February 17: Agafay Desert Camp to Essaouria

Morning found the air cool but refreshing as the group prepared for the day. First on the agenda is breakfast al fresco with the sun beginning to warm the air. Then it is off on a camel ride out of the camp, over a dune or two and back to the road and the waiting van. The coast is the destination for the day. With the mountains to the rear the "caravan" of van and 4x4 head out with bikes on the roof and riders tucked inside. A break from the drive and a chance to once again appreciate the meal of our fabulous cook, the group reassembles on the road side among the argan trees. Again the gourmet touch is evident by the fragrant aromas steaming up from the cooking station. The merger of spices along with the fresh vegetables and meat produce a mouth watering sensation that is only satisfied with the first bite!

Winding down from the higher altitude the terrain now shifts to a more flat and cultivated look. Rows and rows of argan trees spread out across the otherwise treeless terrain. Argan trees produce a fruit with nut that is only found in this area. The fruit is the price food of the goats -- who can be seen climbing the trees to grab a bite. The nut is used for several purposes, all dependent on how it is processed. Argan oil is many times used in cosmetic lotions and soaps as it has a moisturizing quality as well as smoothing away wrinkles. It can be found in shampoo to encourage hair grow, or merely to soften the strands. When roasted the nut produces an oil that can be used in salad dressings. A visit to a government run co-op gives the group a lesson in the process.

But now it is time to ride again. High up on the plateau in Ouirgane National Park above Essaouria the road slants downward giving the allusion that it is one long coast to the sea. The earth is not flat, nor is the terrain approaching the water's edge. Dips and turns, uphill climbs and twists, heavy wind of the sea -- all add to a great last ride. While only about 12 kilometers in length, the wind made sure that every pedal stroke was felt. When one needs to pedal hard going down a hill one knows that the wind is strong!

A quick dismantling of bikes and reloading onto the van top and off to Esaouria and the riad for the next couple of nights in the center of the old section.

Here Comes the Camels!

Getting Closer

They Are Here!

Mount Up!!

Up It Goes!

And They Are Off!

Sue: "Is This Guy Behind Me Going to Bite?"

Ride Over

Pooped Camels!

Argan Tree

Tea Time!

Lunch Time

Picnic Chairs

Argan Co-op

Guide

Women Cracking the Shells and Getting the Nut

Argan Nut

Lauri Trying Her Hand at Nut Cracking!

First View of the Sea

The Beach!

Goats Eating the Argan Fruit

Kit, Lauri, and Lauren at the End of A Great Bike Ride

Home for Two Nights

Queen for a Night!