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Back in Europe

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Bakkie naast gorge

Time flies, the first 2 weeks back in Europe we do wonderfully anti-social and are just always in places in nature away from any other traveler, holidaymaker or locals. We especially enjoy all the goodies that Provence has to offer, the tranquility and the cleanliness. Waste was a common thread in Morocco, you saw it always and everywhere, here it is really clean. We sleep on flowing rivers, vast lavender fields or a lonely forest

After 2 weeks we can say that we are corona free and look for the more inhabited direction. We arrive at the beginning of August in Mazan at our friend Filip. What would be a short visit of 2 days quickly extends to 6 days, wonderful to spend time with good people Every day we take a nice walk between 12 and 20 km through the vines and olive groves, which makes time fly by. In the meantime we have arranged with my niece and her family to meet in France in mid-August.

After a pleasant and social break in Mazan with Filip, we move a little further towards Savoie where we will be meeting with niece and co in a week. And yes, it wouldn’t be corona times if corona wasn’t going to be difficult. Savoie has become an orange zone for Belgium, so we are looking at where we can meet. After a few Whatsapps we know our new destination. They come to Mazan. Kim reserves a spot on the campsite where Filip is located. We will stay in the region for a few more days, with a wonderful walk in Gorge de la Nesque near Monieux as the highlight.

As agreed, we will return to Mazan in mid-August. The day after, my niece, husband and especially my mega-super-cousin arrived well after a nightly ride of enough kilometers. How wonderful is that to be able to give family a hug, blissful, just blissful. They will only stay 4 days to explore the immediate area.
Day 1: Hike to Mazan
Day 2: Walk to Le Barroux
Day 3: yes, up the Mont Ventoux, how great is this. FANTASTIC.
Day 4: Flat rest because of the birthday of nieces’ other half and because unfortunately they have to go back to Belgium. They must fulfill their obligations to the employer. Saying goodbye is again quite difficult, bwhaa i hate it. But it is so, a hug, a tear and they are gone again, and we are left alone ……

After 2 more days of all the good things from the camping in Mazan and enjoying the good company of Filip, we leave again. Now we know for sure that we will not see Filip again in the coming months. This farewell also grabs us, but as already written, it is so. We head into the French Alps where we make some great hikes above 3000m, so blissful. Fantastic, we quickly regain our taste and enjoy the walks. From the French Alps we enter the Italian Aosta valley trough Col Petit Saint Bernard. You can read what we will do and experience there in our next blog post.

The ferry crossing to Europe

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majestic gnv

The gut feeling was not too far off, boat of July 13 has become July 15, that is not too bad. We take it easy until Tuesday 14 July, then we set off for the North. On the 14th of July the day starts at 5 am, at 6 am we leave Aourir just North of Agadir. The first 40 km are still a secondary road, but from then on it is motorway driving for the next 790 km. In total, we drive 830 km to the last parking lot of the motorway, which is also almost a full toll track. For the toll you should not leave it all together 60 euros approximately … .. We sleep that night on the last parking of this highway together with 8 other campers and 1 overlander the BALOO of Simon and Diane. Very friendly people that we already follow via facebook and then finally meet.

Then the 15th around noon we drive together with Baloo towards the harbor with another 60 km detour to refuel. The price difference with the European diesel is too great not to do it. We can still add 220 liters, which is a number of liters less that we should refuel in Europe. We arrive at the port of Tanger Med around 1 pm. After checking tickets we are allowed to enter the port area, this is the first confirmation that we are sailing today. Before that it was always under the motto, no news is good news. We drive onto the parking lot and install ourselves for the next few hours. Normally, the ferry would leave the port at 10:30 PM. However, the departure is for later.

First you have to wait without any information of how or what. After hours of seeing a crowd of people at the tickets office, we find out that we also have to pick up our tickets here. The situation is unheard of, hundreds of people are packed together like sardines drumming, especially without putting on mouth masks. We decide to wait until this mass has dissolved a little. In order not to go into too much detail at 2:00 am, we have our board documents.

Yes departure was at 10:30 PM, all without any information from the company. We follow the cars that have already started to move, because there are only 4 campers that take this ferry. To make an even longer story shorter. After police, customs, another police, the scanner and then a manual check. At 05:00 AM drives Bakkie on the ferry M / V MAJESTIC from shipping company GNV. We are tired and crawl into our bed before sailing…. The ferry departs at 06:00 AM with a delay of 7:30 hours……

De middag erop worden wij wakker op zee en gaan The following afternoon we wake up at sea and we explore the ferry, looking for food and drinks. This is wrong on board, people sit, hang out in groups or groups everywhere. At the bar and around the closed pool really large groups sit together without mouth masks, kissing, hugging… .. Also in the corridors almost nobody walks around with a mouth mask, this is really wrong. We already decide to leave our cabin as little as possible. We are on it and we have to go through it.

And then we arrive in Tangier, it is announced that we have arrived. With this message everyone goes to the entrance hall. Once on deck 6 we see that access back up is blocked and we are trapped like rats, there is only 1 solution waiting outside. Around 1,000 passengers are held on 1 deck pending disembarkation. This is so wrong knowing that GNV is an Italian shipping company. A shipping company from the country that was hit so hard by COVID-19. We decide very quickly that we will be very careful with contacts in France for the next 2 weeks. There we are going to forget the lockdown with good wine and food …… Whether or not we are infected with COVID-19 on M / V MAJESTIC from shipping company GNV, That i would like to tell you in our next blog post.

Awaiting the ferry ride

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river crossing

What a wonderful mechanic at MAN Agadir. The pinched diesel pipe is removed and a new piece of pipe is placed in between. To make a long story short, 3 hours later we are on the road again. After more than 3 months we can go to a Marjane supermarket in Agadir. This is a wonderful moment, what an abundance of everything. In our 3 month of lockdown, we have not been short of anything. But it is still nice to be able to walk around in a supermarket after such a period. We load our cart well so that we have a nice stock

After Agadir we return to Taliouine with a small Dtour. The guys from Betsy on the road call us to find out if we are near Barage Imi El Kheng. They got stuck yesterday at the edge of the barage. Coincidentally we are in the area and an hour later we are at Betsy on the BARAGE …… TJJAAAA, we can not even get to their Betsy because the surface is too bad with the risk that Phoca gets stuck. Towing is not an option, just dig it out and raise it with the sand plates under Betsy. A local truck with enough cables and rope can get Besty on the BARAGE back on the road. An adventure that is going to be talked about a lot.

Together Betsy and phoca drive on to Taliouine, where we arrive just before sunset… .. Tomorrow we will just stay at the campsite. The following days we drive together through too small but breathtaking roads through the mountains because it is not possible to pass the province of Ouarzazate via the main roads. There was a corona outbreak somewhere and the governor locked the province. It is a long detour that we make via the small mountain passes but really breathtakingly beautiful….

Once we are out of the high atlas we say goodbye to our Belgian friends of Betsy on the road and we each go their own way. We drive on to Ouzoud where we are officially informed that the ferry from July 1 is not sailing. with luck we were able to move our tickets to July 13. So we stay 2 weeks longer in Morocco, it is not a punishment…. Although we were looking forward to all those Italian delicacies and especially the hiking possibilities, but what are 2 weeks. We leave Ouzoud and return to the coast. There we will relax and especially very much enjoy the cool sea air while waiting for the 13th of July. The gut feeling and the reports are already positive.

Freedom during lockdown light

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Jan cooking in the desert

After our first free night at the old Ksar Tafnidilt we cross via a small track to the East. We will explore the desert again, later it turns out that the small passage to the East was a good decision. Other camping guests who can not handle the off-road with the camper are still 2 days in the Tan Tan province, apparently there must be some permit. We are sorry for the 2 nice guys of Betsy on the road “, Jonas and Kevin”. With them we lived together for 3 months at the campsite.

It continues to enjoy this freedom and solitude in the desert. Until it starts to get very hot after 4 days, 40 degrees at night above 30 degrees. We decide to exchange the desert for the inland, and more specifically the mountains. Good decision, after a day of driving we arrive in Talioune at an altitude of 1200m. Here the temperature has improved. 40 degrees has become 28 degrees and at night it drops another 10 degrees, really pleasant.

For a long time we can not enjoy the pleasant mountain coolness and the beautiful routes through the mountains. On day 2 of our mountain adventure towards the high atlas mountains, things go wrong with a diesel pipe that has leaked. After a short stop we notice that it is difficult to start and decide to drive straight to Agadir where there is a MAN garage. That same day we arrive at the garage at closing time. Repairing is for tomorrow, but we have no problem with that, we are glad we made it. Good that we drove on because the next day coffee doesn’t start anymore because the diesel pipe has been drained during the night. After Agadir we return to Taliouine… .. but what else happens and is experienced, you can read it in the next blog post.

Will the lockdown be extended?

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bakkie in lockdown

What we expected happened. The lockdown in Morocco will be extended by 3 weeks until June 10. With Ramadan and then the sugar feast, this is simply a logical decision that we would rather not have had. But yes, it is just like that now …

We decide to hold a kitchen council about the further course of our adventure. Much should not be deliberated on, meanwhile it is clear that it will be a long-term problem in Africa. We therefore decide to immediately book a ferry with departure July 1 from Tangier to Genoa in Italy. This is good in advance more than a month of which 3 weeks in lockdown. When the lockdown ends on June 10th, then we still have 3 weeks to enjoy the Moroccan friendliness and hospitality. If there is an extension of the lockdown after June 10, well, then there is still enough time to obtain the permits to go to Tangier. Let’s hope it ends on June 10.

But it is not done yet, Morocco will remain in lockdown for 1 month longer until July 10. There are all kinds of relaxations, but whether it is allowed to travel is apparently a difficult question for the Pasha who is responsible for Tan Tan. Apparently he needs 2 days to decide that we …… .. no Pasha decided absolutely nothing. He informs the campsite manager that we are allowed to travel without a permit in zone 1. Which actually contains almost all of Morocco except the provinces around the major cities and of course the major cities themselves. Now just happened, we really didn’t want to go there.

We leave the same day June 12 and drive out of Tan Tan province without any problem and then go to sleep at a old Ksar. How wonderful is that, after 84 days of lockdown and living on a campsite, freedom again. It’s just enjoyment again, no people, beautiful sunset, silence, no light pollution, just wonderful ……

Film: Enchanted by Saint Petersburg

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Peterhof

We drove from Finland to St Petersburg and then further to the border of Estonia.
Their is now a e-visa for just that region called the Lenningrad region.
Here is the link to that e-visa: https://electronic-visa.kdmid.ru/spb_home_en.html

If you could only go to ONE CITY IN RUSSIA… This should be it. St Petersburg is a beautiful city with magnificent historical buildings.
We stayed their for 6 days and this are the places that you really must visit.

🔹️Hermitage (Winter palace)
🔹️Peterhof Palace & Gardens
🔹️Catherine Palace & Park
🔹️Peter & Paul Fortress
🔹️Alexander Nevsky Monastery
🔹️St Isaac’s Cathedral
🔹️Nevsky Prospect
🔹️Church of Our Saviour on Spilled Blood
🔹️Admiralty Buildings
🔹️Kronstadt & Naval Cathedral
🔹️The cabin of Tsar Peter the Great
🔹️Summer garden
🔹️ Alexander park

And MUCH MUCH more.

Movie: From Foum Zguid to Tan-Tan

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group of dromedaries in the desert

This route was a beautiful road with different landscapes. We drove to the Tighmert hot spring, this was caused by a search for oil. Then we drove on to the old fort of the French foreign legion. The road condition deteriorated so that we progressed very slowly. This was until we arrived at plage blanche.
The plage blanche beach track was not much better. This was also very slow. After plage blanche we drove over the cliffs towards Tan Tan. The route from the fort to the road of Tan Tan is difficult for an overland truck, but for a smaller vehicle this is doable.

Movie: Driving through the desert

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sand dunes of Erg Chegaga

This film is about the track from Merzouga to Foum Zguid. On this track you can see the beautiful sand dunes of Erg Chigaga and Lake Iriki. The views are simply beautiful and you will encounter many dromidaries along the way. The track is for the most part great to drive but the last 30 km are terrible. The road is very stony, they are all of those rounded stones of different sizes. We did this route with our instagram friends: https://www.instagram.com/chaangvonunterwegs

A virus, the corona virus

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Sunset tan tan plage

March 17, 2020, after having been on the plage blanche track for 4 days, we return to the civilization. Where it actually immediately becomes clear that something is going on. In Tan Tan we stop to do some shopping and refuel. The pump attendant is wearing gloves and wearing a mask. What is going on? Is this for the corona virus? The man does his explanation and also tells us that since Saturday March 14, everything Mosques, restaurants and cafes have been closed. No Morocco is not yet in lockdown. However, all social places that are quite important to a Moroccan are closed. oh oh not good We already realize that we really have to decide whether we want to stay in this region or whether we want to drive to the desert.

No we stay here. If this takes a long time and it becomes more spring or even summer, the temperatures at the sea are much more pleasant than in the desert. So we refueled diesel and we continue to El Ouatia or Tan Tan beach where we park bakkie at a campsite. Atlantique camping site which also has some other mobile homes. The first days that we are at camping atlantique there is still some movement. Mobile homes are still arriving and there are also departing. Clearly, everyone who arrives has the same idea as we do. We need a place where this crisis can be sweated out.

Then it happens, Friday, March 20, 4 pm Morocco goes into lockdown. On all social media, the craziest stories circulate about bad conditions in West Africa Borders are closing. There are no ferries and planes anymore, everything is locked. What happened to hundreds of deaths and thousands of infections in Europe happened on the African continent almost after the first infections. The continent is terrified here. What is this? Soldiers and many, many police and gendarmerie appear in the streets. Very quickly, a state of emergency is declared and a curfew is set at 6 p.m.

There is a strange atmosphere here. We are being watched, people are a bit scared, perhaps a little angry with the westerner. The Moroccans consider us “the white man” responsible for this. We are the cause of this problem. Not nice, but it is just like that. It is soon understood that it is not we Westerners who are the problem. It is a problem that is in control of the whole world and we soon regain the feeling of Moroccan kindness. That does good and is also a relief because looking over your shoulder is a less fun way to go through life. Weeks of lockdown pass and luckily they pass quickly.

There is therefore 1 golden rule that we maintain. Normal day life Get out of bed on time, have breakfast, if necessary to the city center for food. working, lots of work, walking along the beach, enjoying the sun, and cooking in the evening. The month is over before we realize it. April 20, What to expect also happened. The lockdown is extended and this immediately by 1 month. It all gets a bit stricter. Wearing a mouth mask is mandatory, not on the campsite but outside. We are no longer allowed to come to the beach. But we remain positive. this in contrast to other stranded travelers. It has now become mid-May. What will be decided by the government on May 18, you will read it in our next blog post. At least we hope that the lockdown becomes less strict

Our weather

Tafraout
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Sun
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Mon
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