The Road to Morocco – Facts and Figures

Laetitia and Pete

Here is some beta (facts and figures) to help other potential Moroccan adventurers…

Flights:
We flew from Geneva, however, both Ryanair and EasyJet do the usual job from numerous airports in the UK. For Tafraoute it’s probably better flying to Agadir, and for Todra Gorge probably Marrakech.

From Marrakech we took the scenic route to Tafraoute (about 10 hours!). Some of the roads had been washed away in the rain, but usually the whole route should be on tarmac. Jon flew to Agadir, spent a night in the car ( 😮 ) near Tiznit and then drove on to Tafraoute. Later, he, Rebecca and Mina drove from Tafraoute to Todra for some bolted sport climbing.

A view of Tafraoute

Car Hire:
We used Auto-Europe. The car was a bit of a banger (they all seem to be in Morocco), but it did us proud over the rough terrain.

Hotel:
We stayed at Les Amandiers. My advice is to phone them direct and mention that you are climbing to get a good deal (be prepared to speak French). The hotel isn’t exactly in a romantic Moroccan Riad style, and it’s a bit old fashioned, but it’s clean, the service is excellent, it sells alcohol, and it has free WiFi. Dinner costs 120 dirhams (starter 35, main 65, and desert 20). The menu doesn’t change much, but it’s not all tagine and couscous 😉 . Beer was 55 dirhams for 2 bottles – not bad for a ‘dry’ country.

Hotels and food are a bit cheaper in the centre of Tafraoute.

Alternative accommodation for climbs in the north is Tizourgane Kasbah (follow the French link, the English one wasn’t working when I tried).

Guidebooks:
The obvious one is Climbing in the Moroccan Anti-Atlas by Claude Davies. There are loads more routes now, which have mostly been logged in the many route books kept at reception at Les Amandiers. There’s also the on-line data documented by Steve Broadbent. Claude’s book doesn’t provide intricate detail of the routes, but that adds to the adventure 😛 . And of course, you can easily go and find a new route, but don’t forget to add it to the new routes book so it can be included in a new guide.

When to Go:
I would recommend early March. It was bit hot for us in late March, mostly above 25 degrees. The heavy rain in late February did provide us with a wonderful array of spring flowers…


What to Buy:
If you want to buy presents and things, I’ve heard Tafraoute is cheaper than Marrakech. Of course it’s all in the haggling, and the reality is, if you’re happy with the goods and happy with the price, then you’ve probably got a decent deal. I bought a rug (of course) 🙂 .

Essaouira
After all that climbing, and shopping, we took a road trip from Tafraoute to Essaouria, which lies on the coast about 170km west of Marrakech. The journey, via Agadir, took about 5 hours. Here are some views along the way…

We hadn’t booked a hotel in advance, but we found a beautiful Riad, Dar L’Oussia, near the port just inside the Medina.

Essaouira is a UNESCO World Heritage Listed city…

Essaouira
The busy port

Marrakech:
And finally Marrakech. An overwhelming place of sights and sounds!

We stayed in Riad Nomades which was reasonably quiet… until the birds woke us up early. :angry:

Here are some pictures from Marrakech…

Tea and cakes... of course
Snake charmers in Djeema el Fna
Djeema el Fna

Lofoten – The Facts and Logistics

After a few blogs which included our adventures while we were in Lofoten – climbing, ice-cream and beer – I thought I’d add one more about the Lofoten facts and logistics to help any future Lofoten adventurers.

Henningsvaer
Henningsvaer

There is of course plenty of information on the web, but this addition might help the climbers out there.

Guidebook
Well of course, it has to be the Rockfax Lofoten Rock by Chris Craggs and Thorbjørn Enevold. You can read the details, history etc. on their web site. This guide is pretty good – for pre-adventure reading. The photo topos really excite the imagination. However, there are a couple of down sides:

  • The size of the guide isn’t really suitable for multi-pitch routes. Photocopy the routes, or rip the pages out. 😈
  • The use of the Top 50 routes, makes the top 50 routes very popular! Don’t forget there are plenty of other starred routes to have a go at.

Getting There
There’s lots of choice – planes, ferries, driving – depending on how much time you have, and how much money you have. My priority was to get as much climbing time in a week off work as possible. And if you are clever it doesn’t have to be too expensive…
We flew from Manchester to Oslo; then Oslo to Bodø with SAS; and then Bodø to Svolvær with Widerøe. There’s a 20kg limit with SAS and 15kg with Widerøe. Flying out from Manchester on Friday night, having a stop-over in Oslo and continuing on to Bodø on Saturday morning was cheaper than doing the whole trip on Saturday. We stopped in Thon Hotel Gardermoen. I booked a family room which just about fits four adults (if you’re not too big), which included a very good breakfast (and for the sneaky like Pete, a lunch too :mrgreen: ). The transfer bus to and from the hotel was NOK 60 each, each way. A taxi costs NOK 250 each way. This was all still cheaper than flying out of Manchester on Saturday. We flew back on Sunday.

Car Hire
I searched and searched on the web for something cheap to no avail. Most web sites seemed to indicate car hire pick up and drop off wasn’t possible at the weekends in Svolvær, but eventually I got one from eBookers with Europcar. This was £406 for a week!!!! 😮
While we were there we found Lofoten Rentacar which seems to be cheaper with a small car being NOK 400 a day.

Where to Stay
We took the hint from the Rockfax guide and stayed at the NNKS. This is in a fantastic location within walking distance of many of the Top 50 climbs. It’s a great place to meet other climbers, and of course it’s right next to the bar and above the gear shop. What more could a climber want….? …. sleep! 🙁 Friday night and Saturday night are serious party nights, starting at about midnight and getting quiet sometime after 3.30am. It’s probably easier to join in than try to sleep through it.
On the whole, I’m still glad we stayed there – with the benefits of meeting new people.

Nord Norsk Klatre Skole accommodation
Nord Norsk Klatre Skole accommodation

We met Chris Bonington out there, he was staying in Kalle, which looked like another excellent spot.

And of course, there is always free camping, in beautiful settings. But having a roof over your head when it rains seems like a much better idea to me.

And talking of rain…
We had one full day of rain and one which had a few wet hours. The rock dries very quickly though, so people were out climbing fairly soon after the rain stopped. Remembering that with 24 hour daylight, anytime is climbing time! 😀

Midnight sunshine
Midnight sunshine

Costs
Everyone worries about the cost of food in Norway. Here are some example grocery prices from the supermarket in Henningsvær:

  • Corn Flakes NOK 22.90
  • Loaf of bread NOK 23.90
  • Milk (1 ltr) NOK 13.90
  • Frozen Pizza NOK 34.90
  • Can Lager 26.00
Henningsvaer main street
Henningsvaer main street

Beer in the pub was NOK 60 something for a pint! 😮

What to climb….?
Well that’s up to you. My favourite was Lundeklubben. 😛