Time has run away with me and I have not been keeping up with our stopovers! So here are the next ten as far as I can remember…
This was the first campsite mentioned in this post, that converted us to a more luxurious way of travel. It was positioned in a natural park and although in high season I imagine it might get a bit crowded, it was almost deserted while we were there. Great facilities and beautiful surroundings. Also horses, trees, azure winged magpies… If we hadn’t been trying to get South so quickly, we’d have stayed longer. The boys obviously found it such a relief to not just be parked in some bleak urban car park, that they danced and ran around singing ‘oh what a beautiful day! Everything’s going my way!’
2. Camping Merida
Not our favourite, but perfectly fine. We’d stopped in Merida as there were lots of Roman remains but unfortunately many of them seemed to be closed or not terribly easy to see. The bit of the town we saw was uninspiring but perhaps if we’d given it longer it would have revealed more of its charms.
3. La Aldea
We parked here while exploring El Rocio. It was well maintained, with good provisions but fairly soulless. Lots of Northern Europeans were parked up in tightly packed rows. I wouldn’t want to stay here for any length of time but it was fine for exploring the park.
4. Los Gazules
It was gorgeous at Los Gazules. Close to the white Andalucian town that the campsite takes its name from, it was quiet, surrounded by wooded hills and a mere half an hour drive from Algeciras. It was here that I had my first genuine moment of joy since leaving Yorkshire; chopping vegetables to the delicious tones of Kris Drever on the stereo and happy squeals of Rob and the boys playing football. Long warm shafts of sunlight cut through the door of the van and coated the scene in a golden late afternoon glow. I let some of the previous weeks of cold and general weirdness drop away and felt the goodness of it all. The next day we took the ferry to Morocco.
5. Assilah Harbour
I’ve written about the crossing to Morocco and our experiences of our first night at Assilah here. Assilah harbour turned out to be a totally acceptable place to stop for the night on the way south. The town itself has a really pretty medina, painted in white, intense blue and turquoise. There’s wall art around every corner and a viewing place on the ramparts at which you can look over the Atlantic and contemplate how far you’ve come. The camping stop obviously has no facilities, it’s just a bit of rough ground, but you’ll need to pay the guardien around 4 dirhams to stay there. There is no shortage of people around to ‘help’ with all this…
6. Flamants Loisirs, Moulay Bousselhem
It was on the way to Moulay Bousellhem that our window got broken. A mere one day into our Moroccan adventure and somebody opened the door of their truck just as we were passing on the motorway. Despite swerving, our wing mirror caught the door, and whipped back around smashing the passenger window into tiny pieces. Fortunately Rob wasn’t in the passenger seat at the time or it all could have been much worse. As it was, it totally threw us. We drove to a campsite and tried to figure out what to do. I wasn’t feeling brilliant about everything but waking the next morning with the sun streaming through the orange trees helped enormously. After some extremely expensive communication with our breakdown people (they couldn’t help but it took them several calls to decide this) we drove to Rabat to stay in a posh riad in the hope that they’d be able to help us out. (PS. The actual campsite bears very little resemblance to the pictures on its website…)
7. Riad El Maati, Rabat
Needless to say, it was glorious staying in a riad with a proper bed. And this riad was particularly lovely. Fahid the proprietor rang around potential window fixers and found someone that could fit us some plexi glass the next day. The staff were super friendly and the breakfast was the stuff of children’s dreams; pancakey thingies with caramel sauce, chocolate puffy balls with milk, fruity yoghurts, omelettes, pain au chocolat and more besides. Both boys left the breakfast table looking a bit green about the gills but happy.
8. L’Ocean Bleu, Mohammedia
We probably wouldn’t have stayed at Mohammedia if our repairs hadn’t taken most of the day following our unplanned stop at Rabat. As it was, we needed somewhere not too far away to stop for the night. As we approached all we could see for miles around was building site. Clearly the developers have decided that the coast here needs hotels and lots of them. It’s not even a very nice bit of coast and far too close to an oil refinery for my tastes but the campsite once we found it was nice enough. Lots of the ubiquitous white French motorhomes were parked up, signalling that we’d stumbled upon an approved spot.
9. Ferdaous, Marrakech
Essentially a big gravel car park with basic facilities. It was great as a base from which to visit Marrakech but not a place I’d hang around. That said, plenty of folk had clearly been there a while and were happily sitting about sunning themselves. Each to their own and all that…
10. Esprit Nature, Essouira
For the family that had been moving almost daily for three or four weeks, arriving at Esprit Nature was like finding a little piece of paradise. The owners Severine and Patrice have put so much thought into this campsite that it feels almost like you are invited guests. Set in the midst of an argan forest, there was a home made adventure playground, crystal clear swimming pool, water at every pitch and immaculate facilities throughout. At night the entire site was lit by huge Moroccan lamps and the atmosphere was so good and relaxing that we ended up staying six nights! It was the first time in weeks that we properly set up camp and felt at home. On our first night Severine cooked for us one of the tastiest bits of lamb any of us had ever eaten while we sat in their living room and talked quietly of following dreams.