without Friday”. They eat a lot of bread, dried fruit (Alex looooves dates) and they drink tea all day long.

 

From Alicante (Spain) to Tanger (Morocco)

After visiting Valencia, we met an English family who welcomed us in Oliva. When we woke up in the morning there was lots of food on the table with a lovely note. It was like if Santa Claus came to us. We continued to follow the coast under the sun as far as Almeria. Let’s precise following the coast doesn’t mean the road is flat : most of the time we climbed from the sea level to the top of the mountains before enjoying a downhill as far as…the sea level and climbing again. We didn’t like the atmosphere and the pollution when we biked across the greenhouses of Almeria (intensive agriculture). We planned to reach Malaga (from Almeria) in 2 days (+/-200km) but we had to change our plans because of a 60km/h headwind. We had to pedal even in the downhills if we wanted to move forward. Finally we reached Malaga in 3 days and we met up with Surya who we met for the 1st time 1300km before. We spent a nice evening with her in the beautiful city center of Malaga. There are two main roads between Malaga and Marbella : an autopista and an autovia. In Spain, the drivers have to pay for using the autopistas (highways). Some Spanish people say autovias are allowed to bikes while others say they are not. After being arrested by the police along the autovia, we thought we had the final answer… As there was no alternative way, we biked and walked on the right side of the guardrail. Hard day !
The next day we passed the police several times while we were biking on the same autovia (because we had no alternative) and they waved to us. Our conclusion : do your best (or…some sections are allowed, others are not). After a wildcamping night in Marbella, we biked to Algeciras (worst spot ever : so much waste…but it was already late and we were tired) and then Tarifa. We cleaned our bikes at a petrol station (because we usually clean our chains with petrol) and spent our last Spanish night in Tarifa (kitesurfing city). In the morning we discovered that a part of one of our panniers had been eaten by mice during the night. We repaired it in Morocco with a piece of inner tube that Alex sewed on each side. We took the ferry from Tarifa to Tanger on Sunday 20th October. Bye bye Spain…y gracias !
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In total we slept 26 nights in Spain: 15 under a roof and 11 wildcamping nights.
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In Spain we loved :
– Sun
– Bicycle friendly drivers (they’re patient & remain distant)
– City centers of Barcelona, Valencia & Malaga
– Shower on the beach before wildcamping
– Making fire on the beach
– Learning Spanish
– Bicycle paths in the towns
– Water everywhere (especially in the parks)
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We didn’t love :
– Waste along the roads
– The road between Malaga & Marbella
– The greenhouses of Almeria

Description of our itinerary you can see on the 1st pic:
After Benferri we followed the Rio Segura , which had a good bicycle path, as far as Alcantarilla. Afterwards it was basically the national way N-340 to Malaga.
Then we followed the autovia (bicycles allowed or not. We still haven’t any idea –> look at description on previous post) as far as Algeciras, passing through Marbella.
The national road led us to Tarifa, southest point of continental Europe.
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The red dots are where we slept : warmshowers, couchsurfing or wildcamping.
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Our average distance is 75 km/day since the beginning.

 

From Charmes-sur-Rhône (France) to Alicante (Spain)

Here is the follow-up of our adventures. You can see our itinerary on the map. The red dots are where we slept : warmshowers, couchsurfers or wildcamping. Our average distance is 80km/day since the beginning.

Along the Rhône we met a couple from Paris who was travelling by bike during their holidays. We biked during 2 days with them and shared nice moments. We also spent very great evenings with people who welcomed us when we followed the ViaRhona. Thanks guys !
Then we reached the Mediterranean sea at Le Grau-du-roi. Our legs loooove Camargue which is sooo flat. Shitty weather on our way from Béziers to Perpignan : we woke up under the rain but we had to pack up and go. It was a hard day with a new rainy wildcamping night in sight but David & Corinne welcomed us unexpectedly thanks to David’s brother who is a warmshower host we met 1000km earlier. They gave us a lot of comfort ! Thanks ! The next day we discovered the Pyrénées (it was like a wall in front of us) and met a marathon man (11 times!!!) who loves cycling. He took care of us and biked with us as far as the spanish border (you can see his helmet on the 5th pic). A bientôt la France …et MERCI ! .

In France we loved :
– Tradition of cheese after dinner – Wine
– Bread
– Our hosts- Fruit along the road
– ViaRhôna
We didn’t love : the absence of bicycle paths in cities

In total we slept 19 nights in France : 11 at warmshowers & couchsurfers houses, 1 at the hotel for Alex’s birthday & 7 wild camping nights.

Our first night in Spain was in Girona at a couchsurfer host who comes from Pakistan. He cooked a traditional pakistani breakfast for us. Then we reached Barcelona and enjoyed 3 days off with Alex’s parents. We visited the Sagrada Familia, the casa Batllo, we walked through the beautiful little streets in the city center, drank sangria & mojito and ate the traditional paella . After Barcelona we rode our bikes again to Valencia (370 km further). We wildcamped during 4 consecutive nights. At the end of each day we joined the beach to have a shower before searching for our wild camping spot, putting up the tent and cooking. Not always easy to find a spot where we can make a fire (to cook) whithout being seen. At the end of the 4th wildcamping night we were woken up by the police exactly when our alarm clock was ringing : “Holà. Police. No camping here. 10 minutes you go”. Then we spent a night at Castello before enjoying a day off in Valencia where we tasted a drink made with a tuber (chufa) named “horchata”. We loved the City of Arts and Sciences which is beautiful!

 

From Brussels (Belgium) to Charmes-sur-Rhône (France)

First pics of our world bike tour.
We followed the Meuse till Charleville-Mezière.
We took the canal between Champagne and Bourgogne till the river Saône.
We followed the Saône till Lyon and now we’re following the Rhône.
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The red dots on the map are where we slept: warmshowers, couchsurfing or wildcamping.
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Our average distance is 73km/day. Maximum 120km.

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Betsaleel ASBL - Email: agibon9 [at] hotmail [dot] com - Rejoignez-nous sur facebook