Monday, 1 June 2015

Plage Blanche: in search of shipwreck part one (by Polka)

We left Marrakech hoping to do four more routes covering four different terrains: High Atlas, Anti Atlas, the Sahara desert and the West Coast which was going to include Plage Blanche. Aaron discovered there was a shipwreck stuck in Plage Blanche and was very keen on finding it. 

Damage caused by raging water which is hardly there in this river bed  at other times

We didn't realise at that point that although the rain had stopped several days before, it was still haunting us: roads were closed for repairs and off road tracks washed out. The former was the reason to give up on the High Atlas route (at least for a few days) and the latter made us turn around from our route to Fort Bou-Jerif despite getting to within 1 km of it! 

This is a map showing where we were during the route described in this and the next post - far to the south.

We knew that some tracks could be still either very difficult or even inaccessible and hence, just before setting off to Fort Bou-Jerif (FBJ) we asked at the petrol station in Sidi Infi (the town nearest to the fort) about the FBJ piste (off-road track). The man we spoke to didn't express any concerns so in spite of a very late hour we headed for the fort hoping to find it open and spend a night there before commencing our drive across the beach (Plage Blanche). 

On the way to Fort Bou-Jerif

The trouble started 3 km before the fort. Parts of the dirt track were washed out but still our car handled them very well until we came across a river. After a careful inspection we decided against crossing it and instead we set up our tent to spend the night there and have a good look at the river in the morning. At the same time we were looking for alternative routes.

The old Fort Bou-Jerif in the background - just on the other side of the river

And that's the river that kept us away from the fort

                                                                              Campsite for the night

The morning didn't bring the desired solution. Although there were wheel marks suggesting cars had crossed the river, after a close inspection Aaron decided against trying this route. Travelling on our own with two kids makes us extra cautious and avoid unnecessary risk. The only option left was to turn around, take the main, sealed road and approach Plage Blanche from a town called Guilmim. How wrong we were to think that after alternating our plans  everything would go smoothly! We were racing time to start our track as due to tides you can safely drive on the beach only at certain times. 

                                        One of the obstacle we had to handle the night before

On the way to Guilmim

And here it is: Plage Blanche, only one estuary away

We got there just in time to find the oued full of water, the main track across washed out and no clear detour. We were very determined to find a way to the beach. We entered the river bed and drove a few metres but couldn't find a way out. We then followed some tyre marks, however, they somehow just disappeared. We even asked a couple who was camping in a campervan by the beach whether they'd seen anybody crossing the river and they did direct us, unfortunately we were still unsuccessful at finding the way across. Well, there wasn't much we could do at that point but to try to enter the beach from the other end which entailed driving further down south and waiting till the next day for a low tide. And so we did.

Old, deserted kasbah (a citadel) we drove past on the way to the Atlantic

Kasbah - most of the kasbah we came across were simply accommodation. The word 'kasbah' seems to have lost its original meaning: a citadel.

Across the desert towards Atlantic

We drove to the coast and set up our tent on a cliff between fishermen's villages. The next morning we recommenced our attempts to access Plage Blanche

Our campsite for the night on a cliff by the ocean


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