white water rafting paddlesYou’ve wandered the maze-like souks, trekked the sweeping Atlas Mountains, ridden a dusty camel and gorged on savory tajines. Now you’re ready to round out your Moroccan adventure with something completely unexpected: white water rafting. This guide will help you figure out what you need to know while you plan so that you can make white water rafting a safe, fun and unforgettable highlight of your trip to North Africa.

Where to Go

The Ahasanal River in the Atlas Mountains near Tiloguite is the most popular place for white water rafting and is only a few hours’ drive from Marrakech. Rafting trips are usually available in the spring (beginning in March and lasting until June) when the temperatures warm up and water runoff from the Atlas Mountains makes the river fast with class III and IV rapids.

What to Know

Beginner and intermediate rafters will enjoy the Ahasanal River. Most tour companies require at least six passengers to make a trip, so either travel with a large group or make friends at your riad. Depending on water levels and the group’s level of enthusiasm, trips can last from two days to a few weeks. Alongside the obvious thrill of riding down the turquoise river over bumpy water, there are opportunities for kayaking, exploring local village culture and, of course, campfires with lots of good Moroccan food for fueling up.

What to Expect

Whether you’re traveling with your family of beginners or intermediate white water junkies, your rafting guides need to take plenty of time for safety training, drills and a briefing of what to expect on the water. The white water on the Ahansal River is known for flowing continuously and varying from steep rapids to big waves. Hundreds of different rapids will challenge and delight you in a remote location with some of the best views in Morocco.

The water itself is crystal blue snow melt, so clear you might think you’re experiencing a Sahara Desert-induced mirage. If you can take your eyes off the river or the rapids in front of you, expect to see olive groves and sandy beaches on the shoreline. Monkeys and other less welcome wildlife (scorpions) aren’t unusual visitors in the Ahansal River canyon.

What to Pack

Check with your rafting outfitter to see what they provide for helmets, wetsuits, tents and sleeping arraignments but as a general guide don’t forget:

  • Bathing suit
  • Long sleeve T-shirts for warmth and sun protection
  • SPF lip balm
  • Waterproof sun screen
  • Dry bags or Ziploc bags
  • Sunglasses with a strap
  • River shoes, old sneakers or booties
  • Waterproof camera
  • Change of clothes
  • Quick dry towel

Written by Megan Wood.

Photo by Yohei Yamashita.