Morroco - Desert Detours

Apr 29, 2017
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I was just having a few thoughts about travel once this is all over and decided that a trip to Morroco, something I've thought about for a while, would be a good idea.

I followed Desert Detours blogs for a while and think that would be a good way to do it, as I think you woud get to see more.

Does anyone know if they are still operating, I heard the owner was planning on retiring, or have any other thoughts of Morroco

Stephen
 

dabhand

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The first posts that came up when I googled desert detours were extremely unflattering so I wouldn’t bother if I were you
As for seeing more with them, I doubt that, there is enough information on this forum to last a dozen visits and there will be many funsters who will give you ideas, routes and advice. There are usually several on here who go every year and it’s usually possible to dip in and out of meeting up with others. I’ve been twice and love the place, don’t forget 2020 was a strange time as we were repatriated from Morocco due to CV19. They Authorities were way ahead of the curve though. Spend a couple of weeks going through all the old threads on here and you will get a great insight into planning a trip, check the resources section and make a checklist. Go, You will love it, it’s a unique experience which is changing, go before it’s like any other holiday destination.(y)
 

68c

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Thirty odd years ago I was working in Algeria as a helicopter engineer while on a locust control job. Flying about twenty miles south of Bechar I saw a collection of overland trucks and a marquee parked up in a sandy valley next to a mountain ridge, my pilot explained it was a tourist tour trip run out of Bechar. It seems they would start early in Bechar and head south then east into the desert before turning west and stopping for an overnight camp. To the punters it felt like they were miles from anywhere, just an occasional glimpse of headlights on a distant desert road. In reality they were parked up behind a ridge near Bechar, should there be a medical emergency they could be in a good hospital in under an hour. The return trip would of course dog leg out into the desert before returning home.
Bechar is one of the last big towns going south, the local garages do a good trade fitting steel sump guards to tourist cars and vans, mainly Dutch and German. Did see an interesting 4 wheel drive Citroen 2CV.
I drove about 2500miles in an ex army Land Rover as backup to the helicopter, saw a roadsign "Sable", thinking a Sable was some kind of desert deer I kept a wary eye open which was not easy as the road kept disappearing in sand drifts blown across the road. As my French improved, it was either speak Arabic or French, I realised that sable of course meant sand! Having learnt most of my French in Algeria I do get odd looks when i try to speak it in France.

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Lenny HB

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It would make it a very expensive trip to Marrroco and do you really want to be constantly in the company of Germans at close quarters.
Plenty of Funsters go there so easy to meet up with a few on your travels.
 

tonka

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Do like many already have. Read up on the many Morocco threads here on fun, post when you are thinking of going and you may get company to travel with. Desert detours was an option I looked at before we went over with 17 funster vans back in 2013. Glad we did it on our own / fun group.
 
Nov 14, 2009
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Make sure you have the right insurance cover for your motorhome as not many cover Morocco now, the only two i know who cover with no charge is Saga and NFU

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Jan 14, 2014
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Dont dismiss Desert Detours out of hand.
We went 5 years ago and apart from a great experince, you will go to places that you would never see or know about, stop and camp in remote places, more than if you decided to go on your own. And not a German in site.
We saw a lot of Morocco, whereas a lot of people come off the ferry and hit the one and only mway and buzz down the west coast. Whereas we went East down and back through the lower centre of the country and then back up the west coast.
Yes, expensive, be we thought the experience was worth it.
They used to offer 2 or 3 different tours, not sure if this is still the case.
 

TerryL

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Absolutely nothing wrong with Desert Detours - almost everyone we've spoken to when we encountered them have been very happy. It's true you can see more as they organise visits and small events and you've always got the "safety" of travelling with knowledgeable company and help when/if you need it. At a price of course! The only down side is that they had a tendency to "abandon" you after 2/3 weeks to do your own thing or make your own way home.

Didn't see any UK tours in 2020 but as Simon said, it was a peculiar year - we were extremely lucky to get out on probably the last boat to Spain.

One year we met up with a couple who also organised accompanied tours but I understand they've now stopped.

But there is actually nothing stopping you from just doing it yourself - we've now been 6 times and can't wait to get back. A few on here will be aware for the last couple of years I've accompanied small groups across and into Morocco but then once they've seen how easy it is they've gone off on their own. There's also quite a few who just go unannounced who we've come across. Keeping in touch via the annual Morocco thread can be very handy - we've even had MotorhomeFun meets!

Read the threads, also my article in the Resources Section for factual guidance. And once we're off the leash you'll probably find someone will have started a new one!
 
OP
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Apr 29, 2017
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Great replies, thanks.
I'm warming to going it alone, my partner lived in Egypt for many years and has fluent arabic, unusual but very helpful on our trip to Fez a couple of years ago. We have a Mercedes PVC which I think will be fine for the trip.
will do some research, it's true that the cost of an organised tour could be spent elsewhere.

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canopus

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Another devotee here of not going on desert detours. There is a huge bank of knowledge on Fun. There are two English Funsters saurat living in France for example, who have wintered in Maroc for the last ten years or more. Our very own SUGGY has been to most places worthy of a visit, as have Snowbird, horshamjack, PhilandMena, Dazzlin, makems and tonka to name but a few. All the aforementioned have a wealth of knowledge on stop overs, food, where you can find wine or beer, or where you can get your van fixed in the event of problems. As stated by others, go under your own steam, possibly cross with other funsters from Algeceras. Perhaps then do your own thing, or dip in and out of the various camping locations. You will soon get to love the country.

Worth a read is:-
Amazon product
by Andy McKetterick an exiled scouser living in Spain who has also wintered in Maroc over many years.
 
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Morning Campers

I was just having a few thoughts about travel once this is all over and decided that a trip to Morroco, something I've thought about for a while, would be a good idea.

I followed Desert Detours blogs for a while and think that would be a good way to do it, as I think you woud get to see more.

Does anyone know if they are still operating, I heard the owner was planning on retiring, or have any other thoughts of Morroco

Stephen
Ray who ran Desert Detours retired a couple of years ago and had put the business up for sale,,dont know if he sold it..We did a tour with him about 6 or 7 years ago and really enjoyed it,,,BUSBY.

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OP
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Apr 29, 2017
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Hi Busby
I thought that was the case, I'm now planning for a trip just Tina and I. probably safest to think of setting off at the end of August, restrictions may have lifted a bit, we would have had our vacinations and the weather will be a bit cooler.
 
Jul 6, 2016
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We went with Desert Detours in 2010 and went to places we probably wouldn't have found on our own. It was a mix of campsites and wild camping.

The tour ended on the edge of the Sahara. You were expected to make your own way back to the ferry port, although emergency back-up support was available, if needed. This did give you the opportunity to explore further on your own or join up with other tour members for the return leg.

Overall, it was a good introduction to Morocco. We haven't been back since, but if we did, we'd be more confident to try it under our own steam.
 
Nov 27, 2016
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I have fond memories of Morocco, My Dad drove us there in the 70's. Twice. Mum, Dad and three kids in a Mark 3 Cortina, bright yellow with a black vinyl roof.
I remember Fez, Marrakesh, especially the markets with the snake charmers and cobras in baskets and mint tea in copper kettles.
We camped at various oasis type sites with huge swimming pools.
Todra Gorge was my favourite place. There were many roads without tarmac, just dirt tracks and dry river beds. Prickly Pear fruit were great, we'd never seen them before,
Dad did all the driving and all in two weeks, he worked in retail and wasn't allowed more than two weekends off in is holidays.
Always threatened to go back but don't imagine it is anything like it was then. Spoilt now I would think. Cant imagine doing it in two weeks either.

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Jan 25, 2013
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I joined Blue Camel Tours - a tour group run by a delightful Swiss couple in 2013. As the English tour was undersubscribed I was asked if I'd like to join the German Tour instead. Better that than not go at all I thought, and I was not wrong. I had an absolutely wonderful time, in a beautiful country with friendly people, interesting food, horrendous roads, dubious policemen and experiences to blow your mind. It was so well organised with many tours organised, all campsites included and friendly, and don't believe the Germans don't have a sense of humour! Language was not too much of a problem as French is widely spoken and I stumble through on my very rusty schoolboy French with plenty of pointing and Gallic shrugs. Would I go again?? Possibly, but I would not do it on my own as digging a motorhome out of a sand drift is hard work for a 71 year old! I read back the blog I made of my time there with much pleasure and happy memories of kindly travelling companions looking after a solo traveller.
 
Jul 20, 2019
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We used Blue Camel a few years, Swiss guy and his partner.
We found it very well planned and not to over organised giving us lots of time. We were a group of ten motorhomes but only travelled in two's and threes between stops. The tour was for three weeks and it gave us the confidence to stay there by ourselves for another two weeks. If he is still organising trips I would certainly recommend him.
 
OP
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Apr 29, 2017
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Hi Digger and Chod,

Like the sound of Blue Camel, they don't show any itinerary on their website, perhaps understandable at the present time.
A trip towards the end of 2021 might be doable?

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TerryL

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Always threatened to go back but don't imagine it is anything like it was then. Spoilt now I would think. Cant imagine doing it in two weeks either.
Yes there have been many changes, the current King is very pro-active in developing his country and lots of money has been spent on improving the tourist industry, tourism being the second highest foreign currency earner. To an extent they're now catering more for planeloads and some of the old favourites (Tagazhoute Beach anyone?) have sadly gone. Roads, especially in the more populous areas, have been improved out of all recognition but "off the beaten track" still means exactly that!

But in a motorhome you're not limited to the big cities and, with a bit of knowledge, it's easy to find the "old" Morocco. The people are (generally, but around the Rif not quite so) very friendly and helpful, often going out of their way - but they ARE Arab and in the nicest possible way will try to take advantage, it's all part of the fun.

And you'll definitely need longer than 2 weeks - months at a minimum is much more like it.
 
Jan 4, 2020
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We went with Desert Detours and loved Morocco but had a dreadful experience with DD. Went on our own the following year and thoroughly enjoyed it.
 
Apr 3, 2019
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Apart from my time living in the back of military vehicles -nil
Ive been three times on a motorbike and also done a tour in a car. The fun is in the planning and heading off on your own. May take the van at some point.

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Oct 24, 2007
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Hi Busby
I thought that was the case, I'm now planning for a trip just Tina and I. probably safest to think of setting off at the end of August, restrictions may have lifted a bit, we would have had our vacinations and the weather will be a bit cooler.

Can you send me some of your positive thinking please.
 
Jun 10, 2010
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We ve been 4 times, never organised although first time arranged to go with some friends who had been before but actually got there before them. Very easy would go with friends or not you will generally bump into people again and again and again. Lovely place to go in our winter, we were planning to be there now but heyho!
 

Jim

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Ray used to be active on a few forums. I see he still looks in here now and again and was online here about 3 weeks ago.

We'd get a few reviews of his tours on the forum. None were middle of the road, they were either absolutely glowing, best trip of a lifetime. or I'm suing the bastard for my money back type rants. Though to be fair there were far more of the former.

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Jul 15, 2020
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Personally i would want to do it alone. Help and guidance off forums like this and ones own research is all part of the adventure for us. You will always meet up with fellow travelling to shoot the s@@t and tips.
Morocco is on my list as not been as yet.
 
Jun 10, 2010
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Personally i would want to do it alone. Help and guidance off forums like this and ones own research is all part of the adventure for us. You will always meet up with fellow travelling to shoot the s@@t and tips.
Morocco is on my list as not been as yet.
The most difficult bit is doing the paperwork for the MH at the port but even that has become easier as the bit of paper you had to guard with your life is now a file on the computer. It really helps if you can speak some french but again they re more used to the english now.

Some elements are very french and some very arabic depending mostly on where you go but a fascinating place with lots of different landscapes and climates.
 
Aug 25, 2015
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We went with DD and Ray in 2008 in the old McLouis. IMHO it was a good mix of wild and official sites. Ray was a good host and we enjoyed some of the "Team" events. We also put in a couple of our own detours and split with main group to see other places we wanted, then re-joined a couple of days later. That was fine with Ray, it was an informal relaxed tour. He left us down at Essaouira while we went and parked on the beach for a few days. I was happy with the service he provided.

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Aug 15, 2007
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The first time I went there was fifty years ago and a couple of years after that i would love to go back and have a look how things have changed.
 

RowleyBirkinQC

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This thread reminded me of a phone call I received from DD whilst at work some years ago, which in summary was “we’ve lost your parents!“ :LOL:

Seems my parents had become separated from the entourage at departure from an overnight near a town. They then got a little lost trying to catch up, my Dad became too unwell to drive on (think stomach :sick:) and they had to wait it out alone for a couple of days somewhere in the desert without a mobile phone signal until he could drive again (Mum doesn’t drive).

Turned out ok in the end, I think he said they navigated dry river beds etc to find some form of track/road to catch up with the convoy again. All part of the adventure. ;)
 
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