Wild camping in Morocco

Two months on the road, searching for our endless summer in the African continent. Found out Morocco is full of wonders, and is not as hot as we imagined it would be. Every day we had a new surprise, every road led to something new. The more we drove around, the better it would get. Incredible landscapes filled our windscreens at all times. It gave us the constant inebriating feeling of admiration and amusement. It made us high.

Right after new year's eve I took a flight back to where I left my van and Margot. Marrakech.
I arrived in Morrocco a few days before Christmas, just in time to travel at Jumbo's slow pace through the touristy regions of the north. From Akchour, Chefchaouen, Rabat to the Koutoubia Mosque. There I could finally reach an airport to park my LT28, leave my dog with a trustworthy pet pension, and fly back to celebrate holidays with my family.

Once I got back, a whole new trip started. I returned to where I left the oceanic coast to drive inland toward Marrakech and continued the road from there. Miles and miles of empty concrete unrolled between lands of fishermen and farmers. A few massive industries interrupted the landscape leaving malodorous exhales in the air. Possibly harmful to the health. Besides them, landscapes were untouched, raw, wild and pleasant.

Before going to Morocco, family and friends were concerned.
"Be safe" they would advise.
The main worries were about the people, the Islamic beliefs, and all those myths about African Muslims.
It was almost disappointing to feel welcome and safe in each spot I landed.

Traveling with your van in an unknown country with such a different cultural background can keep your head busy quite a lot. Especially when you need to fall asleep in your easy to break in vehicle at night.
I must admit that is how my journey started in Ceuta. I was worried about all those locals running toward my van waving papers and pens in their hands at the border. All they wanted was to help me out with some immigration formalities in exchange for a few euro coins. Nothing to be much worried.
I knew immediately I didn't need all that, and that their promise to speed up your process just giving a big check to deliver to the "commander of the border" was full of shit. I was tired after 5 hours waiting, so I fired them with a 2 euro coin for the pen. I needed it anyways.
That was the worse "hassle" of the entire trip. Morocco.

- "Hello brother, where are you from?"
- "Italy."
- "Welcome to Morocco; now you have a second home."

That is how conversations began. Sometimes it was just a formality to later introduce you to something to buy, or offer you a paid guidance, or to take you on a journey up the hills where their "cousin" has a marijuana farm. Sometimes it was just a genuine heartfelt welcome.

In Casablanca, I met with my friends, two Dutch couples of fellow vanlifers I met in Portugal the month before. We decided to get together and continue the journey in convoy. So we did.
We explored all the oceanic coast from north to south, all the way down to Tif-nit, to then climb the Atlas mountain covered with snow to reach on the other side the desert and chill on the dunes of Merzouga.
It was possible to go from the heat of a sunny 25° beach day, to a snowy montain hike in the gorges.

We went everywhere, and we have had it all: sun, snow, tubing waves, endless surfs, canyons, valleys, dunes, rocky mountains, palm forests, oasis, culture, food, exotic animals... etc...

Every day we had a new surprise, every day something new was there to amaze us. The more we drove around, the better it would get. Incredible landscapes filled our windscreens at all times. It gave us the constant inebriating feeling of admiration and amusement. It made us high.

Wherever we stopped, we received visits from locals who just enjoied our company, sit with us around log fires in the evenings, brought fish and tajine to share.
Most Moroccans speak French, the younger generations are also fluent in English, but obviously Arabic is the primary idiom.

Kids gathered around in groups and observed us from a distance. Once greeted, that distance collapsed: they would invade the place, jumping in and out of our vans, peeking their nose everywhere. 50% out of curiosity, 50% to find something to take home with them. Not stealing, they would always ask: from the bike to the iPad, everything to them seemed like a possible giveaway for us.

Along the road, more vans joined and left the convoy. We had our small gypsy community living and sharing together, different people, different personalities, and creativities, all getting along enriching one another.

The Moroccan routine wasn't different from the one back at home. Maroc Telecom kept us connected at a very decent price and worked everywhere we went. The difference was in the shopping: supermarkets are impossible to find, it was a lot more fun anyways to roam in the Souks. We could not find all that we needed we were able to improvise, but we learned more about Moroccan culture and habits.
To find alcohol on Muslim soil is a hard task and when we did it was pretty expensive.
The local bootleg liquor (something similar to Arak) was terrible at first sip, barely drinkable on the second night, our favorite drink after the third night spent out around the fire.

Here are a few highlights of our wild camping experience in Morocco, from North to South on the coast, West to East until the desert next to the Algerian border, and then back up across the Mountains and the cities in the inlands.

Hi, I am Mike, and you must've stumbled upon my travel journal unconsciously, maybe looking for something interesting and well written. If that is so, you are in the wrong place. These pages are useless, lack of proper grammar, but they also have some flaws. Enjoy!
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