Sunday, 20 January 2013



I thought I would do this now and again introduce our Tour/Staff members.....Where better place to start than at the very top.....No not me, but "Alice", that's the one doing her meercat impression.

Alice joined the team after the sad passing of "Sydney", my previous travel companion/partner. I thought that I could just get along OK without a constant "shadow", but along came Alice, NOT a replacement, as dog owners know, you can't do that ........ After a very nervous start Alice is now a regular, the next tour [Feb] will be her 10th.

A'Hammed's Lamb Tagine is her favorate with Kefta a close second and she is first in line when we make our "Big Soup" ......

Favorate location is of course Erg Chebbie Dunes.... endless space to run, sand to dig and camels to annoy.


As I write this Blog entry much of the UK lies under a blanket of snow and those parts that are not are freezing cold or wet.  No I am not gloating, it's actually quite chilly down here in Southern Spain at the moment....... Well, when I say chilly I mean long-sleeve T-shirts and fleece for the evening.

So given the weather back in the UK it is perhaps not surprising that we are very busy with enquiries and bookings for the coming year and beyond...... So let's look at the 2013 Moroccan Tour Schedule:

  • 5 Jan -     The New Year Moroccan Tour.
  • 1 Feb -    The Moroccan Classic.
  • 4 Mar -    The Moroccan Classic.
  • 10 Mar -  The Eastern Moroccan [1st Tour Date].
  • 1 April -   The Eastern Moroccan [2nd Tour Date].
  • 6 May -    The Discovery Tour.
  • 27 May -  The "Footsteps of the Moors" [Spanish Sierras to the Moroccan Sahara].
  • 11 Sept -  The Eastern Morocco [3rd Tour Date].
  • 3 Oct -     The Moroccan Classic.
  • 5 Nov -    The Moroccan Classic.
  • 2 Dec -     The Moroccan Winter Wonderland Tour.
  • 17 Dec -   The Xmas - New Year "Celebration" Tour.

At the moment a few tours are already FULL but we are taking "standby" bookings while most of the others are well over 50% booked.

If you are looking for a particular date to visit Morocco that is not shown above......just ask, we have the staff and subject to min client numbers we are able to slot-in additional tours.

IDEA........... You could join the 25th August "Soul of Andalusia" tour and then continue directly on the 11th September Eastern Morocco Tour......... What an adventure!!!!!



I have of course no personal knowledge but can report that a seller of sex toys and other related stuff has been sentenced to eight months in prison and fined €900 by a Moroccan court for infringing public decency.
The vendor, who was not named, was sentenced for "importing, holding and exhibiting licentious products and the publication of prints and photos that are against morals and public decencies," it was said.
The court also found against the accused for having obtained a health ministry authorisation "after having provided false information" on its business that is based in Casablanca, the economic heart of the kingdom…..obviously not just the “economical” heart of Morocco then!
The seller had a licence for the sale of "food products, and used it to import erotic objects". A number of fruit “flavoured” and “fruit shaped” objects were produced in an otherwise pathetic defense attempt.
The vendor had apparently come up with the idea of selling such products "after conducting research on the internet, together with some friends,  in order to find a solution to his own sexual problems"…..Mmmm, makes you wonder don’t it!
I was told, but again stress that I have no personal knowledge, that the authorities’ attention was initially drawn to the enterprise due to the huge number of “customers” seen frequenting the newly opened shop in what was previously a very quiet street.  I am also told that most of the confiscated items and material mysteriously disappeared while in the police custody. 


Event Recorders, Dash Cams…….whatever you call them have more than one use. Designed to record the forward view from your vehicle they monitor road and traffic and with “G” force detectors they will record what they call “events” ….accidents to you and me! The advantages are obvious… if the accident was not your fault you have the evidence to support both your protest and possible claim. If the accident was your fault quickly eat the SD card!
Another advantage is that providing you have invested in the higher range HD recording models……you can buy from China via E bay for as little as 25 pounds [bound to be stacked with features] or on the internet elsewhere from anything up to 300 pounds… can download onto your laptop really clear recordings of those otherwise hard to describe routes/sections.
Depending on what SD cards you use you can get days and days of continuous recordings. In fact Desert Detours record an entire 24 day tour on just a few cards. But there is another not so obvious feature/advantage….
All our “Tour Escort” vehicles, as well as my own private vehicles, are fitted with the “Road Hawk” unit that seem to be one of the pro-industry favourites. As mentioned we record an ENTIRE 20+ day tours in HD on a few SD cards showing GPS location on Google Map, sound, speed, time/date etc. The clarity of the HD is stunning. The bonus is of course you can replay and/or download the hard to explain visual bits of a trip by simply slipping card into your computer. They come with benefits……..


I was stopped a couple of months ago in Southern Morocco for alleged speeding and a traffic offence. I say alleged because knowing the road like the back of my hand I was aware of the police camera location and took great care.

600dhm was requested by the feds when I was pulled over……..That soon changed to red faces when I run the event on my laptop……even showing the cops pointing the camera at me 100’s of metres ahead. The Road Hawk recording showed my speed to be 35km NOT the alleged 70km and that I DIDN’T cross the white line.

Crazy thing was that while I was distracted accepting a handshake and apology A’Hamed, our tour assistant, had jumped out of the following second escort vehicle and thinking the worst and that I was in trouble, had slipped one of the police offices 100dhm …….. Duhhhhh .

The last Road Hawk we brought had dropped in price to a well worth under £200. Details and info/contact somewhere in the blog below.



In general those who have joined us on tour, even during the winter months, enjoy quite mild [even warm] weather conditions. Crossing the Atlas via the heady Tizzi n Titcha Pass most of us will pause awhile and admire the stunning views ……… Indeed I have a favourite pull-in that I can never pass by….. for many years while escorting our tour groups Sydney [my dog] and myself would take a break  and for a few moments together wonder at the outrageously panoramic. Rolling hills wounded by deep stealthy valleys……and always embraced by distant and indifferent peaks, topped with snow, so idyllic and captivating. Yet there is another side to the splendour…… all too often revealing its mercilessly harsh and frequently tragic presence.
On a bitterly cold and icy morning in December, Salem Said trudged with his son along a snow-swept track pressing towards the only school in this area of the Atlas Mountains.

This predominantly Berber region is a victim of poor infrastructure and exceptionally harsh winters, as was starkly illustrated just days before when a week-old baby died in Anfgou village, after falling ill because of the extreme cold. The lack of emergency medical assistance was also a contributory factor when an abnormal bout of heavy snowfall made approach roads and tracks impassable. For a time the isolated village was effectively cut off from the outside world.


Holding the hand of his 8-year-old son, sometimes carrying him, Salem Said battled on against the biting sleet and through, at times waist-high drifting snow to get to the tiny school in the village of Timahdite, three kilometres from their hamlet farm. Some may say a foolhardy and irresponsible trek, but following an earlier tragedy meagre stores and wood for a fire, where kept there. 
The family of the baby that died in Anfgou would feel more desperately isolated than most this winter, although they are not the first to suffer such tragedy in recent years. More than 20 children froze to death in this very same deprived High Atlas village during the winter of 2006-2007. There was of course much hand-wringing and promises made in the aftermath of the heart-breaking calamity, but nothing significant had been done. The grading of the link track started but was not yet finished and the nearby transmitter mast still stands tall and silent, awaiting commissioning…….while according to unconfirmed local reports, at least four children have already died from the cold weather this winter.

Said could now feel his feet and fingers, the heat from the fire exceeded its minute size. “We are not asking for the moon. A simple, passable track to link us up is all we’re asking for” he said, while pulling his thick woollen ca====== tight and high. Downing the last remains of a piping mint tea he slipped back into the storm, heading back off towards the family farm.


Calls were launched in recent weeks via social networks from people moved by the situation of these people and information referring to the death of a number of infants.

The response has been positive and "six truckloads of mattresses, blankets and food has been distributed to families living in 10 villages, including that of Anfgou" said Elmahdi Benabdeljalil spokesman for a group composed of sixty concerned Moroccan citizens.

At 1600 meters, Anfgou (400 km south of Rabat) is located in one of the coldest regions of Morocco. As I wrote… December a month and a half old baby perished, a victim of the cold and lack of infrastructure. The death brought to five the number of young children who died in similar circumstances, according to local media.

"In addition to the 20 tons of food and hundreds of blankets that were distributed to the inhabitants of different villages," said Mr. Benabdeljalil. "With the help of simple people and some families, we were able to collect more than 350,000 dirhams [32,000 euros]. One person gave 100,000 dirhams [9,000 euros]. I can say that the operation was successful. "

He said he was pleasantly surprised by the cooperation of local authorities who provided all the logistical support for the success of this operation.

The High Atlas region suffers from isolation and a lack of infrastructure and many roads are impassable in winter. Residents complain about having to transport essential goods on donkeys.
Agriculture Minister Aziz Akhannouch, acknowledged that "there is still a gap between urban and mountainous areas. It is in this sense that the Directorate for Rural Development and mountainous areas was created to coordinate and develop projects for the development of rural and mountainous regions,"…………Perhaps things will improve…….Let’s hope so.



Children in remote Moroccan mountains will soon be able to walk to school with dry feet, thanks to a team of volunteers from Shepperton.

Dozens of wellington boots have been donated by kind-hearted residents to Baraka Community Partnerships, a charity based in Shepperton High Street.

Mother-of-one Anne Ridgway, who lives in Manor Farm Avenue, is collecting the boots on behalf of the charity, and hopes to send them to youngsters based in the village of Tighza in the Atlas Mountains.

Mrs Ridgway, 47, got talking to charity director Andy McKee at a fundraising event and soon after was visiting one of its projects in Morocco with her husband Jonathan and daughter Alexandra, 16. She said: “We stayed in their homes and did things like painting and digging toilets. "Now we try and do something each year and this time it is collecting wellies.

"The kids walk miles to school and the weather can be really bad, there is torrential rain at times. Most are barefoot or in sandals. If they have these boots they can get to school.”

Mrs Ridgway has so far received around 50 pairs of children’s wellies that she is keeping at her home until they can be taken to Morocco in the coming months.

Youngsters from schools including Littleton CofE Infant School have donated dozens of pairs including some with frogs on and brightly coloured ones.

Baraka Community Partnerships was set up in 2006. The name means blessing in a number of Arabic-based languages. They also work on projects in Laos, India and Zambia.

The charity is looking for more pairs of child’s wellies to be donated. To find out more information, email Mrs Ridgway on

Lamb tagine with dates:


This recipe comes from the Souss, where Argan oil is produced and is often used to flavour all sorts of dishes, including this tagine. You don’t need to use it, but if you have been to that part of Morocco and have eaten this tagine there, you’ll miss it if you don’t. Use the best quality dates you can find, pitted or unpitted as you wish, for this unusual tagine.

Serves: 6, Preparation time: 15 minutes, Cooking time: 3 hours
You will need:
1.6kg shoulder of lamb on the bone, cut into 4cm chunks
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp saffron water
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
¾–1 tsp ground ginger
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2–3 tbsp melted unsalted butter, argan oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 medium white onion, very finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
225g Medjoul dates, pitted if you like
Ground Ceylon cinnamon


1. Trim the excess fat from the meat. Crush the garlic with one teaspoon salt to a paste in a mortar. Loosen with the saffron water, then stir in the spices and butter or oil.

2. Place the meat and spice mixture in a 28 to 30 centimetres tagine set on a heat diffuser over a low heat, and toss and cook to release the aroma of the spices. Stir in half the onion, the coriander and 240 millilitre hot water. Raise the heat to medium and bring to the boil. Cover the tagine, reduce the heat and simmer for two hours.

3. Add the remaining onions to the tagine and simmer, uncovered, for a further one hour or until the meat is very tender and the sauce has reduced to a thick gravy.

4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. If your tagine is not capable of taking high heat, transfer the contents of the pot to a shallow baking dish. Place the dates around or among the chunks of meat.

5. Sprinkle each date or cluster of dates with pinches of ground cinnamon.

6. Bake, uncovered, in the upper part of the oven for about 15 minutes or until the dates become a little crusty.

Best served at once.

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