It’s end of October in sunny Costa Blanca and the clocks go back tomorrow, which gives me an extra hour of sleep. Or writing. Or people watching. I’m currently at a beachfront café in Costa Blanca shamelessly eavesdropping on people’s conversations. And pondering about all the things I could do with my extra hour.
Right, let’s get to the point. The car rally around Morocco is one of the first challenges I’ve planned for this website. I’m a massive petrolhead, so I knew I want to kick off with a road trip adventure. I’ve toured the whole wide world directing travel shows and frankly, the best thing about it were..the hire cars. Mix of VW Polos and Seat Leons rather than anything fancier, but I always enjoyed testing them out. Seeing how fast they accelerate, how they take the turns, if they can handle gravel in Almeria or uphill climbs in the Alps. We normally stuck to nicely paved roads or motorways, while I kept dreaming about proper off road adventures. Well, the time has come.
Talking of which I’d love to attempt the legendary Paris-Dakar rally route at some stage. It goes (or rather used to go) through Morocco, so this rally is the perfect prep for that. They stopped doing the original route through Africa about 10 years ago due to security threats in Mauretania but the new ‘Dakar’ is growing strong in…South America. That’s another challenge which will hopefully appear on likeachallenge.com a few years down the line. But I have to take it step by step.
I'm planning the itinerary for Morocco while directing an episode of ‘A Place in the Sun’ for Channel 4 in Spain. After thats done, I’ve booked a flight from Malaga to Tanger for 12th November.
I’ve got a super experienced and amazingly talented car rally champ joining me for this challenge. He's helping me set up the route, choose the car, plan the budget, but primarily he'll act as a guide and coach, helping me improve my off-road driving techniques. He’s done a similar adventure ride around Morocco back in 2010, so he defintiely knows his shit!
So when it comes to the car, I’m not going all out for this one (budgetary reasons also) and this one is looking most likely. Drumroll...
I know, I know. You're saying..DACIA?! But trust me, Dacia Duster is an amazingly sturdy and solid car, for a very affordable price. It's got a Renault body underneath (yeah, probably you're turning your heads again, a delicate French car for this mammoth drive...?! ) but it's actually a very strong car, easy to drive even in tough conditions, lots of space inside and a sensible choice if you're starting out on off-road adventures. I'm going for the 4x4 Diesel option for this challenge. They've sold over 2 millions of Dusters in just 7 years and even Top Gear gave it a solid 7 out of 10, click here for some more detailed info.
So far, the route looks like this. We’re starting off in Tangier, then heading towards Res, Tinghir, Marrakesh, Toubkal, through the Atlas mountains, Tarfaya, then back to Safi, Casablanca and back to Tanger. Together with climbing Mount Toubkal, which takes 2 days (depending on weather conditions at the summit) the route will take 10 days, although we're giving ourselves an extra one day leeway.
Right…for starters I’m doing a hardcore gym bootcamp to be fit for the drive!