AT THE WHEEL
Waking the T dunes Clive and Linda Lucas share their Morocco Touareg Experience
he 2007 Volkswagen Experience tour took Touareg owners on an unforgettable journey through the remote and almost impenetrable Sahara desert – the very origins of the name Touareg, named after the Saharan nomadic tribe, Tuareg. Volkswagen’s driver experience programme started its journey in the exotic metropolis of Marrakech. From here the group embarked on a 1 200-kilometre long expedition through the foothills of the Sahara. South African Touareg owners Clive and Linda Lucas recount their experience on this six-day epic adventure. DAY ONE: IN THE BEGINNING We met at the hotel Le Méridien in Marrakech, a very pleasant setting for the start of the daring ‘Volkswagen Morocco Touareg Experience’. We spent the first evening experiencing some local flavour, visiting the popular market or ‘souk’ adjacent to the Jamaâ El Fna, an open market area. DAY TWO: ATLAS MOUNTAINS The group of six left-hand drive R5 TDI Touareg Expedition vehicles set off travelling south towards the Atlas Mountains. The Touareg Expedition model is especially tailored to the purposes of the Volkswagen Experience. It has metal plating underneath, a winch on the front and custom-made roof racks with the usual low range and differential locks.
The trip over the mountains was on a fairly good tar road but the challenge was dodging the pedestrians, bicycles and donkeys! Once we were over the mountain and onto the gravel the scenery changed, immediately becoming more barren and less inhabited than the north side. We spent the night at Westernised Kasbah, which is a traditional dwelling made of compacted mud. The evening meal was an amazing experience as we got to taste a variety of traditional starters and hot dishes. DAY THREE: OLDEST KASBAH In the morning we were guided through the adjoining oldest Kasbah in Morocco, said to be 500 years old and still inhabited by local folk. An interesting observation was the two entrances: one used by the Arabs and another by the Jews who lived there until the mid 1950s. We were then led through some local villages and onto the rocky, arid desert. We saw very few locals outside of their mud villages and the kids run out to the cars shouting in French for sweets, pencils or just about anything. We passed an army outpost in the late afternoon as we neared the Algerian border. We drove into the dunes where we really got to
experience the environment by camping under a covering of palm trees for the night. We were visited that night by some locals who played traditional music on a drum then prepared and served a tea ceremony for us. The local mayor even came by for a nightcap. DAY FOUR: SAND STORM We headed southwest into the sand desert via a local town where we stopped for a light snack and to fill the Touaregs. Upon entering the desert we were caught in a sand storm making visibility poor and the situation rather exciting. In the late afternoon the wind had begun to die down so we stopped in amongst the dunes and camped for the night. By sundown the wind had stopped completely and we had the most beautiful night in the desert dunes. We decided to take advantage of the full moon and spread our stretchers on top of the dunes and enjoy the scenery. DAY FIVE: PARIS DAKAR ROUTE The morning conditions were perfect for taking beautiful photographs of the dunes and the sunrise. We then drove out of the dunes and onto a very large pan heading north now on our way back to Marrakech. The drive took us over a section of the Paris Dakar route, although probably at a fraction of the speed the contestants travel.
Our final night saw us back in civilisation in a small town called Taliouine; a place famous for its Saffron, a very expensive spice taken from a local flower. DAY SIX: BACK TO MARRAKECH This day was both a highlight and the most challenging. We were now driving north towards Marrakech over the Atlas Mountains, via a back track that the guides had discovered. The track is seldom used and therefore not in the best condition, providing the Touaregs with a challenge. These locals rarely see outsiders so we had to be careful in the towns, negotiating our way through houses and passing very excited children. The final highlight was passing through a tiny mountain village that showed no signs of western interference or modern amenities. On arrival in Marrakech we spent some time in the markets, and then ate dinner before saying goodbye to everyone in anticipation of our very early start back to Germany the next morning. HIGHLIGHTS Every part of the trip was enthralling and an amazing experience. Gabi, our tour host and coordinator, went out of her way to make it challenging, informative and interesting. Needless to say, her desert catering was tops. We would definitely consider another Volkswagen Experience in the future.
THE ULTIMATE OFF-ROAD ANIMAL Go to www.mytouareg.co.za and read more on why the Touareg has been dubbed the ultimate off-road animal, taking ardent adventurers on unbelievable journeys across the globe and back.