Those planning a vacation to Morocco's exotic city of Marrakesh have much to choose from when it comes to incredible activities, attractions and events. However, that doesn't mean you can't break away from the city for a bit to experience the wonderful things that the nearby villages have to offer. One of the very best day trip or longer options near Marrakesh is the mountain village of Imlil, and it's definitely something that you'll want to include in your travel plans if some real exploration of the Atlas Mountains is on your wish list.
The small village of Imlil sits at 5,900 feet above sea level high in the Atlas Mountains. It's an awesome example of traditional rural Moroccan life, and it's interesting to see the old houses sitting proudly among modern conveniences that include cafes, shops, a parking lot and a taxi pickup area. Imlil once thrived as a farming community with a healthy production of cherries, apples and walnuts, but a catastrophic flood in 1995 washed away many of the mature walnut trees and destroyed much of the cultivated land. This was a major hit that Imlil has never quite recovered from, though farming is still an important part of the village economy.
Today, Imlil enjoys its status as the very center of mountain tourism, and it's here that people go to prepare for longer explorations in the mountains and to rest up after their adventures. The local people are exceptionally friendly and enjoy speaking with every visitor. You'll find that many of these lifelong locals are available to serve as mountain guides, and mules may be rented to carry your backpack and other supplies that you may need for your journey. These are just a few of the things that you'll want to do from your starting point in Imlil.
A full 90 percent of visitors to Imlil are headed to Mount Toubkal, which stands at 13,671 feet and is the highest mountain peak in the Atlas Mountains. Despite its height, it's considered a moderate climb that most people in good physical condition may enjoy either alone or with a guide. Mount Toubkal is located in the beautiful Toubkal National Park, and it's an excellent example of nature at its finest. The park is covered in a vast number of trees that include Atlas cedars, juniper, Aleppo pine and various types of oak, and it's home to many animals. As you climb upward, you'll discover mountain streams, underground springs and vegetation that only grows in this area.
Summer is the best time to visit Mount Toubkal, and it begins with a walk to the nearby village of Aroumd. This is followed by the crossing of a floodplain before arriving at the small settlement of Sidi Chamharouch, which is home to a Muslim shrine. From there, you'll cross a stream and head uphill to the two stone refuges that are often used as base camps for climbers. Food and refreshments are available at these refuges, and most people usually make the walk to this area in about seven hours. You may pitch your tent here for the night, and plan to spend another five hours or so in the morning climbing to the summit.
Dining at the Kasbah
Before or after your climb to Mount Toubkal, you'll definitely want to drop in at the Kasbah du Toubkal for a meal or a drink on the gorgeous rooftop terrace that boasts amazing views. Every meal of the day is prepared by local chefs who use traditional cooking methods and the freshest area produce and meats. While alcohol is not served here, visitors are welcome to bring their own to enjoy with their meal.
Mountain Biking Adventures
Tizi Trekking offers an excellent mountain biking experience that begins in Imlil, and you'll pedal your way through the area's most gorgeous valleys and forests and even spend a night in an authentic Berber house. Highlights include amazing views of the Atlas Mountains, the opportunity to cycle down the famous Widow of Oukaimeden hill and time to explore the engraved rupestrial rocks.
There are many incredible tours available from Imlil, and you'll find the perfect adventure whether you're interested in climbing the mountain, camping overnight, seeking out the wildlife, mountain biking on some rugged terrain or getting your adrenaline flowing with an exciting off-road experience. If you plan to lodge with us here at Exceptional Stays, then you may choose to have the tour of your choice booked before your scheduled arrival.
In 1997, “Seven Years in Tibet,” a biographical war drama starring Brad Pitt, was largely filmed in the village of Imlil. Some locals were delighted to find themselves serving as extras, and many still enjoy sharing tales of the filming with visitors.