Post-tour thoughts - All Around The Atlas - Morocco 2019 - CycleBlaze

Post-tour thoughts

There was a niggling feeling of nervousness when approaching this trip because it was the most out-my-comfort-zone tour I've undertaken so far. Naturally the first day or two were a bit of a cultural shock (or 'readjustment') but I've absolutely loved my time here overall. The scenery and landscape absolutely smashed my expectations- every day was a very different setting to the previous and I never felt bored. Diversity of scenery is always something that is very important to me on a bicycle tour and this box was thoroughly ticked. Going from brochure-perfect sandy desert to knee-deep snowy tracks in the space of a few days is just great. I was expecting a few monotonous stretches between Merzouga-Tinghir, and Dades-Ouarzazate, but this never materialised and I was treated to a stunning vista with each new climb or corner. 

The hospitality was another thing that cycle tourers always mention about Morocco, and I was offered food multiple times throughout the cycle. Some blogs mention that they were constantly invited into people's houses, but this didn't end up happening to me. Language barrier was another thing I was anxious about before the trip, but it didn't prove to be an issue in the slighest. Every campsite or hotel I stayed at, the staff spoke either really good or understandable English, and I was surprised how many people approached me for chats on the streets that were proficient in the language too. A handful of French nouns, questions and phrases were nice to have but it didn't feel like a necessity as I had expected.  

Availibility of food was the last thing I was initially uncertain about. Turns out there is such a big cafe culture in Morocco, that eateries appeared constantly without fail. Tiny shops were fairly abundant too, although my route was never that remote so I don't know how the situation would be on the long piste roads in the far South or in rarely-visited valleys of the Atlas. It was probably a decent decision to not take my stove because I didn't really see much in the way of rice or pasta to buy. I'm terrible at cooking so don't normally do this, but if you're up for cooking fresh vegetables then there was a wide choice.

This was the first tour where nothing went wrong either! Apart from a few minor issues like having some dog chases or the chain snapping, it almost couldn't have gone smoother. The mountain climbs were about on par with what I was expecting although the rough surface in some places with roadworks was terrible. Weather was firmly on my side too, and it was warm sun every single day.

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I definitely recommend Morocco as a good first tour to take on if you're looking to expand your travels beyond the Anglosphere and Western world. The scenery and culture is vastly different enough to feel like an exotic adventure, but the tourist infrastructure and language means that you never feel too far from help if trouble arises.

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