Guide to Imlil in Morocco: not only for Toubkal climbers
Tucked away in the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains, Imlil village is a perfect destination for a one day trip from Marrakech. Because of its calmness and the authentic local life experience, Imlil will be a great escape from the city chaos.
Imlil is the main base for attempting to summit Toubkal, the highest peak of North Africa (4160 m). Almost 90 % of tourists, visiting Imlil, are coming there to climb Toubkal.
However, you don’t need to climb Toubkal to visit Imlil. Surrounded by the Toubkal National Park and located at 1800 meters altitude, Imlil is dotted with small Berber villages. There, you can explore these authentic villages, breath fresh mountain air, and relax.
Somehow, time stops at Imlil watching locals riding on mules and listening to the echoes from mountains. You immerse yourself in silence.
In Imlil, you are not annoyed by the touristic crowds and people selling you everything (like Ourika valley or Ouzoud waterfalls). Of course, you will meet other travellers, especially in the day time, when groups come for day trekking activities. However, travellers visiting the village are somehow differences from the ones in Marrakech. They all come to Imlil for an authentic experience and respects the peaceful nature. If you decide to stay overnight, you’ll have Imlil pretty much to yourself in the early morning and late evening.
What about the weather? In the winter season, the temperature varies between 0 and 16°C and turns it gets freezing at nights; as well often snowing. If you are staying in Imlil overnight in winter, make sure that your accommodation has heating. If you are not experienced climber, the winter season for the to reach Toubkal summit can be challenging because of ice and snow. July and August are the hottest months, and the temperature can reach 45°C.
How to reach Imlil from Marrakech?
Imlil is located only 60 km south of Marrakech. You can easily reach the village by grand taxi. Price is 300 DH for the whole taxi or 50 DH per seat. At the grand taxi parking, ask which one is heading to Imlil. You can either pay for the entire taxi or wait until more people join for the same destination (total 6).
Grande/big taxies to Imlil are located next to Medina, close to Sidi Mimoun garden. You will need to pass the grand Hotel Tazi, walk toward the direction of the Bahia Palace. Or, type to Google Maps “Taxi to Imlil, Ourika, Rue Oqba Ben Nafaa” and you will find the instructions. The trip takes around 70 min through the twisty mountain road with stunning views. As well, you can take a local minibus to Asni town for around 20dh then a big taxi from Asni to Imlil for 7dh. Or, hire a private driver in Marrakech (I can help you to arrange one).
What to do in Imlil?
The main activity in Imlil is climbing Jebel Toubkal. You would need at least 2 days for the Toubkal (fast climb). If you can spend more than 2 days, even better. The climbing itself doesn’t require much time. However, you would have more time to immerse yourself in the local life and acclimatise to the attitude. On the first day, you will trek for around 5 hours to reach the refuge at 3200m altitude. Prices for Toubkal CAF refuge are here. In the morning, the last part till the summit will be done in around 4 hours.
How is challenging to reach the summit of Toubkal? It’s a non-technical climb; however, it will still require physical energy. Let’s say it’s a moderate challenge for experienced hikers. If you never climbed higher mountains before, don’t worry, the guide will help you. The more significant challenge is in the wintertime. Because of snow and ice, some section of the trail can be challenging to walk on. Of course, at Imlil, you will need to hire crampons and ice axe. Can you reach the summit if you have a fear of heights? Honestly, I would not recommend as I have the same issue and the guide didn’t approve.
Contact me if you would like to book the Toubkal experience. I will arrange a guide and will take care of all your climbing arrangments.
Beautiful deep valleys and trekking paths surround Imlil village. So, you can come to Imlil just for short 1-day trek or immerse yourself in a few days trekking experience. For an easy and beautiful walking trail, I would suggest visiting the waterfall. The path towards the waterfall is surrounded by local shops, on the way you will meet locals riding their mules and donkeys. You can find the waterfall yourself by asking locals or using Google Map. Although the waterfalls itself is nothing, wow, but you will enjoy the walking experience and freshly squeezed orange juice sold at the spot.
Indeed, for really immersing yourself in nature, I would recommend doing a few days trekking. For these adventurous experiences, you should hire a local guide or take on of the Atlas Mountain trekking tours. Even if you come for 1-day trekking to waterfalls, hiring a guide or taking a trip is a good option. Not everyone has an Internet connection to check the walking paths. With a guide, you can have the real taste of local life.
Imlil and its surrounding villages is a perfect place to mingle with locals. You can book a cooking class experience at a local family or spend a day observing local life. Last year, together with my Imlil team we organised a traditional dances workshop at the Aremd village (the highest and the biggest village in Imlil valley) with lunch. Not only the travellers but also locals were excited to have this workshop and share the culture.
Of course, you don’t need to book a tour to have this experience. After arriving in Imlil, be friendly, talk to locals, and you might be invited for tea. I remember once, we were trekking in Imlil and got hungry. There was no restaurant around, so we ask in a local small shop if the guy can prepare something. As he was selling eggs and meat, in his kitchen, he made us delicious omelette. We had breakfast in his terrace overlooking the Atlas Mountains. He was happy with extra incomes, and we were pleased meeting his family.
Imlil with kids
Only a short drive from Marrakech, Imlil can be a perfect day activity for families with kids. The biggest attraction for kids would be to do the Atlas Mountain trek on a mule! In Imlil and its surroundings, mules are the main transport to carry supplies from village to village. Mules are also carrying supplies for the climbers reaching the Toubkal summit. After they get tired walking, children will love being taken on mules. You can arrange trekking with mules directly in Imlil or contact me for assistance.
If you are not a fan of long treks or climbings, come to Imlil to relax in nature. There are many beautiful accommodations where you can spend days chilling, reading or slowly exploring surroundings. You can book a cooking class you do short trekking around.
We often drive to Imlil for a picknick and prepare tagine in nature. While being there, we are always aware that tourism is the primary source of incomes for all local community. Therefore, we always buy small glossaries from local shops or eat lunch in small locally run restaurants.
IMLIL: ATLAS MOUNTAINS DAY TRIP & CAMEL RIDE
Get away from the hustle-bustle of Marrakech to the stunning village of Imlil located in the Atlas Mountains and witness traditional Moroccan life. You will explore the Imlil village, its nature, do a short trek to the waterfall; will have delicious lunch and will ride a camel.
HOTELS IN IMLIL
In Imlil, there are many beautiful accommodations; you can choose according to your budget and needs. The prices I listed are per double room.
Kasbah du Toubkal
If you want to have quiet, peaceful luxury experience in the 1820 m hight, choose Kasbah du Toubkal. The setting and scenery are breathtaking. The Kasbah is 100 metres above their reception in Imlil and is reached via a 15-minute walk (mules carry your luggage). The award-winning hotel offers fourteen comfortable en-suite rooms, three of which can be used as a self-contained private house. Besides, there are three family rooms. The delightful garden and large terraces offer unparalleled views of the surrounding mountains.