Morocco is well-known as a mecca for off-roading. The Paris-Dakar off-road race crosses through the country, and it also hosts the world-famous Marathon de Sables. Its challenging landscape – encompassing the stunning Rif Mountains in the north, the Sahara Desert, and the Atlas Mountains between them – offers technical driving and breathtaking views, wide open desert plains and sand dunes with the type of unrestricted off-roading that you can’t experience in much of Europe. In April this year, Vetrun180 team leaders carried out a recce to assess the viability of Morocco, so we can expand the portfolio of locations for off-roading expeditions we offer to beneficiaries as part of our adventure therapy.
The expedition team travelled from Portugal to Morocco via ferry from Spain, disembarking in Tanger and progressing immediately south to the Rif Mountains. Off-roading in the mountains may have felt extreme to the team, with a sheer drop to one side of the extremely narrow roads at some points, but these were also the main routes connecting local villages. It required slow progression with a more technical approach to driving – a welcome change after the ferry crossing.
The team stayed a night in Chefchaoeun, a well-known and beautiful ancient fortress town with striking blue-washed buildings, cobbled streets and large town squares, then the next day they headed higher into the dramatic Rif Mountains. The Sahara is arguably the most popular region for off-roading in North Africa, but the mountains offer a less-travelled and no-less stunning experience. The dense green forest at the higher reaches was unexpected – and not the everyday perception of what you see in Morocco. After reaching over 2000m in altitude, and enjoying driving well above the clouds with stunning views across the valleys, the team descended to begin the more traditional leg of the trip.
Transitioning from the mountains to flatter, more arid and then desert terrain brought its own challenges: negotiating tricky wadis, re-planning routes to avoid the Marathon des Sables runners further into the Sahara, and experiencing sandstorms typical of the desert environment. With nothing in sight other than sand, custom-made dune buggies, motorbikes, and other 4×4 vehicles, the team spent four days experiencing some of the best off-roading in the world. A particular highlight for anyone interested in off-roading is of course, the famous Erg Chebbi – and the massive sand dunes did not disappoint.
While the team was in southern Morocco, they distributed clothes, toys and school supplies to local communities and enjoyed some traditional hospitality. They then turned back north, traversing the high Atlas Mountains with views of peaks more than 4000m in height. After a brief stay in Marrakech to experience the souks, Morocco’s capital Rabat proved to be a striking contrast –with embassies, modern buildings, and perfectly manicured lawns and parks.
As an off-roading experience, Morocco is up there with some of the best destinations in the world. Vetrun180 is planning a beneficiary expedition to Morocco in the future, with the experience and knowledge gained from this trip.