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 N.E. Morocco Wash Up...

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Tembo
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PostSubject: N.E. Morocco Wash Up...   Sat Nov 09, 2013 7:41 pm

Figuring that the trip is now complete, thought I would start a final thread for the crew that went to put down their thoughts about the trip, lessons learned and anything else they want to pass along to the rest of the forum.

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PostSubject: Re: N.E. Morocco Wash Up...   Sat Nov 09, 2013 8:21 pm

For me...here are some initial thoughts!

1. I recommend that no one else even consider an overland trip to North East Morocco! Really! There are mountains, deserts, sand, very little tar, almost no people, no luxury campsites (except Figuig), you have to wild camp most of the time and no one comes to visit, no 4x4 tour groups and no rubbish strewn across the countryside. There are no accurate maps, so you can only navigate by compass bearing cross country. When you return there will be no one else to sit around and compare notes about how fantastic the scenery was because no one else has been there (except the crew you went with). I recommend all this because I really want to find the same thing the next time I go back, which I definitely will be doing.

2. As far as vehicle prep goes, weight is everything in this region. We did often have to travel cross country with no tracks to follow and a heavy vehicle, loaded down with kit will struggle. The vehicles getting stuck in the sand were inevitably the heavier ones.

3. Fuel is not an issue. Tembo, even with his old 2.5 N/A diesal was getting 40mpg because I spent most of my time ticking over in high third gear as we crossed the desert, only occasionally going into high 2nd gear to climb something. There are towns scattered around the periphery of the N.E. where diesel is always available. So, none of us carried any extra fuel and we never had a problem topping up when we dropped into these towns to resupply.

4. Water is another story. Probably the best piece of kit I took was my Lifesaver jerry can. It will clean the dirtiest water into something as clean as you get out of bottled water and no plastic waste left over afterwards. Every morning I would top up two large aluminum water bottles, and often the other guys drinking water for the day. Besides this I carried two jerry cans of water for washing and Tembo's rad.

5. Navigation. We had Michelin maps which were uniformly wrong about anything other than motorways. We also had a set of 1950's 1:50,000 topo maps which proved far more useful for reading the terrain. But normally we would start from one known location (town, village or prominent natural feature) and drive on a compass bearing for a day or two. It really helps to have an onboard compass, otherwise you always have to be getting out and walking away from your vehicle to get an accurate bearing.

6. The only other vehicles driving in the North East were donkey carts and traders in big trucks that visited the widely scattered Bedouin camps. So many of the tracks we did find were 'Bedouin Driveways' leading to their tented homes. It was a challenge to figure out which tracks led in the direction we wanted to go. Many tracks dead-ended where Bedouins had formerly stayed but then moved on. So for us, we used tracks when we found them heading in the right direction but otherwise just headed cross country on a bearing. None of tracks are on any map, hence no point in trying to plan a route using them.

7. As we probably all have learned, travelling with a good crew that you can get along with helps enormously. Luckily, the group on our trip were all excellent and we got along really well. Everyone contributed something and that, as much as anything else, made the trip a success.

8. I was thoroughly happy with driving an open top Land Rover across Morocco. My theory has always been that if I want to see the world through a hermetically sealed, climate-controlled, glass and steel bubble; I can stay home with a cold beer and watch the Discovery Channel. But when travelling I want to see in 360 degrees, hear everything, smell everything and be 'in' the environment. For that, an open top vehicle is essential. In the sun I wore a broad brimmed hat and that was fine. Though the others may disagree, I was also of the opinion that those in more traditional hard tops suffered more from the heat and dust. Being inside that metal box with thick glass just made the heat worse. Dust streamed in their windows and swirled around in a vortex. With Tembo, the cool breeze driving with no top or windscreen kept me cool and the dust just blew past me in the breeze. I wouldn't say it is for everyone, but it definitely worked for me. It also made a great camera platform for my Gopro as I could film in any direction and climb easily out of my seat onto the back deck to film or study the ground ahead. I did put up the soft top towards the end on our way home when the rains started and it began getting much colder, but in nice weather there is no better way to travel.

9. Finally, never take a military matt green Land Rover to Morocco! And for God's sake, find a better colour than bubblegum pink if you do have to paint yours at the last minute!

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PostSubject: Re: N.E. Morocco Wash Up...   Sun Nov 10, 2013 3:10 pm

Having to "navigate by compass bearing cross country" - excellent!  

On my little 1,722 mile detour though the Sahara from Agiers to Agadez in Niger, myself and my co-driver had do a fair bit of that, roughly 1,500 miles actually give or take a few sand dunes, so really wanted to join you to experience once again that feeling of total isolation and emptiness. Shame, next time hopefully. Thought it would be like that when we viewed the maps, so it proved. Good stuff.

Well, delighted you made it there chaps (most of you anyway, trust all is well now Steve?) and you found it so utterly desolate Tembo that, in a roundabout way, you've recommended that those seeking air-con and swimming pools stay well away. Nice one J! clapping

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PostSubject: Re: N.E. Morocco Wash Up...   Mon Nov 11, 2013 5:18 am

The trip video is up...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_NNmJOrXFY&feature=youtu.be

Enjoy

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PostSubject: Re: N.E. Morocco Wash Up...   Mon Nov 11, 2013 6:11 pm

Great write up Tembo and a fantastic video, thx for posting,

Cheers Mark
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PostSubject: Re: N.E. Morocco Wash Up...   Mon Nov 11, 2013 9:18 pm

james good vid and looks like you had great weather well done all of you....adore 

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PostSubject: Re: N.E. Morocco Wash Up...   Thu Nov 14, 2013 7:09 am

Well we were hoping to be on our way by now, but went to garage transfer box still in bits, but he has new parts and said we could collect tomorrow night.

Has not told us price yet!!!

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PostSubject: N.E. Morocco Wash Up   Thu Nov 14, 2013 7:52 am

Man that looks fantastic, great write up, great video.... well done and I'm green with envy.thumbsup

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PostSubject: Re: N.E. Morocco Wash Up...   Thu Nov 14, 2013 5:13 pm

Thanks all for the comments on the video. Much appreciated!

Peej - Is that a Jeep JK I see peeking out there in your pic? Great vehicle if so.

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PostSubject: N.E. Morocco Wash Up...    Thu Nov 14, 2013 6:40 pm

Tembo wrote:
Thanks all for the comments on the video. Much appreciated!

Peej - Is that a Jeep JK I see peeking out there in your pic? Great vehicle if so.
 
 
Yep, that's the Peej JK. That was our first wild camping trip last year, looks like it could be the States or Canada eh? it's the Scottish Borders about 20 miles from where we live, that was when we caught the bug:D

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PostSubject: Re: N.E. Morocco Wash Up...   Thu Nov 14, 2013 11:43 pm

Great threads and great video.

There must be a lot of us out there thinking I want to do that.

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PostSubject: Re: N.E. Morocco Wash Up...   Fri Nov 15, 2013 12:54 am

Yep, too be honest I am already thinking about returning to explore some more of that area. I have already started drawing little maps of areas I want to explore further or how a new route might come together. There are other destinations in the future that we are considering but definitely foresee a return to N.E. Morocco on the cards in the not too distant future...once I have Tembo painted a more respectable colour!

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PostSubject: Re: N.E. Morocco Wash Up...   Fri Nov 15, 2013 11:23 am

roamingman wrote:
Well we were hoping to be on our way by now, but went to garage transfer box still in bits, but he has new parts and said we could collect tomorrow night.

Has not told us price yet!!!
Oooooeeeerrrr!!!! affraid 

Fingers crossed for you mate.

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PostSubject: Re: N.E. Morocco Wash Up...   Fri Nov 15, 2013 9:44 pm

Great thread James and I agree with just about everything you said.

My Disco 2 did the trip with no problems apart from the ABS light coming on a few times after a long climb on a steep graident with loose surfaces and then decending the other side in the same conditions but a couple of minutes stop for pictures or a nav check and it was good to go again.
I drove with the windows fully open most of the time and the resulting amount of sand inside the car was amazing I now need to buy a larger shovel to get it all out. The D2 in the condition we were driving through really blew my socks off I was dreading digging it out of soft sand most days but with the tyres aired down it only got stuck once and that was going back to rescue another vehicle, it even recovered a Defender on one occation.
Land Rover deem I am not a confident enough off road driver to do speeds above 20mph off road and accordingly the suspension would cancel the off road setting and return to the road setting thus making the ride uncomfortable but as conditions only allowed such speed occationally it wasn't much of a problem.

That said I did have an overwhelming dread of troubles with the electric systems which could not be fixed in the remote areas.

On the trip down and back I would have struggled with you're choice of vehicle, the low cruising speed and even lower speeds on long climbs would have done my head in.
The Moroccan terrain we were driving in day after day Tembo just made perfect sence effortly climbing in around and over stuff where we could not follow and had to take a slightly different route, add to that the low centre of gravity and low weight and I was left speachless by its performance.

Yoda's and SWMBO camper Sasha, the ease of which the 3.9 turbo diesel engine pulled the camper bodied 127 Land Rover along was amazing and on the tar roads we all struggled to keep up and add to that Kevins driving style I think many sports cars driven by lesser mortal would have struggled in his wake.
On some of the off road section with rises and falls and side slopes I admit I found quite scary following the camper watching it lean over at some quite acute angles but no great problems.
The ease of set up when we arrived at a campsite also had to be admired as well as the load carrying ability.

Silverfox's 110 Defender, well where to start John's rebiuld of this late 90s Defender is nothing short of amazing and surpasses any modern Land Rover coming off the production line. With the addition of a Easy Awn roof tent it would be many's choice for a vehicle for this kind of trip, the load carrying ability of the vehicle was its only downside a lot of weight stored high up did give John a few headaches on soft sand and some of the climbs on side slopes.

Colley's 2.2 Frontera, Steve had to return unexpectantly to the UK so we did not see how Luton's
finest would have coped with the terrain but being a Frontera fan myself and having owned 2 previously I am confident it would have showed us LR boys a clean pair of heels on the tar sections and have no trouble in the sand and mountains.

The biggest suprise for me was the different engine configuations and the techniques needed to gain the best out of each vehicle.

My D2 for instance needed to be in Low second, third or fourth for most of the off road sections as having no diff lock and using the traction control to gain traction by cutting in the ABS to wheels that had lost grip thus dragging the rev's down I needed to keep the engine in the turbo boost zone between 1500 and 2000 rpm in high box this would result in the engine stalling again no big problem just a steep learning curve as only having driven N/A engines off road before an adaption to driving a turbo engine was no big problem once I had realised what was happening.

Sasha's big capacity turbo engine had the torque to effortlessly put its self out of most situations and made most of the trip in high box with the occational dip into low range.

Tembo, well as said before the low weight and and no turbo meant James could just tick over in low gear and climb over most obsticles with ease.

Silverfox's 110 with its 300 TDI engine was the best compromise between turbo and non turbo engines being able to swap between high and low box when needed and only having a few issues with weight.

For my next trip I am going to looking for a 110 pickup, with a 300 or 200 DTI engine and keep it simple no confusing electrics to worry about no computers then add a roof tent to the back load bed, giving loads of cargo space low down and the sleeping/camping area being easy to erect and time saving.
Lightweight low down wins the day in these area's.
With the addition of a Coleman dual fuel stove and a kelly kettle I will be able to brew up easily with the amount of wood available and with the added advantage of being able to get cooking fuel at any garage longer extended trip will be no problem.

Bring on the next trip, so lets get planning asap.


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PostSubject: Re: N.E. Morocco Wash Up...   Sat Nov 16, 2013 2:07 am

good write up ......thumbsup 

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PostSubject: Re: N.E. Morocco Wash Up...   Sat Nov 16, 2013 10:41 am

We have loved reading everything on this thread cheers clapping  and we thank you for taking the time to tell us about your trip---------------we are hoping to be in Morocco just after Xmas and if the weather looks reasonable we hope to venture into the North East------BUT we may be on our own so have to be careful -----we are not geared up for serious off-roading---------we also have never--yet----navigated by compass:) 
Anyone in that area after Xmas------post on AO and we would like to meet-up or run a bit together (if you are prepared to wait for us-----we don't race)

We haven't heard from Kevin for a few days-----we hope that's because they are on the way home !!
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PostSubject: Re: N.E. Morocco Wash Up...   Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:34 am

Well yes we are now on our way home, transfer box rebuilt wallet a bit lighter, so will continue are slow drive back up thourgh Spain and France (only 60 mph).
Still some places we wish to see, today is just like Scotland RAIN and WIND, was haveing a coffee this morning in a cafe and thier has been SNOW in some parts of Spain, forcast is cold and wet.

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PostSubject: Re: N.E. Morocco Wash Up...   Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:36 am

Yep, all great points Gary! I was pretty impressed by the D2. I was glad we got footage of you pulling out John's Defender. You did get the award for the hairiest recovery though on the edge of that cliff. You cannot really see in the video but the D2 was sliding closer and closer to about a 40' cliff every time we tried to pull it. In the video you can see John leaning off the uphill side trying to help keep it from rolling over towards the edge. It took four pulls and lots of digging to finally get it back from the edge. But overall, I was definitely impressed with the D2!

And yes, Bou Arfa kind of blows your mind if you pass through. It is really an almost bizarre place given its location and I would happily spend more time there.

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PostSubject: Re: N.E. Morocco Wash Up...   Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:37 am

roamingman wrote:
Well yes we are now on our way home, transfer box rebuilt wallet a bit lighter, so will continue are slow drive back up thourgh Spain and France (only 60 mph).
Still some places we wish to see, today is just like Scotland RAIN and WIND, was haveing a coffee this morning in a cafe and thier has been SNOW in some parts of Spain, forcast is cold and wet.
Good to hear you are mobile again! The adventure continues...in the rain, cold and snow....

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PostSubject: Re: N.E. Morocco Wash Up...   Sun Nov 17, 2013 2:06 am

Good to hear Kevin and Dilys are on the move again, but on the weather front could be a cold wet return trip.
Ive been in Normandy for 12 days now and this is only the second day it hasn't rained at some point.

Hope you have a uneventful trip back up through europe as I think you will probably agree you have had quite a torrid time breakdown wise here's hoping the rest of the trip is plain sailing

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PostSubject: Re: N.E. Morocco Wash Up...   Sun Nov 17, 2013 5:21 am

well done kev....safe trip home.....thumbsup 

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PostSubject: Re: N.E. Morocco Wash Up...   Mon Nov 18, 2013 7:42 am

roamingman wrote:
Well yes we are now on our way home, transfer box rebuilt wallet a bit lighter, so will continue are slow drive back up thourgh Spain and France (only 60 mph).
Still some places we wish to see, today is just like Scotland RAIN and WIND, was haveing a coffee this morning in a cafe and thier has been SNOW in some parts of Spain, forcast is cold and wet.
That's great news, see you next week K & D.

Great write-ups chaps. Yet to view Tembo's video as well busy at present, got that joy to come. thing is I've two events to promote now, so time is precious.

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PostSubject: Re: N.E. Morocco Wash Up...   Mon Nov 18, 2013 7:15 pm

Take care on the return trip Kevin, there has been a lot of snow forecast for the French mountain areas and I know Spanish 4x4.com have posted some picture of it snowing where they are in the Spanish mountains.
On top of that here in Normandy it has rained for 12 out days of the 14 days I have been here and the forecast has the temp down to 1 deg with more rain later in the week with the wind chill its possible it could dip below freezing and with the laying water black ice could be on the cards as you drive northwards.

Bit different from the 28 to 33 degs we were in a couple of weeks ago.

Drive safe mate !!

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PostSubject: Re: N.E. Morocco Wash Up...   Tue Nov 19, 2013 7:01 am

Kettle's on Yoda. Just picture that lovely cup of Rosie Lee mate, that'll have you making your way back like a homing pigeon in no time at all. clinking teacups 

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PostSubject: Re: N.E. Morocco Wash Up...   Tue Nov 19, 2013 7:45 am

Great write up Gary, You are right your D2 really did do well and thanks for the tow mate!! Tembo really was amazing the way it just kept trundling over what ever the terrain had to offer.

Glad to hear that you are safely on the road again Kevin, hows it going?

Thanks for the comments about my truck and you are absolutely right about the weight, I am already working on what weight I can reduce before our next trip!! I have already worked out how I can lose at least 100kgs

Looking forward to the next trip!!!!!

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