Wide Angle

Five thrilling sports adventures to try in Morocco

Morocco offers a variety of adventure activities for tourists, including sandboarding in the Sahara, hot air ballooning in Marrakech, paragliding over the Agafay desert, skydiving in Beni Mellal, and scuba diving in several coastal locations.

Hot air ballooning in Morocco. / Ph. Get Your Guide
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When holidaying in Morocco, nothing can beat a day at the beach, exploring a local market, wandering through an ancient Medina, or visiting a museum. But how about engaging in activities that combine entertainment with a workout session?

At Yabiladi, we've curated a top-five list for those looking to have fun while staying active. Whether you're planning to visit the mountains, the beach, or the Sahara, we've got you covered.

Sandboarding, surfing the golden dunes

Morocco is renowned for its surfing and water sports, but did you know you can also surf the golden dunes? Sandboarding is an adrenaline-pumping activity where you glide down sand dunes on specially designed boards, much like snowboarding.

When traveling further east, you can find the ideal landscape for this thrilling activity. Many recommend Merzouga, a small town in the Sahara Desert, southeastern Morocco, about 50 km from the Algerian border. The town is known as the gateway to Erg Chebbi, a sea of sand dunes.

There, sandboarding enthusiasts «can glide down the towering dunes on specially designed boards, with the fine, golden sand providing a smooth and fast ride», wrote Visit Morocco. Tourists can either rent equipment, get a ride to the dunes, and enjoy sliding down the wind-curved dunes, or opt for guided sandboarding tours. «They typically include all necessary equipment and instruction for both beginners and experienced riders», wrote the national tourism promotion agency, ONMT, on its website.

Ph. Sahara Desert TravelPh. Sahara Desert Travel

But beware of the scorching sun of the Sahara; when booking your sandboarding session, make sure it is scheduled for early morning or late afternoon. It is also a great opportunity for sunrise and sunset sighting.

Other sandboarding enthusiasts have another Erg on their list, Erg Chigaga or Edaya el-Hamra. The latter is one of the largest dune seas in Morocco. It is located in the Drâa-Tafilalet area, about 45 km west of the small rural oasis town of M'Hamid El Ghizlane, itself located about 98 km south of Zagora.

If you are not a fan of harsh Sahara desert weather, sand surfing can also be practiced near the beach, not very far from Agadir. A half-day sandboarding session an hour's drive north of Agadir is a plan to consider. The tour includes an hour of driving on the seaside of the Atlantic Ocean, with stops in surfers' villages like Taghazout and Tamri.

The sand surfing itself happens in Taboga Beach, a piece of the Sahara near the beach. It is 45 km from Taghazout and offers just as good height and steepness for a good boarding session. The site is «located in a 900-hectare protected area in the Souss Massa region, also known as the Tamri Biological and Ecological Site», explains Blondie in Morocco. A similar session starts at 600 dirhams a person. 

Hot air ballooning in Marrakech

This is an activity for early birds. Flown for the first time in history in 1783 by the Montgolfier brothers at the Palais de Versailles before none other than King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, the ride is no longer reserved for royalty. If you are visiting Marrakech this summer, you can book yourself a hot air balloon ride. The companies that offer the ride have been flying over Morocco for as long as 30 years. Although you have to be in Marrakech to enjoy hot air ballooning, the ride starts a bit on the outskirts of the city, in the Palmeraie (palm grove).

Remember, it is an activity for early birds, and that is why you have to wake up as early as 4 am when it is still dark in the city, get a ride to the location where the balloons are prepped for flying. All companies include pick-up rides in their offer, between 4 and 5 am during the summer and between 5 and 6 am in winter. Passengers get to watch the preparation of the balloons on the ground, says one of the hot air balloon companies.

Ph. Ciel d'AfriquePh. Ciel d'Afrique

Once flying, «the elevations rise to approximately 1,000 meters to give you the sunrise and stunning perspectives of the Marrakech palm grove as well as its villages», it added. «Then they descend and glide through Berber villages and the gorgeous landscape of the Marrakech palm grove, offering stunning views for pictures or record videos», the same source added. The ride lasts one hour, and then breakfast is offered at landing with a ride back to the city. Prices for the ride can go between 1,500 dirhams and 2,000 dirhams per person.

Paragliding with a view

If you are into aerial sports, Morocco has what you need, with a twist. A paraglide session with a view—a bird’s-eye view of no less than the Sahara. It is at Agafay, a desert located about thirty kilometers from the red city of Marrakech, on the first heights of the High Atlas massif.

The trip starts from Marrakech for a half-day paragliding tour, as suggested by several tourism companies specialized in aerial sports. Whether you are new to the sport or a paragliding enthusiast, the trip goes as follows: First, you are greeted by your paragliding guide and briefed before jumping off the cliff to sail over the Moroccan sky. The instructor will control the paraglider, so you can relax and enjoy the view: The Atlas Mountains, Toubkal, the Agafay desert, and Lalla Takerkoust lake.

The paraglide trips to Agafay can also be enjoyed during sunset. Rest assured for photos and videos, as most agencies offering paraglide trips promise to document your experience. The price for a paragliding session starts from 1,000 dirhams to 1,500-ish per person.

Skydiving in Beni Mellal

For those who are feeling a bit more adventurous, skydiving is probably something you want to try. While paragliding is foot-launched, with gliders using a large, inflatable wing and actively controlling it to steer and gain altitude using air currents, skydiving is more daring.

Skydiving or tandem skydiving can be practiced in Beni Mellal, in north-central Morocco. The adventure starts as follows: upon arrival at the Beni Mellal airport dropzone, you undergo a mandatory 20-minute pre-jump training session, receive a comprehensive briefing from your instructor, get harnessed up, and don goggles.

Ph. Atlas ParapentePh. Atlas Parapente

Then you get alongside your instructor in the aircraft. It is also an opportunity for you to enjoy the scenic climb from above the clouds before getting securely connected to your instructor's harness, ready for an exhilarating experience.

The club offering the jump promises the thrill of exiting the airplane and plummeting toward the earth at an exhilarating speed of 200 km/h. The freefall is expected to last around 60 seconds as your instructor skillfully deploys the parachute. A videographer then captures the entire freefall experience, from exiting the aircraft to parachute deployment. In total, the parachute descent is expected to last 5 to 10 minutes before touchdown. The price starts from 2,500 dirhams.

Dive into adventure

In addition to skydiving, you can attempt scuba diving, which consists of underwater diving whereby divers use breathing equipment. Morocco offers a variety of experiences with diverse marine life, hence scuba diving potential. The best diving spots are around Agadir, Dakhla, Essaouira, and Casablanca, according to Surface Interval. Al Hoceima, on Morocco's northern coast, also offers a vibrant diving scene in the Mediterranean Sea.

Experienced divers can explore the thrilling Cave of Hercules or navigate the rocky terrain of La Cathédrale, encountering octopus, moray eels, and barracuda. Beginners can ease in at Le Rocher, a shallow dive site teeming with marine life, or explore Le Tombant's rich underwater world at a maximum depth of 20 meters. With clear waters and comfortable temperatures, Al Hoceima caters to divers of all levels.

Expect to pay 500-1,000 dirhams per dive, depending on the dive center and chosen package. Summer offers the warmest water and best visibility for scuba diving in Morocco, but diving is possible year-round.

Whether you prefer the thrill of sandboarding, the serenity of hot air ballooning, or the adventure of scuba diving, Morocco has a variety of activities to make your holiday memorable.

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