April 2022. After waiting out the pandemic, finishing my campervan and preparing my motorcycle and equipment, I found myself with only days to spare before I embarked on the journey of a life time. Or so I thought at the time. I would later realise that such a trip is not once in a lifetime, it is easy, simple and as flexible as you can imagine, as long as you have the will to seek after your imaginations.
If I could just take one thing from this adventure, it would be to experience life’s full potential, a fleeting glimmer of what one’s life could be like while living with the ultimate freedom. To live totally on my own terms in a reality that I had envisioned, created and finally experienced. With that, I left my job behind, packed my things, said my farewells and set off. With no finish date, no commitments and only the next country ahead, this would not be a race to the end. Read about my first major overland trip below.
1 VAN - 1 BIKE
I hit the road on April 21st 2022 and returned back home 109 days later. Over those 3 and a half months I travelled through western Europe and spent 1 month in Morocco. I took my Yamaha XT600e in my freshly converted campervan, eating up 12,000 miles with no trouble. I slept at campsites and used my van as a base while I explored with my bike during the day. I’d do some sightseeing but mostly I just enjoyed the freedom of the open road.
My time in Morocco would be the absolute highlight of my entire trip. Nothing else came close to the immense feeling of a proper adventure that I experienced while exploring Morocco. I rode camels, met Berber tribesmen, got knocked down and rode through drug capitals. Each day was truly a new adventure. In the subsequent months of my return home, I often found myself looking back on this magnificent country and the experiences I had there. One day I will have to return to Morocco to spend a greater period of time there.
After leaving my home in Yorkshire I spent a few days in Dorset before taking my ferry from Poole - Cherbourg. I only had 1 month allocated for France and Spain so I had move fairly quickly, going south to Limoges in the Dordogne before heading to the Pyrenees near Lourdes.
The weather in the Pyrenees was foul so I hasted a retreat to the coast at Saint Jean De Luz near Bayonne. After drying out I needed to meet a family friend in Galicia, Spain where we had a good few days having a proper blast around the empty roads of north/west Spain. Departing from Neil's I went back on myself to spend a week in Potes to have a good explore of the Picos.
I had now set a date for entering Morocco so I blasted down to Merida in Southern Spain, picking up some new tyres in Badajoz. After a good look at the amazing Roman ruins in Merida, I continued south to Algeciras where my ferry to Tangier Med awaited.
Once In Morocco I arrived at Assilah, spending a few days putting a route together. First stop, the med coast at a place named Cala Iris near Al-Hoceima. From this base I rode around the Rif Mountains and through the drug capital of Ketama. Moving south again I arrived at Volubilis, above Meknes and saw the extensive roman ruins there. I was also knocked off my bike in a collision on a roundabout, but more about that in a later article.
Next up was Midelt, riding around the sandy basin and the high pastures. After a short stopover I continued to Tinghir where I experienced some amazing off-road riding, Berber tribesmen and endless gorges. It was very nice here and worthy of a few articles below (coming soon!)
Zagora next, taking in the sandy dunes and extreme 43 degree heat. Here I was suckered into a camel ride and buying a few trinkets that I have now grown quite fond of.
Heading back up north now, having a stop over in Ouarzazate before taking a sketchy mountain pass over to Azilal where I had yet more great off-road riding. Finally, I arrived back on the modern coast line of Morocco and headed back toward the ferry.
Once in Spain, I met up with my sister in Marbella, before blasting up to Barcelona over a few days to spend some time with two of my friends and colleagues with some city sightseeing, drinking and an overnight wild camp in the Pyrenees.
From there I had to meet up with my Dad and Neil in Switzerland, who were just finishing up on a Somme battlefield tour. I made my way through inland southern France, finding a beautiful area near Mende. Before arriving in Switzerland I had two more stop overs in Sisteron and Chamonix, although I can't say much about either as I wasn't overly taken with either of them.
We had a good 9 days or so in Switzerland, blasting up the passes, recovering from injuries and eating a lot of ice-cream. Eventually, when the injuries had healed and the ice-cream run out, we ventured into Austria, before heading to the Italian Alps. It was now high-season and thoughts began to think about home. Longing for the quiet roads of rural France, we split up, rendezvousing back in Mende before Neil headed back to Spain and me and my dad set off back north, exploring castles and small towns on our way home.
Finally back in England, I just had to endure one more challenge, a 30 minute debriefing by border force on the policies and practises of the foreign ports I had passed through.