The Sahara, probably the most archetypical of all deserts, just the thought alone evokes images of caravans, windswept sand and wide dune fields. The desert attracts adventurers and travellers alike, despite the prospect of inhospitable sandstorm, blistering heat and a merciless sun.
For me, this nagging pull has been present for quite a some years already. Until last october, when I followed an impulse and bought ferry tickets for Tangier. Morocco has been the gate to Africa and the Sahara for many travellers with or without a motorcycle and this will be the report of my ride, which took place in the first two weeks of 2018.
My plan was, to depart from Zürich just after christmas, cross the Alps and head for Genoa and embark on the ferry. Two days later, I will arrive in Tangier, where the journey starts and all plans end (well, except for the fixed date of the return journey two weeks later). I never liked the idea of meticulously planning an adventure beforehand, after all, no plan survives the contact with reality.
Nonetheless, improvisation needs some preparation; a glance at the climate charts for the Moroccan Atlas and the prospect of alpine winter suggested to pack extra warm underwear and a thick sleeping bag. But apart from that packing was pretty much routine and the rest of the preparation included some maintenance and a new pair of tires for my trusty Tenere.
For most of my preparation time I was occupied with the photographic part of the voyage. A year ago, I came by a DSLR (a Nikon D7000 with a 16-85mm travel zoom), got comfortable with the camera and came to the conclusion that it is a capable all-round combination for travel photography. But my first tries at astro- and night scape photography gave rather modest results, partly due to the rather slow lens with an aperture of f3.5, but mostly due to my lack of skills. To solve the first problem I got a f2.8 wide angle lens and spent the rest of my time reading every astrophotography guide that I could find on the internet as well as watching hours of youtube tutorials to solve the second part of the problem. Armed with the new lens and all the theoretical knowledge (or as much as I was able to remember …) I wanted to try my luck at some serious night time photography. Long 14h winter nights and dark skies without light pollution in Morocco offered excellent conditions for this endeavour. And why else do you have a dual-sport but to get into the wilderness, far away from civilization, to capture magnificent night time vistas?
This was my route (Google Maps):
Here are some teaser photos: