1 March 2023

An Adventure to Morocco

A phonecall from James, my co-director at Waveney Campers, saying “we’ve got a Land Rover Defender 110 TD5 that has been converted to a camper. Are you interested?” We quickly went to have a look as we wanted a 110 and were keen to get into the overland scene. This one was good – Dormobile roof with roof bunks (our friends call them stretchers), Webasto heating, twin leisure batteries, 40 litre water tank, hob, sink, kitchen storage, engine heated outside shower and roof storage.

We set about making it into a real overland by adding rear side windows and extra outside lockers. Nene Overland of Peterborough added extra internal lockers and we added an external gas BBQ point, split charger for the batteries, Stage One engine remap, CB radio, Frontrunner storage boxes for the roof rack and some great seat covers from Melville and Moon.

But where to go for our first adventure? Morocco and the Sahara seemed a good choice but difficult on our own. We contacted a company called Protrax Overland Adventures that specialises in overland adventures. They take small groups of Land Rovers to Morocco and the Sahara amongst other places. We booked to leave at the beginning of March with a ferry from Portsmouth to Santander, a two day drive through Spain to Tarifa and then a ferry across to Morocco the following day.

The couple of weeks before leaving was hectic. You can’t go on an overland adventure unless your equipment is 100%. And it wasn’t just the Land Rover. The camping side had to be very well thought through. At this point we had never camped in the Land Rover. In the end the drive to Portsmouth on a cold, wet evening where we met up with the rest of the group was the longest we had done. Our first overnight stop halfway through Spain was the first time we had camped Land Rover style!

We had visited Morocco some 20 years ago with a little Mazda Bongo camper but this was going to be a proper overland adventure. The border crossing was still fussy but more streamlined than the chaos experienced previously. We soon settled and bonded with a great bunch of fellow travellers and Land Rover enthusiasts.

We headed south on good roads and then high up into the Atlas Mountains where we were soon clinging to gravel tracks. Camping was either on small basic camping areas or outside an Auberge. The campsites were quite adequate. Sometimes we cooked for ourselves. At other times we ate locally or at the Auberge. At 9000 feet the morning were cold and frosty and we were grateful for our Webasto Diesel Heating which we left on a low setting all night.

Next stop was the Sahara. The Sahara is not all sand and we travelled for a few days over brutal rocky tracks. We crossed dried river beds, deep gorges, washouts and sandy waddies. We camped in some beautiful places eventually arriving in Erg Chebbi with the benefit of a luxury hotel for 2 nights.

With the Land Rovers unloaded and the tyre pressures down to 15psi it was time to have some fun in the dunes. After some tuition in dune driving from our excellent group leader Charles we set of driving across the pristine sand dunes occasionally getting stuck but all part of the fun and then back to the hotel for a cooling swim and dinner.

The next day we were back off-road skirting the Algerian border where the border guards kept a close eye on us. We passed through Berber villages where the people were always pleased to see us. We then headed back north with a night stopover in the fabulous city of Fes before the long drive back to Santander.

So, a great first overland adventure. So much so that we have booked another trip with Protrax to go to Iceland later this year.

If you have a campervan and a sense of adventure Morocco is a must see place. Just an hour on a ferry from Europe lands you in a totally different culture. A secretive place with friendly, helpful people. A place where the donkey is still the main form of transport and farming accessory. A place where in parts time has stood still for hundreds of years.

Morocco is very accessible. Although we elected for an off-road adventure the roads all the way to the south are mostly very well maintained. There are some fantastic places to visit including Marrakesh, Fes, Casablance, and the wonderful blue town of Chefchaouen.

If you would like more information about travelling in Morocco, your first port of call should be the Gap Decaders. Izzy and Phil have helped Road Drifter Rentals with our travel itineraries and they have just spent several months in Morocco. Their YouTube channel is an excellent watch and covers all aspects of travel in Morocco as well as many other places.

Special thanks must go to Protrax Overland Adventures and our excellent guides Charles and Yvonne.