After three weeks in Essaouira, I decided to book a quad bike tour with Palma Quad Essaouira. There are a number of quad bike hire places in Essaouira with quite cheap prices, however after checking the condition of the quad bikes at all the different companies, I settled on Palma Quad
Palma Quad are the largest local company in Essaouira. They model themselves on French companies and regularly travel to Europe to see how other companies provide
Arriving at Palma Quad we were quickly impressed with the quality of the organisation. Clean new helmets lined the cabinets, along with freshly laundered and ironed coats, glove inners, helmet caps, and scarfs. After some of the greasy ill fitting helmets from other hire shops we’ve hired bikes from in the past, this was pure luxury.
They produced a contract which laid out in plain language (both English and French) the terms and conditions of the tour, then preceded with a safety demonstration of the quad bike. As Fatim assisted fitting my helmet I was quietly assessing the company. It may seem a bit odd to think like this but activities like quad biking are considered dangerous by insurance companies and that’s the reason why companies wont insure people. Don’t believe me….check your travel insurance
Unlike some of the other companies Palma Quad has been in business for ten years so judging the standard of their services it’s quite obvious that they have minimised the risk to their customers by providing a safer environment.
Firstly by having safety processes in place. These include the contract which state the rules, the safety instruction and training. The instructors bike carries first aid kit, tools, food and water. The company employs instructors on a permanent basis so unlike other shops who employ only when they need people, the instructors know the safety processes. The instructor assess each persons competence before they head off road and the governing screw (a simple safety device fitted to the throttle) is released. Along the way the level of difficulty is increased and the instructor assesses progress
Secondly by having clean and serviceable equipment. I’ve already mentioned the clean personal safety equipment which are cleaned and laundered daily. The staff mechanics maintain a fleet of 30 Quad bikes which range from 175cc, 300cc and 350 cc in the attached garage. After each use the bikes are high pressure washed to remove all the sand and debris. As the environment is pretty harsh on all the metal parts the bikes regularly are painted and rust removed. The fleet of bikes are replaced after two years so that they are always in tip top condition.
Thirdly, by controlling the route, group sizes and number of tours per day. The route
suits the capability of the rider, a limit of no more than 5 bikes and set tour times
Looking at their range of bikes there is something for everyone with smaller capacity bikes for smaller or less experienced riders to larger ones and also two seaters with an option for smaller children passengers.
I booked a three hour tour to Cap Sim and surrounding forests. The tour had a nice build up, starting with the instruction and slow ride out to Diabat. Here we left the road and having successfully passed the initial phase the governing screw was released. This enabled the engine to reach higher revs when riding up dunes.
It was great fun starting off on the smaller dunes getting a feel for the bike with manoeuvring exercises which built up confidence. The tour passed the old Portuguese Fort then along a varied coastline with hard wet sand, rocky areas, shifting sand dunes and massive drop offs. The sand varied from quite well compacted to light drifting sand which really gave the bikes a real work out. The scenery was truly amazing from rugged coastline at the Grotto, packed with surfers waiting for the right wave, to Cap Sim and it’s beautiful dunes
The tour wasn’t without setbacks as of course I bogged my bike a few times in the soft sand. I’m not sure whether it was all those tagines I’ve been eating since I arrived in Morocco. As I always say the best time to judge something is when things aren’t going right. Well needless to say the instructor cooly un bogged the bike making it look so easy and we were on our way.
On our way back we wound through the forests which are setback just off the beach. The trail led us through the old palace and back to Diabat (where Jimi Hendrix visited in 1968) before heading back to Essaouira.
Back at the office they presented me with a DVD of photos of my smiling face aboard their red rocket. It truly was a memorable day and I thank Fatim for organising the tour and assisting me. She was also the one answering my thousand and one questions. I also want to thank Aziz my instructor for all his help.
Last of all if you are coming to Essaouira Palma Quad are the only quad bike hire I would suggest. I’m sure they’ll provide a great tour tailored to your needs and get you there and back safely.
The bookings for tours are made online through Palma Quad website so it is easy and you pay after your tour so you also know you won’t get ripped off.
Palma Quad sponsored Ron’s tour. As always, all views are our own and the content of this review was never discussed with Palma Quad.