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Loaded up for Morocco

At night in a parking lot in Agadir – oil leak? – Journey into the desert

N 28°32'45.1" W 010°59'35.2"
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    Day: 370

    Country: Morocco

    Location: Ford Ksar Tafnidit

    Latitude N: 28°32’45.1″

    Longitude W: 010°59’35.2″

    Daily kilometers: 334

    Total kilometers: 8742 km

    Temperature day max: 22°

    Night temperature: 13°

    Departure: 10:00 am

    Arrival: 19:00

    Travel time: 9 hours.

After stocking up on food in Agadir for our trip to Mauritania, it was getting late. That’s why we decided to spend the night in the parking lot next to the supermarket. Suddenly there’s a knock on the door of our Terra Love. “Should we go and see who it is?” I ask Tanja uncertainly. “I don’t know, maybe it’s a parking attendant who wants to send us away,” she ponders. “We decide not to open the door. It doesn’t take long for Tanja to pull the blanket over her head and fall asleep while I sit at the table and listen into the darkness. Suddenly it gets extremely loud. Moroccan music pounds across the square, young girls scream and men laugh. I dare to peek out of the skylight window. Young people are actually dancing in front of her car. Then there’s another heavy knock on the door. Since I’m on the roof, nobody saw me. I close the window, grab some pepper spray and lie down next to Tanja in the alcove. Sleep is out of the question. I lie there, listening to the loud music and the screaming and laughter. This goes on until about 2:00 am. Then tiredness lulls me to sleep.

The next morning everything is peaceful. It’s crazy how the darkness can scare you. Tanja later thinks that the parking attendant may have knocked to get his money. “If that was the case, then I’m sorry. I would have gladly given him his money. It really is amazing what fear is capable of and how it can influence our thoughts.

I leave the Terra and start repairing our wheel arch. A plastic seal has come loose. As soon as I start my work, a Moroccan immediately comes and asks if he can help me. One of the coffee cars is parked right next to us. The owner of his mobile café serves fresh coffee and sells cookies. The men greet me and are very nice and open.

After 30 minutes, I screwed the loose plastic part back on tightly. “Now it won’t rattle anymore,” I said to Tanja, who was filming the parking lot with her cell phone. “Oh no, what’s that?” I called out questioningly when I spotted a small oil stain on the floor. “That doesn’t look good. Before we drive on to Mauritania, we should visit the IVECO workshop,” I suggested. “Better ‘safe’ than sorry,” Tanja replied.

“That’s just leftover oil from the oil change. You have no problem with that. Nothing stands in the way of your journey to Mauritania,” said the friendly mechanic a little later.

The sun is hidden behind a wall of clouds when we finally take off. With anticipation and excitement, loaded and equipped with sufficient food, the metropolis of Agadir disappears in the rear-view mirror. We have been dreaming of this trip for a long time – of an adventure through the endless expanses of Morocco and the crossing of the Western Sahara to the foreign country of Mauritania. We follow the well-maintained N1 southwards, which winds its way over mountain ranges, crosses desert sections like a ruler and takes us through villages and small towns. Sometimes the salty scent of the sea, mixed with dust and sand from the Sahara, wafts through the open window of our Terra Love and reminds us with every breath of what a fascinating place we are in. It is as if we are driving through a living painting.

Our destination today is the camp and desert hotel Ksar Tafnildilt near the town of Tan-Tan. From what we’ve been told, it must be incredibly beautiful there – so beautiful that you feel like you’re in a surreal fairytale. We are excited.


In the early evening we find the turn-off to Ksar Tafnidilt. An unpaved track leads from the N1 into the desert. For the first few hundred meters the road is still very good, but suddenly we know why you should only drive here with an off-road vehicle. The very first time we cross a dried-up river, we shovel sand with our underride guard. Then the track takes us along an unpleasant corrugated iron track. For those unfamiliar with off-road vehicles, it is worth briefly explaining that the term “corrugated dirt road” refers to roads that become uneven due to repeated vehicle use in combination with the natural elements, such as sun and rain. The surface then resembles the profile of corrugated sheet metal, with protruding and depressed sections. Driving on such a slope can be grueling over long distances and can damage the vehicle in the long run. Actually, we should now reduce the air in our tires considerably to increase the damping, because the tires absorb some of the bumps. But that makes no sense for us because of the few kilometers.

We only make progress at walking pace. The sun has already disappeared behind the horizon as we follow the ever-branching desert track and the warmth of the day is displaced by a cool breeze. The sand and the millions of stones crunching under our tires form a symbiosis with the reliable hum of our engine. Sounds that do not detract from the beauty of the desert. Our destination is still out of sight, and a feeling of excitement flows through us. Will our Terra Love manage the route without any major difficulties? A slight nervousness mingles with our expectations.

To some, our nervousness may seem ridiculous, but we are nevertheless in a stretch of desert that we don’t know and are about to drive into the night. But what the guidebook says gives us confidence: north of the town of Tan-Tan, near an old Ford, about 5 km down the road, there is a large campsite, a stylish hostel and a meeting place for travelers with a fantastic view of the old fort. There are nomad tents, rooms with and without bathrooms and a very good restaurant. And in the middle of a desert of stone and sand? Hard to imagine. In joyful anticipation, but a little doubtful as to whether this place still exists, we continue our journey. In the worst case, we’ll camp here in the desert and drive on towards Mauritania tomorrow.

The sand and the millions of stones crunch under our tires. We stop again and again to document our journey in photos and film. In the last light of the day, the mountains stretch out to the horizon in a splendor of grey and red, and the silence of the landscape is almost overwhelming. We feel small and filled with awe. At this moment, the old Ford and the desert camp Ksar Tafnidilt appear like a mirage. Our fears that the desert hotel might have been abandoned vanish into thin air when we receive a very friendly welcome from the owners.

Before night falls over the desert, we catch a few glimpses of the fairytale building in the last light of day. Then, after an exhausting but unforgettable day, we find a pitch for the night in the grounds and look forward to the day ahead.

Here is the link to the video:

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