From the time that Jacky and I booked our tickets to Marrakech we wanted to do some outdoor activity there do get our adrenaline pumping. Given the multitude of options we firmly debated whether we should take a hot air balloon ride, go on a camel ride or go quad biking. Ultimately we settled on quad biking and a wise choice it was. There are a lot of quad bike operators to choose from, Dunes and Desert came very highly recommended. We opted for Lake Takerkoust and Agafay desert full day excursion. It was 150€ person which was quite reasonable for all the experience included.
Our day began with our usual rooftop breakfast at the riad. Afterwards we walked to the Jemaa el-Fnaa square for our pickup. For a change Moroccan punctuality surprised us and our driver was there at 9 am sharp as we had been informed. Lake Takerkoust is located 35 km southwest of Marrakech so it took around half an hour to reach the base camp in the desert.
There we met with our two guides for the day and were quickly given the rundown on how to operate the quads or ATV’s (all terrrain vehicle). They filled us with confidence with their attention to detail, helpfulness and gave some handy tips. We were provided with balaclavas, helmets, gloves and safety glasses for protection. After a few test rides through which we overcame the initial hiccups, we throttled off in the wide-open wilderness.
Jacky seemed to be more at ease riding the quad than me. Since we were quad bike rookies our guides decided to take us for a moderately challenging trail. The weather was bright and sunny that day so it couldn’t have been better for riding.
Taste of the Agafay desert
The desert landscape outside Marrakech is crisscrossed with tracks with tracks and dusty roads. Unfortunately there are no dunes, you have to venture further inland to encounter them. Rather the terrain is rocky with wild palm groves, arid rivers and jbilets – volcanic rock landscapes formed naturally over millions of years. Being at the foothill of the Atlas mountains you’re treated to a stunning vista of the mountain range up close.
Our time on the quads was purely inspirational – zig-zagging up into the hills through small hamlets across seldom worn goat paths. Along the way we marvelled at the pristine countryside, discovered traditional Berber villages and houses, which seemed practically unchanged for more than 200 years. It’s amazing how silent and serene the desert surroundings seem while you’re riding your quad bike.
All throughout the entire duration of the ride our guides were vigilant about our speeds so as to make our ride as safe and enjoyable as possible. A little more than an hour into the ride we stopped for a while for refreshments and to snap pictures. Jacky wandered off to take pictures of the delicate desert flowers. We also took the opportunity to interact with our guides and learned more about the local culture. We then hopped back on our quads and continued to explore the rugged desert for the next two hours. The time went by pretty fast as we really soaked up all the vivid scenery and we were just lost in our thoughts about how invigorating the experience had been.
The heat was really starting to drain down on us and we heartily welcomed the second small break for refreshments and another more picture session. Our guides informed us that we would be going for lunch soon. A traditional Moroccan lunch with a family was included in our package. We were looking forward to this as we thought it would be a great chance to interact with the locals and learn more about their lives.
When we arrived we were led to a small tent outside the house where we were first served drinks by our hostess, a very nice Berber woman. Lunch consisted of a delicious lamb tagine which was very filling indeed. For desert, we had a big bowl of assorted fruits served to us with mint tea. In the meantime we took in the breathtaking view we had from our lunch spot. After getting over an hour’s rest and feeling very satiated we got back on our quads and proceeded on our final leg of our ride.
Hickups & Lake views
The final leg consisted of a little more than an hour of riding. The hidden canyons and the scorched hills that we passed made it akin to riding on the moon. It was during this leg of the journey that I lost control of my quad and before I knew it I was going down a ditch. Luckily our guide bailed me out. I was relieved that I walked away unscathed and no harm was done to the quad.
The quad ride concluded soon after that. Our bodies had begun to grow a little weary and the timing was just right. Our clothes were naturally covered in dust by the time. We thanked our guides for making our experience worthwile and for all their assistance.
Then we were driven to Lake Takerkoust where we admired the scenery and took a few pictures and selfies. The driver then took us back to Marrakech – along the way our guides shared some amusing anecdotes with us. That whole day was an unforgettable experience which we will continue to cherish in the future.