Category Archives: Trips

Morocco Overland Episode 8 – The long journey home

It was time for us to part company with Alan and Harriet as they had no commitments so could hang around Morocco for a little while longer. Jed and Louise had to get Isaac back to school for February, if he wasn’t back by the 1st they would give away his place so pressure was creeping in to head north. The long journey home was still eventful and involved rescuing a young French couple that had been stuck down a long piste (dirt track) for three days with no means of getting out. This once again flagged up another situation where people heading off the main roads with no tow strap or shackles got into trouble. As always at CVC we recommend carrying a basic or fully comprehensive tow kit like the ones on our web shop. Since leaving the Souss Massa national park back in part 7 we had hit a pretty disappointing run of beaches but things soon changed for the better. With Morocco in the rear view mirror and that box firmly ticked a trip to Gibraltar was on the cards, what a hoot.
An amazing drive north across Spain with amazing sunshine followed before we hit France and our old enemy, the flood…..

This is the final instalment of the CampervanCulture.com Morrocco overland series and we have had a total blast making it. We would like to thank everyone involved that made this series what it was. Remember you can watch all parts from 1-8 anytime you like on the CampervanCulture.com trips section.

Morocco Overland Episode 8 – The long journey home from CampervanCulture.com on Vimeo.

The Scott Family December Adventure Camping Trip in a VW LT

Let CampervanCulture.com introduce some friends of ours. We became friends with Ringo and H many years ago after meeting at a VW show and hitting it off right way. Over the years our kids have become the best of friends and grown up together over the summer months when we used to hook up for wild camping every now and again before they moved to Poland. After hearing of a trip they did this time last year (2013) in the wilds of Scotland I asked Ringo if he wouldn’t mind doing an article for CVC about the trip. We have been sitting on this one all summer until now when we thought you guys might appreciate it the most. So please get comfortable and read this amazing story of an epic trip made by Ringo, H, Fern and Jules in their amazing VW LT Florida camper van.

Scotland December 2013

It not very often you get sent home from work with six weeks paid leave to do what the hell you like except “not work”. But in late November after resigning from my job to work at a competitor, this happened to me. I won’t say I was wondering what I would do with myself for six weeks – I shook hands with my colleagues and friends and skipped on out of there with some great ideas…

The six weeks turned out to be only three and a half – we had already committed to spend Christmas for two weeks with my family in Miami. No disrespect to my father whose seventieth birthday we were celebrating in Miami, but I couldn’t help feeling a bit cheated of a six week adventure in the van. Of course, I would never tell anyone I was such a selfish self-centred fool like that – so no harm done.
We had over three weeks to live it up. My wife (the lovely H) generally takes any situation by the balls and kicks the arse out of it and this was no exception. Three weeks but what to do?
It was late November. In the UK, that means winter. Short days, wind, rain and possibly some snow in December. As it happens, it’s not that much better in the rest of Europe within VW LT range – so the chance of nipping off in the van for some winter sun was not an option. There was only one thing we really wanted to do and that was take the kids to the French alps for their first skiing holiday (I shall add at this point we snow board very mediocrely but are brilliant at pretending we are seasonaires and love it with a passion). That was until someone had a brilliant idea.

Scotland. Scotland in December.
“WTF? – Are you Insane?” Cried my imaginary friends. No – absolutely not. Let me explain.
If you go camping in summer in the UK and it rains for a week you feel robbed and pissed off (I have felt this many times). If you go camping in the UK for a week in winter and it rains for a week (although it never rains for a whole week solidly that I can remember) you say “it’s winter for God sake – of course it’s raining”. This is why I love winter camping – every day you get that’s not raining is a bonus. It’s a delight. It’s a treat. It’s the day you remember. If it snows – well what’s not to like about snow? In all seriousness if it snowed then we would have headed for the cairngorms and gone snowboarding – result!
Also – and here is the stroke of genius in our minds, winter is probably the only time of year you can go to Scotland. We had always wanted to go – but there was no chance we were going to spend two weeks in summer getting rained on and eaten alive by midges (we feel the same about England except the midges aren’t such a pain). Annual leave from work is far too precious for that…

On the 29th November we left Nottingham and headed north with a very vague plan of going to the West of Scotland, heading up to Oban, maybe over to Mull and then up into the highlands. Fancy free and bursting with enthusiasm. Life is good.
A quick overnight stop at friends up the road in Sheffield and then we were off. Via the lake district. The lovely H had never seen a lake in the lake district so we ticked that off too. Actually – it’s funny how this happens, but we met a guy there who told us about quite a few sleepy spots in Scotland. At the time I thought he was slightly mad – but regardless, this was some of the best advice we got all through the trip. Mainly because we didn’t see anyone else during the trip but hey ho…

Up to Glasgow in no time, we headed past Loch Lomond and towards Inveraray where we learnt our first lesson of the trip. We passed the oyster farm and laughed out loud as we imagined all the fresh seafood we were going to eat over the upcoming weeks. We should have stopped because we didn’t see oysters for sale in Scotland again. If you see something you want stop and get it. You might not get the chance again. Not quite as cool as “The double tap” rule from Zombieland – but definitely in the top three of rules for visiting Scotland in December.

Inveraray turned out to look like a tired seaside town. Mostly due to grey December weather I guess. Anyway, a quick ice cream for the kids and we headed off to the coast on the lookout for a sleepy spot. We had been tipped off about a known spot on the coast below Oban, but there was no rush (don’t you just love saying that).
Anyway, west Scotland is basically full of peninsula’s with roads up them. Small roads. We choose one that looked nice because it clearly followed the coastline. It was dark, but we found a small lay-by right next to the sea. Unfortunately it was too wet to get the mighty florida all the way on it – but we were off the road and it wasn’t exactly busy.

The lovely H and I faffed around for a bit ensuring we didn’t get stranded in mud (waffle boards are essential) and then I set about getting a fire going on the beach.

Bizarrely it was still 6 degrees C and felt positively barmy. The whole family enjoyed the fire. I chopped wood, even the Fernster ate some roasted welks and cockles we had picked from the beach. The hairs on the back of my neck stick up now just thinking about it. This was my utopia. This was why we had come to Scotland. This was the dream.
To top it off the next day the lobster pot produced three crabs which was great fun. Too small to eat but a delight to hear the kids giggles. Hee hee.

Then we made a mistake. We left. I kick myself now because there was no rush but the allure of adventure moved us on. It was a while before we found a spot like that again.

Life caught us up and we headed to Oban to deal with it. Why people still insist on getting sent a fax is beyond me. Also we found a campsite and charged up the batteries.

In between printing documents and faxing signed versions back, we headed south again to a sleepy spot we had been told was the best in the world.
After a 5 mile drive up a track we ended up in a car park on the end of a peninsula. Lovely sheltered spot with some small hills that the Fernster loved practicing her rock climbing on. There was no beach but a pier which we fished off. I say fished but basically I just ensured Fern didn’t fall/jump in. I really wished we had packed her life jacket but nevertheless Fern enjoyed casting and reeling back in whilst I held on to her coat hood. She is only five and I am immensely proud of her. One day she might actually catch something but considering she hasn’t yet her enthusiasm for my favourite pastime is staggering.
It was clear the kind people who said this was the best sleepy spot in the world didn’t have any children due to the lack of beach and us being scared witless of the kids drowning – but it was a nice one. As a bonus we caught two crabs, two gurnard and a codling in the lobster pot. Get in!

More faxing moronic estate agents and we headed north to Glencoe. The lovely H laughed at my tales of being battered in a tent by the relentless gales in the red squirrel campsite many years ago. It was uncanny how you could hear the wind coming down the valley five minutes before it pummelled your tent and smacked you in the side of the face. Oh how we laughed. We drank beer in the Clachaig Inn and swiftly got reminded of the change in life since my last visit. No kids in the walkers bar.

We drove up the valley and parked in a viewing spot for the night. There had been bad weather warnings but it was too warm to snow in the petrol pump attendants opinion. He must have lived in a brick house because he didn’t mention anything about wind.
We ate dinner, chilled in front of a film and had an early night.

I woke up at 02:00 to find the van rocking violently. It didn’t seem to bother my girls though who were all snoring soundly. At 05:00 I was very worried. The wind was incredible and the van was being battered. Our thermal screen got ripped off and was hanging on precariously so I made the decision to open the sliding door and retrieve it.
Now I’ve ridden a motorbike in excess of 100mph a few times (on private roads of course) but nothing could of prepared me for what was about to happen. I stepped out of the van and was very nearly blown off my feet. I clung to the van and very quickly grabbed the thermal blind. The strangest thing was it felt like I was in a vacuum as I was find it impossible to breathe. The wind just blew away any air out of my mouth. I got back into the van shocked. God knows how we didn’t lose half the contents of the van to the wind but we didn’t. I got the girls up and drove down the valley to find shelter.

We found a car park which was still windy but very sheltered in comparison. Through the glare of the headlights through the rain we saw a robin red breast clinging to a branch for dear life a foot from our windscreen. “Poor thing” and “cool” came to mind.
Turns out we were in the windiest part of the country and it had caused all forms of havoc. 120mph winds apparently. More like 160 we declared.
It calmed down after that and we spent a couple of days chilling and walking around Glencoe. It is nice there.

For some reason I still find myself thinking quite a lot of that night and how windy it was. I wonder if I had known then how dangerous it felt outside the van would I have still gone and retrieved the thermal screen. Probably as I’m a bit tight and it was quite expensive!

That storm affected us in a minor way (homes and life’s were lost so let me be clear, I know we were lucky and I’m being a selfish prat just saying this). It ruined every beach on the west coast. Every bit of litter those filthy trawler men chuck overboard ended up on land. Oil drums, crates, vinyl rope, netting was on every beach we visited from then on. There was no foraging to be had either – all signs of shell fish had gone. Gutted.
Anyway – we didn’t know this at the time fortunately and headed of up north for more adventure.

While in the Lake District the very nice hippy told us about a sleepy spot right next to the beach near Arisaig. After a bit of asking locals we found it and spent a lovely two nights there.

Highlights were:
1) Being caught sawing up some fallen wood red handed by a local. He squinted as he looked at what I was doing, realised I was processing wood and then gave me a cheery wave and wished me a good day. Awesome. None of this “get off my land” which I expect. Perhaps he normally finds English fools burying bodies in his wood – I have no idea.
2) Finding a dead seal. It was the only seal we saw during the trip and was fascinating. Fern poked its eye socket with a stick which I thought was very brave.
3) Cooking a leg of lamb in a hole on the beach. I have always wanted to do this after eating traditional Māori food cooked in a “hangi” oven in NZ many years ago. So I dug a hole in the beach, made a big fire. Around the fire I put in a load of rocks and a couple of hours later when the rocks were very hot and the fire was just hot embers, I placed a layer of seaweed over the hot rocks, and lay the leg of lamb wrapped in tinfoil (yes I cheated) on top. Another layer of seaweed and then I covered it fully with sand. I left the buried lamb for a few hours and then dug it up and ate it. Next time I’ll do it for four hours but the result was amazing. I had realised a dream and the lovely H, as always, fully supported my madness by bringing me Irish coffees (we debated if the scots actually call it Irish coffee) and preparing the food. She even raved about how delicious it was. Hee hee again. Awesome indeed.

During all of this time, our children just played in the open air. When it rained they sat in the van, and when it stopped they got out. They didn’t care that it was winter and neither did we.

It was now time for some physics. There were very few campsites open that we could use to charge batteries . We didn’t want to stay in them but the vans heater (the mighty eberspacher) needs battery power. A lot. We were struggling to stay warm and that wouldn’t do.
So I hatched a plan. We found an open campsite (someone’s garden effectively) at Kilchoan on the Ardnamurchan peninsula. After chatting to the lovely owners who agreed that I could get things delivered to the campsite, I ordered two massive golf cart batteries (Trojan T105’s to be exact) which would in theory give us ten days continuous heat without charging. They took two days to be delivered so we headed off on the ferry to Mull for two nights.
As a side note. We spent three nights in total on the Ardnamurchan peninsula and we were afraid that we wouldn’t get off it before being assimilated. Everyone we met was English. Everyone we met worked in the post office. Everyone was effectively retired but was trying desperately to justify their existence. Weird.

The ferry to Mull was ace. We didn’t see anything in terms of wildlife but we met someone Scottish. He rocked. I think he said “What the hell are you doing here in December” and then talked about ferry times. He liked his ferries.

We landed in Tobermory and it all clicked together. There is a children’s TV program in the UK called “What’s the Story Ballamory” where everyone is happy all the time and make boring stuff sound great. Tobermory is where it is filmed.

Anyway, after ice creams, a fill up of fuel (the fuel in Kilchoan is ridiculously expensive for some reason) and a stock up on food supplies we headed off to Calgary Bay for more adventures.
Calgary Bay is gorgeous if you ignore all the litter washed up on the beach. As usual, there weren’t many people around and there were zero people wild camping. We took our time deciding where to park up for the night and ended up on the northern car park in a lovely spot overlooking the bay and the special moor land which had a hole so big in that Fern disappeared for a while. We walked on the beach, dug holes looking for razor clams (no such luck), built sand castles and generally had a lovely time.

I think it’s worth talking about the warning a friend (Jed) gave us about going to Scotland in winter as he had done it several years earlier with his lovely family: You might get “Cabin fever”. Its dark all the time (basically from 15:30 till 08:30) and you end up spending a lot of time in the van. This is very true. However, we didn’t ever feel like that. I guess with the kids being so young and 16:00 being their dinner time, evening’s kind of fell into place. We would get them to bed around 19:00 and then prepare our meal for the evening. Yes we had some early nights but it was more to do with falling asleep while reading a book in bed than anything. Heaven! One other way around the dark is to play while its daylight and then travel during the early evening hours. This meant it was dark when we arrived at sleepy spots but our torches ensured we didn’t get into any bother. I like to think we were mentally prepared for the short days (thanks for the heads up Jed) but in reality seven hours of playing around in the fresh air with the kids was enough for us all!

After Calgary Bay we headed south and enjoyed the stunning scenery. We stopped and looked at a waterfall and then drove a bit further south where we parked up a bit further along from a couple of twitchers on Loch Na Keal. This was a stunning spot and we enjoyed climbing on the rocks and investigating the bare rock pools.

The weather started turning so after one final game of hide and seek, we retreated into the van for an Irish coffee and discussed the rest of the days plans. We were incredibly exposed on this spot and the wind was heading straight at us off the Atlantic. I was feeling a little nervous about spending the night here so we agreed that while we still had some daylight, we would hop over to the East of Mull and find a sheltered spot for the night. We ended up in a car park that was well set back from the road just south of Fishnish. It was a car park for one of the woodland walks setup for us tourists and was perfect. We played in a stream next to the van, had a small fire until the rain put it out and then retreated to the safety of the mighty Florida for the night. So after a good sleep and a quick woodland walk we headed back to Tobermory for some supplies. The ferry back to Kilchoan was calm and two huge batteries were waiting for us. Without further ado, we hot footed out of there before we were asked to work in the post office.
Conscious of the date and the lack of progress towards Applecross where I was feeling a real draw to for some reason, we got on another ferry at Mallaig to the Isle of Skye (after fish and chips and a two hour wait in Mallaig). We docked into the south of Skye at around 18:00 and were put onto a sleepy spot moments earlier (have technology – will use it) near Tokavaig. It was an exciting drive over the hills in the dark and fog on a single track road but I am extremely glad we did it. We expertly manoeuvred the florida over wet grass onto our mats into a lovely spot next to the sea. Within minutes dinner was being cooked and a fire was being built. Bizarrely it was very mild (6 to 10 degrees C) so we had a lovely evening outside enjoying the unspoilt skyline. This was what it was all about! We quickly agreed that we would stay here for at least two nights while supplies allowed.

Bright and early Fern and I went off and investigated the beach. I found an amazing bit of drift wood and started making things out of it while Fern prodded the fire and generally learnt about hot things. We cooked sausages on the fire and then went fishing (blank not surprisingly). I set the lobster pot at low tide with great hopes. The lovely H and Jules went off on their own adventure and trekked around the coast to a ruined building.

It felt like we had spent an age there when a local man (from England) came over to talk to us. It was bad news – the weather was turning for the worst again and we were right in its path. The nice man pointed to the house down the way that was missing a roof and suggested it was going to be that bad. We were more than welcome to move our van near to his house to get shelter but he highly recommended we moved our van. With wind and rain coming in I was also a bit worried if we would actually get the van off the wet grass we were parked on – so we immediately tried it while we had a nice man to help us should we get stuck. We didn’t get stuck and drove off over to the other side of the Isle.
Bollocks. The rain came down and we hunted for another place to sleep. I won’t bore you with the details, but we ended up in a dismal layby that seemed to offer us some protection from the increasing wind just up the road from the Sligachan Hotel (which was shut). It was another extremely windy night. The radio reported flooding in lots of places and there was a severe weather warning for the west of Scotland around the highlands. While I’m in this dark place remembering this particularly scary time, I’ll tell you that we were stuck on Skye for two nights (all ferries and the bridge were closed) and the next day involved us doing 50 miles looking for a sheltered spot. That was some of the hardest driving I have ever done. The florida is like a huge waddling kite on a single track road in extreme winds and I had to concentrate a 100% to ensure we didn’t get blown off the road by an unexpected gust (there were many). With winds up to 120mph and driving rains Skye didn’t look too appealing. Anyway, enough of that…

The next day we got up and hatched a plan. I’d been to Talisker brewery before in the late 90’s and remembered it fondly. As we were nearby and it was raining, the distillery tour seemed a good thing to do. The car park was empty and it was raining heavily. We ran around to the doors only to find them shut. Bugger. The website said it was open all year round – clearly not. At that point a rather jovial looking man popped his head out of a side door and shouted us in. They were shut to the public but his boss wasn’t around so he would give us a quick tour. He talked fondly about the olden days and moaned about the new fangled computers that did his job for him. That’s progress for you. Anyway, we had a good chat about VW’s and eberspachers and then went on our way.

We ended up in the most sheltered space we could find which was not very glamorous. However, the kids showed no interest in going outdoors due to the weather so we just played games and ate food. I’ve had worse days that’s for sure.
Early the next day it was calm again and we found out the bridge was open so we got off the isle. It was a real shame that we drove as fast as we could to get off Skye. We had great plans and even thoughts of seeing the northern lights. Ah well, we drove over the bridge, turned into the car park overlooking Skye and the lights of the houses in Kyleakin and had a bacon sandwich with a cup of tea. It was at that point that we felt the familiar rocking of the florida and the wind speed raised yet again. One minute we were thinking of driving to Applecross and the next our plans had changed to somewhere sheltered and safe.

We always knew this could happen so we pointed to somewhere on the map and set off in our awesome campervan. We were heading to Aviemore via Loch Ness. Fingers crossed it would snow.
We stopped off at the Loch Ness museum and immediately stopped believing in the Loch Ness monster. It was a nice break of a day’s travelling and I would recommend it. The whole route from Skye to Inverness was a fantastic drive. I kept eyeing up places for potential sleepy spots with day dreams of returning in better weather. Scotland really is a fantastic country. We got to Aviemore and stopped off in the town for a walk around. We soon felt the cool vibe of the place and started to pretend we were hip parents here for the ski season. Everyone was friendly and even though we were feeling a relatively new sensation of being around people, we felt very comfortable. It was a no brainer to head off up the mountain road to find a sleepy spot – of which there were plenty. We found some cracking spots mainly in the forest commission car parks. It didn’t actually say we couldn’t park overnight in them. The forest warden chap didn’t seem too put out when I ran out in my pyjamas to quiz him on the legality of our stay. He said at this time of year no one is bothered and wished us a lovely stay. Hee hee.
We had four lovely peaceful days and nights in Aviemore and enjoyed it a lot. I missed the sea and our camp fires, but I loved the walks, the company and the vibe of Aviemore. It didn’t snow unfortunately but we did get to spend a few hours with reindeers (at the reindeer centre of course) which was very cool. They had a BBQ shed. Yes – you read that right. A shed with a BBQ in it. I definitely want one of those. We spent a day at a wildlife park which is full of cold weather animals (polar bears and the like). You have to take your hat off to the Scottish. They know their weather is generally shit so they capitalise on it. Genius.

Nothing spectacular happened that I feel I need to write about – it was just nice.

I could have happily spent a few more days there but alas we were running out of time. One last breakfast next to Loch Morlich and we headed off to Edinburgh to stay in a full blown camp site. Showers and everything.
I had never been to Edinburgh before and thoroughly enjoyed our day there. We walked a lot and went into the “Camera obscura & world of illusion” which was great. We had lunch which cost a small fortune and the kids threw a paddy. Hee hee, we are good at the city thing. We hadn’t lost it.

Shaun Bowden Big Weekender

Eight weeks on from when we did this epic 1800 km weekend rally and I think the hang over has just worn off…

What was this weekend all about? well let our good friend Bobby Willis explain,

“My good friend and business partner Shaun Bowden died last March while we were walking in Scotland, leaving behind a young family. The Glencoe Mountain Rescue team was fundamental in his search and recovery and they risk their lives in awful conditions for 100′s of people each year.
I went back up to Glencoe a few months ago to revisit the area where the accident occurred and as we were driving along a very beautiful Glen, we saw a battered old Land Rover that was Glencoe Mountain Rescue’s vehicle. That’s when I first thought how nice it would be if there was a Bowden Land Rover roaming around the area saving lives. Since then my friends and I have made it our mission to raise money for GMR to have a bespoke 4×4 rescue vehicle.”

We didn’t personally know Shaun but we did know some of his friends so friends and friends of Shaun’s friends all became friends together on the Bowden Big Weekender 8 weeks ago. We had the amazing voice and guitar playing of Tom Dibb join us in Jed’s van then we all met up at The Heritage Motor Centre then on to The Lake District and after a few hours at a place via Muddy Porn at Drumclog it was then onto Glencoe. Over £18,000 was raised and Bobby has donated his own grey Discovery that you see in this video to Glencoe Mountain Rescue to be converted into a rescue vehicle with the money raised. Chris at Quickfist UK has since donated a quick fist pack to Glencoe Mountain Rescue through us as we are one of his main stockists and as soon as the new rescue vehicle is built CVC will be sending up one of our Trasharoos to store wet ropes and other kit.

Here is the Bowden Big Weekender web site for you all to have a look at http://bowdenbigweekender.co.uk/about/ Although this was supposed to be a one off event it was so good that it made us think if it could maybe be an annual event with more activities included over a few more days. I would think a lot of our CampervanCulture.com brethren would be very interested next year especially those from Europe to get the genuine UK experience!

It was great for the CVC team to get out and let our hair down and have a random encounter with a fellow Syncro owner who joined in for a while.

Shaun Bowden Big Weekender from London to Glencoe in Scotland. from CampervanCulture.com on Vimeo.

Morocco Overland Episode 7 – Atlantic

After a good few weeks driving across mountains, deserts and gorges we finally hit the coast. It was the first time since we left Spain that we saw huge numbers of Europeans. lots were in huge motorhomes and camper vans and has a less well traveled look about them. We soon left them behind when we drove along the coast off road across the Sous-Massa National Park and we were alone again. It was Jed’s 40th when we were caught up in a flash flood at the surf town of Taghazout and spent time recovering the crazy Swiss. The recovery kit we stock was put to good use once again and we helped recover stuck vehicles that were directly in the path of the flash flood. With a second wave expected due to the weather forecast it got us thinking how many people do go away without even a simple tow strap or recovery kit like the ones we sell on our web shop. We seriously recommend carrying one now, even just for weekend camping as you simply never know.

All along the coast was a pretty relaxing time with lots of wild camping cooking on the Bushpig, sand driving and good times. Get comfortable and check out part 7. The Atlantic,

Morocco Overland Episode 7 – Atlantic from CampervanCulture.com on Vimeo.

Morocco Overland Episode 6 – Rock & Stone

After being out in the Sahara for a while we were freaked out slightly when we entered the town of Tata and civilisation. We found our second bar of the trip and enjoyed cold beers as well as pigging out on awesome street food. Tata was one of those places that on first impressions seemed un inspiring, but it actually ended up being a great town that we enjoyed visiting before heading further east to Tafraoute. We drove one of the best pistes of the trip so far through a gorge with a dry river bed and up into the mountains.
Tafraoute is an amazing place where you can wild camp right out amongst the painted rocks and rugged landscape that bring people to this area. When we arrived at the painted rocks we couldn’t make our minds up if the handiwork of the artist that started this rock painting made the landscape more interesting with his work, or if he had spoiled it. It was a fairly brave move to take on such a task but as the evening went on and we cooked dinner we were still talking about it. The discussion went on long into the night and even the next morning whilst having coffee we were still talking about it. Then it dawned on me, we had spent hours analysing the artists work and although personally I have never understood art in the past I then realised the whole point of it was to get the reaction it got from us and the hours we had talked about it.

That day we got art.

If you are interested in any of the equipment we use or our Campervan Culture branded clothing then please feel free to check out our web shop on the CampervanCulture.com web shop.

Morocco Overland Episode 6 – Rock & Stone from CampervanCulture.com on Vimeo.

Morocco Overland Episode 5 – Sahara

Back when we came up with the idea to make a set of adventure travel videos of a trip through Morocco and the Sahara our minds would often wander while trip planning about sand dunes and the feeling of true wilderness. In part 5 we sure got lots of it and loved every single moment of this section. We were a long way from the nearest town or even road, we had to get our water from wells and carry enough fuel for 600km as well as food and other supplies.

You will find that part 5 is longer than previous videos we have made. We have done this longer video so you guys can get to follow us along and get to know us and what we are really like. You get to see the equipment we use on trips and how we use it, everything from our cooking equipment to our recovery equipment and of course out trusty Trasharoo. We took the chance to tag an abandoned Land Rover out in the desert with some of the stickers that the companies that have shown us support gave us. So grab a seat, get comfortable and enjoy part 5.

Part 6 to follow very soon…

If you are interested in any of the equipment we use or our Campervan Culture branded clothing then please feel free to check out our web shop.

Morocco Overland Episode 5 – Sahara from CampervanCulture.com on Vimeo.

Morocco Overland Episode 4 – Into the wilderness

This time in part 4 we venture further into the wilderness where the roads became more demanding and the terrain starts to take it’s toll on the vehicles. Apart from us changing a prop shaft back in Fez this was the first time we had to sort out actual mechanical issues that stopped us in our tracks.
While driving along a desert highway we got our first sighting of camels and with that we pulled over to get a closer look. We met some Berber people who took us down an ancient underground canal that was used to take water from the mountains into the desert oasis. Part of this trip was to be an educational experience for 8 year old Isaac and this turned out to be a very valuable geography lesson about the true Morocco for him. After surfacing from below the desert we had tea with the Berbers (something we had started to get used to every time we met one of these very hospitable people) and as we were about to say our good bye’s Alan and Jed noticed a small group of 4×4’s heading off the road and into the open desert. When they asked the Berber, “Where are the 4×4’s heading?” his answer was “Voth”. We had read a little about the work of “Voth” before we had left but could not find exactly where they would be online. We soon realised why as we set off into the desert to take a look for ourselves….
As the days went on we went from desert to gorges to mountains with truly amazing driving and wild camping. New years eve was spent around the Roadii Grill where we had one of our big cook ups after buying a kilo of some kind of animal hung up in a hut at the side of the road. After that we went much higher and more remote and that will take us into part 5 and the Black Rock Desert, but for now kick back and come drive with us…

If you are interested in any of the equipment we use or our Campervan Culture branded clothing then please feel free to check out our web shop.

Morocco Overland Episode 4 – Into the wilderness from CampervanCulture.com on Vimeo.

Morocco Overland Episode 3 – Journey to Christmas

Having spent time heading down through Europe and crossing into Africa in parts one and two, it was time to get off the roads and into the wilderness. Christmas was fast approaching and after driving off road for over 120 miles we found “the spot” for the big day. In part three we experience varied landscapes that were amazing to drive through and camp in. We go from Fes to the mountains and into massive cedar forests and snow capped mountain roads, then down into the start of some of the desert areas and into the palmeries at the source of the River Ziz.

And yep, we bagged the obligatory Moroccan carpet with a little help from our friends at Smiley Bobs.

So here is part three for you guys and please feel free to leave a comment.

Morocco E3Morocco Overland Episode 3 – Journey to Christams from CampervanCulture.com on Vimeo.

Morocco Overland in a T3/T25/Vanagon Syncro. (Part 2, entry to Africa)

We finally made it to Africa.

First stop was the amazing town of Chefchaouen. We were blown away with just how amazing this place was and how cool the people the people were that we met there. It was our first stay at a campsite so far and we stayed at the only campsite just up the hill from Chefchaouen town. It’s a pretty basic campsite by European standards with cracked sinks and dodgy looking plumbing but they do have hot showers and that makes it a good campsite by Moroccan standards. There is free camping to be had across the road at the football field next to the hotel, it looked like a popular spot for fellow overlanders.

Here is a link for www.campingchefchaouen.com

Having acclimatised in Chefchaouen we ventured south and onto Fez. The drive was a learning experience and we soon realised that the donkey was still a main means of travel for lots of Moroccans and road miles took double the time by European standards. You have to adapt your driving style a fair bit because if you drive correctly you would probably cause an accident.
We opted to stay at www.diamantvert.ma while in Fez, it was a really nice campsite that has just had a whole load of money spent on it and has good wifi. We opted to take a guide from Diamante Vert and we had a great day wandering around the city. This is the first time any of us had ever employed someone to show us around a place and it has to be said it was really worth while. We got taken through tiny doorways and into court yards that we would have definitely missed had we ventured out solo.

With Chefchaouen and Fez done and dusted it was time to head out into the wilds and off road but you will have to wait for part three so stay tuned and keep following.

Morocco Overland – Entry to Africa from CampervanCulture.com on Vimeo.

Morocco Overland in a T3/T25/Vanagon Syncro. (Part one UK and Spain)

Well here we go.

This is the first video in a series of videos we will be making of our recent trip from the UK to The Sahara Desert. We set off Friday 13th of December 2013 (Yeah I know but we are not superstitious! (yet)) after a busy year at CampervanCulture.com looking for adventure. We were invited by CampervanCulture.com subscriber Dave (AKA Orcecaveman or Dave L Orcecaveman) to call in on him in the south of Spain on the way down to North Africa. Dave told us he lived in a cave house in a place called Orce and he owned a VW Syncro like us and was keen to meet us. Orce was a couple of hours off route and after Alan and Jed spoke for a while about who would actually choose to live in a cave it has to be said we did have our reservations. I can’t remember who said it but one of us said, “When will we actually get an offer like this again?” so we agreed to go, after all we were looking for adventure right!

So we set off to Poole and got the LD Lines ferry to Santander on what turned out to be a vomit comet. It was 28 hours of the roughest seas any of the crew had ever sailed in with plates being smashed and what ever wasn’t screwed or stuck down developing a mind of its own and moving around the ship like it was possessed. To be fair to the LD lines staff and the actual ship they were both very nice with really clean cabins and at £267 each way it is a total bargain, its just the ship is too small for the rough as hell Bay Of Biscay in January. Saying that a few weeks later we met an English couple who were on the Brittany Ferries super dooper cruise liner style ferry with stabilizers that left 4 days after us and they got dropped off in Brest, France and left to make their own way down to Spain as the big ferry thought it was too dangerous after hitting “The Horn Of France”. Anyway… with that little mission out of the way we hit sunny Spain and after an amazing over night wild camp near Madrid we found the crazy guy who lives in a cave.

We would like to dedicate this first video to Dave and Carole, two of the most genuinely nice people you could ever meet. It’s refreshing to meet people this cool and after spending some time with them you know they deserve the amazing life style they chose because they are just so bloody nice… We left Orce with three new good friends, Dave Carol & Chuck (the dog). We are now the sort of people who would want to live in a cave house, they are amazing.

Hopefully this should get your foot tapping…

Morocco part 1 from CampervanCulture.com on Vimeo.

Morocco Expedition – Chefchaouen to Fes

We left Chefchaouen heading south for Fes. None of us were sure what Fes would have in store for us as it would be the largest city that we would have encountered on our trip so far. The night previous we had used the campsite internet to have a look at what campsites are available in Fes and there are basically two main choices, the better of which was called ‘Diamante Vert’.
We were able to get a fairly good location for the campsite however you can never be sure how easy it will be to find somewhere once you actually arrive.

The journey down to Fes was a great drive with constantly changing scenery from mountains to wide open plains, many villages along the way with wonderful smells of food cooking by the roadside, of course there were the standard crazy drivers and slow trucks to deal with but once you are used to how the mayhem works it becomes fairly easy to negotiate the chaos. We happened to be traveling on market day which added a few unexpected road users into the mix, the most notable of which was a donkey and cart traffic jam near to a large market about two thirds of the way to Fes.

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Finding our way to the campsite in Fes turned out to be easier than expected, there were signposts for the camping all the way from the main roads to the site on the outskirts of the town. We followed the signs around the town but we passed by the campsite in search of a supermarket called Marjane and just before we reached our turn off much to our surprise Olly and Heidi pulled onto the road just in front of us! They were also heading for the supermarket so we parked up together and said hello. They were actually heading for the other less reputable campsite so were glad they had bumped into us and decided they would follow along to camp with us for the evening. (they were heading into Fes the next day as they had booked a hotel in the medina for a few nights over Christmas).

The campsite itself was nice and spacious with lots of trees offering shade. There were about 20 Dutch T5 owners there on a 10 day tour of Morocco, to see that amount of pristine looking near identical camper vans on any campsite would be quite strange but in the heart of Morocco it was very odd.

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We drove to the far end of the campsite and spotted a T3 that matched the description of a van we had read about on the internet a day or so earlier. A club80-90 member had posted a thread on the forum about how he had bumped into an American guy broken down on the side of the road in a yellow aircooled T3 Westfalia. It had been filled with Diesel by the guys at a garage a few kilometers away and inevitably the engine hadn’t like it very much.
We were pretty sure that it must be the one so when the owner strolled by and said hello we asked how his van was running now after being filled with Diesel, much to his surprise!
He was quite confused until we told him how we knew about his troubles! Turned out he had asked for Gasoline which the pump attendant had translated as Gasoil (Diesel), Sans Plombe was what he actually needed (Petrol).

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Later we were approached by the campsites official tour guide who offered his services for a tour of the Medina the next day. It seemed reasonable and he assured us that it wouldn’t be a retail based tour of all the local pushy carpet sellers. We took him up on the offer as we were all keen to go and see some of the historical sites of the town and be lead around the medina by someone who knows the way and can answer historical questions about the surroundings.

We collected up some fire wood from around the camp and got some embers burning, Olly and Heidi joined us for a few drinks around the fire too, telling us about the Roman ruins they had been to visit and the immense market they had been to the day before. We were feeling excited but also anxious about what our tour of the famous medina the next day would have in store.

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All of us having traveled in some quite hectic countries in Africa and Asia before we are all well accustomed to just how hectic things can be, but having never visited any city in Morocco so far the intensity of the hassle, hustle and bustle was completely unknown. All we could be sure of was that we would be visiting the leather dying tanneries that Fes is famous for, so with camera batteries put on charge and memory cards emptied ready for the day it was time for bed.

Morocco Expedition – Orce to Chefchaouen

We left Dave’s cave house full of ideas about saving money and finding a cave to live in, fantasising about a life full of olives, oranges, almonds and all the other delicious fresh produce available locally to Orce. But the draw of the desert was pulling and although six or seven weeks away seems like a long time, in the back of your mind you know time is precious so we said our goodbyes to Dave and Carole and began our journey to Algeceiras to board a ferry to Tangier Med, our entry into Africa.

Our next main port of call was to see a guy called Carlos who runs a ticket agency called ‘Viajes Normandie’ selling ferry tickets for our selected crossing. We had found Carlos via various online recommendations as being a price you can trust and it seems that the going rate is €200 for the return crossing. Feels quite expensive for a fairly short crossing, but how else are you going to get there?

We found Viajes Normandie agency quite easily, it’s also right next to a few supermarkets meaning its a good place to stock up on the little home comforts that might not be available whilst on another continent.
After a few tense moments of misunderstanding and sense of humour failure Jed had purchased his tickets for the crossing, Harriet was next and with her slightly better language skills she had purchased ours with relative ease.
We took up on the opportunity to stock our cupboards with essentials, some of which being some select items of booze….well.. you cant have a proper Christmas day without a glass of booze in your hand really can you?

Shortly before arrival on our route to Algecieras we had spotted somewhere on the beach that looked like it might make a great place to camp up for the night. We backtracked along our route and pulled into the spot to find a few other vehicles there that looked as though they might also be on their way to or from Morocco.

That evening turned out to be the warmest on the trip so far. We all sat outside to eat and conversation was unsurprisingly gravitating toward what our next day would have in store.

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Not only were we going to be entering Africa, but we had another ferry crossing ahead of us and if there’s one thing with Ferries its that you can never really know what’s going to happen. Different ports, different staff, different languages, different protocol etc etc. It all boils down into a big melting pot of ‘Not knowing what on earth is going on’. This ferry was no different.

After passing through tickets, customs and passport checks we were set free into that no mans land of ferry queuing lanes that every port has. It was a little harder than usual at Algeceiras to find your lane as it was hidden behind loads of parked lorries, but having found the way and boarded the ferry, forwards this time, we grabbed our various documents that we thought we might need and made our way up to the passenger lounge. It quickly became apparent that we needed to fill in some forms while aboard so Harriet and Louise took the filled in forms to the police counter where there was a queue tailing back a fair way already.

Approx 15 minutes later a flustered Harriet arrived back to where we were sitting ushering us off to the police desk. Unknown to Louise and Harriet each individual passenger had to be present with their respective passport. After a few tuts and moans we got what we needed and were one stage closer.

The crossing lasted around one hour, by the end of that hour i think we were all bracing ourselves for what lay in store. This time all the vehicles had to turn around whilst inside the ferry before disembarking…see what i mean about ferries?

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Passport control etc wasn’t too difficult but its worth noting that whilst on the ferry to Morocco and going the police desk onboard they stamp a number into your passport along with a stamp for the country. The stamped number needs to be filled out on your D16 vehicle importation document before you reach the people who want to check it upon arrival in Morocco.
Vehicle insurance is available in a small white hut amongst a load of others offering money exchange. The insurance isn’t cheap by any means but compulsory so we went ahead with it. Three months insurance was approx £200.

With everything ship shape we set off for our first campsite in a place called Chefchaouen roughly a couple of hours from Tangiers. If you looked on a map at the route, you also would probably think the time estimate for it was quite accurate however, once you factor in Moroccan roads and drivers you might as well double it. A mixture of complete lunatics over taking on blind bends, generally driving on both sides of the road and heavy trucks moving at 5-10kph on the steeper roads makes for interesting driving!

It was quite overcast when we arrived and some time after dark we had a couple of hours of rain, not quite what we were expecting but we were quite high up in the mountains after all. The next day the sun was out, temperatures were still quite cold though, below zero at night and not much warmer in the mornings.

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Chefchaouen is situated in the Rif mountains and the name literally translates to ‘look to the mountain’ Chef meaning ‘look’ and Chaouen being the ‘mountain’.
Its a stunning town with a mixture of white washed and deep blue walls. The medina here is not large but is a tightly packed maze of ups, downs, in’s and out’s and just enough hustle and bustle. The population here isn’t big which makes the town very pleasant to meander around.

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We met a couple called Olly and Heidi who were parked next to us in a long wheel base Sprinter with UK plates, the first we had seen in a long time. They had also just arrived in Morocco but had been in Spain and Portugal for a few months previous. They gave us a few bits of info they had found out about the town and we had the usual chats about the UK and how we were all glad to be in a slightly warmer climate. Ollie and Heidi had already been at the site for a day or so and were leaving to head south, so we said our goodbyes and wondered if we would see them again on our travels.

On our walk into the town we met a man called Mustafa who showed us the way down the hill to the medina. He took us past some of the towns famously beautiful spots on our way and took us to meet a friend of his that runs a carpet shop in the town.

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At this point we thought this might be turning into one of the many cunning ploys the Moroccan culture has developed to empty money from travellers pockets, however this turned out to be nothing like it, we were offered our first mint tea (whisky berber as they call it, it does not contain alcohol) and to our surprise the shop owner spoke perfect english.
He was very knowledgeable and a pleasure to talk with and not once did we feel pressured to buy anything in the shop. Jed, Louise and Isaac had gone off wandering so once we left the shop we headed for the main square to find a cafe, sit down, relax and after getting a taste for it, drink some more mint tea.

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In retrospect we would have all liked to have spent a bit more time in Chefchaouen and i think in the future we all will but this time we decided to leave the next morning. Christmas was looming and there was a unspoken pressure to get to somewhere warmer at least for the celebrations.