When I was planning our trip to Marrakech earlier this year, I made it a point to include a more active pursuit. After copious internet research, a Twitter referral introduced me to . Oddly enough, this Scotland based company recently began whitewater tour operations in Marrakech and I knew instantly that I had to try it.
The booking process had some issues, I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Being a UK based company, most of their guests are therefore British. They don’t have many Americans join them and were a little confused as to how to handle the deposit process. The guy in charge though in Marrakech, Andy, was unflappable and quickly resolved the initial booking hiccups. After that we received our instructions for how and when to meet them in Marrakech.
We arranged for a half day trip to the Ourika Valley to try our hands at whitewater tubing. I have been tubing and I have been whitewater rafting, but never combined the two and was incredibly curious how this would work out.
We set out early in the morning to find the Splash Morocco office in the old medina of Marrakech. I’ve written before about the extreme difficulty of finding an actual address in Marrakech, but we were lucky enough to find their office right away. At the time of writing, it was located near the Koutoubia.
We met our guide, Andy, who was an incredibly affable and easy going guy. He instantly put to rest any apprehension we had about our lack of whitewater experience. With the help of his local “fix it” man, we hopped in their mini-van and made our way for the Ourika Valley.
The valley lies in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains and was a very easy 30-45 drive from the center of Marrakech. The company has leased part of a building near the river launch site which offers a safe, clean area to change and keep your belongings while on the river. After we donned our wet suits and life jackets (all provided as part of the tour price) we finally went down to the river.
Andy, a true professional, was very patient with us as he gave us some tips and techniques for our morning on the river. Turns out I was right, whitewater tubing is just that. You sit in a tube, with your butt in the middle, and you use special gloves to help you steer. Basically, your legs and hands are the only way to navigate down the river.
Andy wasn’t kidding about the whitewater either, it was a class three at the time. Needless to say, going through such rough waters on your ass is a little intimidating, but we were there to have fun and didn’t worry about the potential for tailbone bruising.
I have no idea how long we were on the river, maybe an hour, maybe more – who knows. What I do know is that we had an amazing experience. It was just the three of us, and Andy stopped often to make sure we could catch up and that we were ok. We both tumbled and had several spills, but no permanent injuries, other than my pride as I wiped out in front of a family doing their laundry.
After our refreshing excursion, we were able to change in privacy and went downstairs to a small shop for ice cold coke.
Our experience with Splash Morocco was fantastic and enabled us to see some amazing scenery in a unique way that we would not have been exposed to otherwise. In addition to tubing, they offer proper whitewater rafting and contract with another company to provide you with just about any type of excursion imaginable, from rock climbing to camel rides in the desert.
Since we’ve been there, they have also opened their own riad or hotel, Splash Riad. While I haven’t had the opportunity to stay there, knowing their commitment to quality and customer satisfaction, I can only imagine that it makes for a great stay in the heart of Marrakech.
If you plan on visiting Marrakech, I encourage you to get away from the intense heat of the old city and let Splash Morocco take you away for a day’s excursion you will never forget.