“If you don’t have what you love, you need to love what you have”, said our local mountain guide, Mohamed, while asked about his simple life in Imlil. After spending all day hiking, I realised how healing is the power of nature and mountains. Located in the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, just 1,5 hour drive from Marrakech, Imlil village is my favourite destination for hiking and running away from the city bustle.
Many first-time travellers to Morocco often take to similar itineraries, running from one site to another. However, you can find the authentic spirit of Morocco in more remote places, not even places but more in experiences. For that reason, I always suggest trekking and visiting the village of Imlil, Morocco, as well known as the “Moroccan Chamonix” (a town in eastern France at the foot of Mont Blanc).
I choose Imlil for its close location to Marrakech, beautiful mountain road, and many trekking paths there. In addition, Imlil is the main base for attempting to summit Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa, standing tall at 4160 meters above sea level. Almost 90 % of tourists visiting Imlil come 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. You can explore these authentic villages, breathe the fresh mountain air, and relax.
In this article, you will read more about Imlil, Morocco. Overview of Imlil, how to get to Imlil from Marrakech, what to do in Imlil and where to stay in Imlil. As well, the best time to visit Imlil and climb the mountain Toubkal.
Our way to Imlil
Those, who have followed me for some time on my social media accounts, know that I travel in Morocco a lot. During the weekends, you will rarely find me at home. Rather in nature, exploring the hidden gems of Morocco, to include them in my traveller’s itineraries. Imlil, Morocco, is often my choice for hiking in the High Atlas Mountains and meeting locals.
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One Saturday, my friend and I decided to spend a day in Imlil hiking, discovering new paths and enjoying nature. I usually contacted my long-term local licenced guide, Mohamed, who lives in the Aremd village (next to Imlil). Even though I’ve been to Imlil before, I always take a guide, so I can find new paths and avoid getting lost. This time, Mohamed said he would surprise us with the lunch picnic, so we didn’t need to take care of anything. Interesting fact, during his 16 years guiding career, Mohamed reached the Toubkal summit almost 400 times.
As I mentioned before, Imlil is only 1,5 hours away from Marrakech. You will be passing the breathtaking High Atlas road, with small villages on the way. If you are going to Imlil on Saturday, you must stop at the local market in Asni town. The market is easy to spot as it is located on the main road.
Imlil is the main base for attempting to summit Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa. So in the climbing season (autumn and spring), Imlil starts to be busy with the peak seekers. However, as the surroundings of Toubkal are massive, you will rarely meet them if coming just for trekking.
My hiking experience
Mohamed offered us a few trekking options and paths, and we chose the shortest and easiest one, for around 5km. The hiking started from Imlil village, turning into a small, invisible path leading us through the beautiful forest. The scenery was stunning – changing from pine trees to wast valleys and snowy High Atlas mountain peaks (it was March, so still some snow left melting in the mountains). We were surrounded not only by Toubkal (4160m) but also by other mountain peaks of Jbels Aguelzim (3547m), Aksouâl (3847m) and the Adrar Adj (3122m).
As you march through valleys, you don’t feel an altitude that at some point even reaches up to 2000 m above sea level. I got a bit dizzy a few times, but the guide was slow and then took breaks.
Picnic in the mountains
When Mohamed mentioned he would organise a lunch picnic, we didn’t expect it to be literally in the mountains. It was a beautiful surprise to discover a cooking tagine and picnic setting in the middle of nowhere.
Surrounded by dozen sheep, resting mules and peacefulness, we enjoyed delicious food: tagine, salads and fruits. After drinking the sweet Moroccan tea, you don’t want to rush to sit, relax and enjoy nature for as long as you can at an altitude of over 2000 meters above the sea.
After lunch, we visited Mohamed’s mountain village Aremd and had more tea at his friends, local family house. Walked back to Imlil and promised to come back soon.
My friend told me it’d been such a long time since she was in such a peace and relaxation mode. Me as well. If you want the same hiking experience and picnic lunch in Imlil, you can read about it and book it here.