Explore’s Caryn Darley Waddilove tried out the Southern Oasis Cycling tour in Morocco – her first ever adventure on two wheels. As she packed for her trip, the nerves started to kick in…
Was I fit enough?
Was I going to be able to keep up with the group?
Were the bikes going to be good quality?
Am I going to get bored of riding a bike for a whole week?
WHAT DO I PACK?!
These were just some of the many questions pounding through my head as I frantically packed for my first cycling tour with Explore. I have done plenty of other holidays with Explore but none had been cycling and I had no idea what to expect. Well, I needn’t have worried because this was soon to become one of the best tours I had ever done.
The tour exceeded any expectation that both I and the rest of the group had. It turned out to be a great cycling tour with a sprinkle of culture, a lovely relaxed group and a Tour Leader with a dry sense of humour and excellent biking knowledge - the perfect recipe for success.
The cycling itself varied from the twisting winding roads through the Draa Valley, taking in the contrasts of the scattered kasbahs against the vivid greenery of the date oasis, to the occasional steep uphill climbs that burned at my thigh muscles as I refused to give up and walk. Then there were the long endless straight roads of the remote southern foothills of the Jebel Sahro Mountain range – where I found myself considering whether it would be quicker to go back.
Topping it all off was tearing a trail through the High Atlas mountains, passing Berber houses and waving children, whilst being splattered with mud from top to toe – praying that I didn’t get a puncture as the wind thundered past my ears and finding that the scarf I had used to keep the cold off my face now felt like it was suffocating me. Reaching the end of the ride I was greeted by wide, white-toothed smiles in mud-covered faces (my fellow cyclists).
The memories I have will never be forgotten; how many people can say that they were caught in a Moroccan thunderstorm on the back of a camel in the middle of a desert? Or how many get to bear witness to the Eid Al-Fitr celebrations, in the local towns and villages? There was also time to relax and enjoy our picnic lunches in some of the most fantastic settings. All this made that little bit more special because of the fantastic relaxed and confident attitude of the group.
With our group ranging in age from mid-20’s to late 70’s, and varied levels of fitness, the encouragement and camaraderie was outstanding. I will always appreciate the friendships I have made on this tour; they are invaluable.
I would recommend this tour in a heartbeat and am already looking for my next big cycling adventure. And NO - I never got bored of cycling!
If you want to follow in Caryn's footsteps, take a look at our cycling holiday in Morocco and see what dates are available.
Southern Oasis Cycling Video
Explore's Mike Tyler travelled on the Southern Oasis Cycling tour back in 2007. Get a real feel for what it's like by seeing his video.