|MEETING PLACE:||Marrakech Menara Airport, Morocco|
|MEETING TIME:||A local representative will meet you at the airport on day 1|
|RETURN TIME:||You are free to depart anytime on day 12|
|TRIP LENGTH:||12 days / 11 nights (allow additional days for travel time)|
|RIVER RATING:||Class II–III+|
|AGE LIMIT:||Minimum age is 10|
|ACTIVITIES:||Whitewater rafting, hiking, camel ride, touring|
This trip is full of contrasts and will provide wonderful insight into the rich culture, diversity and spectacular scenery of Morocco. From the bustling markets of Marrakech to our journey exploring the Ahansal River, nestled in the Middle Atlas Mountains, this is a trip for those of you really wanting to “get away from it all.” The people we will see on our river journey will be the occasional villager or goat herder, nestled in amongst the fun filled rapids and spectacular scenery. The Sahara desert has long held a draw for travelers–we’ll explore it by camel, experiencing the peace and tranquility that only the largest desert on earth can provide. This is an adventure that everyone can enjoy.
The Kingdom of Morocco is a country rich in beauty and culture, and a civilization that has remained unchanged for centuries. From the moment you set foot in Morocco you will be transported to a whole new world. This magical country full of myths and fairy tales will captivate you with its rich tapestry of traditions and customs. Our journey on the Ahansal River is set amongst the stunning Middle Atlas mountain range, its clear waters coursing through beautiful glades and dramatic gorges. Within easy reach of most major European airports, Morocco’s warm African weather is the perfect antidote for those winter blues. From the splendor of the Sahara to the pristine beaches of its coastline, from the beguiling markets and souks to the diverse aromas of Moroccan spices, this country is a feast for the senses.
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every trip is different depending upon the group, other trips on the water and sometimes the weather. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like:
Day 1: Arrive Marrakech, Morocco
Take advantage of the opportunity to see the sights of Marrakech by arriving in the morning on this day. You will be met at the airport by a local OARS representative who will take you to our hotel and make sure that you get settled in. Then it’s out to explore the local scenery, marketplace and culture. Tonight we gather for a pre-trip meeting and enjoy a no-host dinner in the city’s famous square, Jemaa el-Fnaa.
Le Meridien N’Fis Hotel
Day 2: Atlas Mountains
We enjoy a hearty breakfast at our hotel and then board our vehicles bound for the heart of the Atlas Mountains. We journey northward from Marrakech with the sun rising over the mountains, towards the Middle Atlas Mountains. On a good day we can see Jbel Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa.
We stop in stunning olive groves for a sumptuous lunch and continue towards Tilouguite, pausing to take in the view as we cross this picturesque mountain range. We cross the Ahansal River just past Tilouguite and drive a little further to our campsite, where we dine in style amidst some of the most stunning scenery you will ever see, beside the spectacular La Cathedrale.
Riverside camp (B, L, D)
Day 3: Rafting the Ahansal River
Today we go rafting. We start with a thorough safety briefing followed by a chance to practice our paddling techniques before tackling our first rapids. We load the gear raft with the rest of our equipment and off we go! Many of the rapids are as yet unnamed…perhaps a chance for your fame to be realized? Depending on flows this river can be technical or big volume–either way it’s a blast!
We paddle through the narrows of Tilouguite with locals watching on the riverbanks, rather bemused at our colorful equipment. Some may even jump in and attempt to hitch a ride down the river. We arrive at our camp and the afternoon is yours to explore the nearby hillsides, relax by the water, or have a beach game with one of your fellow travelers.
Riverside camp (B, L, D)
Day 4: Rafting the Ahansal River
Today we see more roller coaster rapids as we head downstream and discover the majestic beauty of this land. We run some exhilarating waves today. Our day is interspersed with a relaxing lunch, sometimes accompanied by curious locals churning wheat at their waterwheels.
Our time rafting each day depends on water levels, but we try to leave time to explore nearby villages or soak in the scenery with your fellow paddlers and reflect on the day’s adventures. The water may be crystal clear (depending on local weather conditions) and if so we will unpack our fishing rods to try our luck at catching fresh fish (which we release). Tonight our camp is among the native cedar tree groves.
Riverside camp (B, L, D)
Day 5: Rafting the Ahansal River
It is fascinating to reflect upon where we are–on the edge of the Sahara, on a wilderness river tackling the best whitewater in Morocco… Today we get to run more exciting rapids on our downriver journey.
After a lunch with many of the fresh foods Morocco has to offer, we walk up the valley to a nearby kasbah to relax and sample Moroccan hospitality. Farmers go about their everyday business and inquisitive locals gather around our rafts, curious about the new visitors.
We raft down to our night’s camp deep within a stunning gorge, running rapids right up to the end. A fitting finale to this magical journey! It’s great to sit around the fire watching the glow dance on the canyon walls in the heart of the gorge, as we recount the day’s tales.
Riverside camp (B, L, D)
Day 6: Rafting to Lake Bin El Ouidane
Our last day on the river, we drift through two spectacular gorges, enjoy some final rapids and then paddle towards Lake Bin El Ouidane. Here we will meet our motor boat, tie all the boats together and be towed across the lake to our take-out.
We’ll spend the evening relaxing at our luxury hotel, overlooking the lake. We’ll enjoy hot showers and a wonderful meal, reminiscing over our river adventures.
Hotel Widiane (B, L, D)
Day 7: Travel to Dades
Ready for our next adventure, we load into our vehicle early this morning for a scenic drive through the heart of the Moroccan countryside.
En route we’ll stop for a late lunch alongside the River Dades. As we drive through the lesser traveled parts of the Atlas Range, we will stop in friendly villages for the customary mint tea or Nous Nous (coffee).
Mid-afternoon we arrive into Dades and check-in to the stunning Hotel Xaluca, with panoramic valley views. There may be time for a swim in the hotel pool. Then we immerse ourselves in the local atmosphere and food before retiring.
Hotel Xaluca Dades (B, L, D)
Day 8: Journey to Erfoud
Today our ultimate destination is Erfoud, but our first stop is to visit the extraordinary Todra Gorge. Ancient artifacts are also of interest and late morning we’ll visit a fascinating fossil factory for which this area is famous. We learn about the fossils in the area and have an opportunity to purchase specimens and other fossil-based stonework.
Our cultural immersion continues, as we head toward the Rissani Kasbah and other surrounding areas of interest before heading to our hotel for the night to relax and unwind.
Hotel Xaluca Erfoud (B, L, D)
Day 9: Erg Chebbi–Sahara Great Dunes
This morning we have a chance to experience the Moroccan life of today when we visit our guide Mohammed’s family home for tea. Afterward drive into the desert proper as we head toward the dunes of Erg Chebbi. The dunes reach a height of up to 150 meters and altogether span an area of 22 kilometers from north to south and up to 5-10 kilometers from east to west.
Tonight we will stay at a remote Sahara tented camp. After we arrive, we board our new best friends, camels! (It’s your choice how long you ride these wonderful creatures, but we promise you will be enchanted.) The camels take us deeper into the dunes of Erg Chebbi. Photo opportunities abound here.
We enjoy a traditional Moroccan dinner with music and perhaps dance. If you enjoy the stars, you will be in your element.
Desert Camp (B, L, D)
Day 10: Ait Benhaddou / Ouarzazate
Today we leave Erg Chebbi after breakfast and head for Ait Benhaddou to sample the history and hospitality of the locals. We have our lunch in the stunning Draa Valley, or Valley of the Roses, before making our way to Ouarzazate, known as “the door of the desert.”
We visit the Ksar of Ait Benhaddou in Ouarzazate province, a UNESCO World Heritage Center. Scenes from numerous films, as well as Game of Thrones, have been shot at this dramatic site. In the evening, after settling into our hotel, we take a tour of the spectacular hillside medina. We enjoy dinner on the terrace of our hotel with Moroccan music and entertainment all included!
Overnight in a traditional Riad (B, L, D)
Day 11: Marrakech
After breakfast we depart Ait Benhaddou bound for Marrakech, stopping for lunch along the way.
Le Meridien N’Fis Hotel (B, L)
Day 12: Departure
After breakfast we will transport you to the airport for your flight home or other destinations. (B)
Included in Your Trip Cost
- Skilled, professional guide service provided by our affiliate operator
- 5 nights comfortable catered camping (based on double occupancy)
- 6 nights hotel accommodations (based on double occupancy)
- All meals as outlined in the itinerary (B-breakfast, L-lunch, D-dinner)
- Expedition equipment, including 2-person shared tent and waterproof bag for personal gear on the river
- Sleep kit: includes a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, cotton liner and pillow
- High-quality inflatable rafts and related river equipment including paddle, helmet, wetsuit, booties, spray jacket and personal flotation device
- Airport transfers on arrival and departure dates
- All entrance fees
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Transportation to and from Marrakech
- Pre‐ and post‐trip accommodations and meals
- Alcohol or bottled beverages such as soda or sparkling water
- Single room supplement
- Airport departure taxes
- Insurance of any kind, including travel and mandatory evacuation insurance
- Items of a personal nature and equipment outlined in personal equipment list
- Video/DVD of your river trip (not all trips will have a videographer present)
Trip Preparation Checklist
☐ Consider Purchasing Travel Protection: We recommend the purchase of the OARS Travel Protection Plan to help protect you before and during your trip. A travel protection plan can help with reimbursement of your non-refundable payments in the event you have to cancel your trip due to listed reasons such as a covered illness or injury. Because we begin working to prepare for your trip upon receipt of your deposit and may be turning other prospective guests away while holding space for you, there are cancellation fees that will apply regardless of why or when you might need to cancel. We list the cost for the optional OARS Travel Protection Plan on your trip invoice.
Please note, we require all participants have a minimum of emergency medical evacuation coverage to participate. This coverage can be purchased as a stand-alone policy, or is typically included in a travel protection plan. If you don’t have proof of coverage at the start of the trip, you cannot take part in the expedition. For a basic policy that includes coverage for emergency medical and evacuation situations, visit www.oars.com/tmp
☐ Trip Forms (online): Each participant will need to complete the required trip forms within two weeks of making a booking. Refer to your confirmation e-mail for the link to the online forms. If you prefer to fill out paper forms, please let us know right away. If you are reserving within 90 days of departure, your forms must be completed immediately to ensure we can properly plan for your trip.
☐ Reserve flights, shuttles and lodging: Verify with your Adventure Consultant that your trip has met minimum numbers prior to booking flights and/or reserving overnight lodging for the night before and after your trip, if applicable.
☐ Whitewater Orientation: To increase your safety, we expect everyone to watch our 23-minute Whitewater Orientation video before joining us. Watch at https://www.oars.com/experience/safety/ or call 800-346-6277 to request a free DVD. Please don’t leave home without watching.
☐ Payments: Final payment is due in our office 90 days prior to your trip (refer to your invoice for final payment date). Please let us know if you would like us to automatically charge your credit card on file when final payment is due.
☐ Physical Requirements: Your outdoor adventure will be an active participatory trip. Please inform us of any physical limitation you may have as soon as possible. Make sure you are exercising frequently in the months leading up to your trip.
Meeting Place & Time
You will need to arrive at the Marrakech Menara Airport (RAK) on day 1 of your trip. Upon arrival, a local OARS representative will be in the airport exit lobby to greet you. You will then be transferred to our hotel in the heart of Marrakech. There will be a pre-trip meeting at our hotel this evening with the group.
Getting to Marrakech, Morocco
For U.S. passengers, flights connecting through the United Kingdom may be the best option. Many of the major airlines fly from the U.S. to the UK. From the UK several of the “low cost” airlines such as Easyjet, Ryanair and Atlas Blue have daily flights to Marrakech Menara Airport. Other airlines that service Marrakech are American Airlines, British Airways, KLM, Iberia, Lufthansa, Royal Air Maroc and SwissAir.
Let us know if you’d like assistance with arranging your international flight logistics. Our partners at Exito Travel specialize in international destinations and we’d be happy to obtain a quote from them on your behalf
After Your Trip
On the final day of your adventure, you will be transferred to the Marrakech Menara Airport for your flight home. A flight at any time on the final day of the trip is fine; your trip leader will escort you to the airport.
Morocco recently instituted a departure tax of $12 (120 dirhams) on outgoing tickets. If not included in your ticket, plan to pay this at the time of departure.
Pre- and Post-Trip Accommodations
Your first night’s accommodation is included. If you decide to arrive a day or two early, we recommend you make reservations well in advance in order to guarantee lodging. While there are countless accommodation options in Marrakech, we recommend staying at the Le Meridien N’Fis (your accommodation for day 1 of our trip). Please let us know if you would like to book additional nights at the hotel, as we’re happy to make the arrangements for you. Pre- and post-trip lodging is not included in the trip cost.
Essential Travel Documents
If you don’t have a passport, apply for one immediately because the process can be lengthy. If you do have a passport, find it and check the expiration date to see that it is valid for at least 6 months from your planned entry into Morocco. There must be at least two blank pages in your passport or immigration authorities may not allow you to enter Morocco. Make a photocopy of the photo page of your passport and carry it separately from your passport. It is also a good idea to leave a copy with your emergency contact at home. We also request that you send us a copy to keep on file for emergencies during your trip. If your passport is lost or stolen, a photocopy will help the local consulate speed up authorization for replacement.
Normally you can enter Morocco with a minimum of formalities at your point of disembarkation. A visa is not required for U.S. citizens if you’re stay is 90 days or less. If you have any questions regarding your entry into Morocco, please contact your nearest Consulate of the Kingdom of Morocco. (http://www.embassy.org/embassies/ma.html)
Mandatory Evacuation Insurance
We require that you purchase emergency medical evacuation insurance to participate in this expedition. For a policy that includes coverage for emergency medical and evacuation situations, visit www.oars.com/tmp
We strongly recommend that you protect yourself, your belongings, and your vacation through the purchase of a travel protection plan. We offer the OARS Travel Protection Plan to help protect you, your travel investment and your belongings before and during your trip. Travel Protection can reimburse you for non-refundable payments if you should have to cancel your trip for a covered reason such as your illness or the illness of an immediate family member. For complete details go online to: www.oars.com/tpp
The Ahansal River is Morocco’s best whitewater trip with class II-III+ whitewater through beautiful valleys and past traditional goat herders. The river trip starts beneath the spectacular La Cathedral, a stunning massif in the heart of the Atlas Mountains. The river was recently featured on the U.S. television series Expedition Impossible, exposing viewers to the gorgeous scenery this trip has to offer. You’ll also get to see monkeys and, on occasion, turtles.
Morocco offers travelers the opportunity to immerse themselves in a mix of European, African and Arabic cultures. Explore the ancient Kasbahs on the side of the river during a hike, and while you are in Marrakech view the unique mosques and souks.
We begin our trip in bustling Marrakech, rich with sounds and smells that will light your senses on fire. A shopper’s paradise, Marrakech has the largest traditional Berber market in Morocco. Explore the souks selling everything from chickens to lamps. Your trip leader will delight in showing you around, and you’ll have time to just sit and chat over a cup of mint tea or a “Berber Whiskey.”
After each active day on the river, we pull ashore to camp for the night. Upon arrival, our first task is to unload the boats using a fire line of crew and passengers to expedite the process. Individuals then collect their waterproof bags and locate an area on the beach to camp for the night. On the first night in camp, a crew member will give a demonstration on setting up a tent, which you’ll see is quick and easy. The guides will set up the kitchen and central dining/seating area with camp chairs. They will also locate a secluded area away from camp to set up the portable toilet, where privacy is assured.
As dinner is being prepared by the guides, hors d’oeuvres will be served and you will have an opportunity to relax, enjoy a drink if you wish, and reflect on the day with your fellow traveling companions.
In the morning, the first wake-up call will let you know that coffee, hot water for tea or cocoa, juice, fresh fruit and cold cereal are ready on the hors d’oeuvres table. You can fill your mug and grab a bite, then begin to pack up your personal belongings and sleep gear as the guides prepare breakfast. After breakfast is served, the entire camp will be broken down and packing will be completed. The gear will then be loaded onto the boats and we’ll head downstream to see what new adventures await us.
Sumptuous meals with local flavors are prepared by your team of river guides. One thing is for sure, you won’t lose weight! Lunches entail fresh salads and/or sandwiches, which will take into account the fresh and plentiful produce available in Morocco. Off the river you’ll be served a variety of traditional foods, including Morocco’s famous tagines. At each of these meals, several choices are available.
We need to know as soon as possible about any dietary restrictions we should consider in planning your trip. If you have additional food allergies or necessary restrictions, we will do our best to accommodate your needs. However, there may be an additional supplemental menu fee ranging from $5-20 per person per day to cover our increased costs.
Beyond our standard menu, we can provide options for vegetarian, vegan and many allergy-restricted diets without applying a fee. However, we cannot always provide the same diversity or sophistication for restricted diets as we do for our regular menu.
Due to the constraints of cooking for a large group, availability of ingredients in remote locations and limited packing space, we are often unable to cater to dietary preferences (likes or dislikes).
An opportunity to purchase alcohol for the river trip will be arranged for those interested. Alcohol is not included but is purchased on an individual basis.
We recommend you drink only bottled or previously boiled water. Bring a refillable water bottle or similar device, especially when traveling away from major cities.
Boat Options (see photos at https://www.oars.com/experience/boats/)
- Paddle Raft—The sportiest of crafts we put on the water, everybody handles a paddle while the guide steers and gives directions from the rear. Paddling together is essential to finding the right run, and team work begets success. A thrilling way to brave the rapids! A trip may require a minimum of 13 total participants for a paddle raft to be made available. Helmets required. (Four to eight paddlers)
- Paddle Raft with Oar Assist—The most agile of any boat in the OARS fleet, your guide powers the raft with two hefty oars on a rear-mounted frame, while the crew wields single blade paddles up front for added horse-power. Helmets required. (Four to eight paddlers)
Fishing is not an emphasis on this trip, but the river does offer opportunities that are best when it is running clear. Either at camp early in the morning or in the evening, you may find time to cast a line. We do have a couple rods & reels you can borrow or you’re welcome to travel with your own. Light-weight tackle is appropriate for catching the local variety of trout and we ask that you bring your own lures. For recreational fishing on the Ahansal River, no permit is required.
The Portable Toilet
While the idea of a river trip is appealing to most people, many are inhibited or reluctant because of modesty or uncertainty. To minimize our impacts, we carry out all solid human waste and use a portable toilet system that is set up each day at camp in a secluded location a discrete distance from tent sites. It is essentially a toilet without plumbing and is available from the time you pull into camp each afternoon until you leave camp the next day. Toilet paper and a convenient hand-washing station are provided.
For use while on the river, we carry a “pee potty” that can be accessed during the day should the need arise.
On popular stretches of wilderness rivers, the common refrain is “dilution is the solution to pollution.” We practice this approach by urinating in the river.
Bathing is allowed in the river at certain campsites during lower water. (The water is always chilly!) We recommend using a liquid biodegradable soap such as Campsuds or Dr. Bronner’s which can be purchased in most stores that have a camping section and can also be used to wash clothes. You may also find a good selection at your local health food store. Disposable anti-bacterial towelettes (Coleman Swash Cloths, baby wipes, etc.) are convenient.
We provide a 2-person shared hard Pelican case to hold your camera and other items you might want during the day while on the river. It is secured in a readily accessible spot on the raft. While these cases are designed to be waterproof, you may wish to place your camera in a zip-lock plastic bag or waterproof casing for additional protection. We also strongly recommend you take out a rider on your homeowner’s policy to cover your camera—especially if it’s fine equipment. Make sure to bring additional memory cards, batteries and any other extras you will need. Disposable waterproof and panorama cameras are also a fun option.
Electronics & Technology
The use of electronic devices, especially music players, on your trip may represent an intrusion into the wilderness experience of your fellow guests. We ask that you please be mindful of the impacts to others and respect the wilderness nature of the trip. Please bring headphones if you intend to listen to music during the trip.
Many of our guests travel with their smartphone even though there is no cell service while on the river. On a trip like this, there is always the risk of water damage to smartphones and other electronic devices, even when they are stowed in a dry bag. If you intend to take your phone with you on the river, consider investing in a small, waterproof container just for your phone.
On the river, we are not able to provide a power source for recharging devices. To keep cameras, phones, GPS and other devices working you may need spare batteries or portable power. Options include compact portable solar panels that can recharge devices directly, portable power banks that store power, or a combo unit that can be charged before the trip and recharged with a built-in solar panel.
Morocco is on the 220-240V, 50Hz cycles system. Wall sockets in Morocco are either type C or type E. Plan to bring a converter for 110V devices and a selection of plug adapters. More information about plug types in Morocco can be found at http://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/morocco/
Once you are on the river there is limited communication with the “outside world.” Our guides carry satellite phones which are strictly used to call out in case of an emergency situation on the river. They can call out, but we cannot call them. Periodically the trip leader will check in with our office. If you have someone that needs to contact you about an emergency at home, they should call our office (800-346-6277). If possible, we will relay the message to you. Keep in mind it could be several days or longer before the message actually reaches you. For your family at home you should define for them what you consider an emergency and provide them with instructions to call our office in the event one occurs during your vacation.
Wi-Fi is complimentary in the lobby of Le Meridien. It is also available at all of our accommodations with the exception of our desert camp, although connections may be irregular at times.
The local currency is the Moroccan Dirham (MAD). At the time of writing, the exchange rate for the Moroccan Dirham was US$1 = 10 Moroccan Dirham. Exchange rates generally vary between the local and tourist rate. Like most cities, it is easy to find an ATM or a Bureau de Change in Marrakech. Most banks in the city offer these two services and you will also find automatic change machines in some parts of the city. One of the places to go in Marrakech where you are sure to find an ATM or a change office is the pedestrian streets close to the Jemaa el-Fnaa square. Ask your guide where to find these.
As most aspects of your trip are included, the money you need to bring will be limited to select meals, souvenirs, gratuities or other extra purchases. You can pay for many items by credit card, but we also recommend travelling with local currency in small denominations, especially if you plan to shop. In general, US dollars are not accepted.
A souk is a traditional marketplace selling everything from chickens to high-quality crafts. The souks of Marrakech are considered to be among the best in Morocco, so if you like shopping and bargaining you’ll enjoy yourself tremendously. Souks are divided into small areas that specialize in a certain good or trade. The metal workers all have their little shops clustered together, as do the tailors, butchers, jewelers, wool dyers, spice merchants, carpet salesmen and so on. Ask your guides if you have something in particular you are looking for.
The geological variety of Morocco results in a wide range of climatic conditions. Be prepared, because almost anything can happen. As we are rafting in the Atlas Mountains; it can get cold and it is a good idea to bring a reasonably warm fleece or down jacket and some long pants. The water temperature at this time of year averages 56 degrees Fahrenheit. We provide you with a wetsuit, spray jacket and booties but you can put on a thermal top and bottom if you are susceptible to the cold. You may expect temperatures of 75-90 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, but it can be much colder. Rain is also a possibility although not likely. You can bring a light jacket if you wish although many of our guests use our spray jackets.
Average Temperatures for Marrakech
|Air (High) °F||Air (Low) °F|
You may want to check one week prior to your trip for an up-to-date weather forecast. We recommend you check the following web site: www.wunderground.com.
Morocco is in the same time zone as GMT, which is 5 hours ahead of the US East Coast and 8 hours ahead of the West Coast.
There are many languages spoken in Morocco including Arabic, French, English, Spanish and several Berber dialects. The most common European language spoken is French.
Morocco is relatively disease free, although proof of inoculation for Cholera will be required if traveling into Morocco from infected areas. No other vaccinations are compulsory but we recommend consulting your physician or travel clinic. They may suggest that you get inoculated against Hepatitis A, Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid and Meningitis. Anti-Malarial tablets are not necessary. Visit the CDC for more information before you travel.
Bottled water is widely available in Morocco. During the river trip all water is filtered and treated.
Despite the many precautions we all take to stay healthy, occasionally one may experience diarrhea. The major problem associated with this is fluid loss leading to severe dehydration, so it is important to maintain fluid intake. Avoid milk and caffeine, as it will only further dehydrate you. The best drinks are weak tea, mineral water and caffeine-free soft drinks. Ideally it is best to let diarrhea run its course. However you may want to bring over-the-counter medication to minimize your potential discomfort.
For Women Only
Even if you aren’t anticipating your menstrual period, come prepared for it. You can use sandwich-sized Ziploc baggies during the day to store feminine products while you are on the river or hiking, and you can then discretely dispose of the baggies when you reach camp. When possible, we recommend o.b.® tampons, which are 1/3 the size of regular tampons, tuck discreetly into pockets and have less paper wrapping. If you use pads, be sure to bring extras. Many women suggest bringing a small supply of baby wipes. We provide some feminine products on most trips for emergencies.
Essential Eligibility Criteria for River Trips
The following are the physical and mental eligibility criteria for all participants on any OARS river trip.
1. Ability to remain seated and balanced while in a whitewater craft while holding on with at least one hand.
2. Wear a Type V Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device (maximum chest size of 56 inches). Wearing leg straps may be required to ensure proper fit. Where required, properly wear a helmet.
3. Ability to independently board and disembark a boat four to ten times each day. This may require stepping into the boat, and then maneuvering your body over and across tubes and fixed objects into a seated position.
4. Ability to independently navigate shoreline terrain, including safely maneuvering around and across boulders, rocks, and slippery and uneven surfaces, under low branches, and around vegetation. This includes the ability to maintain your balance near precipitous ledges or cliffs.
5. Ability to independently swim in whitewater or swift currents while wearing a PFD. This includes being an active participant in your own rescue, including having the ability to (a) keep your airway passages sealed while underwater, and regain control of your breathing when being submitted to repeated submersion under waves or currents; (b) orient yourself to new “in-river” surroundings; (c) reposition yourself in the water to different swimming positions; (d) swim aggressively to a boat or to shore in whitewater; (e) receive a rescue rope, paddle, or human assistance, and possibly let go of the same; (f) get out from under an overturned boat.
6. Ability to swim 100 yards in flat water while wearing a PFD.
7. Ability to assist another passenger who has fallen out of the boat by pulling them back in.
8. Ability to follow both verbal and non-verbal instructions given by guides in all situations, including during stressful or dangerous situations, and to effectively communicate with guides and other guests.
9. Ability to carry personal dry bags and other personal gear (as heavy as 20-30 pounds) uphill from the boats to your camping location and back the next morning, independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member. (This only applies on multi-day trips).
10. Ability to manage all personal care independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
11. If taking prescription medications, have the ability to maintain proper dosage by medicating independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
12. Ability to remain adequately fed, hydrated, and properly dressed so as to avoid environmental injuries such as hypothermia, heat related illness, sunburn and frostbite.
The above criteria, if not met, will disqualify a person from participating in a river trip with OARS. The criteria exist for your own safety and that of all trip participants. None of the criteria are meant to discriminate on the basis of any physical or mental disability, and are applied uniformly to all potential trip participants, irrespective of the presence or absence of any disability. OARS is committed to making reasonable modifications to any trip for any persons with a disability, so long as they do not fundamentally alter the nature of the trip.
Further Information About Our Expectations of Trip Participants
The following paragraphs are meant to further inform all potential participants of the expectations for all participants in order to promote a safe, enjoyable experience for everyone on a trip. There may be requirements, whether physical or mental, that are not specifically applied “essential eligibility criteria”, but that help our guests understand the reality of being on a wilderness river trip.
Our primary goal is to minimize the risks associated with adventure trips in a wilderness environment. The trip involves physical exertion and exposure to the elements, including cold water and the potential for heat, sun, wind, rain and snow. We have experience accommodating people with a wide range of physical disabilities and/or health conditions. However, individuals who are overweight, lack conditioning, or have other physical limitations or ailments that interfere with the realistic encounters on a wilderness river can endanger themselves, other guests, and the guides. Please consult your doctor if you have medical or health conditions that could impact your ability to participate in this outdoor adventure.
It is very important that each trip participant take an active role in their own safety. You will likely encounter wilderness conditions that you are unfamiliar with, and those conditions may change rapidly. It is critical to pay attention at all times, to be aware of your surroundings, and to avoid taking unnecessary risks. Even a non-life threatening injury in a wilderness setting can become a major emergency for you, and can endanger the entire group. Swimming alone or hiking alone is discouraged. Excessive alcohol consumption or illicit drug use is not tolerated. Using common sense and following both the explicit instruction and the lead of your guides can go a long way towards keeping yourself and the group safe. Some obvious things to avoid in camp and on shore (by way of example) are: walking around without shoes in camp, approaching wild animals, not paying attention to what is above or around your tent site that could harm you, not paying attention to hazards such as poison ivy and rattlesnakes, and walking near precipitous ledges.
River trips, particularly those involving whitewater, are inherently risky. While the risk of a trip is part of what makes it an exciting adventure, you must be entirely respectful of the risk that such a trip poses. It is important that you are confident in your swimming ability, and your ability to stay calm in the event you become a non-voluntary swimmer. Your odds of becoming a non-voluntary swimmer change with the classification of a rapid, boat selection and environmental factors. On class IV and greater whitewater, the probability that you will become a non-voluntary swimmer is significant. A swim in whitewater is much more difficult and physically draining than swimming in flat water. Swimming in cold water can cause a gasping effect on your respiratory system. This can be overcome by focusing on your breathing and calming yourself down. Swimming in cold water will also much more quickly sap your energy and decrease muscle function than swimming in warmer water. While our guides are highly trained and will do their absolute best to rescue you, a successful rescue is greatly hampered by a swimmer who is unprepared for a swim in whitewater, who fails to actively participate in their own rescue, and who is not able to follow directions while under stress. You will receive a detailed orientation talk at the start of your river trip, but you can get a better idea of what to expect by watching a version of an orientation talk here: http://www.oars.com/videos/oars-whitewater-orientation.
Due to the physical nature of this trip, we highly recommend that you engage in regular exercise for at least three months prior to departure to ensure preparedness. No gym membership required! Simple exercises like push-ups, sit-ups and squats go a long way to improving core fitness. Start with these exercises and do three sets of ten repetitions each, three to four times per week. Aerobic training is also easy to accomplish without expensive equipment. Take 30 – 40 minutes two to three times a week and go for a brisk walk, easy jog or bike ride around town. If you have access to a pool, lake or the ocean, swimming is obviously an ideal choice for aerobic exercise. It provides a full-body workout and is training that is useful in the event of an involuntary swim in a whitewater rapid. It is important to push yourself in the months leading up to your trip by increasing your strength training repetitions and the pace of your aerobic training. Check with your doctor prior to beginning any exercise program to be sure you are medically safe to participate. Starting an exercise program that is more strenuous than you are ready for may result in injury or risk exacerbating existing health conditions. Getting in shape will certainly add to your enjoyment of the trip.
Packing for Your Trip
In Marrakech—The dress code in and around the town of Marrakech remains fairly casual. Lightweight casual clothes are recommended during the day.
Women should keep their legs from mid-calf, shoulders and upper arms covered and avoid skin-tight clothing as this will attract unwanted attention and is considered inappropriate to wear in the Muslim religion. This consideration is less applicable during our river trip while rafting and in our riverside camps.
During the day on the river—Start with a swimsuit and/or swim trunks and synthetic or merino wool shirt as a base layer. Additional layers for sun protection or insulation can be added and subtracted depending on the weather, temperature and how wet you’re getting in the rapids. The water can be cold!
In camp—When the weather is warm, lightweight cotton pants/skirt or shorts and shirt make great camp wear. Anytime the forecast calls for cool evenings and cold nights, a dry set of long underwear is the perfect base layer under long pants and a fleece sweater.
Please keep in mind that temperatures can drop on the river and in the desert so a fleece or down jacket and pants and a warm hat and gloves are a must. Please see additional information in the packing list.
During the day—On the river, we provide booties (neoprene with rubber sole) or you can bring an amphibious shoe that drains water, protects your toes and won’t come off in swirling current. A retired pair of athletic shoes can work well, too. Sport sandals with a heal strap are a good option, especially on rivers with sandy beaches. Be sure to bring a pair of neoprene socks to supplement if temperatures are low. Find professional-grade options made by Chaco®, the official footwear sponsor of OARS guides.
In camp—We recommend wearing shoes in camp due to risk of kicking a rock buried in the sand, or stepping on a sharp stick. The athletic shoes or light hikers you bring can double as your camp shoes. It’s nice to put on dry socks and shoes after a day on the water. Flip flops or slip-on sandals are OK for wearing in camp.
Please note: If you buy new shoes or sandals for the trip, make sure you break them in first!
During the day—Wide-brimmed hats are a good choice for sun protection off the river. Ball caps are also useful since they fit under helmets, which are required attire when paddling our whitewater rivers.
In camp—When the weather is cool, you’ll want a beanie-style hat to wear in camp. They are the perfect remedy for bed-head as you rise from your sleeping bag to secure your morning cup of coffee or tea, or for retaining warmth in the evening hours after the sun sets.
To Avoid Being Cold
Synthetic or merino wool long underwear is a must-have on river trips. It can be worn under shorts, rain gear, T-shirts, etc., then stripped off when the chill of the morning has worn off. It keeps you warm even if it’s wet (which can happen easily) and dries quickly. It can also be layered under your wetsuit. Be aware that cotton items, once wet, do not insulate; only synthetic and wool materials will keep you warm during cool, wet weather.
Something warm for your top & bottom
You need to be prepared for inclement weather. Bring a good fleece or wool top and bottom, along with a warm hat and gloves. You’ll want to double up on your base layers so that you’ll have a set to wear in the boat and a set of warm, dry clothes for camp.
Raingear protects you from rain, wind and the splash of the rapids. It is one of the essential items that all passengers should have no matter what time of year you are traveling. Look for jacket and pants that are 100% waterproof, not just water resistant. A hooded jacket is recommended as well, with secure closures around your head, neck, wrists and ankles. Do not bring a rain poncho as it cannot be worn under your PFD.
Protecting yourself from the sun should be taken very seriously. A hat, sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses are a must. In many cases, a long-sleeve shirt is the best method for preventing sunburn on your upper body. Light-weight long pants may also be appropriate to protect your legs. Be sure to bring a good hat that offers full coverage, such as a wide-brimmed hat.
Bugs & Mosquitoes
Bugs and mosquitos are not usually a problem, but it’s a good idea to come prepared with insect repellent, just in case.
Suggested Packing List
Equipment and Personal Items:
☐ Water bottle: durable and reusable if you have one; an empty soft drink bottle works fine if you don’t
☐ Headlamp or flashlight (consider bringing extra batteries)
☐ Sunglasses (preferably polarized) with securing strap and a spare
☐ Small, quick-drying towel
☐ Toiletries including biodegradable soap (such as Campsuds or Dr. Bronner’s)
☐ Sunscreen and lip protection: waterproof & SPF 30 or higher (aerosol sprays not recommended)
☐ Moisturizing lotion or cream
☐ Insect repellent
☐ Alcohol-based hand sanitizer
☐ Personal first aid kit (Band-aids, antibiotic ointment, ibuprofen, moleskin, eye drops, stomach medication, etc.)
☐ Any medication you may be taking
☐ Spare pair of glasses and/or contacts
☐ Cash & credit card for gratuities, select meals, souvenirs, alcohol, etc.
☐ River shoes or sandals with a heel strap (such as those made by Chaco®)
☐ Athletic shoes, casual shoes or sandals for hikes, in camp and travel
☐ Hiking socks
☐ Long-sleeved shirts: lightweight and light color for sun protection (old dress shirts work well)
☐ Long pants: lightweight and light color for sun protection
☐ Shorts: 1-2 pair
☐ T-shirts/tops: 2-3
☐ Base layers (tops and bottoms): light to mid-weight merino wool or polypropylene
☐ Fleece or insulated jacket (medium to heavy-weight)
☐ Swimsuit / Trunks: 2-piece suits recommended for women. Tankinis are a great option
☐ Socks: 2-3 pair for on the water (neoprene or wool); 3-4 pair for travel and camp.
☐ Shade hat or visor with securing strap—flexible enough to fit under your helmet
☐ Warm hat and gloves
☐ Rain jacket & pants: waterproof (not water resistant) A hooded jacket with secure closures is recommended
☐ Camera and accessories
☐ Long skirt or sarong for women to cover their legs while in the company of locals. A sarong can be useful for sun protection/changing clothes. Long pants are also acceptable for coverage.
☐ Bathing wipes: pre-moistened disposable towels
☐ Ear plugs
☐ Binoculars (small)
☐ Paddling gloves
☐ Plastic bags and zip-locs of assorted sizes for sorting wet clothes and organizing
☐ Lightweight cord and clothespins for drying clothes
☐ Reading and writing materials
Find all the gear you need for your trip online in the OARStore and receive FREE SHIPPING in the U.S. + 15% of your purchase helps provide disadvantaged youth with outdoor adventure experiences.
Packing Your Gear
We recommend traveling as light as possible without compromising your preparation for inclement weather and cooler temperatures. Soft luggage or duffels are preferred versus hard suitcases, as they’re easier to load into our vehicles. Excess baggage can be a burden to you and to support personnel. On the international flight you are normally allowed two pieces of luggage, but please check your specific airline for current weight limitation—it changes from carrier to carrier.
We recommend you take only what’s absolutely necessary. Keeping gear to a minimum ensures it will fit into the waterproof bag we supply for the river and reduces unnecessary packing and unpacking in camp. You will be given your waterproof bag at the pre-trip meeting in Marrakech. Your travel luggage, with any items that you don’t need on the river including valuables, will be taken to the Hotel Widiane to be kept secure and returned to you immediately after you get off the river.
Morocco is safe for traveling, but still there is no point in carrying lots of valuables. Avoid carrying large sums of money on your person or in one place. Be mindful of beggars or others who may be attempting to distract your attention—our destination does not exclude pickpockets. Keep purses and bags closed and avoid placing valuables in purses and bags. Items placed on the chair next to you, hung on the coat rack, or placed on the back of a chair are more easily stolen or pilfered.
Regrettably, tourists are among the most easily targeted, so please exercise some caution. We also recommend that you check your personal insurance policy before traveling to ensure that you are covered for theft and loss while traveling. As a safety precaution, do not travel with excessive amounts of cash or jewelry if it is not necessary. We recommend that you leave your valuables at home.
If you feel your guides have provided a very special trip for you, you may leave a gratuity with the trip leader to be shared among the crew. This tip is entirely at your discretion, though we recommend a general tipping guideline of anything between 8% and 12% of trip cost. The amount that you choose to tip should be divided between your river and desert guides and given separately. Two-thirds should go to your trip leader at the end of your river trip and one-third should go to your trip leader in the Sahara before you part ways. A tip of 5-10% of a restaurant bill is appropriate.
In reviewing your statement, you’ll notice a $1 per person per day donation to International Rivers, a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to protecting rivers and defending the rights of the surrounding communities. Their work helps stop destructive dams and promotes water and energy solutions for a just and sustainable world. One-hundred percent of these funds go directly to protecting rivers, and your contribution is tax-deductible. This donation is voluntary and may be removed from your invoice if you choose not to participate. Please notify our office to delete the donation from your balance.
If you enjoyed your trip, consider donating to The Pam & George Wendt Foundation. This organization is a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 organization with the express goal of providing opportunities for young people to experience the magic of the outdoors. Visit https://www.oars.com/oars-foundation/ to learn more about how a tax-deductible donation can change young lives for the better.
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Terms and Conditions
Reservations and Deposits
A $800/person non-refundable deposit is required at the time of reservation. The balance is due 90 days prior to departure.
Cancellations and Refunds
If you find it necessary to cancel your trip, please notify us as soon as possible. The cancellation fee after you’ve made your deposit can range up to the entire trip cost, based upon the number of days prior to your trip that we receive your cancellation notice. We regret we cannot make exceptions for personal emergencies. For this reason, we strongly urge you to consider purchasing a travel protection plan (see Travel Protection).
|DATE OF CANCELLATION||CANCELLATION FEE|
|90 or more days prior to your trip||Deposit of $800/person|
|89 to 0 days prior to your trip||100% of the trip price/person|
Requests to transfer a date will be treated as a cancellation, per the terms above.
Under most circumstances, if you are of an adventurous spirit and in reasonably good health, you should have no problem enjoying this trip. People with medical conditions, including pregnancy, should have a physician’s approval before taking an adventure travel trip.
We offer the OARS Travel Protection Plan to help protect you, your travel investment and your belongings before and during your trip. Travel Protection can reimburse you for non-refundable payments if you should have to cancel your trip for a covered reason such as your illness or the illness of an immediate family member. For complete details go online to: https://www.oars.com/tpp
Please note, we require all participants have a minimum of emergency medical evacuation coverage to participate. This coverage can be purchased as a stand-alone policy, or is typically included in a travel protection plan. If you don’t have proof of coverage at the start of the trip, you cannot take part in the expedition. For a basic policy that includes coverage for emergency medical and evacuation situations, visit www.oars.com/tmp
Everyone is required to sign a standard liability release form before the trip, acknowledging awareness that there are inherent risks associated with the trip. Due to the nature of the activities, a condition of your participation is that you will sign this form and return it to our office before the trip begins. Anyone who refuses to sign the form will not be allowed to participate, and consistent with OARS. International cancellation policy, there will be no refund of the trip fees at that time.
Responsibility – An Important Notice
O.A.R.S. International, Inc., Water by Nature and cooperating agencies act only in the capacity of agent for the participants in all matters relating to transportation and/or all other related travel services, and assume no responsibility however caused for injury, loss or damage to person or property in connection with any service, including but not limited to that resulting directly or indirectly from acts of God, detention, annoyance, delays and expenses arising from quarantine, strikes, theft, pilferage, force majeure, failure of any means of conveyance to arrive or depart as scheduled, civil disturbances, government restrictions or regulations, and discrepancies or change in transit over which it has no control. Reasonable changes in itinerary may be made where deemed advisable for the comfort and well-being of the participants, including cancellation due to water fluctuation, insufficient bookings, (this trip requires a minimum of 6 guests), and other factors. There is risk in whitewater rafting, particularly during high-water conditions. Rafts, dories and kayaks do capsize. You could be swept overboard. Your guide will make every attempt to assist, but you must be strong and agile enough to “self-help” and “float-it-out” without further endangering yourself or others. We reserve the right not to accept passengers weighing more than 260 pounds or with a waist/chest size exceeding 56 inches. We may decide, at any time, to exclude any person or group for any reason we feel is related to the safety of our trips. We are experienced at accommodating people with various disabilities. Please give us an opportunity to make you feel welcome. We need to discuss any special requirements ahead of time. On advancement of deposit the depositor agrees to be bound by the above recited terms and conditions. Prices subject to change without notice.
Water by Nature
Water by Nature, a travel partner of OARS. International, is the operator of this trip. Upon arrival, Water by Nature staff will meet you and escort you throughout the program. These international staff members are the very best and will strive to ensure your complete satisfaction.