Morocco Travel: Outdoor Adventure Sports in Morocco
Morocco’s diverse terrain and climate provide a multitude of opportunities for adventure travelers to morocco. Morocco offers a variety of sports by land and water. For adventurists who prefer outdoor sports by sea opportunities include exciting water sports such as underwater diving, surfing, white water rafting, kayaking, windsurfing, jet skiing, sailing and deep-sea fishing.
For those who prefer adventures by land, popular activities include horse back riding, hunting, hiking or trekking, mountain biking, rock or ice climbing, paragliding, skydiving, skiing and snowboarding.
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Watersports in Morocco
Diving in Morocco
Between Morocco’s Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines, Morocco has 4000 kilometers of beautiful shores where you can explore diverse marine life. Divers enjoy seeing Morocco’s marine mammals such as dolphins, various species of whales including the pilot and killer whale, and more than 240 varieties of fish. Notable fish are the red Pandora, black porgy, sea bream, moray eel, striped muller, skate, tuna, swordfish, and grouper. Morocco’s shores are also famous for its sponge, coral and gorgonian fields.
On the Mediterranean side, you will find the beautiful Straits of Gibraltar. New divers usually swim in Cabo Negro because of the ease of diving which is less difficult then in areas where vertical slopes lay which are characteristic of the Mediterranean.
When diving by the Mediterranean, you will find sandy bottoms and beautiful flora protected by the Atlantic currents that empty into the Mediterranean Sea. Expect milder weather and gentler currents than when diving in the Atlantic.
Some of the most popular Atlantic diving spots are in Agadir and Essaouira. The Atlantic offers sunny weather year round, wreck diving, continental drop-offs, and the chance to swim by orcas and sardines.
Surfing in Morocco
If you love to surf, then Taghazoute must be on your Moroccan travel itinerary. This small surfing village has a smooth, sandy beach yet rocky headlands. It’s located north of the famous Agadir resort and attracts surfers from all over the world to join its competitions and surf Taghazoute’s waves.
While prime surf weather is between late autumn to March surfers can enjoy it year round. Taghazoute is one of the few spots in the world where surf weather is good during all four seasons.
Other recommended surfing spots include the mellow Bannana beach, a few miles south of Taghazoute, Sidi Ifni and Kenitra (north of Sidni Ifni), Kenitra, Bouznika Plage (between Rabat and Casblanca), el Jadida, Safi and Rabat.
Morocco’s Atlantic coast runs for thousands of miles and is riddled with both beaches (some secret). Whether you go to Taghazoute or another beach, Morocco’s waves are certain to offer you a little piece of surf heaven.
White Water Rafting/ Kayaking in Morocco
The High and Middle Atlas Mountains have become popular for white water rafting and kayaking.
The Oum-er-Rbia in the High Atlas Mountains is a must for white water rafting. Via the villages of Beni Mellal and Khenifra, you will find Oum er Rbia. As forty springs run out of Oum er Rbia, it is nicknamed the “Mother of Spring River”. The ride starts out calmly enough but be prepared to work hard as you enter the intense Ali Mohammed Gorge area.
If you choose to raft through the Middle Atlas, you will be in the waters of Ahanssel, and among some of the most beautiful scenery Morocco offers – a chance meeting with the harmonious roar of clear white-water rapids.
Regardless of which one of Morocco’s mountain ranges you choose to paddle through, it is certain that you will be captured by the beauty of being sandwiched between Morocco’s larger than life red sun-kissed mountains.
Many families enjoy these trips, which can be arranged with over night camping and barbecuing. Winter is an ideal time to go.
Windsurfing/ Jet Coast (Water Skiing), Sailing in Morocco
Anywhere along the Atlantic coast can be an opportunity to take advantage of a water sport, however, the popular resorts of Agadir and Essaouira are the most popular.
Known as the ‘windy city of Afrika’, the pretty white washed town of Essaouira is particularly famous for its wind surfing competitions and sailing conditions. Kite surfers can’t seem to get enough of this town and many stay all year long practicing their craft. The main windsurfing season is between spring and autumn and mid-June to August.
Deep Sea Fishing/ Fishing in Morocco
Morocco’s Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts offers many opportunities for fishing, particularly in the Atlantic. For the adventurous, try the Western Sahara area.
If you wish to experience deep sea fishing, boat trips can be arranged at Sakhla in the Sahara and Mohammedia near Casablanca. Essaouira and Moulay Bousselham are also options.
Morocco’s Atlantic coast has an ocean plentiful of Sa Perch, Bonitos, Mullet, Chad, and Sea Beam, as well as larger varieties of fish including the swordfish, marlin, tuna, grouper and barracudas. The Coast is said to be one of the richest in the world. Since 1983, the annual catch has exceeded 430,000 tons.
If you are interested in fishing inland, the Middle Atlas provides many opportunities in its lakes and rivers. For trout try the bases of Azrou (near the Aghmas lakes), Ifrane (near Zerrouka), Khenifra (the Oum er Rbia River) and Ouirgane (the Nfis River). Also, Bin el Ouidane (near Beni Mellal) is fished for its huge bass.
Horseback Riding in Morocco
Want to explore Morocco like American cowboys did the Wild West? Rent a horse for a day or longer and embark on an adventure to unveil the mysteries of Morocco’s rugged mountain terrains and desert. Viewing the Morocco on the back of a horse is a great way to mix up your traveling. At your own pace, you will have an opportunity to be introduced to Morocco.
Make friends with the Berber nomads in the mountains, ride through valleys and plateaus. In the south, be embraced in the beauty of the palm groves near the Draa Valley, view Kasbahs, and explore the mysterious Sahara.
Morocco’s big cities, Casablanca, Tangier, Rabat, Agadir, Fes, Oujda and Meknes all offer horse riding centers. The most impressive regions for riding include Tisgui, Ait Malek, Zaouia Tafetchna, Tarbalht and Ouarzazate.
Trekking/ Snow Trekking in Morocco
One of the most popular activities in Morocco is hiking and trekking. While summers are prime hiking time, if you arrive before July, you will have most areas to yourself. Hiking season is between April through November.
The High Atlas Mountains are comparable to hiking in the French Pyrenees or Alps and are recommend for experienced climbers. While this region is arguably the most beautiful because it has the least spoiled terrains in Morocco, High Atlas hikes usually involve long distance routes and overnight stays.
The most popular trekking areas are located in the Djebel Toubkal Area. At 4167 meters, Djebel Toubkal is Northern Africa’s highest point and takes at least three days to climb up and return to Marrakesh. Anything less and you risk altitude sickness.
You can also cover short treks in the same mountains. After just two hours, you will find yourself in a new world of Berber villages perched on hilltops surrounded by a mesmerizing landscape.
After Djebel Toubkal, the fast growing town of Beni Mellal is a hiking hotspot. Set below the foothills of Djebel Tassemit, it is Morocco’s second highest peak. For a breath taking bird’s eye view of the town, hike down towards Mouriq or climb up to the Mellal Gorges.
For the most relaxing hikes of all, take soothing strolls by Essaouira’s Atlantic coastline. Things to see include the pristine sandy beaches, fishing villages and orchards of Argan olive trees.
Whether you are looking for tranquil experiences or wish to feel your adrenaline pumping, you are sure to find something within one of Morocco’s 400 mountains in its four mountain ranges.
In the winter, experience snow trekking as an alternative to skiing. Djebel Toubkal is covered by snow from November to mid-June. For an adventure, strap on some snow boots and make your way through enticing areas surrounding Marrakech and the high Atlas mountains.
Keep in mind that snow-trekking is an activity best recommended for experienced trekkers; if you are new to the sport, November to May is good time to learn so make sure to request a guide.
Mountain biking in Morocco
Mountain biking in Morocco is one of the most exciting activities one can do. While Morocco offers routes that that be conquered by any kind of rider, the High Atlas Mountains are known for being a daring joy ride for even the most experienced. Many of the climbs are up jagged and rocky mountainous routes and those descents can be dangerous for even the most experienced. Nevertheless, if this sport is your passion, then head to Morocco’s central hills and through the southern Draa Valley.
Two popular routes for mountain biking are Oued Amizmiz and Azegour through Toukline. The first route covers about 38 km and is relatively flat. Following a jeep track, you will pass by villages sure to peak your cultural interest and the rock formations will fascinate. The latter path is forty-two kilometers long and while breathtaking, is a lot more intense. It is only recommended for riders with the best technical skills.
Besides the High Atlas, you can bike ride in the northern and western side of the Middle Atlas, Djebel Sahro and Djebel Bani (east to west routes from Tafilelt to Tata). In the south, try Ouarzazate to Zagora or Ouarzazate to Tinerhir. If you want to explore the desert, stay in Er Rachidia, Erfoud or Rissani.
If you plan to ride during the summer, the southern mountains are your best bet. During the summer, it is best to avoid anywhere above the Atlas.
Rock climbing in Morocco
As Morocco is home to 400 mountains, it is not surprising that rock climbing is becoming a popular sport. Places to rock climb are the area of Toubkal, the Atlas mountain’s Truzkin rocks towards Tazaghart Refuge. The path is a bit difficult but interesting as a result of the traditional villages and valleys you will pass.
Para-gliding and Skydiving in Morocco
Para-gliding and Skydiving are becoming two pursued activities in Morocco. With Morocco’s diverse landscapes and beautiful terrain, soaring like a bird through the sky and fully experiencing an aerial perspective of Morocco’s landscape is an understandably attractive opportunity.
For para-gliding, the areas around Tafraoute and Sidi Infi in the south of Morocco are popular.
However, if it’s skydiving that gets your heartbeat racing passionately, head to one of Morocco’s drop zones at Beni Mellal, near the foothills of the Middle Atlas, or Taroudant, located 70 km from Agadir. The best time to jump is in the winter.
Golf in Morocco
Since 1917, when the British opened a golf course in Tangier, golfing in Morocco has become a popular sport. Morocco offers some of the most stunning and exotic courses that golfers will ever have the chance to play on.
Whether or not you are a serious golfer, it is likely that you will enjoy being among Morocco’s royal golf landscapes. Morocco has nine gold courses that can be enjoyed all year long. Eight are between Agadir and Tangier over the Atlantic Ocean, and the ninth is in Marrakesh. Golfing in Morocco is a unique experience that will add an edge to your golfing adventures like never before.
Soccer in Morocco
Soccer is the most popular sport in Morocco and its national team, the Atlas Lions, is one of Africa’s most respected. Besides the exhilarating yet elaborate events Morocco offers, there are also fun local sports activities that you can participate in. Weekends are a great time to watch Moroccan’s national enthusiasm soar for community soccer kick about games. These games take place in the neighborhood park or any sandy beach and are free to join. Moroccans are usually very friendly and you will have no problem joining in if you want to play.
The Paris Dakar Rally in Morocco
The Dakar Rally (formerly known as “The Paris Dakar Rally” and now as “The Lisboa Dakar”) is an annual off-road race, organized by the Amaury Sport Organization. The race is open to amateur and professional entries. Amateurs typically make up about eighty percent of the participants.
Despite its name it is an off-road endurance race, called a rally-raid rather than a conventional rally—the terrain the competitors traverse is much tougher and the vehicles used are true off-road vehicles rather than the modified sedans used in rallies. Most of the competitive special sections are off-road, crossing dunes, mud, camel grass, rocks and erg among others.
The race originated in 1978, a year after racer Thierry Sabine got lost in the desert and decided that it would be a good location for a regular rally. Originally, the rally was from Paris, France to Dakar, Senegal, interrupted by a transfer across the Mediterranean. However, due to politics and other factors, the course, including origin and destination, has varied over the years. Dakar has been the destination city on all but four occasions. The rally began at Paris each year until 1995. In 1994 the rally both began and ended in Paris, but due to complaints by the mayor, the finish had to be moved from the Champs-Élysées to Euro Disney. This also caused the organization to lay out the rally through different locations in following years.
Recent rallies pass through Morocco, Western Sahara and on to the grasslands and deserts of Mauritania. The segments running through Atar and the sand dunes and canyons of Mauritania’s Adrar Region may be the most challenging in all off-road racing. Many tourists venture to the Sahara from around the world to watch this great rally pass through the desert dunes.
In 1992, Hubert Auriol won the Dakar in an automobile after having previously won the motorcycle competition on two occasions, making him the first driver to win on both two and four wheels. Later on, Stéphane Peterhansel managed to do the same. In 2001, Jutta Kleinschmidt was the first woman to win the Dakar, driving a Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero, co-driving with fellow German Andreas Schulz. In 2006, Patsy Quick became the first British woman to complete the Dakar (on a motorcycle).
The 2008 Dakar Rally was canceled on January 4, 2008 amid fears of terrorist attack(s). This caused serious doubts over the future of the rally. Various newspapers in Africa called the cancellation a “death sentence” for the race. Chile and Argentina, in South America, offered their territory to host the event, as well as the Czech Republic or Hungary in Central Europe. The ASO finally decided to establish the Dakar Series competition, which first event is the 2008 Central Europe Rally (Hungary-Romania), between April 20 and April 26, 2008. The 2009 event will be organized in the two South American countries, between January 3 -18, 2009.