Heading North up the Ziz Gorge to Midelt, Morocco

Front seats out for top electrical tinkering this morning

Zagan the motorhome is not feeling well. For the second night in a row he’s decided to turn off his 12v system, which resulted in no power to anything, which meant our water heater dumped its contents. I wouldn’t have minded so much, but we’d used up precious gas to heat the water so it wouldn’t dump overnight as temperatures dipped. Tonight we have opted for electric hook up, in the hope that this will stop the 12v going off – it’s a long shot, but if it works we can do that until we are back in Spain.

Front seats out for top electrical tinkering and testing this morning

Zagan is recuperating at Ksar Timnay (N32.751690, W4.918970) about 10km north of Midelt. Yes folks, we’ve come over the High Atlas Mountains and are now winding our way north, in pretty much a straight line, aiming for a ferry back to Spain on 1 April.

Camping Ksar Timnay

After a great few days looking out over the sand dunes of Erg Chebbi, it was time to start our journey back towards Europe. Phil was in charge of research and had produced a list of stopovers, each about 3 hour’s drive apart. As Jay drove the first leg I tried to photograph everything, knowing it would be a very long time before I saw these sights again – if ever. The dusty parched land, camels, overloaded donkeys, ladies wrapped all in black, mud houses. All of it had become so normal to me, but now I know it would be going I wanted to capture it all.

Mud walls and painted mosques of southern Morocco
While he is looking good on his donkey, he is still going the wrong way around the roundabout
Rissani is undergoing loads of roadworks, the roads are shocking so we had to go through super slowly
I never did get to try any camel milk

Knowing that in just over a week we’ll be on the ferry back to Europe, without any plan of what we are going to do has left me feeling flat. In a strange way it’s a bit like when we were leaving Norway last summer after two and a half months. Like then, I am looking forward to being able to go into a supermarket and buy stuff I want. In the case of Norway it was without bankrupting us, but here it’s availability of things like bacon, ham, sausages, decent cakes, beer for Jay, dry dog food and dog poop bags. But, as I felt in Norway when we left to somewhere cheaper, this ease of shopping will come at  a price, the place I am going to won’t be anywhere near as amazing as where I have just come from (sorry Sweden and Spain!).

Not your normal road sign!
The Ziz Gorge
Jay explaining to the begging kids at a view point (each lay-by and viewpoint is manned by someone trying to sell you something) that they can stroke Charlie for free

Our journey north was pretty uneventful as we trundled out of the desert and towards the Ziz Gorge. There was a small burst of excitement when we spotted a proper supermarket, one with a car park, trollies and prices on stuff. It’s almost five weeks since our last ‘proper’ shop, and while Zagan’s cupboards aren’t empty, it was so nice to wander around, browse the shelves and compare prices of brands. We filled our trolly with supplies and celebrated our survival of the desert with a roast chicken for 39Dh (£3.15).

In convoy with Phil and Jules in Big Ben
Amazing turquoise lake with pink and orange rocks around it, and not one place where you could get a photo without a pylon or power lines across it
Motorhome camping in the Ziz Gorge
Kasbah Jurassique

Our campsite for last night was in the middle of the Ziz Gorge at Kasbah Jurassique (N32.153290, W4.374680), a hotel sitting on its own beside the road with a small camping area out the back. Yesterday afternoon was spent trying to desand the van – no doubt the first of many times we’ll try. We enjoyed dinner with a drop of wine and finished the last of a bottle of Port round at Phil and Jule’s van. Now we have an end to our Moroccan adventure in sight, the booze is starting to flow a little more freely as it would be wrong to take any back to Spain!

Wagons laden with hundreds of gas bottles crawl over the mountain passes
Someone had their stencil the wrong way round, for loads of these markers to MEKNES along the roadside

This morning Jay spent a couple of hours trying to get the 12v back on, only for it to magically start working again once the sun had put about 15 minutes of charge into the solar panels and Zagan had heated up a bit. We waved farewell to Phil and Jules as they set off on a scenic route through the High Atlas Mountains, while we carried on with the plan of a straight line North. Why didn’t we do the scenic route too? To be honest, we’re both tired – physically, for no obvious reason, and mentally. So we’ve taken the easy option and left the more adventurous roads for another time when we’ll appreciate them.

Spotted lots of mobile speed cameras on the roads, mainly around 60 areas – edge of towns, junctions, bridges etc. The operator of this one has a cigarette on while his colleague supps his mint tea

As we approached the High Atlas Mountains the snow gates were up, and although there was a snow plough, with a man sat in it ready to roll, the grey clouds kept themselves over the higher peaks which were already dusted with snow.

While it looks like it never snows here, we’ve had a few flurries today
A group of shepherds dismantle their night camp

We drove through the town of Midelt which we both remembered from our previous trip here as a dusty, run down little place with an army barracks and as where a guard dog that went for Charlie. However today it looks like an inviting modern town with restaurants lining new pavements, and squares dotted with fountains. I wonder if the place has really changed that much in five years, or is it us?

The High Atlas Mountains that we’d just driven over

Here at Ksar Timnay we have the electric heater on as the day switches between sunshine and snow flurries. It’s strange to think that just two days ago I was in my shorts and vest top as sweat trickled down my back in the Sahara, now I’m seriously thinking of hunting out my ski jacket and not relishing the coldness of the campsite showers that beckon. Any palm trees we see from here on will have been planted in a pavement – but we’ve still got a week of wonderment to come.

Ju x

7 Comments

  1. Enjoyed your photos especially the Meknes one. Drive carefully, you deserve that cold cerveza and temperate Rioja.

  2. Morning

    Wonderful pictures been following you travels since the beginning.

    Are your batteries goosed do you get 12 volt power when hooked up from charger or your solar panels ? Then as soon as disconnected or no sun they die ?

    Daniel

    You

    • Hi Daniel, the batteries are both at 13V with no load or charge being applied (after an hour or so of waiting) and have been working fine for the past year. The 12V to the the van has cut off on two consecutive nights overnight. The first was at 5am, the second we don’t know when. We’re guessing the problem is something to do with the EBL and the solar system, but we’re a bit clueless otherwise. The system all works fine when we’re hooked up. Cheers, Jay

  3. Hi Gang

    Sorry to hear you are having some problems but what a time you have had. Once fixed what’s the plan ? We leave uk 3oth March heading towards west coast Italy and eventually Sicilly. May meet ? Xxx

    • No worries, we’ll get it sorted one way or another. At the moment we’re hooked up and seeing no issues. Plan is fluid! Hoping for a house sit in Spain next month, failing that we’re at a loose end. Waiting for inspiration to reveal the way forwards… Cheers, Jay

  4. Your posts are magical, have you, or have you considered, writing a book?
    We are on our 1st ever MoHo trip; “Vannatoo” (Autotrail Scout) is parked up inna campsite in Los Canos De Meca, Cadiz region, Spain,,, (but you’d know that)lol (that it’s Spain)lol. We’ve bin reading your blogs 4months while preparing our own trip,,, drawing strength from your accounts about our own misginings. Although we’ve had over 2 weeks of glorious blue skies & temperatures of plus 25 degrees, we’ve currently got the hatches battened down bcoss its blowing a houlee and forecast to get worse’er’ra, in the next 2 days. We do hope you didn’t feel too despondent on your return to Europe.
    Many thanks again for your fantastic (real life) story telling.
    Very best regards from James & Angie.

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