Zagora, Milton Keynes of Morocco

The famous Tombuctou sign in Zagora, repainted but no less powerful

We’re still at Camping ‘Take Your Time’ about 400m from the main road in Zagora. It’s a tiny campsite, like a little walled oasis within the general chaos that is Morocco. Good showers here, running off a gas bottle connected boiler, but the drain was full so I came out to find I’d flooded part of the campsite.

A look around our campsite and surrounding area:

Last night saw the last of the Spanish, and newly acquired Moroccan alcohol drained by Chris and I. We had a great laugh planning how we were going to buy a goat (Chris would be chief negoatiator) and take it further north to sell at a huge profit. After 3 litres of wine I think we were only half joking too!

I’ve done this today:

  • Fended off Abdula, the campsite owner, who had advised both Chris and I our suspension springs needed extra leaves and his cousin could fit them for us. Pull the other one Abdula :)
  • Walked the dogs around the palmerie, which had been irrigated, resulting in filthy mud dogs and a bath for Charlie.
  • Shouted at some kids who had begged for money (including pulling Chris’ arm) and thrown stones towards us. 
  • Snitched to the campsite owner on 3 nippers trying to get in everyone’s motorhome (the same ones as the video above). The kids here are the worse beggars we have seen.
  • Looked for the famous 52 Days to Timbuctou sign, and missed it despite being about 5m away.
  • Rode my bike through town, thinking how great it was getting no hassle, then got hassled by about 6 people, including 2 guys on a motorbike after our clothes. Zagora is a bit like Milton Keynes. A new town and hence dull compared with the crazy old towns. It even has two roundabouts.
  • Bought 2 loaves of bread, 1.5 Dh each (about 12 pence)
  • Oiled Abdula’s moped chain with WD40 (he’d never seen it before). The 50cc bikes cost about 16000Dh new and run forever. His has done 22,000km (he thinks, the odometer cable snapped a while back) and looked almost new. Second hand they are about 8000Dh (£700). Not cheap

Ju’s been sorting our half a million photos and sussing the finances. Our average spend is now €43 a day (gone up a few Euros due to ferry fares etc). Dave’s MPG has gone up a bit to between 32 and 36MPG, we think due to us being forced to drive slowly by the various hazards and rough roads.

Abdula’s restaurant is calling tonight. Tagines, cous cous and brochettes are all on order. He’s sorting some music as well. Champion!

Update: we got the music, it was great, we recorded a bit of it and uploaded it here:

Cheers, Jay

4 Comments

  1. Hi

    Am really enjoying your Blogg, we are going next year (i hope) keep saying the prices of things, it gives me a good idea of what it will cost us, do you ever feel scared or feel in danger at all ?, that’s one of my biggest worries.

    Best wishes Val

    • Hi Val

      Glad you’re enjoying our blog. You might see from our earlier posts in Morocco that we were quite scared when we first got here. We weren’t really sure what to expect (personally I’d imagined it would be all flat desert sand, so was quite surprised to disembark at Tangier Med Port and have to drive over green hills!).

      Now we do feel quite safe here (although things may change once we get to the bigger cities), we know that all the people sitting by the side of the road, or gesturing to us are simply waiting for someone to stop and give them a lift – we may feel safe, but not enough to stop. You do get hassle from people wanting to be your guide around places, or for you to go into their shop “look no buy!”, but we’ve got used to it. We’re happy to wander around on our own – although I’d probably draw the line at wild camping, because even in the middle of nowhere people appear to sell you stuff!

      Tonight we’re stopping on a car park, but we’re hooked up to power from a local restaurant, it’s cost us 30dh (about £2.80). I’ve found diesel, campsites, fresh food, bread and cakes to be cheap – tinned European stuff is obviously expensive (and hard to come by), but not as hard to come by or expensive as alcohol – which is also a pretty good currency around here too. A bottle of wine is between £6.50 – £15 depending on where you get it from, so if you’ve in a car or motorhome stock up on cheap boxes of wine at lidl or Carreforre before you set off – they come in very handy for bartering/haggling.

      When you are planning on visiting? Will you be touring?

      Ju

  2. Hi Ju

    We will be with another couple, hopefully next year, we have a Pilote A Class, and they have a small American RV, we are hoping to tour, so looking for good places to visit, we will be on a tight budget, so pleased that things seem cheap, we would not wild camp either, but as csampsites are so cheap why would we? Keep up the good blogs, and enjoy the rest of your holiday.

    Val

    • Hi Val

      Tight budgets are great around here as campsites and fuel are so cheap. I’d recommend stocking up on boxes of cheap wine and beer at Lidl/Carrefour before you leave spain as it’s a big currency over here – we bought 12 litres of wine with us and it was gone in a couple of weeks, not drank but bartered for a tour around a city and some berber blankets. But so many times since people have asked us for it to get a reduction. The boxes of wine cost around 0.60€, but a bottle of wine over here is around 65dh (ten times as much). Beer cans go for around 15dh in supermarkets or 40dh in cafes. Obviously the law says you can only bring in one bottle of wine and so much beer – but we didn’t see any of the European vans getting searched when we arrived at the border, only the local ones.

      The other thing I would say to bring would be to stock up on old clothes, shoes, electronics like old mobiles etc (especially if you’re coming straight here). People here get paid a lot less than we do in the UK, but a lot of stuff is around the same price to buy. We don’t give stuff away to people (especially children) for doing nothing, but when they do something for you – guide you around somewhere, watch you van when it’s parked etc – our old stuff is often worth more to them than money.

      I’ve been chatting with my husband on the danger side of things and he rightly reminded me that the most dangerous thing over here – like any country – is driving (he does all of that while I take photos out of the window). You certainly need your wits about you, there’s a lot of horn honking but you soon get used to it. Most vans that we see over here travel in pairs, the distances between places are quite far so some days you’re driving through wilderness for a while so it’s good to have some support with you. I guess one thing we were tripped on was our van insurance, it didn’t cover us for Morocco as we didn’t know we were coming here, but if you’re planning to come here you won’t have to go through the circus of trying to buy some at the port.

      I’d recommend the Camping Marocco book from vicarious books as that has a good introduction to the country as well as the majority of the campsites (and an idea of prices). A few bits are out of date as it was written a couple of years ago – there may be a new version soon – but our friends copy is now falling apart as it’s been so well read.

      I’d also recommend a guide for big cities as they will reduce the hassle you get and also take you to places you’ll never find on your own – our guide in Fez was organised by the campsite and was great. I’d also recommend the auberge tombuctou at Erg Chebbi as it was the same price as the nearby campsites but with all the luxury trimmings.

      Obviously what’s on the blog is just our opinion, so for a more rounded view there are a few of other travellers over here at the moment who are keeping blogs, if you haven’t already you might want to check out europebycamper, theworldismylobster and goalgetting – also doyourdream did a trip over here a while back and have some good info on their site too.

      Enjoy the planning and your trip. Keep in touch and be sure to ask if you’ve got any more questions.

      Ju

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