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Ride Info

Ride Overview

Morocco A Nomads Journey - Marrakech to the Dades Gorge

  • Arrival
  • 9/16/2019
  • Departure
  • 9/29/2019
  • Ride Coordinator
  • Tracey Rossett
  • Tour Company
  • Spice Roads
  • Starting Location
  • Marrakech, Morocco
  • Finishing Location
  • Marrakech, Morocco
  • Estimated Cost †
  • $3800
  • Deposit
  • $1900
  • Number of Riders
  • 2 (min. 18 /max. 22)
  • Space Available
  • 20
  • No. of Pending Riders
  • 0

Ride Rating

2B  Warning - Read the Description Carefully

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† Explanation of BAC Ride Fee – This fee is not included in the Estimated Cost and is non-refundable once submitted. The Ride Fee for US and Canada is $50 and $100 for all other countries, both are per participant.

and you can request to participate in this ride.

Ride Coordinator Comments

Morocco rides were last done in 2005, 2006 and 2007. It is an intriguing country and culture with the ride covering a variety of scenic areas including urban, mountain, desert and beach locations with unique experiences and activities such as camel rides and camping under the stars for a night. Although there is significant cycling on unpaved roads, the ride is not unusually demanding as our BAC members have done similar rides in the past. We'd also like to note that Morocco is considered a safe country to travel as evidenced by the number of tourists increasing yearly. Moroccans are well known for being a hospitable people which makes traveling through the country an enjoyable experience; however, it is important to be aware and respect their cultural norms as in any country. Although there's no dress code for Morocco, its conservative customs should be respected with tourists being given significant discretion. For example, while cycling you can wear your lycra shorts and jerseys, but avoid revealing clothing after riding. As part of our ride preparation we will provide more details pertaining to tourists and local customs. BTW: If sufficient interest is expressed, we can arrange with Spice Roads for transportation, accommodations and activities for a couple days before and/or after the ride dates.

Ride Description

OVERVIEW: Morocco, just the name evokes visions of medinas, desert oasis, dunes, date palms, and ancient civilization. Our multi-faceted journey will take us from the lively markets of Marrakech, across desert landscapes, and traditional territories of nomadic peoples over high mountain passes and the breathtaking Dades Gorges.  On the way we will stay in ancient Riads, visit with a Berber family and explore perfectly preserved cave dwellings. A trip to Morocco wouldn’t be complete without living out the Lawrence of Arabia fantasy through an iconic camel excursion taking our dromedaries deep into the dunes.  We will sleep under the stars for one gorgeous night in the sea of sand.

We will cover approximately 350 Miles in 10 riding days and climb around 20,000 ft in total.  We ride at a pace which allows for real interactions and full enjoyment of local living.  We’ll be supported by SpiceRoads Cycling, and for some of the journey we will hop into the vans for short transfers.

Jim Rossett will act as Co-cordinator for this ride.

RIDE RATING: The tour is rated a 2B with an average distance of 35 miles and an average elevation gain of 2,000 feet per day. The following days exceed the maximum elevation of 2,500 ft for the 2 rating: (1) Day 5 at 3,911 feet, (2) Day 9 at 3,018 feet, and (3) Day 10 at 2,953 feet.  No days exceed 50 miles (the 2B maximum mileage).  With a few exceptions the cycling takes place mainly on unpaved roads, so you should be confident riding on rougher terrain. While the ride is generally not too demanding, some parts of the route consist of loose gravel and sandy patches that require some off-road biking skills.

We will have a mechanic and support vehicles available during the day as well as cold drinks and fresh fruit accessible for energy.  Detailed maps, cue sheets and GPX files will be made available to all riders before the ride.

LODGING: Our hotels have been chosen for their character, location, and bike-friendliness. We will stay for several nights at traditional ‘riads’, homes or guesthouses which have been converted for modern amenities but retain the flavor and sense of Moroccan hospitality. We will stay for one night with a Berber family and gain more insight into local culture as well as a night in tents on the dunes.  SpiceRoads can assist with booking pre or post-trip hotels.  Please contact the vendor for additional nights and pay for hotels directly to SpiceRoads. 

WEATHER: Morocco has a sub-tropical climate with temperatures between 64F and 84F; however, they can soar to 95F in the summer and fall to as low as 41F in the winter. We will be visiting at a good time when the weather is generally dry and warm. The weather does vary from region to region due to the country's geographical setting. Bordered by the Mediterranean Sea in the north and the Atlantic Ocean in the west, the country enjoys a moderate climate with a warm winter as a result of the sea breezes. On the other hand its eastern and southern parts are very dry and hot all year round because they are surrounded by the scorching Sahara Desert.  The Atlas Mountains, which snakes from south to north and divides the country in half, makes the climate in the central more extreme.

LOGISTICS: On this journey through Morocco on two wheels, we will start and end in Marrakech (RAK). You should fly into and out of Marrakesh Menara Airport, Morocco.  Transfers are included to and from the airport on arrival and departure days only but can be arranged separately if needed.  The outfitter will shuttle you to our first hotel at no extra charge on September 16, 2019 and to the airport on September 29, 2019. Please provide your flight arrival and departure times to SpiceRoads.  If you wish to come in a day or so early or leave later, you will need to pay approximately $30 US Dollars extra per way for a SpiceRoads transfer or arrange your own transportation.

The ideal bike for this journey is a hard-tail mountain bike with wide tires and semi-slick or knobby tread. Tandems cannot be accommodated.  SpiceRoads does have rental bikes available for a cost of $300. Participants should contact SpiceRoads directly to arrange for bike rentals and additional hotel nights. The contact at SpiceRoads is Kie and her e-mail is kie@spiceroads.com.  Bike fittings will take place in the afternoon on September 16th.

The initial meeting will take place on September 16 at 6:00 PM.

COST & ADMINISTRATION:  The tour cost is $3,800 (in addition to the $100 BAC registration fee) per person with double occupancy in rooms. The price includes 13 nights lodging with 13 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 11 dinners, storage of bike boxes, and administrative costs.  The price does not include airfare, fees to optional activities, alcoholic drinks outside of happy hour, and other beverages during meals.

SINGLES AND SOLOS: It is recommended that singles who want a roommate try to find their own. However, after receipt of the initial deposit, a single without a roommate will be placed on the ride and given until February 16 to find a roommate. If they are unable to find a roommate, they will have the option to receive a full refund (minus the BAC fee and payment processing fee) or pay the $670 solo supplement and stay on the ride.  If a single pays the supplement, they may continue to seek a roommate, but must plan to participate without a roommate if necessary.  The Ride Leader will assist by attempting to match singles who apply for the ride.  Solo supplement payments need to be sent to the BAC office. Checks should be made out to “BAC” with a notation of the tour name included on the check.  They should be mailed to:  Bicycle Adventure Club, PO Box 23998, San Diego, CA 92193.

CANCELLATION POLICY: The $100 Overseas BAC ride fee and credit card processing fee is nonrefundable unless the tour is cancelled. The cancellation policy is based on the usual BAC premise that a cancelling rider will not increase the cost of the ride for others. If we are able to fill your spot from the wait-list, you will receive a full refund minus the non-refundable BAC fee and credit card processing fee. If a single sharing a room is forced to cancel, he/she may still be liable for the amount of the single supplement for the remaining roommate.  If the canceling participant can't be replaced, any refund will be determined after the ride and final expense report is completed.  BAC encourages members to purchase trip cancellation insurance.

 In addition to the BAC Cancellation Policy those, who cancel, may be subject to the SpiceRoads’ cancellation policy if a substitute rider is not secured.  The following penalties will apply.

•                     90-plus days: possibility of Admin. Expenses incurred, especially for additional services where bank fees and third-party cancellation fees come into play*

•                    60-89 days USD $975 per person

•                    45-59 days USD $1,675

•                    15-59 days USD $2,275

•                    0-14 days USD $3,250

* Bank fees and any tour costs incurred by the company as a result of the cancellation.

RIDE PARTICIPANT RESPONSIBILITY: Please remember that BAC Ride Leaders are volunteers, and that successful tours depend on participants providing much of their own support.  Participants are expected to come to the ride well-trained, in good health, and ready to accomplish the required daily riding using well-maintained bicycles.   All participants should accept responsibility for a safe and enjoyable tour.  We encourage you to read the ride description carefully and respond to requests from Ride Leader.  While on the ride, support your Ride Leader with offers to help with various tasks such as happy hour preparation and cleanup.  Please do not interfere with the ride by inviting non-participants onto any portion of the ride or tour.  Please keep the Ride Leader informed of any special request you might have and respect the Ride Leader’s decisions.

MONEY: Moroccan currency is Dirhams (Dhs) which is only exchangeable in-country. Converting USD to euros is not necessary. Major cards (Amex not as common) are accepted at hotels and large restaurants but subject to a small fee. ATM’s dispense large bills which can be difficult to change when buying smaller items.  Try to carry smaller change for day to day transactions and tipping.  Alert your bank for international credit card use.  Moroccan currency can be converted back into U.S. dollars prior to departure only if the traveler has a bank or money transfer receipt indicating he or she exchanged dollars for dirhams while in Morocco.

VISAS

•    You must have a valid passport with at least one blank page.

•    Visas are not required for visits lasting less than 90 days.  Visit the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco website for the most current visa information.

•    Carry a copy of your passport with you at all times to have proof of identity and citizenship if needed.

HEALTH INFORMATION: Consult your travel doctor regarding recommended medicines to carry and vaccines. Allow sufficient time prior to departure for above as some vaccines require several weeks for full effectiveness. Water and food borne illness can be avoided by taking precautions such as (a) only drinking bottled water, (b) using bottled water to brush your teeth, (c) only eating food that is freshly prepared in a kitchen that you can see and (d) avoiding fruits or vegetables that can’t be peeled or boiled.

SIGN-UP: To register for this ride, use the sign-up links just above the Ride Description.  After preliminary acceptance, you will be moved to the pending list and receive an email requesting you to go back to the BAC site to digitally accept the terms of the Release of Liability (ROL), and pay the nonrefundable BAC Ride Registration Fee ($100) and tour Deposit ($1,900) by credit card.  As soon as your deposit has been processed, your name(s) will be added to the Participant List.  BAC members with questions may contact the Ride Director by “clicking” the name at the top of the Ride Description.  The final payment of $1,900 by credit card will be due by March 16th, 2019.

DAY TO DAY ITINERARY

DAY 1 (MON 16 SEP 2019)           ARRIVAL IN MARRAKECH

We will arrive in Marrakech Menara Airport (RAK) and be met by our driver for transfer to the riad to freshen up before meeting our guides and embarking on a city tour.  This will include visiting the Medina of Marrakech, a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring the maze of shops and stalls selling succulent traditional food and exquisite handicrafts. After our explorations we have our first happy hour/ trip briefing and dinner in a restaurant near the Jemaa El Fena Square.

Riad Africa. D                  

DAY 2 (TUE 17 SEP 2019)             MARRAKECH – KASBAH TELOUET –KASBAH AIT BENHADDOU

This morning we will leave Marrakech early and head to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the village of Ait Benhaddou which is an ancient fortified community complex and trading post that features earthen architecture dating back to the 17th century.  Driving via the Tizi n’Tichka Pass (7,414 ft) to Telouet where we start our biking adventure, we will stop to visit Glaoui Kasbah of Telouet which was a stronghold of the Lord of the Atlas.  From Telouet our ride takes us through scenic Berber villages which are up and down the Ounila Valley to the stunning Kasbah village of Ait Benhaddou where we will stay overnight.

Riad Maktoub 29 mi BLD (+1,355 ft /-3,032 ft)

DAY 3 (WED 18 SEP 2019)            KASBAH AIT BENHADDOU - SKOURA

After Breakfast we have a short transfer to Skoura, a beautiful Oasis, 22 miles east of Ouarzazate in the Dades valley or ‘Valley of a thousand Kasbahs’ as it is known.  Its ‘claim to fame’ is the long line of Kasbahs, both whole and ruined, running along the edges of its two seasonal rivers.  Its appearance can be deceptive as it runs mainly to the north of the main road and is very, very long. Our bike trips take us through Palm groves to explore Berber villages and discover their traditions, lifestyle and much more.

Hotel Chez Talout 25 – 37 mi BLD (+1,781 ft / -2,342 ft)

DAY 4 (THU 19 SEP 2019)             SKOURA – BOUTGHERAR – DADES GORGE

Leaving Skoura to Boutgherar via the beautiful Roses valley, we will visit an ancient cave dweller settlement to see nomadic Berbers living in caves handed down through generations of families.  It may be possible to visit one of these Berber families, share a refreshing cup of mint tea, and learn about their unique lifestyle. The final leg of today’s Moroccan adventure takes you to a beautiful view of the Dades Gorge where we will stay overnight.

Hotel Panarama Dades 27 mi BLD (+2,083 ft /-1,775 ft)

DAY 5 (FRI 20 SEP 2019) DADES GORGES – JBELSAGHRO – N'KOB

Today we cycle to the Berber oasis town of N’kob. This route snakes through the Dades Valley as we wind our way along the Jbel Saghro.  We climb to cross the Tizi n’Tzazert Pass (7,217 ft) or get a lift up to the top while enjoying stunning panoramic views in every direction.  After our climb we can rest our legs a little before cruising downhill to spend the night at the lush Berber oasis town of N’kob which sits at the foot of the Jbel Saghro Mountains abound with palm plantations.

Hotel Nakhil 43 mi BLD (+3,911 ft /-5,627 ft)

DAY 6 (SAT 21 SEP 2019)              N'KOB – TANSIKHTE – DRAA VALLEY - ZAGORA

Today's biking is really beautiful in a lush green valley of date palms.  The exploration of the ‘palmeries’ leads us to a nice ‘piste’ nestled below the dramatic, near vertical brown valley walls.  Passing the village of Benizouli we will end up in the small settlement of Imi-n-Ouassif which is now very close to the Sahara Desert.  We will then arrive in Zagora.  After a short break we swap our bikes for ships of the desert and ride camels into the dunes to spend the night in a Berber tented camp.

 After seeing a beautiful sunset, we will enjoy a fantastic dinner under the stars.

Camp Desert 37 mi BLD (+1,640 ft/-2,230 ft)

DAY 7 (SUN 22 SEP 2019)             ZAGORA – OUARZAZATE

Continuing our exploration of the desert we ride today through the lush and seemingly endless date palm groves of the lovely Draa Valley – the largest date palm groves in Morocco. Following local dirt tracks we make our way into the heart of the oasis to explore the small Berber villages lining the banks of the Draa River which is the lifeblood of this fertile area.  We will spend the night in a nice hotel in Ouarzazate Hollywood of Morocco.

Hotel Les Jardins 25 mi BLD (+1,716 ft /-2,090 ft)

DAY 8 (MON 23 SEP 2019)           OUARZAZATE – TAROUDANT     

After an early breakfast we will visit the Taourirt and Tifoultoute Kasbahs that were the homes of Glaoui (Old Pacha of Marrakech).  We will then find out why Ouarzazate is also home to the Sahara’s largest Hollywood film studio before taking to our bikes again riding through many villages along the High Atlas Mountains to get to Taroudant.

Riad Dar Dzahra 37 m BLD (+1,772 ft /-1,204 ft)

DAY 9 (TUE 24 SEP 2019)             TAROUDANT – IMOUZZAR IDA OUTANANE

After Breakfast we leave from Taroudant towards Imouzzar Ida Outanane.  Cycling through the Anti-Atlas Mountain and the Souss Palin where we will have our longest climb of the trip winding up and crossing the beautiful landscape of the red sandstone Anti-atlas Mountains.  A stunning view awaits our eyes at the top where we have lunch with riding downhill for dessert!  The day's bike ride ends with a great descent through winding roads to our hotel which is situated in a small remote town known for its seasonal waterfalls and stunning eroded rock faces.

Hotel Cascades 40 mi BLD (+3,018 ft /-6,234 ft)

DAY 10 (WED 25 SEP 2019)IMOUZZAR – PARADISE VALLEY – TAMRI / IMESSOUANE   

This will likely be our favourite day of riding as we cycle on a quiet road from the mountains to the sea with a spectacular day biking through contrasting landscape.  We will ride by unexpected waterfalls and down the superb Targant Valley.  A first good climb will take us to some high plateaus where local Berbers peacefully graze their herds of goats and camels.  As we ride west, the smell of the sea will hint at our imminent approach of the Atlantic Coast!  We reach Imessouane and the penultimate ride which is a good occasion for a little swim.

Hotel Tasra 34 mi BLD (+2,953 ft/-6,660 ft)

DAY 11 (THU 26 SEP 2019) TAMRI / IMESSOUANE - ESSAOUIRA  

What better way to start our last riding day than with a superb morning ride along the Atlantic coast.  We will roll along the edge of the windblown cliffs.  Stunning views will greet us at each turn before we head inland and enjoy a great downhill.  We will have lunch and load our bikes for the last time as we head into the ancient walled city of Essaouira.

Essaouira is famous for its artisan shops, European feel, and several kilometers of sandy beaches.  We’ll join a local historian to explore the medina where the mazes of tiny streets reveal spice markets, marquetry workshops, and more. Tonight we enjoy our happy hour and dinner in the heart of the medina.

Riad Dar Zahra 37 mi BL (+2,000 ft/-1,640 ft)

DAY 12 (FRI 27 SEP 2019)             ESSAOUIRA       

Free day in Essaouira to explore the Mogador city and do some others activities such as: Surfing, Cooking class, or Camel ride along the beach.

Riad Dar Zahra B

DAY 13 (SAT 28 SEP 2019)            ESSAOUIRA - MARRAKECH         

It's a transport day back to Marrakech allowing us to relax our muscles and take a guided tour of this Southern Pearl of Morocco.  We'll visit the Palace of Bahia which was built in the late 19th century.  It consists of 160 rooms and was aimed to be the grandest palace of all time.  Next, we visit Saadian Tombs which is the exquisitely decorated and sculptured mausoleum of the Saadi Dynasty members ruling Morocco from 1554 to 1659.   The tour concludes with an exploration of the souk (market) filled with mounds of spices, intricately woven Berber carpets, ceramics, hand-made leather goods, and other tantalizing food stalls.  Lunch is on your own.  We will meet up for a final happy hour and farewell dinner to reminisce on our magical Moroccan journey.

Hotel Riad Africa BD

DAY 14 (SUN 29 SEP 2019)           DEPARTURE

Transfer for your onward flight.

B


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