Travelers who think of visiting Morocco probably don’t consider outdoor adventure and sports – They usually get caught up in all the museums, colorful bazaars and cuisine choices instead. However, Morocco is full of outdoor options for the sports-minded enthusiasts. In fact, the skies the limit from golfing to hiking to biking to skiing to fishing, surfing, birding or even camel trekking, you can indeed, stay active in Morocco.
Golf is one of the most popular sports in Morocco and it might have something to do with the fact that the late King Hassan II was an internationally ranked player who launched the annual Hassan II Trophy competition. There are 12 golf courses in the country from Tangier to Ouarzazate with the most well-known course being the Royal Dar Es Salaam Golf Club in Rabat. It is ranked as one of the world’s best 50 courses and is where the Hassan II Trophy is held every year.
For those up for hiking you can find somewhere to stay active from the Rif Mountains up north near Chefchaouen to the Sahara Desert near the famous Erg Chigaga. With four distinct mountain ranges in Morocco – the Rif, the Middle Atlas, the High Atlas and the Anti-Atlas – there are quite a few long-distance Atlas routes to follow. For the most challenging trek, it’s the Jebel Toubkal at 4,167 meters as North Africa’s highest peak.
Moving right along, and you will be when you decide to go biking in Morocco. Again, many choices and just not enough time. Escorted cycling vacations are catching on in Morocco, but even if that is not your thing you can still find some great places to ride in the Atlas Mountains around Ouirgane or the Atlantic coast around Essaouira. Also popular is biking in the southern coastal area from Quarzazate exploring the Draa Valley and Todra gorge. One thrilling biking moment on a bike ride is the descent down the Tizi n’Tichka pass towards Ait-Ourir and Marrakech.
For skiers, you can do that in Morocco too. A place called Oukaimeden in the High Atlas (only a two-hour drive from Marrakech) is really the best skiing in the country. There are a few beginner and medium slopes, but most are for the hardcore experienced skier. You will also find ski resorts just a few hours away from the city of Fez and the season is open anytime between late December and mid-March.
As far as fishing is concerned, there are a number of lakes and rivers in Morocco that are calling your name teeming with trout, perch and carp, to name but a few. Ifrane, particularly, has a reputation for its fishing. There is also a chance to go sea fishing, after all Morocco does have a long coast line, either from the beach, on a deck or in a chartered boat. Out on the water you never know if you might bring in a barracuda, tuna or marlin.
Surfers can hang ten on the southern Atlantic coast where the waves will certainly be memorable. There are actually two surfing areas in Morocco, in Agadir with surfing schools and great waves and the renowned Anchor Point in the village 14 miles south of Agadir called Taghazaoute. Or, try Essaouira, which also offers surfing with especially good waves anytime between May and September. This is also Morocco’s windiest town and novice and intermediate surfers will love the waves both on Cap Sim and Sidi Kaouki. Kite surfing competitions are held here regularly too.
Birding in Morocco’s wildlife reserves is well worth the detour if you enjoy that sort of thing and Souss Massa National Park is a must. This place stretches 40 miles down the Atlantic coast just 32 miles south of Agadir and the wetlands are definitely an ideal place for this ecosystem home to flamingos and cranes as well as 257 species of birds. The park is also the shelter for the endangered bald ibis.
A bird sanctuary off the Atlantic coast at Essaouira called the Iles Purpaires is home to thousands of falcons and gulls. And up the Mediterranean coast south of Tangier is the Merja Zerga or Blue Lagoon – a home to waders and waterfowl.
Of course, when in Morocco don’t miss your chance to go camel trekking with your private morocco family tour. You can opt for a full-day adventure and it is a good way to get an overview of the Saharan culture. For longer treks following the trans-Saharan caravan routes, you will also have a chance to meet the Bedouin people of the oases while camping under the stars at night. From Zagora you will travel south to Mhamid to begin any desert safari either by four-wheel drive or camel with overnight tent stays that are unforgettable.
So when you think of Morocco next time, sure take the time to enjoy the culture and the shopping, but stop a moment and get into the active side of the country as well.
by Rita Cook, JBT Writer & Correspondent