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. Here is the guide to Imlil, Morocco.
Overview of Imlil
Imlil is the main base for attempting to summit Toubkal, the highest peak in 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, breathe the 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 daytime, when groups come for day trekking activities. However, travellers visiting the village are somehow different from those in Marrakech. They all come to Imlil for an authentic experience and respect the peaceful nature. If you decide to stay overnight, you’ll have Imlil to yourself in the early morning and late evening.
weather in imlil
In the winter season, the temperature varies between 0 and 16°C and turns it freezing at night, as well as often snowing. Therefore, if you stay in Imlil overnight in winter, ensure that your accommodation has heating. If you are not an experienced climber, the winter season the to reach Toubkal summit can be challenging because of ice and snow. July and August are the hottest months, and temperatures can reach 45°C.
How to reach Imlil?
Imlil is located only 60 km south of Marrakech. You can easily reach the village by grand taxi. The 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 taxis (more about taxis in Morocco in my post here) to Imlil are located next to Medina, close to Sidi Mimoun garden. You will need to pass the grand Hotel Tazi and walk in 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. You can also 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 (contact me, I can help you arrange one).
What to do in Imlil?
The main activity in Imlil is climbing Jebel Toubkal. You need at least 2 days for the Toubkal (fast climb). Suppose 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, you will do the last part of the summit in around 4 hours.
A local guide is mandatory for the trail between Imlil and Toubkal. Checkpoints are on the way, so don’t think about climbing Toubkal yourself. The guide is required for security reasons after the tragic events in December 2019.
How is it 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 have 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 sections of the trail can be challenging to walk on. Of course, at Imlil, you will need to hire crampons and an ice axe. Can you reach the summit if you have a fear of heights? Honestly, I would not recommend it as I have the same issue, and the guide didn’t approve.
For hiking experiences in Imlil and Toubkal climbing, I always recommend the High Atlas Hiking company. I know their locally based licensed guides, did trekking with them myself and recommended them to many other travellers. Interestingly, during his 16 years guiding career, their mountain guide Mohamed reached the Toubkal summit almost 400 times!
p.s. after my last hike with Mohamed, we decided to offer Blondie in Morocco followers a 5% discount. So if you want to book a trekking experience with High Atlas Hiking, tell them you found them through me and the discount is yours!
Beautiful deep valleys and trekking paths surround Imlil village. So, you can come to Imlil for a short 1-day trek or immerse yourself in a few days of 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 waterfall is nothing, wow, you will enjoy the walking experience and freshly squeezed orange juice sold on the spot.
Indeed, to immerse yourself in nature, I recommend a few days of trekking. For these adventurous experiences, you should hire a local guide or take one 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 a real taste of local life.
Imlil and its surrounding villages are 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 dance 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 asked in a local small shop if the guy could prepare something. As he was selling eggs and meat in his kitchen, he made us a delicious omelette. We had breakfast on his terrace overlooking the Atlas Mountains. He was happy with his extra income, and we were pleased to meet 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 of 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 your surroundings. In addition, you can book a cooking class you do short trekking around.
We often drive to Imlil for a picnic and prepare tagine in nature. While being there, we are always aware that tourism is the primary source of income for all local communities. Therefore, we always buy small glossaries from local shops or eat lunch in small locally run restaurants.
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