The End of the Road

And so after nine months of cycling we reached the final destination of our 10,000 km journey, receiving an unexpectedly lovely welcome from our good friend Dougal and a carload of drummers!

So, happily settled in at Meet Me There, we spent a busy month working on a new organic veg and fruit garden. This is designed to showcase the amazing productivity possible when using compost toilet ‘humanure’ to grow food (which is totally safe don’t worry!), and will hopefully one day provide fresh ingredients for the lodge’s kitchen and bar. Big thanks to Atsu and Gershon for sharing their knowledge of farming in the tropics!

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Watermelon seedlings, straight from breakfast fruit!

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(Re)building the HMS Herbs from a broken canoe…

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Tropical Hugelkultur – using layers of sand, dead wood (in this case palm fronds and old coconut husks) along with compost and black soil (‘biochar’) to make nutrient-rich and moisture retaining raised beds.

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Planting some seedlings.

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Life!

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Apparently if you plant the top bit of a Pineapple, it grows another Pineapple!

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And last but not least, brightening up a wall with a new mural, Meet Me There has lots of new neighbours…

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One last time a huge thank you to Dougs and the wonderful staff of Meet Me There!

Don’t forget we are still raising money to build a new compost toilet, we are not far from our target but could still do with a few more pennies – visit our Donations page for more info.

We are taking a rest from the cycling, but will be back one day with more adventures…

A&Z

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Ghana pt. 2

The dry, scorched north gave way to lush tropical forest and cocoa plantations as we approached central Ghana. After a couple of days in hectic Kumasi we breathed a sigh of relief as we descended to beautiful Lake Bosomtwe with its calm, glassy waters and the occasional scary tropical storm. From there we headed to the coast via gold mining country, through humid jungle and along dusty, disintegrating roads, where we met some lovely people staying in villages. Now we have reached the Atlantic ocean once again, and are heading east towards the Volta Region, our final destination!

We are already half way towards our fundraising target to build a compost toilet, if you think you can help us with the rest check out our donations page and read more about how fab compost toilets are here. A big thank you to everyone who has already donated!

Kumasi Market. The largest market in West Africa. Bloody mental!

A small section of Kumasi Market, the largest in West Africa, viewed from an overpass. It was bloody mental!

Avocado tree!

Avocado tree!

Jungly hills to the south of Kumasi as we approach Lake Bosomtwe

Jungly hills to the south of Kumasi as we approached Lake Bosomtwe.

A storm!

A storm!

Lake Bosomtwe, Ghana's only natural lake, in the crater of an ancient meteorite impact!

Lake Bosomtwe, Ghana’s only natural lake, in the crater of an ancient meteorite impact!

Elizabeth the grumpy donkey.

Elizabeth the grumpy donkey.

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Fisherman are only allowed to paddle the lake using small handheld paddles. Here someone is transporting a plantain tree on their wooden plank canoe.

Fisherman are only allowed to paddle the lake using small handheld paddles. Here someone is transporting a plantain tree on their wooden plank canoe.

One stormy night Alice heard a mewling sound coming from the bushes. Two tiny abandoned kittens in a plantain bush!

One stormy night Alice heard a mewling sound coming from the bushes. Two tiny abandoned kittens in a plantain bush!

A gold rush is in full swing in the central region, with the second largest mine in Africa after one in South Africa, a policeman proudly informed us. More evident from the roadside are small scale mines like this one. Not good for deforestation and water pollution.

A gold rush is in full swing in the central region, with the second largest mine in Africa after one in South Africa, a policeman proudly informed us. More evident from the roadside are small scale mines like this one. Not good for deforestation and water pollution.

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Our route unhappily coincided with another stretch of road construction. This time it was raining which kept the dust down but turned the road into a tacky quagmire requiring frequent stops to unblock the mud jamming our wheels. Great fun!

Our route unhappily coincided with another stretch of road construction. This time it was raining which kept the dust down (sometimes) but turned the road into a tacky quagmire requiring frequent stops to unblock the mud jamming our wheels. Great fun!

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And finally we rejoin the Atlantic Ocean!

And finally we rejoin the Atlantic Ocean!

"Garden eggs" and a bitter tasting aubergine thing that gets better when cooked.

“Garden eggs” and a bitter tasting aubergine thing that gets better when cooked.

A house sized soundsystem damaging the ears of some children.

A house sized soundsystem damaging the ears of some children.

Cape Three Points, Ghana's southernmost tip, where we spent a lovely long weekend with...

Cape Three Points, Ghana’s southernmost tip, where we spent a lovely long weekend with…

... Dougal Croudace!

… Dougal Croudace!

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Spot the squash.

Spot the squash.

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We stayed in a bamboo house on stilts with a compost toilet underneath.

We stayed in a bamboo house on stilts with a compost toilet underneath.

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Cocktails on the beach for Alice’s Birthday.

Basse Casamance: trapped in a tropical paradise

The tiny dug out canoe from The Gambia dropped us on a small beach amongst some mangroves. Heading for the small town of Abene, we heaved the bikes down hot sandy paths under the blazing afternoon sun. This became a running theme of our time in the beautiful Basse Casamance region of Senegal.

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Palm wine tapping.  The sap ferments into a delicious, milky white drink. Sweet and fizzy in the morning and becoming stronger as the day goes on. Even the kids drink it.

Palm wine tapping. The sap ferments into a delicious, milky white drink. Sweet and fizzy in the morning and becoming stronger as the day goes on. Even the kids drink it.

Pirogues with colourful net flags in Abene

Pirogues with colourful net flags in Abene

The lovely compound of Khady and Simon, we spent a happy few days relaxing in a treehouse with hammocks

The lovely compound of Khady and Simon at Abene, we spent a happy few days relaxing in a treehouse with hammocks

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Big tree! Actually its many trees growing into one big mass of tree.

Big tree! Actually its many trees growing into one big mass of tree.

Antie the parrot.

Antie the parrot.

A great bridge on the way to the beach, made of out bits of old mangroves. Male passersby often like to insist on escorting my bike over obstacles for me.

A great bridge on the way to the beach, made of out bits of old mangroves. Male passersby often like to insist on escorting my bike over obstacles for me.

Tasty breakfast

Tasty breakfast

These tiny pine cones really hurt with bare feet.

These tiny pine cones really hurt with bare feet.

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Beach cows

Beach cows

Seed pod owl... one way of passing the time in the middle of the day when its too hot to cycle (or move)

Seed pod owl… one way of passing the time in the middle of the day when its too hot to cycle (or move)

Camping in a family compound in the tiny and (according to our map) non-existent village of Saloulou, somewhere on an island in Casamance.

Camping in a family compound in the tiny and according to our map non-existent village of Saloulou, somewhere on an island in Casamance. We had a brilliant idea of island hopping down the coast, by the time we had realised this was a very sandy mistake it was too late, we had to go on.

The bikes take a boat trip through the mangroves.

The bikes take a boat trip through the mangroves.

New island, unchanged amounts of sand. This particular path took us nearly 5 hours to traverse, dragging the velos all the way.

New island, unchanged amounts of sand. This particular path took us nearly 5 hours to traverse, dragging the velos all the way.

It just got sandier and sandier... we eventually ended up at a remote farm where everyone was very surprised to see us . The next morning they walked us to the nearby(ish) village of Hitou to find a boat across the main river. Hitou is a sleepy place, with no electricity or shops and a long-closed bar. We spent a lot of time eating coconuts.

It just got sandier and sandier… we eventually ended up at a remote farm where everyone was very surprised to see us. The next morning they walked us to the nearby(ish) village of Hitou to find a boat across the main river. Hitou is a sleepy place, with no electricity or shops and a long-closed bar. We spent a lot of time eating coconuts.

We hung out with a great gang of kids in Hitou who enjoyed commandeering the camera and taking pictures of bits of people's faces.

We hung out with a great gang of kids in Hitou who enjoyed commandeering the camera and taking pictures of bits of people’s faces.

They also liked trying to plait my hair... which was very painful.

They also liked trying to plait my hair… which was very painful.

Hitou's landing stage, where we kept a weather eye open for boats for 4 days.

Hitou’s landing stage, where we kept a weather eye open for boats for 4 days.

The gang assemble for a goodbye portrait.

The gang assemble for a goodbye portrait as at last a boat arrived

We eventually managed to find a ride away with some palm wine traders. The boat was full of people and barrels, and they distracted us from its heavy lurching by insisting we hold out our cups for refills every 5 minutes.

We eventually managed to find a ride away with some palm wine traders. The boat was full of people, barrels, and a bewildered goat. The crew distracted us from the heavy lurching by insisting we hold out our cups for refills every 5 minutes with the cry “Drrrinkingg!”

Deposited on the south bank of the river, told we were somewhere near the village of Nikine.

And so we were deposited on the south bank of the river, completely skint, with no water or food, and hammered on palm wine at 11am. Told we were somewhere near the village of Nikine and that we should “ask the population” for instructions on how to find the path.

Resting in  Cap Skirring. Puppy in a box!

Resting in Cap Skirring, in civilisation once again. Puppy in a box!

Chilling in Ziguinchor.

Chilling in Ziguinchor.

A peaceful night's camping by the river Casamance.

A peaceful night’s camping by the river Casamance.

Dakar to Banjul via a scary sea voyage

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Sandy piste on our way to Dakar. The only thing that improves dragging a loaded bike through sand is being chased by hordes of screaming children.

We took a small detour to the tourist spot Lake Rebta or Lac Rose, a super salty pink lake, where we had a good time floating around (impossible to sink!) while people tried to sell us things.

We took a small detour to the tourist spot Lake Rebta or Lac Rose, a super salty pink lake, where we had a good time floating around (impossible to sink!) while people tried to sell us things.

We reached Dakar, where this tiny bar became our haunt. For Edinburgh people, this  place is the equivalent of Burlington Berties!

We reached Dakar, where this tiny bar became our haunt. For Edinburgh people, this place is the equivalent of Burlington Berties!

Cycled out to see the statue of the African Renaissance, controversially expensive and strangely communist-style.

The statue of the African Renaissance, controversially expensive and strangely communist-style.

Black kites circling over downtown Dakar in the early evening.

Black kites circling over downtown Dakar in the early evening.

Senegalese public transport!

Senegalese public transport!

The village of Toubab Dialaw where we had a nice swim after a particularly hot and sweaty day.

The village of Toubab Dialaw where we had a nice swim after a particularly hot and sweaty day.

Flower strewn steps to Pomeguine beach.

Flower strewn steps to Pomeguine beach.

Baobabs at dusk!

Baobabs at dusk!

We cycled through a strange landscape of baobabs and very tall coconut palms like lampposts.

We cycled through a strange landscape of baobabs and very tall coconut palms like lampposts.

The largest baobab in Senegal! It wasn't particularly tall, but is as thick as a small house at 32m in circumference. It's apparently 850 years old. An enthusiastic man beckoned us round the side to an improbably small hole and helped Zak climb inside. Dark and cool, with the shrill squeaking of agitated bats clustered in a furry mass on the ceiling and flitting about my head. The floor was thick with bat shit, crawling and heaving with unidentified creepy crawlies.

The largest baobab in Senegal! Not particularly tall, but as thick as a small house at 32m in circumference. It’s apparently 850 years old. An enthusiastic man beckoned us round the side to an improbably small hole and helped Zak climb inside. Dark and cool, with the shrill squeaking of agitated bats clustered in a furry mass on the ceiling and flitting about my head. The floor was thick with bat shit, crawling and heaving with unidentified creepy crawlies.

The road to Palmarin.

The road to Palmarin.

Bike under blossoms...

A baobab fruit

A baobab fruit

The inside of a baobab fruit. The seeds are encased in chalky white stuff which tastes a bit lemony.

The inside of a baobab fruit. The seeds are encased in chalky white stuff which tastes a bit lemony.

Nice camp spot near the village of Palmarin.

Nice camp spot near the village of Palmarin.

We're in mangrove country.

We’re in mangrove country.

We decided to get a boat across the Saloum delta to Banjul, The Gambia - but first we had to find a boat in the small, bustling fishing village of Djiffer. We bumbled around confusedly for a bit, attracting hoards of snotty faced kids who attached themselves to our legs. Eventualy we found a guy, who in broken Franglish told us that we could, maybe, get a boat to a village across the water and then go direct to Banjul tomorrow. We bought some supplies and hurried to the shore to await our vessel.

We decided to get a boat across the Saloum delta to Banjul, The Gambia – but first we had to find a boat in the small, bustling fishing village of Djiffer. We bumbled around confusedly for a bit, attracting hoards of snotty faced kids who attached themselves to our legs. Eventualy we found a guy, who in broken Franglish told us that we could, maybe, get a boat to a village across the water and then go direct to Banjul tomorrow. We bought some supplies and hurried to the shore to await our vessel.

A DOUBLE BANANA! Noone else seemed very impressed though

A DOUBLE BANANA! Noone else seemed very impressed though

Dawn as we left the pretty fishing village of Dioneware for our terrifying voyage Banjul. After a 6am start with the first call to prayer we packed up hurriedly and followed our host through the dark streets. The tide was out. We waited and watched lights in the distance, made a coffee on the stove, and vaguely worried about what was going on. At last it was apparently time and we set off, pushing our loaded bikes into the river mouth bed, still in the dark. Sand turned to mud, mud to deeper mud, until the bikes dug deeply and pushing barefoot in the slippery quagmire was exhausting. Finally we reached firmer sand, and a few other people with luggage and children awaiting the voyage - a relief! Our pirogue lay on its side in the water ahead of us, with the crew bailing water out while the boat slowly righted itself. Sunrise was beautiful as we navigated the shallows. A man back on shore waved, and we waited as he waded across the  bay and clambered in with a huge gas canister. We taxied out of the estuary and the crew hoisted a large, battered sail. Initial enthusiasm wavered as we hit increasingly hairy seas, our low boat tossed about by huge waves thrown up by the meeting of river and sea.

Dawn as we left the pretty fishing village of Dioneware for our terrifying voyage to Banjul.
After a 6am start with the first call to prayer we packed up hurriedly and followed our host through the dark streets. The tide was out. We waited and watched lights in the distance, made a coffee on the stove, and vaguely worried about what was going on. At last it was apparently time and we set off, pushing our loaded bikes into the river mouth bed, still in the dark. Sand turned to mud, mud to deeper mud, until the bikes dug deeply and pushing barefoot in the slippery quagmire was exhausting. Finally we reached firmer sand, and a few other people with luggage and children awaiting the voyage – a relief! Our pirogue lay on its side in the water ahead of us, with the crew bailing water out while the boat slowly righted itself. Sunrise was beautiful as we navigated the shallows. A man back on shore waved, and we waited as he waded across the bay and clambered in with an enormous gas canister. We taxied out of the estuary and the crew hoisted a large, battered sail. Initial enthusiasm wavered as we hit increasingly hairy seas, our low boat tossed about by huge waves thrown up by the meeting of river and sea.

The bikes safely stowed for our voyage.

The bikes safely stowed for our voyage.

Finally the sail was furled as we approached Banjul and The Gambia.

Finally the sail was furled as we approached Banjul and The Gambia.

Trans-Saharan Puppy Special

We left Dakhla, Western Sahara, and headed south down the desert highway into Mauritania. By now the continual buffeting from strong winds and penetrating sand was getting to us, and we began to yearn for some greenery.

On the way we met lots of puppies.

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The steeds looking resplendent as we left Dakhla.

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A brief windy stopoff and some awkward posing for a selfie at the Tropic of Cancer!

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puppyspecial

Petrol station pups – how many can snuggle in a bucket?

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Oh just one more…

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Lichen on gemstones yo

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Domestic bliss.

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We found paradise in Mauritania. Also home of the largest and tastiest grilled fish of the trip so far.

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Nothing like (another) sleepy puppy for some good R&R

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Naww

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Diawling National Park, Mauritania. The bumpy track made for slow progress, but with just 40km to the Senegal border where we planned to spend the night and an incredible array of wetland birds, we were happy to dawdle.

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Warthog!

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Senegal coucal

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Yellow-crowned gonolek

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Lunch, more puppy love…

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The piste to Senegal

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Border puppies at Diama…

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and just one more to sign off…




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…

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.