White water rafting and beers by the river in Morocco next March?
Just before lockdown, our founder Keith managed to squeeze in a quick jaunt to Morocco to test the waters for a brand new Bucket List trip.
Joined by three other adrenaline-junkie trailblazers, he headed to the High Atlas mountains for a pulse-raising white water rafting adventure. Check out Keith’s somewhat lager-infused version of events and get a feel for what your own trip may be like…
We took an early morning flight from Gatwick so arrived in Marrakech before midday. Since the transfer to the Riad only takes 15 minutes, we had a full afternoon on our hands. After a sumptuous rooftop lunch, we headed down into the medina to explore.
Early next morning we began the long truck ride to Tilouguite for the start of our rafting adventure, stopping to pick up some very necessary beer suppliers and other stock for the next couple of days.
We paused for a delicious chicken tagine lunch amongst the monkeys at Cascades d’Ouzoud. I’d never been here before so nabbed the opportunity to explore the waterfalls too before heading off towards Tilouguite again. They’re even more cracking than they look in the pictures!
It’s a long old drive to the rafting base so we made several coffee stops and took full advantage of many great photo opportunities. My personal favourite Instagram-break was the lake at Bin El Ouidane.
(Are you following our Instagram feed, by the way? You’ll find us at @the_bucketlist_co – https://www.instagram.com/the_bucketlist_co/
We arrived at Tilouguite in the late afternoon just as the sun was heading down upon Cathedral Rock. This huge lump of rock stands at 1872m high and, as you probably guessed, looks like a cathedral. After the long drive, we decided to enjoy the sunset with a beer. But if you were feeling adventurous you could trek up to the top for some amazing views.
We had a great sleep in the Berber lodge. So now it was time to get up and get the rafts pumped up. Water levels were low on the river this year. Since the Ahansal is a snowmelt river and there was barely any snow in the High Atlas mountains this winter.
We decided to raft the first section in 2-man duckies. These are easier to manoeuvre around the many boulders and rocks on show in this technical river. With the lower water there were also lots of drops to contend with (hilarious fun!).
We began with a morning’s paddling through the gorge. It is bloomin’ stunning; amazing colours and no-one there to enjoy them but us. By midday we were ready to meet up with our cooks for a well-earned, delectable lunch next to the river.
Not going to lie, we chilled out in the shade for an hour before hopping on the 6-man raft to continue our journey downstream. The river gets bigger here, with smaller tributaries running into it. So we had higher water to paddle through and fewer rocks to bounce off.
The real highlight of the afternoon was paddling through the villages and the children running alongside the river with us.
I imagine that when people started rafting the Ahansal a few years ago, the sight of a big boat like this one would have been quite the shock for the locals. But these days, it’s delightful to see people passing by. One of the kids even jumped in our boat to join us as we passed under one of the bridges!
After a few hours of paddling we arrived at camp to spend the evening relaxing next to the river. Tents were up, camp fire was lit, tagine was cooking and beers were floating in the river getting cold. Perfect.
It really was a great evening sitting with the berbers, chatting, having a beer and watching the shooting stars overhead. I just love Morocco.
After a great sleep under canvas it was time to get up and pack down the camp. We were supposed to have another day of paddling today, but due to the low water the group made the decision that it was going to be too long a day’s paddle to get out of the gorge.
Instead we took the option to go canyoning. So we headed to a small canyon not far away, and with wetsuits, helmets and harnesses firmly on, we walked up to the top to prepare for the first abseil down the canyon. The water was very cold and the sun wasn’t quite hitting the gorge yet, so it made it a little bit chilly especially when you were abseiling down the waterfalls!
By the time we got to the end of the gorge, and 9 abseils later, the sun was out in full force and we were back to 30 degree heat. We finally nipped back to the guest house for a late lunch before jumping back in the truck to head back to Marrakech.
The following day was a free day for the trailblazer guys. So they spent the day exploring the Tanneries, Jardin Majorelle and the museums in Marrakech. I’ve been to Marrakech more times than I have fingers and toes so for me it was time to just enjoy the good weather and have another beer!
This new trip is a really great short one for visiting Marrakech and for raising that pulse. It’s a great alternative to trekking and gives you the option to have a break away early in the year, as the river is only available for paddling in March and the beginning of April. Take a look at the bucketlistcompany.co.uk website for more info on the 2021 and 2022 trips.
And if you’re not already on our trailblazers list (specifically for travel nuts who want to help us finetune our new trips before releasing them to the public), head to thebucketlistcompany.co.uk/trailblazers and put your name down.