May 31 2011

1st descent Canyon of the Aka Tiflout

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Kayaking in Morocco?
When I first heard this I was a little bit sceptical – for sure I’ve heard of rivers in the Atlas that can be paddled, but to be honest I had no real idea about the area. So when we had the chance to team up with Txus from Urnomade, it was kind of quick decision. He has profund knowledge about probably most of the rivers. First we spent one week in the Melloul and Ahanesal area and made the classic runs, which are mostly moderate and medium volume class 3 to 4+ in an absolutely stunning scenery. Instead of the expected deserted valleys we found forested hills, green meadows and canyons that almost bring up Grand Canyon feelings. And not to forget the very friendly local people where hospitality is still written in capitals.

Ahanesal valley
Ahanesal river

For the second week we were just four kayakers left: the two basq guys Txus and Ramon, and the two of us. Due to low to moderate levels of the Melloul Txus brought up the idea to make an attempt on the Aka Tiflout (a tributary to the Melloul), whose lower section had been paddled before, but whose upper canyon seemed still undone. So why not?
Early in the morning we set off for the hike in: two mulesmen, two mules carrying the kayaks, the four of us and Txus local friend and mountainguide Mostapha. What had been reported a 3-hrs-up and 1-hour-down hike, turned out to be an almost 7-hrs-up hike, so we decided to stay in the small village and go for the river the other day.… bereber and continental time do not always the same ;-) … but we had a nice place and enough food to stay for the night.
Tea and dinnerOn the way up

The next day we took an early start – as we had no idea about the exact length of the gorge. 1-hour-down was 1-hour-down and soon we found ourselves at the top end of the canyon. For the first two kilometers the river meandered through his gravelbed with a few sparse rapids, but the high hills on both sides told us, there was more to come. After this section the walls started to rise and tighten, with more rapids coming up. Then we entered the box canyon and things started to get more challenging. So we were lucky with the levels, which first we thought to be a little low. For the next 2 kilometres the Aka Tiflout flows through a deeply carved canyon with lot of bedrock rapids and of course some portages.
The box canyon
Txus in a tight drop
boof, chicken, booframon
Frist drop
After the box canyon the river camls down a little and 5 hours later we arrived at the confluence with the Melloul and cruised down the last few kilometres to Anergui where a big plate of cous-cous was waiting for the hungry crew.

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