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Trip Blog - Kayaking Morocco

For some time now I have been thinking about padding in Morocco. This year I got the chance. With Easyjet flying direct from Manchester to Marrakech, a paddling trip in Morocco has never been easier.

Jo and I booked a 12 day trip with Water By Nature, the paddling company we used several years ago to paddle the Coruh in eastern Turkey. The guys at WBN are awesome river guides and fantastic company (oh and great cooks!) As much as I like the idea of planning my own, self supported trip, the logistics involved (and the fact that paddling multi day trips involves heavy loaded boats) is something I currently don't have the time to plan. Having WBN do all the donkey work, arranging transport to and from the river, purchasing of food, local knowledge of the river and all other potential headaches makes the trip a paddling holiday rather than an expedition but hey, a holiday is what we needed!

The trip was split into three parts. Time in Marrakech, time on the river and a few days on the coast surfing and soaking the sun. The river in question was the Ahansal river. Following a stunning drive up into the snow capped Atlas mountains, we camped our first night in an awesome valley with huge towering cliffs around. Day 1 on the river saw us rushing through tree lined rapids with monkeys in the trees and locals fishing and waving their hellos. Only one significant rapid on day one. This caused a few heart stopping moments but more for the local kids jumping on our boats as we paddled through than the difficulty of the water itself.

Ahansal River in MoroccoFollowing a lovely relaxing evening camped under a star filled sky day 2 saw a marked increase in speed and difficulty in the river. Most rapids never pushing more than big volume grade 2/3 we did encounter a couple of named rapids. 'The Wall' was a solid grade 3 with some big waves, a pour over to avoid and a hole to punch at the bottom. Fantastic fun and all group made it through without mishap. The second major rapid of the day was 'Wee Stinky'. This was the toughest rapid on the river. As flows were high this was a pushy grade 3/4 with some must make moves to avoid serious beatings in holes. The rapid was a little over 500 metres and was none stop ride. Fantastic fun and certainly got the heart pumping. The campsite this night was the best I have ever stopped. The view breathtaking and this coupled with amazing food, a great fire and washed down with G&T's and fine wine. Who could ask for more.

Day three on the river continued in the same vein as two. More great rapids a few with great names like rock the kasbah (there was a large rock and a Kasbah on the hill). We had 100 metre wave trains, a walk up to a Kasbah, drink with locals and generally soaked up the whole awesome scenery. Camp that night was again pretty special. Tucked in a tight gorge the rock structure was fantastic and the sound of the river rushing below the tents echoed off the cliff sides to lull us to sleep.

Day four was the final day on the river. What a day. I thought the river to that point has been special, today was something else. Only one significant rapid today call 'Cheeky Monkey' but with the whole river getting squeezed into around 4 metres wide, bearing in mind it had been over 20 wide upstream and with several hundred metre towering cliffs overhead it was a real spectacle. Stunning, magnificent.... words can't do it justice.

Eventually the cliffs retreated and the river slowed its relentless pace and eventually we entered the lake. The end of a truly amazing river journey. We felt gutted to leave the river and mountains but came surfing the Atlantic... nice!

For anyone wanting an overseas paddling experience but perhaps not having time or confidence to plan yourself, I can't recommend Water by Nature more highly. Their river guides are some of the best paddler around. You get to paddle with people from around the world, we had a Kewi and Yank as guides and were joined by a fellow brit and French chap. A great and interesting mix.

Some Pics from the trip:

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