An Adventure Traveller's Guide to Morocco

Moroccos Ourika Valley offers varied adventures
Morocco's Ourika Valley offers varied adventures | © Bryce Edwards / Flickr
Sarah Williams

Morocco’s landscapes are as varied as its people and cultures. It has long coastlines on both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, rolling expanses of desert, undulating sand dunes, agricultural land, and soaring mountains. Morocco’s diverse terrains make it a great destination for thrill-seekers and adventure-lovers.

Try Africa’s only heli-skiing

Heli-skiing is available in the rugged mountains of the Ourika Valley, with adventurous skiiers dropped high above the local village of Setti-Fatma. A remote area that sees few skiing groups, visitors can enjoy fresh, crisp snow in almost solitude. Runs are challenging and steep. Heliski Marrakesh is the only heli-ski company on the continent.

Go skiing in Africa’s highest ski resort

Between early January and the middle of March, the varied pistes at Oukaimeden attract keen skiers and snowboarders. There are runs available for people of all experience levels, with easy, intermediate, and difficult slopes. Skiing lessons and equipment hire are available. There are several drag lifts to lower slopes, as well as a chairlift to the higher runs. Helping visitors to remember they are in Morocco – donkeys and mules take the place of shuttle buses.

Though there are accommodation options and restaurants at the resort, many people opt to go skiing on day trips from Marrakesh; Oukaimeden is 72km (45 mi.) from the Red City. With the resort village at a height of 2,600m (8,530 ft.), and the chairlift ascending to 3,258m (10, 700 ft.), Oukaimeden is the highest skiing resort in all of Africa.

Rocky peaks around Oukaimeden

Whizz through the air on a zipline

Located on the outskirts of Marrakesh, Terres d’Amanar is an adventure park that offers an assortment of adventure activities for people of all ages. For adrenaline junkies, it is well-loved for its long, adult-only zipline. Strap in and soar more than 200 metres over a gaping gorge, admiring the lush views of Toubkal National Park. There are also rope courses, with activities at various heights, and dizzying suspension and tight-rope bridges. Add to that falconry, horse and mule trekking, mountain biking, hiking, orienteering, disc golf, archery, climbing, traditional sports and games, and craft activities, and you’ve got a whole day of fun.

Ride the waves with a surfboard

The choppy waters and strong winds around Taghazoute appeal to surf-loving travellers. While the best surfing time is from around October to March, the conditions are good for surfing all through the year. Within easy reach of Agadir, Taghazoute hosts a number of annual competitions too. Lessons are available for beginners, and the village has several surf shops.

Surfing tricks in Taghazoute, Morocco

Enjoy white water rafting in the mountains

Terrific white water rafting is available in both the Middle and High Atlas Mountains. The best conditions are from spring to summer, with higher water levels and volumes caused by the melting of the winter’s snow and ice. Tackle the frothy waters of the Ourika River and take on rapid after rapid as you hurtle under low bridges and through stunning mountain scenery. The N’Fiss River offers calmer conditions with fewer visitors.

Remote and picturesque, Assif Melloul offers grade 4 to 5 conditions when the water is high. At other times, it’s a fairly gentle grade 3. The Ahansal River, often referred to as the Grand Canyon of Morocco, winds past jagged peaks and yawning gorges, with several white water sections to add to the thrill.

Feel the rush of kite surfing and windsurfing

Essaouira, along the Atlantic Coast, is a popular destination for kite surfers and windsurfers. The reliable waves and winds are present almost all year round, though the best times to try and harness the power of the sea are from spring to autumn. Often referred to as the ‘Windy City of Africa’, Essaouira is also famous for its sailing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing competitions and events. Hit the waves as camels and quad bikes traverse the sands.

Kite surfing in Essaouira with camels and a quad bike on the sands

Take a trip to the Agafay Desert

If time is short and you can’t make it to the mighty Sahara Desert, the Agafay Desert is a great alternative. An hour’s drive from Marrakesh, it’s not a true sandy desert as such, but the desolate and barren hilly landscapes are impressive. Lunar-like vistas extend across the rugged plateau, with most inhabitants having left due to lack of water supplies.

Removed from civilisation, the rocky landscapes are ideal for quad biking, buggy riding, hiking, and camel trekking. Many visitors enjoy discovering wider patches with a 4×4 off-road adventure. Camping is possible for those that want to stay longer and, for people with a true adventurous spirit, you can also go wild camping under the stars.

Get your blood pumping and go trekking

Morocco offers many excellent places for trekking and hiking, with routes that are suitable for people of most fitness and experience levels. While many people head to the Atlas Mountains, the northern Rif Mountains offer quieter trails that are popular with locals. The blue city of Chefchaouen is a great base for exploring the Rif Mountains. Climb Jebel al-Kalaa or spend the night in Talassemtane National Park.

Paradise Valley is a great option for hiking close to the seaside resort of Agadir. Take a longer overnight trek with a guide and mule for an unforgettable exploration of the palm-lined gorge, rocky terrain, and local Berber communities.

One of Morocco’s most challenging treks is the week-long Toubkal Circuit, or you can take 2–3 days to conquer the tallest mountain in North Africa, the imposing Jebel Toubkal. Another exhilarating mountain experience is to trek to the summit of M’Goun in the High Atlas Mountains.

Trekking in the Moroccon mountains

Get high with skydiving

There are two skydiving drop zones in Morocco – one at Taroudant and the other at Beni Mellal. Each offers an incredible experience. Get ready for your adventure and admire the scenery as you fly through the skies, take a deep breath, and enjoy a tandem jump back down to earth. Winter is the best time for skydiving in Morocco.

Morocco also offers mountain biking experiences, camel trekking, walking with snow shoes, scuba diving, parasailing, and more. Whether you’re looking for adventures on dry land, in the water, or in the sky, the country is an ideal destination for all-round adventure seekers.

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