Finally, after all the planning, lists of stuff to arrange and pack, car serviced and checked, the day arrived to pack and go. Our day started really early as we needed to take the dogs to the boarding kennels on the way to Marion and Anne’s place.

The kennels are located close to the airport and is called Le Caniche Ranch owned and run by Zoe and Abdul, its really well organised and a home from home for our dogs – we know they are in the best hands here.

After dropping the dogs off, we drove to the ladies’ house ready to go. The infamous rubber ring and bucket were packed, and off we set on our first leg to Zagora. This was always going to be one of the long days of driving – the goal was to get the not-so-interesting legs of the trip done with minimum stops.

We set the coordinates of the hotel we were staying at in Zagora and let the Sat Nav choose the fastest route. All was going well until after about 200km when it decided there was a better route. We turned off the main road and down some small tracks. After about 10km of dirt roads, we were getting a bit nervous about the route but pushed on.

An hour into the dirt road alternative route, Anne needed to stop – we were literally in the middle of nowhere – not a landmark in sight. We decided that we needed to trust the sat nav and accept the route. We soon saw a proper road but our relief was short-lived. It turns out this road was being dug up so was down to a single lane, with lots of machines and hold-ups.

After 20km or more, we came to a junction that turned out to be the first road we were on – had we stayed on it we would have saved probably 2 hours of dirt road!

Once back on the decent road, we made steady progress, stopping for a nice picnic lunch in a dry river bed which was full of fossils and beautiful rocks, which Karen loved looking for and collecting – she admitted she was interested in geology and rocks – something I never knew!

After lunch, we had about 3 hours to drive to get to our destination. The scenery all around us was very beautiful and there were not many cars on the road either so it was easy driving all the way to Zagora. Well almost easy as Marion called us to say they were running out of fuel! Luckily, the sat nav said a garage was 25km away, which turned out to be true. Marion confessed that they forgot to fill up before we left… a rooky mistake on such a roadtrip!

We arrived at our hotel late afternoon and were very pleased to stop for the day. We booked into the Chez Ali Hotel – a small friendly hotel on the outskirts of the main town, close to a river and many palm trees.

The accommodation was clean, comfortable, and mid-range price-wise. One thing we missed on our plan was that it was Ramadan, so the restaurant in the hotel offered a reduced menu. So we decided to have a few beers on our balcony and just wait until our hosts had eaten before going down to dinner.

The hotel had suffered really badly throughout the Covid Lockdown as most guests are tourists, so there were very few other guests staying here.

We had a nice walk around the grounds, there is a beautiful garden area and a nice pool. We sat in the outside tented area and the waiter came with menus for us. After a while, we went to order. This is when we found out the menu was limited due to Ramadan. Everything we wanted was not available, so we ordered again, the same thing….rather than just telling us what was available! Eventually, we ordered but we were in fits of laughter about this whole process – C’est Maroc as we say!

Anyway, the food was acceptable, we had had a few drinks and a very long day, so off to bed!

The beds were pretty comfortable and after such a long day, we soon drifted off. We awoke early to the sound of the mosque and Karen and I got up to go and explore. We had a quick walk down to the river and walked back through the palm trees but we were too far from the main town to go and see it, so headed back for breakfast.

After breakfast, we packed up the cars and set the coordinates for our next destination Merzouga, the gateway to the Sahara