Hello followers. I am going to write a small story of my life journey on a bicycle in Africa.
For some reason I had lost the interest of writing to strangers. Then after reading other travelers blog I realized the ‘why’ should write my stories in a blog. The interaction of my journey with people around the world as a solo rider with a bicycle has changed how I see myself. So here it is.
I will start with my first African country I entered.
Arriving at the Tangier airport late 23:49.( the ferries from Spain to Morocco where close) I had reserved the cheapest Hotel near the airport. I thought for some reason it was the best idea. I never ride at night in an unknown location. I can certified that it wasn’t the best idea but at the same time that’s part of the game.
There is taxis that will bring you from the airport to your hotel in 30 minutes max. Just need to discussion a good price. Price do rise after 22:00. After all, there is no other transport services available at that time.
A summary of my luggages
Mr.Minou in the a box (23 kilos) with some other stuff. The biggest panniers ( 19 kilos) tape or strap together. All the rest of my load was into the back rack bag ( 10 kilos ) as a carry-on and my purse!? I had 48 kilos in total. For luggages I was aloud 40 kilos. The bicycle is a sport item. That is an extra cost for most airline carriers. That is an usually a very acceptable way to with a bicycle.
The bicycle weight accepted is more or less 23 kilos. And my carry-on between 7 to 10 kilos. They don’t weight my personal bag (purse) . For the rest of kilos of my two panniers tape together is around 20 kilos. For me it’s the most easiest way to pack up.
Ibis Budget Hôtel at the airport of Morocco. I thought it was going to be like in France. I assume the standards were the same. I was wrong. The reception was barely clean and not really a good reception accept from the entrance guard. He was as very helpful. He punch my bicycle box into my room.
A fun fact: I need a taxi for 1km. But the taxi men were asking 15$. So I began to push the trolley to the Hotel. From where I was I could see the sign. Then further away a taxi came to me propose a better price that I accepted. For 10$ 1km not bad for him.
I’m up early. It must be jet lag effet. Finished putting Mr.Minou together.
I am ready to go. No good breakfast here even though it is free. Good I have some energy bars to help me get going. I choose to take the highway. The coastal road was cut with neighborhoods and lots of short steep climb.
The traffic is crazy specialy entering the city center. I got to the port. From there I searched for a Guest House in the old part of the city. I did my homework before arriving in Morocco. I had Pin a few guesthouse in the area.
I found a room with balcony over a famous avenue. Loved it. I was near restaurants and lots of shops. Morocco famous stuff to sell. Even though it my first time in Morocco I am not interested I’m not a buyer. I must be the only tourists.
There is not much tourists around but I did manage to meet a female cyclist from USA Alyssa. We had a tea together near my place. Like me she preferred to ride solo. Anyway we were not exactly going in the same directions.
I love riding in the mountains.I will probably head that way. I surely must be a crazy woman. I love hight! It is always a tough job to get to the top and sometimes endless climbing. I am rarely deceive. Of course the weather has to be on my side.
I didn’t ride along the sea road toward the east. I went inland towards Chefchaouen. In the Rif Mountains.
What changes of scenery. Bleu sky and sunny. The people are quiet. In Tanger the clouds stayed all week.
A big surprise happened. The kids screaming. They are so loud. Touching everything on bicycle. They were running towards me and screaming Dollars or Cadeau.
Camping. I only camp a few times because of no hotels or anything for a foreigner to stay. Also the gendarmerie was not going to let me camp in the bush. They were saying it was for my security. I was lucky or I had taken the wrigh road. I mostly had a hotel around. The price was affordable most of the time. If wasn’t I would bargain for a better price. One day I was in the orange plantations. It smells so good. It’s spring. About an hour before arriving in the town I had planned to stop for the day. I met a French Moroccan man. He told me that there was a hotel in town. But when I stopped at the gaz station just before going town the man said there was no hotels for me in town. He suggested to continue to the next bigger city or stay here in his garden. I thank him. He seemed to be a kind and generous man. At this point he mentioned that most cyclist stop here and camp. Nice, it was a good place. He had several shelters with picnic tables. Most of all a toilet fresh water even a shower. The most greatest was a restaurant with great coffee. The waiter made a delicious omelet in the evening and the next morning made a breakfast.
The police wasn’t following me. I didn’t noticed. They were never very far. The owner mentioned that he had to call the police so that they could control my passport and be aware of my position. I did notice the gendarmerie were more present in the region of the Rif Mountains because of cannabis cultivation! I learned that fact later on the news. Anyway I had no intention of camping around. Sadly Morocco has at least two bad events of tourist being killed.
Now in mountains it will be a bit colder. And happy. Most the time I am around 1000 meters above sea level. It did snow, rain and was slippery. But that lasted a short time.
I end up staying in cities most of the time because in villages it was not organized for foreigners. Most tourists travel by bus or cars and taxis. When I do get in small village with some nice & good place to stay I stay a few days. Just love to blend in.
I can positively say my heart goes to the mountains area & the habitants living there. It also much more peaceful. Even the vehicles, dogs are kind. Talking about dogs, I did have some encounter with a few. They were just running along me with no agressif attitude. I was probably near the cannabis fields!
Southeast of Morocco
My first glimpse of the Sahara desert was in Merzouga.I past by but didn’t do the detour. I was going to see sand further south. So why the detour. I suddenly in my guesthouse in Tinghir I had the opportunity of meeting a very nice Spanish couple experienced travelers. They were traveling with a car. They did do round trip on roads I didn’t ride the road i had done. So it was a nice trip overall. Merzouga is very expensive. It’s a very tourists hub. I did find a cheap cool hostel ” Le Goût du Sahara for the poorer tourists or on a budget.
I was with a couple from Spain that I met in Tinghir. Together we went for a camel trip.
I didn’t want to go at first so I just went to Tinghir. They invited me to go with them.
My goal was to go into the canyon region. Really Morocco has it all natural wise. Beautiful beaches, impressive mountains, deserts, food and the culture.
I am a “curios alcoholic”! I was not disappointed. So beautiful. The only thing I was disappointed. The attitude of the kids, adults trying to sell very strong pressure and an aggressive attitude. Beside that it’s really a good country to ride.
Okay now I am as fast as a scooter! I am going between 30 ‐ 45km an hour! And no need to pushing on the pedals. I will meet the officers again. This time I do have a few choices of hotels. I have to make a point: Along the ocean highway I was riding an old road that in very good condition. I don’t really know why and the town I cross or stay are very recent. Also I forgot to mention I am starting to see sand on the road. Because I am not riding on the highway it doesn’t matter. I stayed at that hotel three nights. I was waiting for the full eclipse of the moon. Once a pond a time. There this port going to the Canaries islands. One other thing this town was famous for. The writer Saint – Exupery. I went the small museum.Also at that level in Morocco I am close to the Canaries Islands. The police and army are very present and will also be very intense. No stopping. No photos and surely no camping.
Most people did respect me cause of my age. Where very surprise to see an elderly woman traveling with a loaded bicycle. So when I was asking for information about roads conditions I was given the wrong informations. Something like going from the canyon I was to an other canyon. I learned later that it was very interesting. Oh well get see everywhere in three months.
Then after working my But up to a pass call Tizi N’Tichka it was just down hill. It was also the point where I will start riding along the Atlantic Ocean. It wasn’t that bad, but still had to push mainly because of road construction.
The canyons I ride in was one of best ride. I was in the high Atlas mountains. People are very different. But still trying to sell me a carpet 🙃!
Going towards Marrakech. It’s down hills all the way. I did a stop in Souk El Had Zerkten. Actually it’s a man that wanted to talk to me. I had stop just to check out if I could have a lunch. This man call Albert recognized the canadien and the Québec flags. WOW! That’s a first.
A little story why Albert want me to eat at his restaurant.
One he started saying there was man working as an engineer in construction of dams. They where bringing electricity to the mountains villages and also for Marrakech and so on. This man came to Albert restaurant every day. This engineer was from Canada. So they developed a good friendship. This engineer understands that Albert’s restaurant doesn’t have electricity. And was to poor to buy the electric appliances.
So this engineer organis so he could have the electricity at the restaurant and then send him the appliances ( stove & fridge) to Albert.
What an extraordinary story. So now he wants to give back what was given to him 30 years ago.
I did have a great talk and lunch home made. With fresh veggies from his personal garden.
We said goodbye with big hugs.
On my way to Marrakech. I didn’t want to stay in this city. I was done with the rude attitude of the vendors. But then I was thinking it’s the only left of all the famous cities in Morocco I will cross. So I find myself a cheap hostel. I was very surprised that was a vers simple but confortable place.
My first city besides the Atlantic Ocean. Found with a lot of trouble the hostel ” Chill Art Hostel “. Again a super and nit to bad price. In this town I could enjoy beautiful sunsets on the ocean.
I did enjoy that place. If some of you following me you know I did some crazy path along the coast. There villages and very beautiful tourists organized areas. It wasn’t easy but boy did I have lots of fun discovering hidden oasis. One village in particular. I don’t know what the name because had no GPS. Also it’s that kind of village that is born because of a mine, cave or here the salt. Yes all around the white gold is salt coming out of the soil.
I did have to camp far the beach but still on the sand. All the resorts were close but lucky me I did find someone that was working as a security officer at a resort. I ask for a place to sleep and water. He proposed behind the resorts. It was a safe place for me he said.
Imagine been in a nowhere place and still find some fresh water.
After a great night listening to the waves but couldn’t see and the night sky. No full moon. The stars and the milky way was my companion.
I feel so great full. The next full of energy to get to the village I was aiming the day before. The road was terrible but it was getting better every few kilometers.
My first village for Kit surfing. Very famous among the French community. I did go down hill for a long time. In the back of my mind I was thinking I suffer to get out of here. I here there two cyclist that just arrived. They camp on the beach side for two nights. We finally met going up the hill to the main road. Lucky then they were light weight. We met on top with a spectacular view. We said our goodbye but first there shared some informations about the road I was going to have. He I go. Them? They were on high gear.
20km before Agadir. I want to stay here for the weekend. How was the road to here. Well I did have to work hard. It was a constant up & down until I got to the main road. I end up in this an other cheap place. It is very clean and the food was great. Stayed an other weekend.
An other bad experience. PS didn’t really talk about the other. But one was the last. A man just attacked me. So surprised. I tried to talk some sense into him. By that time he is holding my two arms at the level of the wrist. I need it help. Some young man run to help. This man was having mental health issues.
I met my first ws host since the pandémie. Michelle & Éric where very happy to meet me. As you can imagine we talk & talk until late. Great dinner. Great room. Great everything. I had to check out the back rime of Mr.Minou. I had noticed in Marrakech some thin cracks where starting to appear. There is nothing around to fix that. Also no new wheel. I will have to ride and take care and hopefully I can get to Senegal where I did plan of staying a while.
More I was going south More it was getting warmer. It was only May 12. Going out of Agadir wasn’t so bad. I must of went on the mist boring road because didn’t anything worth doing a détour.
Towards Tiznit again in the mountains. This time some fellow stops give me water also ask where I had the intention of staying. Tiznit. I don’t think you’ll get there before night fall. So here I was again into roller-coaster hills. I do ride not as fast in mountains. Usually around 6 to 9 kilometers. When I arrive in a small village the bus was coming. I stopped I ask if they had placed for me and my bicycle. Yes great. So where is your last stop? Guelmim. Then me too!
Getting closer to Western Saraha. Now I see police guards in every entrance of a town. They know I am coming. Their happy and sweet hearts. They do ask where I think I will be sleeping tonight. They want to make sure I don’t ride at night fall. If I don’t know they suggest me one. Most of the time it’s the only one and they are sleeping at the same hotel. I quite surprised to learn that there is a hotel every some reasonable distance. Is it going to be this way till Western Saraha?
That was a big surprise. I was very tired the wind started to blow. Somehow I how I had done 130km. The sun was setting. The officers assured me that the next place was not fare. Luckily for me the wind was pushing me. So into 40 minutes (20km) I was at the Hotel they suggested. I noticed a very fancy motorcycle.
Sometimes I wonder if someone is sitting on my shoulder guiding me. The next morning I met the Italian couple. They are the owner of the motorcycle. We kind felted we known each other for a long time. They a video of me riding. They are going to Senegal. I will meet them again on their way back home. They will also share information of my road to come.
Other fun fact: A man on a scooter came to talk with me while I was on stop break. He seemed alright but felt something not right. I mentioned to the police and described him.
I had planned to stay in Tarfaya because of the eclipse of the moon. Over the sea in a black sky that promises to be a very good location for an eclipse of the moon.
At my big surprise I found walking around town a museum and few of historic places. So went to visit Saint – Exupéry. And in the sea near the beach this fort dating 1882. Didn’t go inside. The tire was high. It is also a fishing port today, but once a pond a time had a ferry to the Canaries Islands! To bad. After three nights I was ready to cross to Western Saraha.
Next day I am having a lunch break in some shade I found. Looking at the sea. When I turn back towards the road he was there beside my bicycle. Very close. I kinda felt uneasy. He looked at me, I stared at him and didn’t move. He stood like he was thinking. Then went back to his scooter. I waited for a few minutes. Then went expecting to see him again. I did he was riding beside me. He ask to stop. I made a sign NO. He disappeared. At the next road contrôle I said to the police guards that guy was following me. I described him again. I never saw him again.
I’m supposed to meet a guy that has a bicycle repair shop. But for some reason I forgot about this guy. I must of seen him for sure because I went around town looking for bicycle shops. No one said anything about a friend cycling around Africa. All that search didn’t help me. No one could help me. It’s a unusual wheel. It has two factors that are different from European bicycle. The wheel has 28 spokes and is an other kind of quick release system. So here after a few days in a hotel that I convinced them to accept me in one room. They are the cheapest in town. Why they didn’t want new clients? Because they were under construction. They thought maybe I would write a negative comment. My only problem I had in my luxury room was the AC not working properly. They fixed it the next day. Now I am wondering what kind of road I be riding on. After all I am in the Western Saraha!
Did I say I am flying. After 226km I want to stop. It less nice because there is not much choice to stay and the control officers don’t have any suggestions. Most of the hotel are full only one left was actually the best around. Boujdour will be the last city I will see. Dakhla is the next city before the Mauritanian border. So next place I will be meeting on my way south is superbe big gasoline stations that are not mostly open only guards and serving petroleum. If an emergency I could sleep in the small Mosque. I don’t worry about food. I do have food for 4 full days. I need to find water that the only thing I need. It seems that the people passing by understand the cyclist situation. I was offered water and ïsnacks every day along the the road. Gaz station were about every 50km. That were i was taking a break. They usually have some food and water. Although the water is not free. The tape water is salty. I am still over 500km from Dakhla. That is my next big stop. If the wind continues to push me I should be in Dakhla in three days. That won’t be the case…
I did stop at the à gaz station. I did ask if I could sleep around here. Also ask if they were making food for travelers. The answer is no, no, no. Okay then with a limited language understanding I was asking for some informations what was beyond the gaz station. Didn’t know much or they didn’t understand. I was thinking of going further down the road because this place was looking like a men place where they smoke & drink. And the dogs. In a glimpse I could see a dozen of dogs. At night these dogs will fight & barking. Big bus is arriving. I ask driver for info. He was saying there was some tourists place just down the road.
It was still early enough to continue for two hours. So I was confident. Specifically because the wind was pushing me. That area was surprisingly very beautiful. The mountains were not picks more big bumps. The colors were very nice too. But going around them was meaning the wind wasn’t pushing me as much. Then the nice slope changed to volcanique like terrain! And now the wind was on my right side & front. That is not good. I did stop. Searching on the map for some places. Often the place are not on the map until you are near. I did have time to get back to the gaz station.
I have only about 15km to do. It won’t be fast. The wind is now against me. Now instead of riding parallel to the sea, I was riding towards the sea. I didn’t hesitate need to get going. Time is running out. I did found a small new building construction. There I saw a man. He is washing his vehicle. I ask for some places to sleep. I thought he would invite me to the fence premises. He didn’t he indicated a place on the other side of the road. I do see hotels and new buildings. Not open. Looks more like a ghost town. I finally decided to camp in a fence place. I need to hurry the sun is setting down.
Half way putting my tent up hidden from the wind. Yes now the wind is still there. Then suddenly a man is trying to say I wasn’t allowed to camp there. He even tried to put down my tent. Now I am not happy. He calls the police. And trying put my tent up. The ground is so packed I can’t anker the tent. Then the police arrive. The man tried to convince him to stop me from camping at that spot. That man had a hotel. He wanted me renting a room. I would of accepted but the price was crazy. I refuse. The police said I could camp. The man very frustrated. I finally put the tent on the hotel balcony with the help of the police man.
Next morning. I did have noise in the evening later. The dogs and trucks stop? Anyway had my breakfast and coffee. Today I am going to arrive in Dakhla. Last city and most south airport of Morocco.
The control officers again. That where turn to go to Dakhla. Ha ha so funny here is the officer that I saw last night. He ask me if I had a good night sleep. At first I didn’t recognize him. So here it is. He tells me it won’t be easy to ride the last part of this highway. That the last 500km to the Mauritanian border. He says it’s not taken care. The sand dunes are all over the road and the vehicles are trying to avoid them.
Anyway I am going to Dakhla. I need to see a eye doctor, bicycle shop hopefully and rest from my few days in the Sahara.
It was not easy at first to ride because again I was facing the wind. Also this a very popular region for European & kit surfers from around the world. So lots of resorts around big sand dunes.
I did stay a week in town. It’s a narrow peninsula of the Atlantic Ocean coast and the Rio de Oro Peninsula.
Going out of Dakhla was not a problem. Like the officer said it was going to be a challenge to ride towards the Mauritanian border after the cross road. For some reason Morocco claims this part of the Western Saraha desert but wasn’t able to take care of this stretch of road? Anyway I went on. Yes indeed it was mostly sand dunes on the road. I arrived at some gaz station people where waiting for a bus. I did wait also. Arrived, I ask if it was possible to take my bicycle on the bus. And they were doing stops along the way. Yes they were and could take Mr.Minou on the bus. I took the bus until Bir Gandouz. From there I road to the border. I did miss the sign
” tropic of cancer ” my safety is more important than a sign. I had lunch at the border. I have arrived around 16:00 and the border closed at 17: 00 so I did have time. Also here it’s seems to be one of a special border. No stress everyone look like having a good time. I did meet this guy on a over loaded scooter. Nice guy. He is also a traveler. I payed him a lunch and then we said goodbye. Me to the Mauritania him to Casablanca his home town.
I hope you did enjoy my stories. Just leave a comment or a thumbs up. Thank you
One thought on “Africa / Afrique”
Bonne année Jeannette!