Wind, Sand and Sea in Western Sahara

Western Sahara, controversially claimed as a bit of Morocco, was not as boring as we had anticipated. The desert was emptily beautiful, plus the strong northerly winds kept us rolling speedily along, although sometimes it just blasted sand in our faces and into our suffering bikes. There were also lots of camels!

Passing lorry drivers and policemen stopped to give us oranges and dates, and our new friends the Taunton couple (from the broken bridge in the last post) passed us multiple times, inviting us aboard for soup and our first beer for a very long time (big thanks and happy travels to Susan and Adrian!).

The scary Atlantic.

The scary Atlantic.

We found a hole. We're not sure what the hole is for as the only sign was in Arabic. It was also surrounded by an official looking rope, so this being Morocco we assumed it might actually be quite dangerous and didn't go in for a scramble around!

We found a hole. We’re not sure what the hole is for as the only sign was in Arabic. It was also surrounded by an official and sturdy looking rope, so this being Morocco we assumed it might actually be quite dangerous and didn’t go in for a scramble around!

We camped on some cliffs overlooking some salt flats.

We camped on some cliffs overlooking some cool salt flats.

Morning visitors!

Morning visitors!

So...sandy...

So…sandy…

Many of the towns down here have invested in a variety of animal themed sculptures. This roundabout featuring an angry octopus wrestling a fish was one of the best.

Many of the towns down here have invested in a variety of animal themed sculptures. This roundabout featuring an angry octopus wrestling a fish was one of the best.

Camels!!

Camels!!

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Zak's cutlery woes. After leaving my fork and spoon as part of the trail of my possessions which mark our route, I nabbed this spoon from a hotel kitchen. It is amazingly thin, and got badly crushed when it fell out of my pannier and I accidentally ran it over.

Zak’s cutlery woes. After leaving my fork and spoon as part of the trail of my possessions which mark our route, I nabbed this spoon from a hotel kitchen. It is amazingly thin, and got badly crushed when it fell out of my pannier and I accidentally ran it over.

Traffic...

Traffic…

The exceedingly windy approach to Dakhla.

The exceedingly windy approach to Dakhla.

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We camped at a kite surfing beach with friendly residents Kai and Ulrike, and a brood of fluffy puppies. This particular little one spent the night in our porch!

And they were keen to get in on breakfast...

And they were keen to get in on breakfast…

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Back to the Atlantic, via some desert.

We descended from the Atlas mountains into our first Hammada (rocky desert). Where all these little rocks come from we don’t know, but they are everywhere and very evenly spaced. It was still cold, so we decided to head as quickly as possible for the coast and some warmth. On the way we met some American Peace Corps volunteers, sent by the government to do good deeds in far flung places – thanks to Larissa, Sanjay, Brittani and co for your hospitality!

We met our first fellow cycle tourer. Jean Claude has been touring in 88 countries over the last 30 years. We cycled together towards Ouarzazate and shared one of the tastiest mint teas of our trip so far.

We met our first fellow cycle tourer in Morocco. Jean Claude has been touring in 88 countries over the last 30 years. We cycled together towards Ouarzazate and shared one of the tastiest mint teas of our trip so far.

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Those tricky decisions

Those tricky decisions… evidently a dirham (less than 10p) makes all the difference with hamburgers.

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Scorpion under the tent!

Scorpion under the tent!

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We finally bought a whole rotisserie chicken.

We finally bought a whole rotisserie chicken.

Camping amongst argan trees is dangerous as they are really spiky!

Camping amongst argan trees is dangerous as they are really spiky!

The long road south.

The long road south.

The Souss Valley national park. This stretch of river and coast is home to over half the worlds population of the endangered bald ibis. Sadly we didn't see any.

The Souss Valley national park. This stretch of river and coast is home to over half the world’s population of the endangered bald ibis. Sadly we didn’t see any, but it was beautiful.

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Camels!

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We met a crazy French guy who lives here (yep, as in right on that cliff) for 6 months of the year for some reason.

We met a crazy French guy who lives here (yep, as in right on that cliff) for 6 months of the year for some reason.

We got new hats!

We got new hats!

We had a great idea, skipping some boring main road cycling by heading along the supposedly unspoiled Plage Blanche. The tarmac ran out at this bridge, destroyed by the terrible floods which hit this part of Morocco at the end of 2014. After some deliberation we crossed and ascended (pushing) up a steep gravel track/river bed. The path did not improve at the top, and we were unsure of the way even after asking a confused shepherd. So, we turned back to a turn off 20km back. At the broken bridge we met a couple from Taunton in a campervan the size of a lorry, with a Mercedes on a trailer behind, trying to turn round. We hoped to blag a lift up the hill and hopefully beyond, but they didn't seem too keen to put our dusty bikes inside. So we cycled and bickered into a headwind (of course) back to camp nearly where we had stopped earlier for lunch.

We had a great idea, skipping some boring main road cycling by heading along the supposedly unspoiled Plage Blanche. The tarmac ran out at this bridge, destroyed by the terrible floods which hit this part of Morocco at the end of 2014. After some deliberation we crossed and ascended (pushing) up a steep gravel track/river bed. The path did not improve at the top, and we were unsure of the way even after asking a confused shepherd. So, we headed back to another turn off for the main road 20km behind us. At the broken bridge we met a couple from Taunton in a campervan the size of a lorry, with a Mercedes on a trailer behind, trying to turn round. They gave us an arm wrenching tow up the steep hill, and we bickered into a headwind (of course) back to camp nearly where we had stopped earlier for lunch.

This is what we will be doing for the next couple of weeks.

This is what we will be doing for the next couple of weeks.