North Africa – the home to the Tuareg, the Berbers and the Europeans. The dry arid country is part of the largest desert in the world. Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia all makeup part of North Africa. Ancient cities such as Marrakesh, Fez, Algiers and Tunis are good starting points to get acclimatised to the Arab way of life. Riding a motorcycle in the desert makes you one with the ecology – dust and more dust! It will work its way into every crack and crevice in your clothes, and it will coat your face in grey to age you in a moment.
When leaving the cities, one will start discovering the villages and their inhabitants – just as it was in Biblical times. The village’s friendliness and generosity will make you yearn for the old days and leave the rush and stress of modern days behind. Do not follow the bikers who make straight for the Atlas Mountains, or you will miss out on the lesser-known Rif Mountains.
The scenery here cannot be found anywhere else in the world, with roads that seem to have been made especially for bikers that will give you plenty of twists and turns. If you take this route, you will eventually reach Fez – a city from a thousand years ago with its beautiful, fortified walls built to keep the enemy at bay. Pass through or stop and enjoy the ancient city of Chefchaouen, the city named after the blue painted house lining the terraces.
On arriving in the Atlas Mountains, the highest mountain range in North Africa believed to be a possible area (of three regions) of the first human civilisation in the world, competing with Kenya and Southern Africa for this honour. Keep your eyes on the road as they will be drawn to the changing vistas as a moth is brought to light – not a good thing on a path of twists turns and bends. On the other side of the Atlas, the road will take you through a gorge formed by the Ziz River, and you will arrive in Tafilalet where you can cool down in a palm-filled oasis and stop for refreshments as thousands who have stayed there to water their camels, over the last millennium and more.
From then on, the road opens up to long, straight stretches reaching to Erg Chebbi, so now you can pick up a bit more pace (without breaking the road laws!). After Erg Chebbi, one enters the Dade’s gorge, definitely one of the main attractions of the ride. The switchbacks and twists and turns make for a memorable journey – one of the best in Africa. Then on to Telnet where you will find the Telnet Kashbah, a palace built centuries ago at 1800 meters above sea level. The Tizi-n-Test pass will lift you to over 2000 meters ASL but be aware of the almost vertical drops into the valley below.