Overlanders stranded in Morocco | Articles
British overlanders in Morocco were forced to return home without their vehicles, after the Moroccan government shut down flights and ferry services to and from the country on November 29. Announced only the day before, the border closure was a response to the emergence of the Covid ‘Omicron’ variant.
Paul Blackburn, expedition leader at An adventure of a lifetime, was guiding in Western Sahara when the announcement was made, and describes the speed of the closures as “breathtaking”, leaving his convoy of eight vehicles just two days to travel the 1600 km from Layounne to Tangier .
Although he booked round-trip tickets with another ferry company, Paul booked a GNV boat from Tangier to Genoa to create additional options for his group, but these tickets were quickly canceled. The group then proceeded to the land border in Ceuta, on the advice of the Irish consulate, but the border remained closed due to the ongoing dispute between Morocco and Spain. Finally, the vehicles were driven to Marrakech where they were locked in a secure campsite, and their occupants returned home to the UK via Paris. All members were doubly vaccinated and no quarantine was required.
Paul hopes to be able to collect the vehicles in late January or early February, via a ferry crossing to Marseille (unless the more traditional border with Spain is reopened by then). The extension of the vehicle’s 90-day temporary importation papers should therefore not be required.
Help at hand … but not always
Although airlines and ferry companies were quick to offer refunds and options for bookings to be transferred to later dates, Paul reports receiving no assistance or even a response from the British Embassy while his group was stuck, and his public guidelines were issued “three days this late,” said Paul. “We weren’t expecting special treatment, but we expected some sort of advice at a time like this. we contacted the Irish Embassy as well, as one of our group has Irish nationality, and they responded within two hours with great information. ‘go to your own embassy for help, I would advise anyone to try neighboring country embassies if you are unlucky with yours. Embassy social media feeds are also ent useful – just watch out for the haze and misinformation that can spread online. ‘
Can we travel by land in 2022?
In response to the closure of the Moroccan border, One Life Adventure’s itinerary for next year will not include any attempts to visit Africa. “North Africa is pretty reactionary right now, and I don’t blame them. But for 2022, we will not be making any trip requiring anything other than a cross-Channel ferry and we will stay less than two days by road from the English Channel, ”explains Paul.
To return home from countries on the UK’s ‘red list’, travelers must be quarantined for 10 days at their own expense, but at the time of writing this list does not include countries in Europe or North Africa.
Local Covid regulations should also be taken into account, in addition to restrictions imposed in a traveler’s home country. “I would not recommend traveling to France without the French TousAntiCovid app, in addition to the NHS Covid Pass app. This is very good – the kind of thing we should have had in the UK.
The UK government’s overseas travel advice is available at gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice. Earlier this year, LRO reported on the difficulties driving abroad, and we’ll continue to help readers monitor the situation in 2022.