Monday, 22 April 2013

Day 14, Lost in the Sahara desert for 11 hours (we will forgive mark thatcher)

5am Rise
5.45am Fuel
6am Sahara Desert 22Degrees C
And so our day began.
This is a day of all days!
Everything we had read led us to believe we could go from Merzouga to Zagora in one hard day .
Well as we write this we are comfortably in our basic hotel in Alnif .this is not even close to Zagora .(178 km away).
This is our story of today.
The Sahara is not a place to be taken lightly ! Treat it with respect or it will bite you !!
We were bitten!!!
No signs ,dubious start,wrong track with soft sand .
At this point we explain riding fully laden Teneres 660 machines in soft sand is unadvisable . But we continued as we had no idea what lay ahead as the next 30 km was tough but manageable until the moment Justin got stuck on an incline in deep sand (1st mitake)This is when Mohamed and his brother appeared on his moped 2 up!Seriously this is true. At this point we were warned that the way ahead was not advise able and strangely he would show us an easy way round for 80 euros, after much negotiation he came down to 20 euros but we being British thought we could manage (2nd mistake).

We progressed for another 40 km of slow to medium rising without issue, but in the back of our minds was the warning from Mohamed!!

We then arrived at a remote nomad village chased by about 20 people, there were two for Zagora, one went left and one went right! We correctly took the right hand track as we new the fesh fesh (sand) was to the south and the right track went north (3rd mistake). Justin gunned it from his disciples offer and shouting advice 100 yards later Justin was stuck again (4th mistake)meanwhile 100 yards back ian was deep in negotiation with 25 people, the price to guide us through now that Justin was stuck ranged from 80 euros to £150. Through the intercom Justin suggested to ian politely to progress without money changing hands (5th mistake). We made it another
100 yards before the negotiation started again, at this point we should mention we had been ridding for 6 hours , had nothing to eat and was both exhausted. Justin now decided to negotiated, with aggression, asking the crowd nicely ish to go away!! Justin them informed the crowd that if they were stuck in England we would help without charge, however there is not much desert in England, the main man then advised Justin that Allah was ok with him charging us!!!! Justin had 2 choices.

1. To end English morocco pease. And trust me I wanted this option so much!!!

2. To shut up and let ian do the negotiation

We opted for neither and made it another 50 yards, when both Justin and ian gave up, removed the clothing and sat and sulked in 35 degrees heat.

While Justin was pouting and keeping quite ian managed strike a deal for 30'euros bear in kind this was still 10 more than we were offered earlier.

In all seriousness we were so exhausted and do not want to go on that we would of paid 80 euros!!!

After a few minutes break we headed of with our guide to cross the sand, which was only 4 km long, but even with a guide this took 2 hours of the most physical ridding that either of us had ever done, let alone the heat.

Unfortunately ian had another little man down moment and this time i had to run 150 meters in deep sand fully kitted to lift the bike of him but this can be forgiven, over the 4 km we must have had to of saved the bikes from fallen over 30 times each and that is no mean feet. If you have ever tried to push a push chair down the beach this would give you a 100th of an idea as to how hard it was. Now try 4 ft deep sand with a fully loaded motorbike!!!

After the 2 hours we paid the man and even gave him a tip, and told that the route was now easy 6th mistake we then continues across flat, glass plains for a number of kilometres which led us in to a false seance of security!!!

A trail appeared on our sat nav and went right between some mountains, which we followed to the top and stopped at a very remote and unexpected auberge!!! We chatted to the lovely owner and his family for about half an hour while we hydrated and rested we were also in the very place the Paris Dakar went past!! Respect to them, as we could not even dream of completing it in a year let alone 20 days, we also chatted about our route on and at this point decided to head for the nearest Tarmac which according to the owner was a mere 20 km away on easy gravel track, no sand!!!

We set of on our way we mint tea in our belly and a spring in our step it was about 2 o'clock which meant we should be on Tarmac by 3.00 pm 7th mistake and hopefully the last!!!

We then spent the next 3 hours ridding through sand, gravel, sand storms about 20 of them and a few navigational issues!!

To cut a long story short, after 11 hours and 230 km 200 off road and truly exhausted, we have arrived at Alnif!, we have now donated the bikes to the locals, who said no they are to heavy and big for the desert!,

We are laughing now, but trust us we were very worried about ever getting out of the desert and we were nearly out of water, we had managed to drink between us 13.5 litres in one day and only had 3 litres left, we were both worried and very quite.

We have feasted on Kebab and chips and have decided to take the road west for the next couple of days, after we put our bikes back together.

The card is feeling better and is enjoying a quite night in, although never wants to see the beach again!!!
Our 3 rd dry night, no beer in Alnif!!


  1. Guys, suffice to say, very very very impressed. You,re really getting out there. The blog is very entertaining from my comfy office chair. But I know where I,d rather be!!

    Stay safe, Adam

  2. hi guys tried not to look at the blog to much it makes me think of what could have been.what a trip,glad you are both safe and enjoying the experience.mark(most jealous)seldon