Sunday, 21 February 2016


Once you make your decision to visit MOROCCO you will find that the pre-tour organisation and planning is all part of the fun…….Along with deciding what to take and what to leave!

MARCH Tour is now FULL………
APRIL was full and closed but ONE vehicle place has just become available……..
SEPTEMBER has only ONE vehicle place left…….
OCTOBER has just THREE vehicle places remaining…….
In last month’s Blog posting I suggested that subject to demand we would consider a couple of additional dates, in particular NOVEMBER. We now have a couple of interested parties who are now on “Standby”, subject to one or two more client bookings……If a late, but excellent weather, tour appeals get in touch ASAP.


   1st April ‘16

                  THE MOROCCAN “CLASSIC” TOUR
              Trans Riff-Atlas-Forest-Sahara-Atlantic Coast


  3rd SEPT ‘16

Trans Riff-Atlas-Forest-Sahara-Atlantic Coast



1st Oct ‘16

 14th Nov ‘16
Trans Riff-Atlas-Forest-Sahara-Atlantic Coast

     Trans Riff-Atlas-Forest-Sahara-Atlantic Coast




I don’t have any real Idols or Hero’s; rather I regard and appreciate the unsung. That’s not to say some celebrated individuals have played no small part in providing inspiration, impulse and sway on my life. Bookshelves attest and creak under the weight of Richardson, Rohlfs, Ritchie, Livingstone and of course Lawrence. There’s a whole section by and on Wilfred Thesiger. They and a few others are answerable and responsible for this restless and impatient life…………. But it’s not about me…..I digress……
Gertrude Bell was by any a standard an extraordinary woman and should you wish you can research her life…… For a short and as good as any perhaps see.
Better still read the remarkable biography of her life “Queen of the Desert” by Fergus Mason [very cheap on Kindle]. It will take your breath away.

In the brilliant film “Queen of the Desert” you have two hits for the price of one. It is of course an adaptation on the life of Gertrude Bell but for obvious political and convenience it was almost entirely filmed in Morocco.
Those who have travelled to Morocco with us will not fail to recognise many of the locations….. Erg Chebbie Dunes, Merzouga, Ait Ben Haddou, areas around Ouarzazzate and a few more, as well as numerous byways, Kasbah’s and souks.
Not just a great life, great film but a bit of spot-the-place fun for those who have passed this way.  


Last month I brought you the story of strange sounds in the skies over Morocco…… perhaps gets weirder in the Doukkala region of Morocco…..
Just a few days ago large chunks of the mysterious substance were captured on video rolling on the ground, pushed along by the breeze. Some said that it is a result of chem-trails, a long-running conspiracy theory, claiming poisonous toxins are deliberately sprayed from planes onto the public for sinister purposes. This theory has of course been dismissed by the scientific community. Some others believed that they are real clouds that fell into the ground…....
Whatever it is and whatever the reason it has the locals well and truly spooked……….. Take a look for yourself.

I will be honest and admit that Tangier is not my favourite Moroccan city. I will also admit that I have not been there for, Mmmmm, let me think…….for 12 years.
My indifference is mostly based on the horrendous traffic conditions I encountered [but I was driving a MASSIVE 6X6 truck] and the hassle at the port, the rest is based on non-complementary day-tripper accounts. I will make an effort to re-visit this year……........In the meantime
Local artisans in Tangier have embarked on an ambitious series of projects to clean up and beautify their neighbourhoods with several competing to create the most impressive decoration of their streets. The “Creation and Sustainability” prize went to the Al Inaach and Al Majid neighbourhoods and the “Commitment and Participation” prize was won by the Al Amal, Al Irfane and Ibn Battuta neighbourhoods.
The time-sequence video [link below] shows local Moroccans designing, cleaning, building, decorating, and beautifying their street. The engineers, architects, wrought-iron workers, designers, painters, artists, handy-men and residents worked day and night to turn their street into a dream-like, colourful, and spotless destination………

Well done and all credit to them.
Another of our visited locations but those who have been with us will no doubt remember the overnight wilderness, Berber village, campfire setting before we call into .……. 
Originally a Berber settlement before the Romans arrived, conquered, and renamed the area Mauretania Tingitana, was a fertile triangle between Meknes, Fez and Rabat, with direct connections to the ports of Tangier and, thus, the rest of the Roman Empire.
Volubilis began its story in Neolithic times, with remains found dating back some 5000 years. Settled between the Zerhoun mountain and its river valleys, it was a fertile area for growing crops. Fast forward to the Romans arrival in around 150 BC and its rule under a descendant of Cleopatra. This site ticks all my boxes: prehistory, romance and famous folks.
By the 2nd century, Volubilis had approximately 20,000 inhabitants. It was surely one of the most majestic cities in North Africa.

In only another hundred years, the Romans were defeated and control of the plain returned to the original tribes of the area. History tells us it was here where Moulay Idriss (787) established the Idrisid dynasty of Morocco. After the capital moved to Fez, archaeologists tell us people lived here until the 14th century. Thereafter, it seems to have been slowly deserted. By the 17th century, Moulay Ismail demolished parts of the city to build his new palaces in the area, most notably the city of Meknes.
This beautiful city was in the midst of destruction from all sides, being demolished stone by stone and recycled into newer palaces. Humans, however, were not the only things to cause destruction to Volubilis; it’s tallest buildings were flattened by an earthquake in 1755.
It seems to have remained dormant until the early 20th century, when archaeologists rediscovered it and excavations began in earnest. In the 1960's, several of the arches were restored and rebuilt, something that is frowned on today. But look at the beautiful pictures of the Triumphant Arch of Caracalla!

Now we jump into modern times. In 1997, UNESCO listed the area as a World Heritage Site. In 2000, another area was discovered by INSAP and said to be the headquarters of Idriss I. Many of the objects found have been taken to the Archeological Museum in Rabat. There is also a small Museum on this site that you can visit.
I am fascinated by the rich history of this site, inhabited for a 1,000 years, only to be cast aside for the new imperial cities of Fez and Meknes. I really recommend a guided tour, which can explain the complex history of North Africa’s conquest, the discipline of Roman architecture, as well as its being one of the founding sites of Morocco’s history as a nation. I can’t possibly cover its history in a few words and pictures, but please take the time to look it up online or even in a book!


Finally an extremely rare moan………. And this DOES NOT apply to the many and valued friends we have made over the years and who we are at times in contact with……… keep asking for our assistance and advise or whatever…….you are genuinely welcome. But as for the others!

We have just had a major clear-out of our yard and workshop and I was staggered at the number of items found that we have sourced for distressed motorhome owners over the years and that have not been collected or paid for. I know, I know, but it creeps up on you and I genuinely didn’t realise the amount and full cost.
It starts with a call to our office “I am desperate, broken down and can’t locate a CPU unit for my Fiat [or whatever]. Can you get me one and I will collect and pay” There is no need to go on and on other than to say that next Sundays “Boot Sale” will have several motorhome tyres and awning parts, as well as a large assortment of mechanical items, gas fittings and electronic gizmo’s. We even found a Hymer window-screen that was “desperately needed” but never collected……Yes, you know who you are……Desperate in Marrakech.
Then there are the calls for help from stranded solo motorhome travellers in Morocco. The call invariably starts with “I know it’s a cheek but………..”  We have in the past delivered clutch parts [and fitted] from Spain too as far as Merzouger [Erg Chebbie Dunes] as well as sourcing various items they could not find themselves from all over Morocco. We have opened our workshop in both Spain and Morocco. We have sent out our mechanic on endless missions. Again I could go on and on and on……. Rarely for more than a “thank you”, if that!
Nuts, bolts and tools [“lost” a few of them], etc. etc. You name it and we have loaned or given it.
Travel, route and general advice requests are received almost daily in our office and take a great deal of time, phone calls, email etc. etc… feels almost a full-time job in itself.
The straw that has “Broken the Camel’s back” as it were was the recent request for Spain-Morocco ferry tickets…….Yes, YOU Mr Packham ....... Having booked his ferry at around 50% discount, made more than a few emails and phone calls, gave directions to the ticket pick-up location etc. etc. Yes you’ve guest it. Without explanation, or contact, or answering our phone calls and emails Mr Packham failed to collect the tickets, leaving us to pay for the unused tickets ourselves as they were, as requested, time sensitive for a particular day .……… What an arsehole!
So the few….and in this case Mr Packham [ex-client] has spoilt it for the many.
The sick and injured is a difficult one to say no too. For non-clients we have in the past dealt with just about everything from broken limbs to yes, even death. In distress payment is the last thing to be considered or asked for, but without our experienced office staff your no-insurance their bills would have been astronomical. Even a thank you would go some way………It has over the years cost Desert Detours a [I nearly said small] fortune……. But OK, call in this case………..!
BUT………Desert Detours are no longer an agent or information bureau for the Solo or Non-Client traveller. We are no longer a motorhome parts department. Our workshops and mechanics based in both Spain and Morocco will continue to be at the disposal of our clients on tour ONLY. Our Veterinary service is only for our clients on tour with pets. Campsite bookings are now undertaken for clients on tour only…………In fact if you are not a client or one of our “valued friends”,  DON’T CALL!