Morocco – Day 5 – Merzouga -> Zagora -> Lamhamid (Foum Zguid) (441 km)
When we got up in the morning it was raining fleetingly. There were a lot of rain clouds that moved precisely in the direction where we wanted to go. Not wanting to risk a soaking, we put on our rainwear kits and secured the luggage from getting wet. As it happened, it was a very good decision. Although around midday it cleared up and we could take them off, it started to rain at the end of the day and we had to stop again to secure things.
Both in the desert and even more so in the mountains rainfall do not herald anything good. Water does not only soak in but also flows in torrents, and then there are large periodical streams of it.
Riding down the centre of the valley between Zagora and Foum Zguid, we encountered a dangerous situation. The valley has a width of 3 to 10 km, and a road runs down the middle as well as a periodic riverbed. If rain falls on the surrounding hills, it is provides an overwhelming view, but after about half an hour it gets terribly dangerous.
Water from the mud and stones from the river appears second by second, creating such a rapid current, that you cannot stand it if it reaches the knees. It gets onto the road by pouring in on sections of a dozen to several hundred meters. I encountered such obstacles.
Let me be clear, at some point we were full of fear. We rode along a large chunk of a flooded road; the level of the river was rising steadily, and was even more dangerous ahead of us. We stopped on a small hill, which was flooded after a few seconds. We made a flash decision, because in a while it would become impossible and the situation was really dangerous ….
It was then, when we were going through a dangerous section quite quickly, I was smeared with mud up to my helmet. It was a good job that I had lowered the shield. We not only took some interesting pictures during this adventure but above there was a lesson for us all as in the mountains or in the desert, you need to be on guard if it rains. The place where you are could in fact prove to be the centre of a river channel. We could still see the strength of the elements in the night and the next day we continued the journey.
Riding last, I noticed that we were passing by the riverfront, which was formed after the rains. I stopped on a small hill to take some pictures and to shoot some video. Believe me, in the beginning it all looks very innocent, but creates a huge impression.
We arrived at the hotel in Lamhamid about an hour before sunset. The hotel itself was located literally at the riverbed. After unpacking, we sat on the terrace and mentioned the events that we had experienced that day. Late in the evening we heard an incredible noise – the roar of the water. The front of the river with stones and mud filled the large size of the bed of the river flooding the bridge and ford.
At this point, the channel has a width of approximately 250 m, as it turned out, when the culminating wave passed by filled with water. It was such a big event that local village people came out of the houses in the light of flashlights to see it in the middle of the night, and even for them it was an unusual phenomenon.
Needless to say that going to sleep knowing that the wall that surrounded the hotel was in direct contact with the riverbed was a little worrying. I was not without nightmares about the rest and how water penetrates into the hotel through the windows and doors.
Advice: Do not run the risk. Had it not been for Pawel leading the group and who knew the way well (he’d already ridden along it several times) and its realities, sometimes you even have to stop and turn back. Find another way and don’t risk damage or destruction of equipment, and above all, health and life. That’s how we reacted the next day before noon, but more on this later.