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Brief Notes from a Xmas/ New Year Trip to Morocco, 1998/ 1999

We made a tourist/ paddling trip to thi amazing country. I'd been there before, but this time we thought we'd bring the boats along. We had great fun in Morocco, but we didn't find much to paddle as the rain only came in the last few days and the surf was too big on a few days. Apparently Easter is a better bet for the rivers...but most rivers involve massive 4WD shuttles for committing (although not necessarily hard) gorge paddles.

Highlights included...

The River 'Ouzoud', a brilliant scaled-up tropical version of the Etive valley. The put-in is below a clean 100 foot drop. Shaun Baker went to look at this and bottled! Unfortunately, the Ouzoud was practically only paddleable river we found as we arrived in a drought. The 'Sources de Oum Rbia' looked like a good short paddle; however we received so much hassle on arrival from 'guides' that we left again. This is par for the course in some parts of the country, unfortunately.

The Ouzoud is a gnarly rockslide on a par with the Allt a'Chaorainn in Scotland.

'Kayak Dune Surfing' down a 500ft sand dune. Weird. This was later copied by Shaun Baker, Corran Addison, etc etc...!

In truth...hard work to get up there and not a particularly speedy experience! Incredible location, though.

Simon's high-speed 4WD skills after we cracked the fuel tank open, an hour of desert from the nearest road...probably no place for a Fiat Uno, anyway.

Surfing...Hash Point, Tarhazoute, southern Morocco (see ' Stormrider Guide')....

Day 1 - near perfect ultra-steep clean blue 10-15 ft, a bit scary at first when we discovered you could freefall the entire height off the lip...

Day 2 - notably bigger (!) but not half so clean. We both suffered a few major, extended beatings which made us feel like novices all over again...

Day 3 - even bigger; huge cleanish rollers coming in, a few up to 25 ft. No boardies taking to the water today! Some waves removed beachfront concrete posts and were breaking through our front door and up the lane beside our apartment. We convinced ourselves that we could still have a play in the shore break area. We lasted about eight minutes before being literally hammered back into the beach (and seawall)...in front of a couple of hundred onlookers. The Moroccan fishermen cheered us, but I'm not sure what the boardies made of it.

After this day the Atlantic coast suffered from 'swell excess'...ie. far too big to surf.

An amazing surf destination, highly recommended. You can get tubes, although you need to be a better surfer than me to stay in them and not get annihilated. Faster boats than our Stubby/ Attak combination might have helped! We were quite surprised to find that you could paddle up VERY steep waves, even a split second before they broke. Wavewheels became ludicrously easy on the big steep stuff, infact most of them were performed with both ends rotating clear of the water airborne....

Mark Rainsley.