Peace: Salam Alaikum, this is supposed to be the first lines you are reading after the winds of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) have granted me their favors and brought you here, so hearty Welcome. “Salam” means peace in Arabic, so I hope you will find peace and also enchantment in the stories I will be narrating.

My stories will be accounts of my previous and future bicycle rides and touring trips around Marrakesh, the city where I live, and Morocco. My objective is to share with you my cycling experiences and cogitations about these experiences, about roads, about places, villages, people and every single instant immortalized by the magical invention called camera, and the surviving inspired feeling.

I started biking not long ago, precisely in august 2008 after having received a Triban Trail 7 that I had bought 6 months earlier and left in Belgium. As my intention was, and still is, to explore Morocco by bike, I had to practice and learn everything about bicycle touring. In this respect, forums have been an inexhaustible and exuberant source of information but as experience stands by far as the most infallible source of information, my Sunday rides in the high Atlas Mountains and few longer touring trips around Morocco have been the real source of knowledge about travelling by bike in a country like Morocco. These trips constitute the core material with which I am starting this blog today, with delay.

With approximately around 3000 km of bicycle touring, I still consider myself as a beginner and still have many cycling plans, not only in Morocco but also abroad. This blog will give possibility to these plans to grow and come to reality. Some of these plans would probably necessitate a different bicycle, a mountain bike for example but I already have two bikes after having purchased a second hand Kona lava dome mountain bike converted into a touring bike and hence think that’s enough. Different gear would as well come in handy but financial considerations make it impossible to make any extra expenses now.

The choice of a bicycle as a means of discovering Morocco differently can be explained by the following:

Love of sports and physical activity though bicycle touring is not primarily about physical achievement. There nevertheless is a certain stamina aspect involved.

Love of my country, Morocco. This is not to be understood in any tight patriotic scope but rather an attempt to reach for my kinsmen Moroccans everywhere in Morocco, especially in remote parts of the country. Morocco is also a beautiful country and seen from the perspective of handlebars, Morocco is majestic.

Discovering new roads, visiting villages I have never visited, exploring tracks and places only locals know, and lastly cruising unprecedented itineraries, all this, in an attempt to know Morocco better. I have mostly visited every part of morocco by car or bus but there is still plenty of regions left to be visited by bike: some parts of the Atlas Mountains, Rif Mountains, Ouarzazate, the Sahara…etc,

A sense of freedom only a bicycle and two wheels can provide.

Have a nice ride with me.

Hicham Ait Almouh, January 24th 2011

Lalla Takerkoust lake is located at about 35 km on the road from Marrakesh southward to Amezmiz. This lake is formed by a dam built on Oued (river) N’fis which is one the most important affluent of Oued Tansift. Oued Tansift “flows” from the east of Marrakesh to the Atlantic Ocean near the peaceful small town Souiria (old saouira). Oued N’fis on the other hand flows northward from the high Atlas Mountains, somewhere near the famous Tizi N’test pass, and crosses Toubkal national Park and Haouz region towards Oued Tansift, northern west of Marrakesh.

Lalla Takerkoust is a favourite destination for bikers and Sunday picnickers for many reasons. You need less than two hours to reach the lake on a bike, and this without rushing. Motorcycles and cars need less obviously and are the major means of transportation to the lake, especially motorbikes, the favourite means of transportation of Marrakechis or rather, the most afforded one. On the other hand, utilization of bicycles inside Marrakesh has diminished considerably, compared to few decades ago.

The road to Takerkoust is flat except a downhill when you approach the village of Lalla Takerkoust. Recently, a multitude of resorts and hotels have been and are being built on both sides of this road perverting it as much as the surroundings of Marrakesh and the city itself. Another annoying aspect about this road is the herds of touristic 4x4 cars and vans taking herds of mass tourists to see what they could visit themselves without any chaperonage.
As the lake can be a stopover before completing one day tours, there is a lot of biking possibilities in this region. The simplest itinerary is to and fro by the same main road or back following N’fis via Agafay. This simple detour leads you by a beautiful quiet road through some small villages and has the advantage of being untrodden by tourists vans; 4x4 cars and crazy collective taxi drivers. Another possibility is to go along the western side of the lake through villages and fields by a dirt road that leads to the main road few kilometers before Amezmiz. There is also a paved road that leads from Lalla Takerkoust village to the famous Moulay Brahim (rather infamous because of the reputation of the village that hosts seemingly a lot of prostitution houses). This road leads through the eastern side of the lake through a breathtaking uphill to Agergour village and to Kik high plateau all the way to Moulay Brahim village and down to the road that links Asni to Marrakesh via Tahanaout. Before climbing to Agergour village, it is also possible to take a dirt road to Oued N’fis and cross a pass called Tizi Ouzla (1090m) through wonderful Thuja forests to Marigha village few kilometers north of Asni.

The lake is unfortunately polluted by the lack of hygienic behavior on behalf of visitors, which is most seen during the summer when the water level subsides considerably. Having a personal aversion for black plastic bags – a symbol of ecological awareness in Morocco – I prefer not take pictures of rubbish and try as much as possible to catch the most attractive glimpses which would make u want to go see the lake. Enjoy them.

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