Rafting in Morocco is growing as a great holiday activity, whether you choose a halfday trip onto your holiday or do a multiday rafting trip through the High Atlas, there are plenty of reasons to go whitewater rafting. Here’s our top 10 reasons to go rafting in Morocco.
1. It's only a few hours from Europe
Marrakech is only a few hours from Europe and you are in a different world.
2. Spectacular scenery
In winter it is full of snow and summer are formed from the melt water, few large rivers. This bright, blue, icy winds its whitewater below a temperature of up to 30 degrees way through the red-colored mountains. It is an ideal combination of desert and mountainous landscape
3. It's for families and adults
Whitewater rafting is the perfect team building activity to do with a group of mates or a family. When your in a raft together taking on river rapids, you are forced to work as a team. It’s also a lot of fun that it’s bound to bring you closer as a family or group of friends. And it’s not just the rafting, spending the evening telling stories around the campfire of the fun you had that day is a great bonding experience. Do something new and exciting with your family.
3. The weather
Most of the time you will find sunshine in April. It can be hot but the water will cool you down. No matter the weather, we can raft! There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad equipment. If it’s hot just take a swim.
4. The Berber hospitality
Waking up in a beautiful Bedouin tent with the smell of Berber Whiskey lingering in the air by the river is one of the main reason we love this place. The Berbers are so friendly and helpful that you feel at home all the time.
5. Professional guides
Another great reason to go rafting in Morocco are our guides are great, of course they are otherwise we wouldn’t employ them. All of our guides and safety kayakers hold International Rafting Federation certification. But not only are they fantastic at their jobs, they are a great bunch of people to spend time with and share stories around the campfire.
6. It's fun
We can’t think of a better way to spend our days outside in nature, with a great group of people, getting our hearts pounding with adrenaline as we crash through the waves and ending the day around a camp fire.
7. It's an adventure
Bored of the usual holidays? Looking for something new and exciting? A whitewater rafting holiday in Morocco will see you paddling rapids, exploring canyons similar to the Grand Canyon. Away from technology for a week and just the simplicity of camping and rafting. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and try something new, you won’t regret it.
8. The food
The food is great. After a long day in the raft, you are bound to have a large appetite and we are sure to not let you go hungry. We’ll serve you a traditional Tajine with a fresh salade with vegetables from the local's garden.
9. The Berber whiskey
There's always time for a mint tea. At the end of our multiday rafting trip you just enjoy that moment of breathing pure mountain air and the campfire with your cup of mint tea or a glass of wine.
10. The stars
There’s nothing quite like the night skies from the banks of the rivers in Morocco. With no light pollution it’s an ideal place to stare up and gaze at the spectacle. It’s not uncommon to see the milky way on clear nights. Because sleeping under a tent is optional, you can spend the whole night gazing up at the delights above.
Adventures in the High Atlas mountains
The Morocco 2017 workshop took place this year on the Ahansal river in the High Atlas mountains of Morocco. This was to be the 3rd workshop I have ran in conjunction with Berber rafting adventures.
Each year this is one of first workshops I run in early spring to coincide with the paddling season in the High Atlas. Demand for the course has been successfully rising year on year. This year we had participants from. Finland, Latvia, France & Denmark.
For 2017 Both myself and Yann from Berber rafting had decided to up the offering and include a Rescue 3 Whitewater rescue technician PR certification alongside the IRF workshop. This meant that the students could spend 3 days working through the WRT syllabus learning & Practicing new rescue skills before putting themselves forward for the IRF assessment.
During my travels I very rarely see guides that are 100% prepared & equipped with the necessary skills to pass an IRF assessment straight away . Normally throw bagging & Ropework are the areas where guides need a little coaching before the IRF assessment. By including the WRT aspect before the IRF workshop we are able to identify any knowledge gaps.
After the drive from Marrakech we settled into our amazing new accommodation provided by our local Berber host Mohammed or as he like to be called Mo.
Mo and his team are all Nomadic Berber people who work each year to accommodate groups of paddlers who travel to the Ahansal river. For the past 2 years Mo has been building his own guest house I was looking forward to seeing his project 1 year on and I was not disappointed. Our students this year had really nice facilities.
We kicked off the course after dinner on the first evening. After some brief introductions and expectations we started to work through the WRT theory sections in order to lay down a solid safe working platform for the rest of the week.
Our plan was to spend the first 3 days of the course based on the one day commercial section of the Ahansal working through the WRT syllabus. We would then spend the final 2 days running the multiday section of the Ahansal focussing on guiding & river running skills. We would also be looking at how a multiday trip operates.
The one day commercial section of the Ahansal presented us with some great teaching venues for the WRT syllabus. This years water levels were on the medium low side so we were able to take full advantage of our environment.
As Berber rafting operate multiday trips we planned to carry out some night exercises looking at some basic rescues and poor visabilty search exercises that could be encountered on a multiday trip.
The Final 2 days were spent on the multiday section of the river. During the multiday section we got to concentrate on river running skills and communication. The group got to practice some lining skills as a few of the rapids had low lying Berber bridges on them which meant we were in able to paddle underneath them.
The Ahansal is a low volume technical river. To make our trip run a little easier we opted to paddle light rafts and send our multiday equipment to the camp by mules. It was nice to arrive at camp and have it already set up. This gave us the chance to unwind have some food and enjoy our surroundings.
As we made our way down the river we had the time to work on the IRF safety craft certificate for our kayakers. We also stopped off and ran some group rescue scenarios. The workshop was finished off with the flip drill test before the drive back to Marrakech for food and cold beers.
Congratulations to all
Thanks to the sweet berber hospitality at Momo's and of course thanks to our guides for the great work and the good vibes! Enjoy this short video "A journey into The High Atlas of Morocco". See you next year!
That's it! We're back in Europe after a fantastic rafting season in Morocco 2017.
Great weather, great people, new projects, lots of day & multi day rafting trips, another successful International Rafting Federation (IRF) workshop combined with a Rescue3 whitewater technician pro course on a multi day trip. And of course thanks to the guides and the berbers for making it happing!
We are looking forward to see you in 2018.
Since the first day we met, Momo has always been there for us and his people. He started with a small berber camp and now owns a Gite. He's done so much to try to develop ecotourism in this valley. After years of hard work, his birth place has reached lots of outdoorsy people searching for authentic adventures with a combination of trekking, canyoning, kayaking and rafting. But there's been a threat about building a dam on the most pristine river of Morocco. Sadly like anywhere else in the world, greedy people with lots of power ,who only think about money than it's people, culture and nature, will destroy this beautiful place. Maybe there is hope, maybe if more people would visit this place and see it with their own eyes the Ahansal river and the surrounding and meet the Amazigh people. Maybe one day people will understand that you can't eat your money. Think about it and if you feel the same way then come rafting to support the locals. SHARE if you CARE.
I was in Morocco to run my first IRF workshop of the season for Berber Rafting Adventures in the Atlas Mountains. Stepping out at Marrakesh airport I was hit by the warm air. A pleasant change to the blast, chilled air of my Arctic winter residence.
After a short taxi transfer to our hotel the group met for the first time. We consisted of 9 raft guides from the UK , France & the Netherlands. Over dinner we discussed the groups expectations for the coming week.
This workshop was going to be a residential workshop, we were going to be together non stop for the next week. The perfect ice breaking exercise for a group of raft guides was to have a few beers and chill out.
We all awoke the next morning and boarded Yann’s van for the 6 hr drive to the Atlas mountains. We were all instantly taken aback with how beautiful Morocco was, most of all it was good to feel the sun on our skin.
Our arrival to the camp after a long hot dusty day on the road was an eventful one. Ed, one of the guides slipped climbing down from the roof of the van. The first real life scenario of the course had begun. I now had to clean and stitch his foot up. With some help from James and Nell we manged to get away without using sutures by using lots of steri strips.
After an amazing dinner of Lamb tangine I retired to bed for the night in preparation of our first day on the water in the morning.
After a light breakfast we packed up and drove up the valley to the commercial rafting start point for the Melloul river. Yann our host had informed me that due to a late spring the rivers were still really high due to the snow still melting. The effect this had on the Melloul was great! The river was flowing really fast with no eddys and lots and lots of trees on the river making this a great test piece for the guides to prove themselves on.
We kicked the day off with safety talks. Many of the guides started off a little nervous but soon managed to relax. Our french contingent were a little skeptical about having to give a safety talk in English but they all managed to get through with no problems.
The British based guides on the course all gave really good informative safety talks in the searing 30 C degree heat with all of their kit on.
My main observation from all of the safety talk was recurring, the guides needed to “KEEP IT SIMPLE”.
Our rafting guests do not need to be blinded by technical jargon. Later that evening we did a “safety talk in silence” workshop where each of the guides had to give sections of the safety talk with out talking and by using actions only; a great learning tool.
The Melloul: a perfect warm up run
We cooled off by putting onto the Melloul. The Melloul is a short intense trip with plenty of things for the guides to concentrate on – narrow canyons separated by tree infested flat sections. I needed to spend 30mins with each guide taking control of the raft. It took each of the guides a few minutes to adjust to the speed of the water and the trees but after this they were all fine. I got to see some really good examples of client care and good raft handling techniques.
We stopped at the confluence with the Ahansal river where our camp was conveniently situated. A quick lunch stop and 5 minutes warming up in the sun before we headed back up for the 2nd run in the afternoon. All of the guides now noticed that they really had to keep on top of there water intake so we stocked up for the afternoon run. The afternoon run went really well, the guides were starting to settle into there new surroundings. We ended the practical side of the day at the take out looking at how to get a line across the river. I could see that the boys really wanted to get stuck into the rescue & rope work aspects of the course.
Our evening session consisted of a short anchor and knot tying session which was to come in handy for the days to come.
Oli taking charge of the raft by vocally guiding the raft down a rapid from his kayak
Day 2 started with 2 more runs of the Melloul. During these runs we started to explore the role of the safety kayaker on a raft trip. The kayakers practiced exiting their kayaks into the raft and taking command of the raft mid rapid which was something they had never done before. We practiced towing the rafts along with multiple techniques of taking charge a guide-less raft from the position of a safety kayaker.
We ended the 2nd day with the practical rope work assessment. Each of the guides needed to set up a functional 3;1 mechanical advantage system inside 5 minutes. This was a great example of how we need to spend some time investing in the correct rescue equipment. We discussed the benefits of a 5m length of tubular webbing along with good carabineers & pulleys. My advice to any guides is to practice practice when it comes to rope work. All of the guides passed and I wanted to give out bonus points as they were all rigging their systems in the dark!
Day 3 kicked off with a short session on packing for a multiday trip. For the next 2 days we were going to operate the workshop on a multiday trip down the Ahansal river.
We eventually set off down the river. The high water levels gave us continuous rapids with lots of testing technical rapids. This really allowed the guides to sit back and enjoy their surroundings. Without knowing they started to relax and just guide naturally which was a pleasure to watch. Our lunch stop was set at the bottom of a class 4 rapid.
We continued rafting after lunch and entered a spectacular canyon just before we hit our camp for the night. Once at out camp we decided to finish off the day with the throw bag & swim test. Each guide had to make 2 throws inside 20 seconds, one of the throws had to be a recoil throw. After a few practice throws the boys were on fire. The swim has to be a challenging swim which all of the team agreed it was as the water was snow melt water and freezing cold.
After the guides had all completed their swim and throw bag test it was time to set up camp for the night. Make a fire, sit back and enjoy our surroundings.
During dinner we discussed the role of a trip leader on a commercial river trip. The next day was to be the trip leader assessments. Each of the trip leader candidates were to be given 1 hour to take control of a scenario on the river. It was up to me to create a true to life scenario that could happen on a commercial trip. This could include panicked midstream stranded swimmers, multiple swimmers from a flipped rafts, entrapment and treatment of unconscious casualties. The list could go on and on.
Each of the trip leaders were really put to the test with some life like scenarios. The guides all loved the chance at a bit of play acting and we got to see some true Oscar award winning performances.
The trip leaders coped very well with the demanding scenarios put down in front of them. The relentless sun and hot weather made life a little more interesting.
We paddled down the last sections of the Ahansal through the spectacular canyon relaxing in the shade.
The Ahansal flows in to a dammed lake. We paddled the flat water out into the lake where the water went from a muddy brown color to a deep turquoise. We boarded the ferry with the rafts for the 10km journey across the lake to our waiting vehicle. We had to take advantage of this turquoise water at the takeout by finishing the day off with the flip drill test. Despite having 4 action packed days the guides were still managing to make their flip drills inside 1 minute which was great.
The final day of the course allowed us to complete the last remaining aspects of the safety kayak session and also this involved dealing with multiple swimmers, panicked swimmers, & unconscious swimmers. We also looked at some live bait rescues. After lunch we decided to have an open session where the guides could take a more in depth look at any subjects they still wanted explore. Being typical guides they wanted to geek out on rope work especially mechanical advantage. We had a short session on the land before finishing the session off with building a high line across the river. The local took the chance to get a cheeky ride across the river. Our high-line now became known as the Berber ferry!
Over the week a few consistent themes came out of the course and they were.
Overall it was a great week and we look forward to hopefully running another course in Morocco next year.
Congratulation & many thanks to Yann Coppen @ Berber rafting adventures, James, Ed Patryk, Hugo, Simon, Damien, Oli, Nell
(IRF GT&E Instructor and Media Contributor)
After years of travelling and working abroad, it was time to share his passion in Europe. We take you through the Atlas mountains in a unique way. We do not leave any trace behind in order to respect the local population and nature. Our goal is to share the Amazigh culture by trekking and rafting.