Ultimate challenge

Ready for a different sort of adventure? Lee Davey headed to Morocco as part of Bailey’s Sahara Challenge and discovered a whole new way to ‘caravan’

The Caravan and Motorhome Club was a trip partner of Bailey of Bristol’s ‘Sahara Challenge’, which saw a team of industry representatives, myself included, travel with two caravans and a motorhome from the UK to Morocco. Unfortunately the pandemic put an end to the original 2020 excursion, which ended prematurely in the Portuguese town of Sagres. So it was great to be able to reconvene with fellow participants three years later and pick up where we left off. 

Although the Club’s overseas campsite network doesn’t yet stretch as far as Morocco, it’s a popular tourist destination, and I was delighted to be invited along, towing a Bailey Phoenix+ 642 to the spiritual home of the ‘caravan’.

The route took us from southern Portugal into Spain, and across the Strait of Gibraltar to northern Morocco, where the journey began in earnest. We were impressed with how accessible the country is – a 90-minute ferry crossing easily transforming a Spanish holiday into a North African adventure through densely populated cities, vast sandscapes, and magnificent mountains, often travelling ancient routes that have existed for thousands of years.


The ferry from Algeciras at the southern tip of Spain to Tanger Med in Morocco is much like any other service, with a few notable exceptions. Unlike the roll-on, roll-off ferries that dominate the English Channel, on these FRS vessels traffic enters on the right-hand side before looping around and exiting from the left. Some vehicles – from articulated lorries to family-sized cars, but, thankfully, not caravans – were instructed to reverse on. 

There’s a customs booth on board; there, the Moroccan official examined my immigration form and passport, and stamped me into the country. Passport checks continue as the ferry is exited, and you also need to present your driving licence, V5 (logbook) and passport at Border Control in order to be issued with a temporary import certificate for your outfit. This needs to be kept safe, as you need it to exit the country. 

It is vital to check with your vehicle insurance company/cover provider whether you are covered for travel in Morocco – so do your research properly well in advance.


Heading from the port towards Rabat, the roads along the west coast are billiard-table smooth and resemble any autoroute found in France or Spain. Unsure of the time it would take to enter Morocco, our first campsite was Camping Saada in Asilah. Less than 90 minutes’ drive from the ferry, the town is a popular destination for Moroccan holidaymakers and appeared to be largely undiscovered by visitors from Europe. 

Camping Saada also gave us our first Moroccan campsite experience. Site facilities in the country are generally basic, but this is a small price to pay for adventure, especially as modern caravans and motorhomes are so well equipped. The breathtaking locations are far more important – our first night was spent just metres from Asilah’s beach.

Rabat and Casablanca were in our sights the following day. Despite having been warned about the difficulties of driving through Moroccan cities, the lure of photo opportunities proved too much. In the capital of Rabat, the street verges were freshly clipped, litter-free and lined with numerous police and army personnel. The city centre traffic was calm and gave us newfound optimism for negotiating Casablanca’s busy streets later that day. 

However, the warnings soon made sense as we entered the mayhem of Morocco’s largest city. During a previous trip to Turkey, I had mistakenly turned into an Istanbul market while towing a caravan, but Casablanca somehow managed to top that. I was grateful to have extra visibility from the towing mirrors and, having squeezed through traffic that bombarded us from all directions, we were relieved to finally emerge onto the road to Marrakesh.

Ourika Camp on the outskirts of Marrakesh became the benchmark by which the other Moroccan sites were judged; it has two swimming pools, a fabulous restaurant and a relatively plush wash block. It was also the perfect base for visiting the central medina, with reception staff helpfully arranging a taxi.

Experiencing the hustle and bustle of Marrakesh is a bucket-list must, particularly because the ancient city remains essentially unchanged, despite its huge popularity with tourists. Whether you wish to experience a traditional Hammam massage, haggle for goods in a labyrinthine souk, have your photo taken with a cobra, or simply people-watch from a café while sipping mint tea, Marrakesh will not disappoint.


Continuing into the far south of the country, cities became towns and towns became villages. Although a road-building programme was underway, we began to negotiate gravel roads for the first time. Heading from Ouarzazate to M’Hamid, Dakar Rally-style vehicles appeared on the streets, indicating that we were heading in the right direction. Our campsite for the night came about after a chance conversation with the owner, who we’d agreed to meet at the beginning of the desert roads. The location, amid the dunes of the Sahara, was next to an ominous sign that warned of desert conditions and reminded travellers to respect water or pay dearly...

The route to this campsite is often used as a training route for Dakar competitors, and it took almost an hour to reach our destination. We were rewarded with a startling landscape, mountains of sand towering above the leisure vehicles – it was undoubtedly the most unique campsite at which I have ever stayed. Untroubled by light pollution or any other signs of civilisation, that night I lay on the knife edge of a dune staring upwards at the stars – a truly memorable experience.


Over 80 million years ago, when the American and African continents collided, a chain of mountains was formed that initially resembled the Himalayas. As the continents continued their journeys, part of this chain became the Fall Line Region in the eastern United States, while the other section – north Africa’s Atlas Mountains – stretches 2,500km from Agadir in the west to Tunis in the east. 

Morocco’s modern road-building programme enabled us to travel along sections of the Anti Atlas and High Atlas ranges, although significant portions were unpaved, slowing our progress in a way that the sat-nav could not have predicted. Climbing to almost 7,500ft above sea level and pulling into a lay-by that was level with the snow line, chills were felt for multiple reasons. Aside from the cold breeze that was at odds with the high temperature, it suddenly felt like we were the only people in Morocco. This view alone was worth the 4,000-mile round-trip.

The final leg

As the High Atlas merged into the Rif Mountains, we reached Fez and Chefchaouen, the latter nicknamed The Blue City due to the colour of the streets and houses. Although firmly part of Morocco’s tourist trail, Chefchaouen offered outstanding value for money, while Camping Azilan was the perfect springboard for catching the ferry back to Spain.

The Sahara Challenge opened my eyes to the almost endless possibilities of touring with a leisure vehicle. I’ve now used a caravan to traverse ice roads in the Arctic Circle and the awesome sandscapes of the African desert. What’s next, I wonder?

Sahara scrapbook

Day 1 – Lee (pic) with Bailey’s Simon Howard at Sagres in Portugal

Day 5 – The caravan-friendly city of Rabat – capital city of Morocco

Day 8 – Heading towards an overnight camp like no other 

Day 18 – Sadly, all good things must come to an end – the ferry back to Spain

Where we stayed

  • Camping Saada, Asilah
  • Camping L’Ocean Bleu, Mansouria
  • Ourika-Camp, Marrakesh
  • Camping Panoramic Nouflla, Ait-Ben-Haddou
  • Municipal Ouarzazate, Ouarzazate
  • Camping Zebra, Ouzud
  • Camping Diamant Vert, Fez
  • Camping Azilan, Chefchaouen

Caravan and Motorhome Club member Lee Davey is a Bailey Brand Ambassador

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