7 mins

Canyoning in Marrakech

Amanda Williams discovers it's a long way down during a canyoning trip in the gorgeous Ourika Valley

Thrill-seekers will love canyoning in Ourika Valley (Adam De-Ste-Croix)

After scrambling across rocky ground, jumping from two-meter-high outcrops and then landing with a splash in water below, I was enjoying myself so much I’d almost forgotten what was to come.

But as we rested at the top of the first real descent in the stunning Ourika Valley in the High Atlas, 45 minutes from Marrakech, those unfortunate words about wanting to do something a 'little more active' rang in my ears.

I was thinking rafting or river tubing, but Mother Nature was determined not to cooperate and failed to provide the necessary white water.

Determined not to disappoint, our hosts Splash Rafting Morocco had kindly offered to take us canyoning instead, leaving me with just one problem: I am terrified of heights.

For the uninitiated, canyoning involves walking, scrambling, sliding, wading, jumping and abseiling down a canyon or gorge, and can be experienced all year round in Morocco.

It's just one of an increasing number of outdoor activities available in the country. White-water rafting and tubing, kayaking, surfing, quad-biking, desert tours, mountain-biking or hot air ballooning can all be booked as standalone adventures or part of a package for those wanting to out of the city and do something energetic.

Canyoning is suitable for people over 16-years-old with a reasonable level of fitness, and Splash Morocco use only qualified (and extremely patient) guides who work to UK health and safety standards.

Surrounded by dramatic hillsides peppered with fragrant olive and lychee trees, it was hard to imagine that the innocuous-looking stream would sometimes flood, with waters so furious it could change the shape of the canyon overnight and cut deep gouges into the imposing rock face.

It was at the top of one of these sheer drops that we now stood, and it was my turn to abseil down. Against my better judgement, I peered over my shoulder and took in the challenge below.

In fact, the drop was 'only' about seven metres and it was clear we were in safe hands. The next drop offered a greater test: a 22-metre waterfall.

I leaned back and pushed off as some small stones moved beneath my feet and tumbled over the edge.

Fear gripped me for the first few metres but by the time I landed in the refreshingly chill water below, the dizziness had subsided and I would happily have done it again.

Amanda Williams travelled to Marrakech with Wanderlust Journeys

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