Photo of 2 overland expedition pickup trucks in the Moroccan desert.

JK Overland - A Journey Through Morocco

In November 2023, JKOverland set out on an expedition to Morocco in their amazing Toyota Hilux overland pickup truck. Here's their story.

About JKOverland

JKOverland came to life because we simply love hitting the road, especially in our trusty four-wheel-drive. It lets us explore places that are off the beaten path and truly immerse ourselves in the journey. We are Jack and Kristina, a duo fueled by adventure and a passion for the great outdoors. On our travels, we're always meeting fellow overland enthusiasts, swapping tales, and delving into their adventures, rigs, and insights. Nature is our ultimate muse, constantly urging us to push our limits and step out of that cozy comfort zone. For us, it's not about amassing material wealth, but seeking out rich experiences and forming connections with the people and communities we meet along the way.


This time, leaving the ferry terminal in the South of England felt like a big deal, knowing that we are about to drive two thousand miles to the Sahara desert in North Africa. A journey via Europe and taking only three days, with a little added time pressure of the next ferry leaving Algeciras destined for Tangier Med, Morocco.

The motorways in France and Spain are easy-going and a far cry from the busy motorways of the UK which is refreshing. Once we are close to the border with Spain and the mountains of the Pyrenees come into closer view, a real sense of adventure begins to creep in.

The night before the ferry is not the greatest time to realize you are missing a vital part of the paperwork enabling the vehicle to be brought into the Kingdom of Morocco. Yikes, not the best start and made for an anxious lead-up to the crossing itself. The offending papers happened to remain in the photocopier some 1700 miles back home. Lucky for us, a family member was able to send across a high-quality PDF that we could print in the hope it would satisfy the border guards upon our arrival.

We made it!

Worried at the thought of being turned away and sent back on our way to Spain, we were delighted to be met by a kind and fellow adventure-seeking enthusiast of border guard and his lovely German shepherd dog.

Conversation soon turned to vehicles and swapping expedition plans. Twenty minutes or so later, our passports along with the vehicle entry papers were handed back to us, and that was us on our way into a brand new country in Africa. Car insurance and local SIM cards available in the port made for an easy time getting road legal and data straight off, therefore allowing us to use Google Maps to navigate to our first destination and campsite in Chefchaouen, a smaller city in the North renowned for its beautiful blue buildings and artists.

Tired from all the traveling, we opted for an early dinner and much-needed sleep to ready us for a morning exploring the city. We thoroughly enjoyed walking between the cobbled streets, taking in the stunning visuals and smells of the city going about its morning business, the sun already high in the sky and in the mid-20s Celsius. Following a coffee in the main square, we meandered our way back up towards the campsite, acquiring some local art and crafts as memories of this incredible place for when we return home.

To the desert.

Leaving Chefchaouen that afternoon, it was time to make some miles and find camp a few hours south. The roads were unbelievably twisting and potholed on this section, not to mention a very different local driving style, meaning maximum concentration was a must. The mountainous views soon made up for the difficult driving conditions, and we were able to find a lovely place to stay hosted by a family on a small farm, enjoying the warm welcome and tour of their home with a delicious homemade Tagine to mark the end of another incredible day. The following morning, it was decided that on our way south, we would stop in Fez, a major city in Morocco and home to the oldest Medina. With a local tour booked, we were fully immersed in the ways of the old Medina, trying local delicacy foods and our friends Phoebe & Joe coming away with new handmade rugs to bring the memories home. The history here speaks for itself, and having a guide to describe in detail buildings and moments in history was truly worthwhile.

Leaving Fez with feelings of excitement about the prospect of towering sand dunes and rocky trails with far-reaching views, we set about making the miles to a smaller town named Merzouga, known as the entry gates to the Desert. Camping nearby to Erg Chebbi, it was hard to contain the excitement we all felt knowing that by morning, we would be airing down to have a go at dune driving in our own vehicles that we had driven all the way from the UK!

Morning soon came around, up early, coffee on, eager to go play. It wasn't long before the Hilux was stuck up to the chassis in soft and very hot sand! The dunes can be deceiving; some will be firmer and round off to the other side, and others will be like a cliff edge with no warning. We began to dig, and no more than five minutes later, some locals turned up out of nowhere to lend a hand.

Desert crossing.

At the time of setting off on the trails shared via Wikiloc by friends who had travelled this way many years before, we probably underestimated just how far it would be, as well as challenging to the trucks by means of gruelling rocky roads and countless miles of corrugations and sections of 'Fesh Fesh', otherwise known as bottomless dust. It would be three days before we see a road, let alone a gas station. The day started with a local trying to explain that if we follow our route, we would find ourselves stuck in a two kilometre stretch of mud, so we must pay for guidance. Politely declining, we continued on surrounded by rocky hills and mountains that resembled Mars more than anywhere else we have so far travelled. Opening up into huge dry lakebeds and salt flats, it was easy to pick up speed, and it was so much fun!

Hours soon disappeared into the clouds of dust and sand with temperatures again in the high 20 degrees Celsius; we could only imagine how hard it would be to travel here in the hotter months. That first night camping wild in the absolute middle of nowhere, shadowed by dunes so high they appeared like mountains only softer edges and a warm glow. We shared the area that night with a handful of big trucks on a guided expedition. It was incredible to see these machines up close and in such a setting. That night we stargazed and ate around a small campfire in the sand. It was magical and about our favourite night of the expedition.

We woke to the sound of the big rigs headed off towards the horizon. Today we would follow our GPS tracks very close to the Algerian border. The border between Morocco and Algeria has been closed for close to thirty years, so we were expecting to see an increase in military police and potential checkpoints. We were stopped twice; the first an official border post mid-trail, all that was required were our passports, and soon we were on our way again, but not long past, a convoy of Land Cruisers in military camo coming the other way stopped to ask a few questions in French, which none of us are particularly good at, so it was out with Google Translate.

Photo of man cooking out the back of a pickup truck load bed tailgate in the evening in the Moroccan desert.
Photo of an expedition overland pickup truck off-roading in a pebbly hot Moroccan desert.
Photo of man cooking out the back of a pickup truck load bed tailgate in the evening in the Moroccan desert.

Direct4x4 kit.

For the third day on this route, the wind had really picked up, making for some difficult driving and navigating with swirling dust and sand getting absolutely everywhere and stinging the eyes. The trails were good fun this day, with a mix of terrain but mostly smaller sand dunes that we could weave around and over a few. The cars had done extremely well to make it this far. The gear we had chosen proved to be a winning combination for this expedition.

The Rooftrek 3-person roof top tent had served us well each night, being so easy to set up and put away. It allowed us to stay cool while sleeping on the warmer nights and in combination with the heated mattress cover, warm and comfortable on the cooler ones too.

The expedition load bed canopy on the Hilux made space for everything and more, as well as being a solid functional platform to live out of day to day with everything being easy to access from one of the many doors and drawers.

Our 270-degree side awning was a must to shade us from the relentless sun where not much natural cover was available to us. So it would be out every time we took a break or to prepare food. Being self-supporting made it so easy!

Other Direct4x4 products that we used:

Photo of 2 overland expedition pickup trucks in the Moroccan desert.

Time to turn around.

With a total of twelve days in Morocco, it soon snuck up on us that it was time to turn north for the first time during the expedition in order to be at the ferry to Spain in good time. The drive was a fairly easy one with much better-paved roads than we experienced on the way down. We were able to stay in and explore the town Tangier the evening before the ferry. This felt like a far cry from the arid and sparsely populated South. All of us feel Morocco is a place we need to return to as with such little time there were many places we had missed along the way. The experience had been like nothing we had experienced before. This place really gets under the skin! Back on the boat it was time for a cheesy group high five and a hug as upon arrival in Spain the group would be parting ways until the next adventure.

Jack & Kristina - @jkoverland

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Photo of man cooking out the back of a pickup truck load bed tailgate in the evening in the Moroccan desert.


Be free and go wild with Direct4x4 expedition overland wilderness accessories. 4x4... 

Photo of woman cooking out the back of a pickup truck load bed tailgate under a vehicle side awning in the evening in the Moroccan desert.