By Car from Fez to Marrakech

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More than 1.500 kilometer from Fez to Marrakech through the Sahara desert and over big mountains. We slept outside at the campfire, got in a heavy sandstorm and arrived in Marrakech with the last drop of fuel.

Together with two German guys who I have met in Chefchaouen I start today my next big adventure. We rent a car in Fez and want to drive in 5 days through the desert to Marrakech. The first stop is a big supermarket where we buy everything which we will need in the next days. With more than 40l water our trip can start.

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Equipped only with a map we decide to drive from Fez to the mountains. Most streets in Morocco are very bad and we are sometimes not sure if it is the right one or just a dirt road to a secluded village. We get a first impression what to expect during the next days. It is a fascinating landscape.

The villages get smaller and smaller and we meet less and less people. From now on are we on our own and I hope that the map is up to date. With every kilometer not only the villages but also the roads become smaller and worse. There are no road signs anymore and we have to orientate by the cardinal direction.

Natural Car wash

From time to time we meet a few people, mostly farmers with sheeps. They seem to be pretty surprised, probably there are not that many people who are driving along this streets. Some of them even wave and are happy to face other humans. One man came out of a pretty old and small shed. He was wearing broken shoes and only spoke a few words of Spanish. We could not help him out with new shoes but I am sure that he was really happy talking to us.

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We drive on and are now almost at the peak of a huge mountain when we encounter a great water jet which comes down in the middle of the road. Someone obviously wanted to divert the stream to protect the road. Good idea but sadly a faulty design. Creative as we are, we used it to clean our car … and to take a shower.

Freshly showered and with a more or less clean car we start looking for a place to sleep. The first night in the car was quite uncomfortable. Two of us slept in the front and one on the back-seat. We arrived when it was already dark so everything was way more complicated. However we found a good spot on a small forest trail with enough wood to make a fire. Today there is nothing right and left the street. No trees, no hills, only a lot of small rocks and dry ground.

After a long search we find a small hill a bit apart the road. It is not a perfect place but we have no choice. We prepare something to eat and look for wood which is really not an easy task here. During such a trip you really learn to appreciate things like water or a piece of wood. We enjoy the calm and stress free athmosphere. Only we …. and suddenly hundreds of really big, black and loud screaming beetles.

Stopped by the Moroccan police

This night I have slept despite the many beetles much better. Well recovered and with new energy we want to drive to the Erg Chebbi dunes near Merzouga. We are back on the main road and come fast closer to the dunes. Well … a bit too fast. After a sloping curve two Moroccan policemen are waiting for us equipped with a radar gun. 50 km/h too fast. They ask for our driving license and we have to pay 300 Dirham (about 27 Euros). With a mix of English, Spanish and French we try to explain that we do not have that much money with us. They get angry and want to collect our driving license which we can then pick up in the next city on the next day. It is a strange situation and it seems that they want to pocket the money. We agree on paying in the next city. The policemen are less than thrilled and let us go without paying anything which seems to approve our assumption.

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Suddenly in a heavy sandstorm

This night we want to sleep only with our sleeping bags outside in the Erg Chebbi sand dunes. From Merzouga we take the road to Taouz and find a path from the main road to the dunes. The next village is 10 km away. We take a bottle of water along and explore the area and find soon a perfect spot, a small dune behind some trees and not visable from the road. We pack everything we need in our Backpacks and want to walk back to the place when the sky suddenly darken. The temperature decreases and a storm comes up.

We drive as fast as possible back to the main road. The path is unsurfaced and we are scared to get stuck in the sand. It also starts raining and there is far and wide noone to see. Every year many people drown in the desert when it suddenly starts raining and we are glad to be back on the road to Merzouga.

While driving through the empty streets suddenly a group of children appears. They scream and wave and are pretty curious.We stop and they immediately come up to us. It is a really nice situation altough we cannot communicate with words. I gift them a small honeydew melon and give it to the youngest one. He has to carry it with both hands and is so proud of it, really sweet. However on the other hand you can see that the people really do not have anything. Many children are even playing with rubbish on the streets.

From Merzouga we drive in the direction to the Valley of Dades in the hope that the weather will be better soon. We are lucky. The wind stops and the sun comes out again. Merzouga and the dunes of Erg Chebbi are now behind us and we find a nice place for the night. We make a fire and prepare something to eat. As we do not have a grillage we have to be creative and  built a construction with a branch. While we are eating an older man comes around with a donkey and many, many sheeps. After a short ride on the donkey it is already time for sleeping… Of course outside next to the campfire under the starry sky. It is a special experience and I really recommend you to do it when you have the chance.

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Valley of Dades

Today is already the fifth day. Time flies but the absolute highlight is still ahead of us. The famous Valley of Dades. I am really looking forward to it and cannot wait to start today. After one hour we finally arrive in the valley and I prepare the camera. One could photograph everything and every photo would be beautiful…

… but check it out yourself as a picture paints a thousand words.

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Do you like it? Well, I really enjoyed it and it even outdid my expectations. After this breathtaking tour we drive to Ouarzazate where we stay for one night in a pretty nice hotelroom with a balcony and a nice view over the big square. While the square is almost deserted during day time, there are hundreds of people in the night who are singing and eating together and many children who are playing and enjoying the time together. It is a nice atmosphere, everyone seems to be happy.

Arrived in Marrakech with the last drop of fuel

From Ouarzazate we take the road through Aït-Ben-Haddou to Marrkech. Aït-Ben-Haddou is an old village with many loam houses and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Moreover it is the filming spot of more than 20 Hollywood productions as for example Gladiator and The Mummy.

While we are enjoying the last day of our trip we recognize that we have to refuel pretty soon. We are looking desperately for a petrol station but there is simply nothing on our road. The warning light is shining meanwhile and we are already thinking about a plan what to do when we have a breakown. The last 60 kilometers go mainly downhill so that we  cansave some fuel. However there is another high mountain which we have to cross and the next village is another 50 kilometer away. It is really an exciting final and we finally arrive in Marrakech with the last drop of fuel.

On the one hand I am happy to be back in the civilisation as it was sometimes really tiring. On the other hand however I will miss this time. We could do whatever we wanted, there was no schedule, we just stopped whereever and whenever we felt like it. Every day was a new adventure and we never knew what will happen after the next curve.

Marcus and Christoph, thank you for this awesome time. I hope to meet you again soon!!!

Universal Traveller – Travelling Around The World

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  • Francesca Tabloni

    Hi Tim! I was looking for a car rental in Fez to do in August the same trip you did from Fez to Marrakesh…can I ask you which car rental company you used?
    Thank you very much!

  • universaltraveller

    Hi Francesca! Thanks for your message. Unfortunately I don’t remember which company I used. I recommend you using websites like skyscanner.com or kayak.com to look for a good offer. You can find most agencies at the airport. Good luck and have fun in Morocco :)

  • Francesca Tabloni

    I’ve already checked those sites but it seems I need a credit card to pay the warranty…not a very widespread tool for a 22-years-old :/
    Anyway, thank you very much for your reply!
    Have a great summer!

  • universaltraveller

    You are welcome! Yeah, we also needed one. Maybe you can get a Prepaid credit card? I hope you will find a way to rent a car. Enjoy your trip :)