MAROCATLAS GIBRALTAR 4X4 CHALLENGE 2012
D day came and we all met on the other side of the border to avoid the same situation we had back in the month of March with the spanish customs.We started heading towards Tarifa were will board the ferry to Tangier's.Dorian with his Mitshibushi had a break down on the way and Bedoui our team mecanic had to start his work even though we still had not crossed to Morocco.We lost our ferry from 5pm so we had to wait till the next one at 8:00pm. We arrived late into the port of Tangier but the entry through customs was quick and we headed to our reserved Hotel Ahlen were we rested for the night.Next morning we had our breakfast and waited for Bedoui to come from his home as he lives in Tangier together with his copilot Abdelkader,also a mecanic locally. We started our journey to Tetouan were we met Farid another participating member with his toyota land cruiser.We carried up the route through the Rif mountains to the city of Fez were we entered the highway to take us to our destination,Guercif,478 kms from our starting point in Tangier. We got to the camping site were the organisation and other participants were getting themselves ready to camp,we were given a location and the team and followers got themselves established.The next morning I got up at 7 am and went to see the organisation for the subription of our team and I was told that they will deal with us once they got themselves ready to do the start of the rally,they will give us a call. 1st Stage,Guercif - Midelt. By nine o'clock I went to see the organisation again and was informed that the first stage was cancelled to high snow in the mountain tracks and that they would give us the new Waypoints but unfortunately the person incharge had gone earlier to the finnish line of the first stage taking everything with him,we were given the option of trying crossing the original stage track us we were a big team of eight vehicles,or do our own track to the destination of Midelt,this we tried me navigating without any waypoints on our GPS system but just the destination,we tried to do a crossing through the mountains and in a heavy muddy area I unfortunately my front right CV Joint leaving me without 4 wheel drive,Jaret had to pull me out with his Toyota being the only one who can pull my nearly 3 tonnes Toyota out of the mud.We carried on following the foot of the mountains through a valley trying to drive southly to avoid the snow,we got to the edge of the mountain and there was still sign of snow on the tracks,we were informed by locals that we met that the tracks were also closed,pity cause we were just 20 odd kms from the national road to our destination,I had to get another itenary which took us to the road to Missour and Midelt our destination,386 kms. In the camping we got ourselves organised and I got everyones verification of vehicles through
the organistion,that included the documents of the vehicles,insurance,driving lisence,medical insurance,passports etc,etc.My GPS together with Francis were logged as the other participants were using navigators which were valid to get the information the organisation needed to verify the progress of the stages and controlling speed limits.I was also provided with our Tracking system which by being one of the first teams to apply for it was given to us for free by the company TraceMyway,the organisation informed me that the system would get connected in the morning as they had to send an email to the company with a code to get it activated.We also purchased the Maroc Challenge Tshirt which the organisation decided we all should pay for it,as all funds would be given to the Rally's Solidarity Project in the School of Hassi El Begga in the region of Merzouga. Midelt is a town up in the Semi Atlas at about 1700 m,the camp site was surrounded by snow -10 degrees,so the team decided we should stay in a hotel for the night,some of the team went to get a Hotel for all 21 persons thats counting the followers,others stayed with the other participants in the campings restuarant having a meal and a coffee,I got the chance to get on the internet and found out that our tracker was not yet activated,I informed the organisation about this and they said they would look into it. 2nd Stage,Midelt - Merzouga Woke up at 7:00 am,got everyone up and had our breakfast,by 9:00 am we had to be back to the camp and attend the breifing of the days stage and get going,we arrived to find out that the time was set to european and not morocco's so we were one our late,never the less the organistion made our start and we started to hit the road to the liason stage on the tracks always respecting the local speed limits on the roads,the night before we had been discussing of making two groups out of the team as being so many vehicles it was taking us too long to organise and travel on the roads.When we got to the entry of the tracks i decided not to enter as there were some sand areas that could be difficult for me being only on two wheel drive and that would delay more the team,so the team carried on on the tracks and I went to Erfoud to try and fix my front wheel drive,unfortunately it was not possible and I had to phone a friend mechanic from Zagora,Aziz from Garage Irki who I know since he was a kid,he would drive the nearly 300 kms to assist me with the spares I needed so I made my way from Erfoud by the old tracks and eventually hit the rallies tracks doing some waypoints which took me to the Albergue were the organisation was and the finnish line of the 2nd Stage,345 kms. As I had taken a short cut I was at the finnish line before the team and other participants of the advance stage,the participants of the adventure stage were there already and some were fixing up there vehiccles with problems they had on the tracks.I got myself a mint tea from a friend who recongnised me and connected to the internet as we had wifi available,I took a look to the tracking system to find out it was yet no activated,I went to see Rui,one of the organisers and friend and he informed me that there were other teams having the same problem and that it would be sorted out in the day.
Night time was getting near and there was no sign of the teams arriving,some that did arrive informed the organisation that there were many vehicles with problems on the track.I decided to go and visit my friend Mobarek from Takojt were we are going to stay at his Albergue,just 3 kms from the organisations camp.I was trying to get to the team by our CB radios with no avail,neither the mobiles were available so I insisted in calling until two hours later they answered and they were with the organisation handing in their GPS to get to the next stage of tomorrow.In this final stage count the team was 6th onwards on the list to the last of our team which was not bad counting we started an hour later. I got my 4x4 and went to meet the team to guide them to the Takojt Albergue in the night,some vehicles had problems so they would not be able to start at the time on the next stage,we decided that we will get the vehicles done and then start the stage losing some of the waypoints to reach in time for the solidarity project at the school which will be the finnish line of the 3rd Stage. 3rd Stage,Waypoint 1 - Waypoint 20,Hassi El Begga. Got up at 7:00 am and got everyone organised to take the vehicles to mechanics and Bedoui our mechanic did some work too,I still was waitng for my spares to arrive.Once the vehicles were ready I decided to try and avoid the dunes waypoints so not to delay as I still had my front wheel drive disingaged,we started and one of the waypoints passes by the outskirts of Merzouga were I know a kid who is disabled and we visited him and provided the family with our solidarity stuff donated by the people of Gibraltar on our Facebook page.Another of the waypoints took us by the small town of Khemilia,were I have a special friend called Brahim which I met back 15 or 16 years ago and have always gone to see him and his late sister Aisha who passed away regretly 2 weeks earlier when we visited them back in March this year.They both suffer a strange desease and poor Aisha who was only 12 years old is gone and Brahim is now 30 years of age and looks like he is 4,we provided the family with as much as we could and carried on to the next waypoints which took us by the mines of M'Fis were the french exploited the locals to work in the mines for the collection of minerals like lead and Quartz.I had to avoid the tracks on the dunes and this I knew from previous experience driving in this area,we got through some more waypoints till the 20th and then to the finnish line,befor getting there we saw one of the Adventure stage participants on a Fiat Panda stuck on the sand so showing our solidarity side Jaret towed him out of the problem and we carried on to the finnish line Hassi El Begga outside the school.121 kms The Solidarity Project. We reached our days goal which took us to the doors of the school Hassi El Begga,this is a small town in the middle of no where in the region of Merzouga.The school has only one available classroom and another beside which is in shambles.Maroc Challenge has engaged in helping this school with the help of all participants.Thanks to our sponsors and the people of Gibraltar we had loads of school materials and things for the kids,the organisation informed us of the amount
of children the school holds and we provided enough for the 50 children,it was so that the organisation had to stop us from unloading as we were getting the place full,some other participants neither could leave their donations and where a bit frustrated as they had not given it out on the tracks waiting to arrive at the project. The team leader was approached by the media of the organisation and made an interview explaining the days stage.The whole team was later interviewed and some did comment which was great on their behalf. MarocAtlasGib4x4 Club Project In Takojt. The Club has a Solidarity project of its own in the small village of Takojt were we always visit the school to provide them with what we bring.The school only consists of one class room and a small adjoining house for the teacher,in the class they only have their tables and chairs and the teachers blackboard.Being the case that we could not leave all what we had on the Rally's project we saw ourselves with more material for the Takojt school.We left them some black boards which were donated by Mr Eddie Lucas in Gibraltar and loads of shool utencils bought with the donations made by our Sponors.All kids in the class got a satchel each filled with pens,pencils,colouring books with their pencils,rulers,compass,sharperners,etc,etc.Also we left them some table playing games donated by the people of Gibraltar together with clothings and toys,we gave loads of sweets thanks to our sponsor Restsso Trading who every year provides us to give a smile to a Kid. After our visit to the takojt school we went back to the Albergue were Aziz our friend from Zagora had driven nearly the 300 kms to asist me with the spares i needed.they got to work on my car to find I had broken my right CV Joint,lucky he had them with him in his truck,they worked on my car and others during the night to have them ready for the next days Stage. 4th & 5th Stage,Merzouga - Ouarzazate - Agadir. The 4th & 5th Stage was going to be done by only three vehicles from the Team,we decided this cause the rest of the team was delaying with mechanical problems,so francis and Anthony would led the team on their Daihatsu wearing the number 156,Jaret will follow with Stuart on his Toyota number 145 and Edgar & Stephen on their Mitshibushi number 144,they attended early in the morning for the stages breifing and started the stage that would take them on a liason road stage to Mcesi and hit the tracks through Fezzou and the Destination Ouarzazate.Their next Stage would lead them to Agadir were we will meet again. The rest of the Team decided that we would do a different route and do some solidarity work in some areas that people still live in natural caves in the Atlas area.I got my Toyota and took it for a test run on the dunes to check my 4wheel drive was working,also to give the new comers a chance to get on the dunes and experience the fun.Just as we were touching sand Dorians mitshibushi was not engaging his 4wheel drive so we sent him back to the Albergue.Everyone had a bit of fun and we headed back for lunch.
We started our journey after lunch as we were just going to drive 280 kms to the Todra Gorge were we stayed for the night in the amazing hotel Les Roches build inside the mountain,you have to cross a river wth your vehicle to access the hotel.We had a superb dinner and a good rest for the next days route were we drove up to Ait Hani to enter the tracks to Boumain Dades,some youngsters were at the entrance and informed us that the track was closed cause of road works so to pass it we would have to drive 3 more kms and enter another track,they also said that the snow was too high but this other track will bypass both obstacles,a man approached us and talked with Farid who decided to carry him on his side step to guide us on this track that he said had many crossroads,we drove for a couple of kms with this man on Farids side step of his Toyota,we came to a main track and the man said that from here it would be ok.I was all the time watching my GPS as I have the route of the track and I could see we were getting back on it,so we were on the right way but had seen no snow yet. We got to the tracks I had on my GPS and reached one of the families that live in a cave on the face of the mountain.We stopped and everyone gave something to the young girl who was there with a toddler,the place is above the tracks and it really cost us our breath to go up and the kids run up and down like mountain goats. We reached a second family who were living in one of their traditional tents but adjoining a big stone were for sure their is a cave or something to be warm in this time of the year.We also left loads of stuff,thanks again to the people of Gibraltar for making this people happy at least for this day,all those unwanted stuff really does a great help in this area. Along the way we saw that a family had made their home underneath a great stone,its amazing to see were this people live,we are all really dressed up for the cold weather and this people are walking around on bare feet,Kevin my copilot gave his socks to a young guy as he noticed he wasn't wearing nothing just his sandles.Luckly I still had plenty to give away of warm clothing and shoes for kids and adults,the kids had their sweets and toys and you should see their faces! We carried on up to 1700 m when the snow started appearing under our wheels,it was ok as it was soft and we carried on without problems until we got to a curve in the mountain were the snow was covering the tracks,I got out and walked to the next curve and it looked alright,if I could brek the snow and do a track the rest could follow without any danger of falling off the mountain edge which belive me was high,I started well till the snow got hard and for my astonishment I was again without 4wheel drive,Jaret again had to pull me out of the danderous situation I was finding myself as the vehicle was sliding towards the edge of the mountain,finally I managed to drop down the legde and we made our way back as it was imposible to cross this way,the kids were right but they did say this other way was clear on the tracks.We carried on our back track till I got to the junction were the other man led us,so I thought better to stay on the proper track to short cut and if the road block was there they would have to let as pass,we went on untill we reached the track entrance without seeing any roadworks,it was all part of a lie from the kids to get a lift home,well thats the way it goes in the mountains,you always have to check for yourself whatever they say.
We got back to the road and drove to Ouarzazate and then to Agadir were the rest of the participating team were,it took us a very long drive over 500 kms and in the night Dorian was feeling tired and Tarik took over driving his Mitshibushi,a lorry going over the speed limit touched Tarik on the road ,luckly nothing happened.We reached Agadir and got a hotel and rested for the next day to go to the finnish line in Sidi Kauoki Beach. 6th Stage,Agadir - Sidi Kauoki Beach. After the long days run of the day before we got up a little later than what we should,we had our breakfast and we made our way to enter the rally's track and way points. The team was already on the tracks and were doing a great days stage all the way through the coast line using dirt tracks. We managed to start the tracks and found on our way some vehicles,we came along the reporters van Tomeil who through their courtesy we have some photos in action of most of our vehicles on the stage tracks. We got to the finnish line and found our team had made it first on the stage,great for them,thanks to them our team was on the finnish line board as number 8th which is not a bad count. I went to see the organisation to return our Tracking System that never got activated,I gave our thanks to them for a great experience and hoping to see them again the next year.We could not stay for the giving of the prizes cause we had over 800 kms to do to Tangier and some of our vehicles had problems and could not do more than 65kms on the road. We made our way up to Essaouira were we stopped to have lunch,I had the chance I was waiting to have a haircut which I really needed,then we met back at the parking area and continued all the way up to Tangier using the hidhways to the Hotel Ahlen were we waited for the rest of the team and the followers.
Edited by,Alfred Balban. http://marocatlasgib4x4.ning.com/