woensdag 22 februari 2017

Surprising Mauritania

New tarmac in No Mans Land, with presence of the UN and the polisario
Abdullay from Gambia helping out at the border
Getting my sandal fixed in Nouadhiboo
Enjoying the street food
Senegalese restaurant, Nouadhiboo 
Mc Do,  African style 
Queue outside the Senegalese embassy 

All the way south

Market place near Mhamid
Teaming up with Fred Dew (GB) 
Fred on plage blanche
Me on plage blanche 
Fred needing  a bit of help, and quickly, as the tide was coming in
Getting to safe ground and waiting out the tide
Camping near Guelmim
First time getting the landy stuck 
And first winch recovery 
River crossing near plage blanche 
Dakhla free spirit camp
Dropping the pressure as low as 0.8 bar
.. or the beach is a no go
Panini restaurant, Dakhla 

vrijdag 10 februari 2017

Trough the desert going south

Practicing my dune driving skills in Erg Chebbi
Camping on the beautiful backside of the dunes.

Having an expensive check up in Zagora

maandag 6 februari 2017

Cirque du jaaffar

One of the places I wanted to visit for years  was the dangerous but beautiful piste of cirque du jaaffar near Midelt.  Information on the Internet was not clear to where it exactly was,  but I had a good idea. For the first metres of off-road coming in from the east, it was clear it was going to be rough. Low range gears and diff lock engaged I started to climb a narrow and beautiful track.
But only 10 km in, the snow became so deep that the car started to slide towards the ravine. First moment of terror of the day! As soon as I got out I was knee deep in snow. In my flimsy summer shoes,  and with no snow chains, I began to wander if I was maybe ill repared.
Smiling but with wett feet 
Airing down the tires to 1.2 bar,  didn't get me any further. So the decision was made to backtrack.
When I started to back up, I was glad the car didn't slide any further towards the edge.  Having no experience in driving in snow and basically owning my first real 4x4 for 5 full weeks now,  I had a sense I was in over my head. It wouldn't be the last time that day..
Having a gps with the Moroccan maps and satellite images on the tablet helped me to find a way entering the cirque from the other side, but there I was stopped in my tracks in roadworks. Seems like they're sealing the road coming from Midelt. Driving back I discovered a little track going the right way,  but that ended up in a goat track.  From there however I could see the entrance to what they call the 'jaws of jaaffar'. A narrow gorge which is the highlight of the track.
Looking down it was the second time of the day to become scared shitless.
It was steep, covered with big loose rocks, had a  nasty hairpin bend and just didn't look like it was ment for any motorized vehicle. Gathering all my courage, but still trembling with adrenaline,  I  started the descent in 1 st gear low,  making sure not to go faster than 1km/h. Sure enough the hairpin was too small to round in one go,  so with my nose down centimeters from the rock face,  I gunned it in reverse. The car slidd back just enough to forward again and make the turn. Making it all the way down,  I just hoped that there was another way out, as there was no way I would try this ordeal going up.
As happy as I was to find the cirque du jaaffar, after many hours looking,  the adrenaline rush wasn't over. The beautiful gorge draws you in,  but gets more difficult after each turn.
It gets narrower with each turn and quickly becomes a fine art of 'rock crawling', but as there is nowhere to turn, I'm committed to go forward.

Every report I read was done with several vehicles, and I was starting to think it was foolish of me to come here alone, but so far the defender really impressed me, not hitting anything and taking on everything you could trow at it. Clearly I was the limiting factor, and not the car.
After only 1.5 km,  but feeling like a lot more,  I  was able to turn and do the same crawl in the other direction, as I knew there was no way out the other end with the snow and the roadworks. This time confident in the landy, it became fun, and I was happy to get this crash course in off roading. They say you should every day do something that scares you,  but I had my share for the day so I was of to Midelt and a well deserved shower and meal in my favorite kasbah.
Notice the car got a good cleaning too

First night in Morocco

Driving over the border in Melilla with a car stashed full of alcohol (it has to last 3 months, mind you),  gave me huge satisfaction. After getting a moroccon sim for my phone(3 euro for 1 GB)  I immediately drove to the beach on the peninsula,  but encountered countless police. All friendly, but the situation was obviously tense,  with all the illegal immigrants trying to get to the Spanish enclave of Melilla. Funny enough they were all driving landrover defenders.
Less funny was that when the sun went down,  they came over to confiscate my passport. I could retrieve it in the morning from the next checkpoint and luckily it was just that easy,  it's always uneasy being without my passport.
Taxfree,  yeah! 
Bit of a mess,  but there's order in the chaos 

vrijdag 3 februari 2017

Up to the ferry in Almeria

It took me 4 days of motorway driving to get to the south of Spain. Driving 2000 km on one tank of Luxemburg fuel.

Next post from Morocco