Searching for the Sahara Pt. 1

Taking a week off work my target was a round trip to the Sahara desert, back to Spain. This is part 1 of that journey.

Searching for the Sahara Pt. 1

Friday - Sevilla to Tangier

As usual, the trip started with me being late, having mixed up my UK and Spain times as I was finishing work for the day. Just half an hour late for the 2.5 hour journey, mind you, so very salvageable.  

But this time, I was on a 250cc bike and with a top speed of 70mph, it was impossible to make up time on the motorways from Sevilla. It was only when I got to the single lane, windy road that descends into Tarifa that I could start some overtakes and start salvaging.

This road reminded me of the road down to Trieste in Italy. I did that trip in 2019. I had changed a lot in the several years since. In many ways my life now was quite different to the life I was living then. But there was something so familiar about it - who I was, where I was at that time was a core part of who I was here on this road, today.

On that trip I was on the Africa Twin with almost 4x the power of today's thumper (the 'Africa Single' as the baby CRF is dubbed), but much like my past and present life, the shared lineage of the bikes was very apparent.

Monday - Tangier to Meknes

Once again I left it much later than planned to leave after having a few coffees, a tea and late lunch in Tangier. It was a head-down ride and I made it Meknes just after sunset. The latter half of the N27 was enjoyable but Meknes itself was unremarkable, as was the hotel I booked 15 mins before arriving. A quick walk in the evening and I was in bed ready for the long ride to the desert tomorrow.

Tuesday - Meknes to Erg Chebbi

What a day.

Starting off with mountains and snow-lined roads in the morning, I saw monkeys on the road side and had to put my winter gear on to stay comfortable. The 450km ride did not feel like much but took over 7 hours with a few stops. Much of the first half of the journey on the N13 was a long road that was so straight you could see for a mile ahead of you in parts.

The very same road took me into the desert, the landscape changing every few hours until I was riding through sand in the Sahara by around 5pm that evening. The last 15km took over an hour as I battled through sand dunes trying to straight line to my desert camp (not a great idea) before accepting defeat and retreating to the slightly firmer, packed sand that was marked on the map as a road.

After a warm welcome at the desert camp, a Dutch couple asked if I'd like to join them for dinner. I gladly accepted as we traded stories about our travels over delicious tagine. They had been on the road for a few months already, traveling in a camper van. As the stars came out, the fire was lit and we enjoyed some traditional Berber singing courtesy of "Ali Baba" our affable host, along with a percussion band. As the night ended, only a handful of us remained around the fire trading Italian, French, English, Dutch and Berber jokes, riddles and stories.

Part 2 coming soon...