Another early start to the day gave me time to do some packing and take some photos of the hotel. Not sure about the Golf reference? It couldn’t be a reference to the mini golf could it? At some stage there could have been plans to build a resort golf course? Unlikely that would eventuate now given the lack of water in the dam. Would be a tourist attraction though. Something else to do when not looking at movie industry sights.
After breakfast we finished packing and paid our drinks bill. We put our luggage in the support vehicle and listened to Billy’s ride briefing. By 8:30am we were on our way. Back through Ouarzazate again on the N10 and then the N9 to Tabourahte. Here we turned right and headed north on the P1506. An hour after leaving the hotel we arrived at Aït Benhaddou. The plan was to have a drink on a café terrace and walk into the UNESCO Heritage site. We opted to defer the drink until we returned from the 12th century fortified village. We left our helmets and jackets on the café terrace. Abdoul stayed behind to watch over them and we set off on the short walk across the shallow Ounila River.
At the gate of the Kasbah we paid a nominal entry fee to an elderly gentleman. He was from one of the few families who still lived in the ancient village. Another villager guided us through some of the buildings. This place was way cool.
After half an hour we were back on the café terrace. Abdoul took our drinks orders as we took in the views of the ancient village from the terrace.
Soon the conversation turned to movies shot at Aït Benhaddou. Wikipedia also lists these films shot there: Sodom and Gomorrah (1963); Oedipus Rex (1967); The Man Who Would Be King (1975); The Message (1976); Jesus of Nazareth (1977); Time Bandits (1981); Marco Polo (1982); The Living Daylights (1987); The Last Temptation of Christ (1988); The Sheltering Sky (1990); Kundun (1997); Alexander (2004); Kingdom of Heaven (2005); Babel (2006); One Night with the King (2006); Prince of Persia (2010); Son of God (2014); Queen of the Desert (2015); A Life On Our Planet (2020).
The café walls had photos from some of the movies made in Aït Benhaddou.
We finished our drinks and hit the road again following the Ounila River north on the P1506. 21km later we pulled into a short dirt road to check out the valley road we’d been on. As always the scenery was spectacular.
The next hour on the road was most enjoyable. Still on the P1506 we continued north for 15km and then west through the Telouet Gorge. The Welcome Pack notes for the day hinted at a lunch stop in Telouet but this didn’t eventuate. This was due to the riding group being quite spread out since leaving Aït Benhaddou. Two of the group had gotten ahead of Billy somehow. They rode off into the distance enjoying the small twisty roads through the gorge. They would have been ahead of us at Telouet so lunch there wasn’t a viable option.
They stopped at the intersection of the P1506 and N9 where we waited for everyone to regroup. It was now noon. As I took some photos I wondered to myself about when and where we would stop for lunch.
Now that we were all back together again we heading north on the N9. Five minutes later we pulled over at the Tizi n’Tichka for some photos.
Back on our bikes and six minutes later we’re pulling over again. Is this where we’re having lunch?
Another scenic lookout photo opportunity. Some nice views of the Marrakech side of the Atlas Mountains.
It’s now 12:30pm.
Someone mentions there’s a town a little further down the mountain with a nice restaurant. Billy and Abdoul reckon that’s where we’ll be stopping for lunch. Off we go again. The traffic is a nightmare in this small town. Lot’s of coaches taking tourists on day trips out of Marrakech. Hard enough to get through the traffic, even on a motorbike. Pulling over to park near a restaurant proves impossible. We continue through the town. It’s a good call. At 1pm we pull over again at Café Restaurant Sanfouca near Ait Ben Ammar. Luckily for us there is plenty of parking and the al fresco restaurant awaits us. We place our orders with Abdoul and wait the usual time for our meals and drinks to arrive. Plenty of time for some photos.
Things were going well for the first half hour riding after lunch. Then the traffic ahead started to slow and then stop moving altogether. We also noticed there were no longer any vehicles travelling in the opposite direction. So we made our way past the backlog of cars in the lane usually occupied by oncoming traffic. Then we encountered a road block and could go no further. The section of road ahead was closed to traffic in both directions. Heavy equipment was loading large rocks and dirt into trucks. This was part of the highway upgrade we’d seen signs alerting is to earlier. We dismounted to get some photos. As we were still up in the mountains the views were great.
The road blocks were soon removed. All the motorcycles at the front of the queue had a clear run down the mountain. And we didn’t miss the opportunity. 16km later I caught up to the speedsters who had pulled over waiting for the group to arrive. While waiting I heard stories of near misses due to variable road surfaces. It sounded like I had an uneventful journey down the mountain in comparison.
Off the bike in all my kit it was hot. Finding some shade while waiting was important. Especially as I had no water with me. And we hadn’t hit the city traffic yet. The others arrived followed by Abdoul in the support vehicle so we resumed riding. We’d make one more stop on the outskirts of Marrakesh to regroup. Traffic lights and getting across the city required we ride much closer together. This would limit the chances of someone getting lost and/or separated from the group.
I felt great riding through Marrakesh that Saturday afternoon. Even though it was hot I felt a sense of pride in our accomplishment. We’d all but made it back to the Wheels of Morocco depot intact. Seven days earlier we’d departed eager with anticipation of what lay ahead. And now we knew. What an amazing motorcycling experience.
Riding in a staggered two abreast formation we made good time getting across the city. At 4:40pm we made our final refuelling stop near to the depot. I waited patiently for a free bowser. Even though I’d removed my helmet and gloves I remained unbearably hot.
Refuelled we rode what seemed like another 200m up the road to another petrol station with a car wash. Not sure why we didn’t come here in the first place. We could have killed two birds with one stone. The heat was taking its toll on me by now. I was so looking forward to changing into shorts, t-shirt and thongs. But we were still an hour from Adam Park Hotel.
At least this petrol station has an airconditioned eatery/shop area. I found a free stool with a view of the Billy and Abdoul washing the motorcycles and gulped down a cool bottle of water. Selfishly I remained in the airconditioned area until the washing activities concluded. Several other fellow riders assisted with washing of the bikes but that didn’t bother me. I consumed another bottle of water by the time we were ready to leave on the short ride to the depot.
A very welcome cold beer was our reward as we dismounted the motorcycles at the depot.
We thanked Billy and Abdoul for the experience and toasted our accomplishment. All that remained was the post ride damage inspection which went smoothly for all. No extra damage charges for anyone thankfully. We crammed ourselves and our luggage into three vehicles for the short drive back to Adam Park Hotel.
That evening we had a celebratory dinner at Kabana Rooftop Food & Cocktails. Hard to find but worth the effort. This place was equal of any cool bar in any great city in the world. A final chance to relive our Moroccan Motorcycle Adventure of the last seven days over a few beers. And a delicious western style casual menu made a nice change. A good time was had by all. The perfect way to spend my last evening in Marrakesh.