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High Atlas : Imlil
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View of Imlil at sunrise. Notice the mobile phone mast!

Imlil is a village in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. It is a good starting point for a trekking holiday or for climbing Mt Toubkal the highest mountain in North Africa (4167m). Imlil village has a variety of shops and "pensions" as well as being a base for guides and trekking parties. The route to Toubkal starts in the village. Its a progressive community and monies from tourism go into a variety of projects organised by the Village association such as litter collection and disposal and a new Community Hammam opened in November 2004.


Imlil is a base for mountain guides and muleteers who work in the area surrounding Jebel Toubkal. It is also a main entry point for those wishing to trek in the mountains in this area. The valley in which Imlil lies is periodically flooded. The most obvious evidence of the most recent flood (1995) is the wreckage of cars on the valley floor north of Imlil. At this point in the mountains, it becomes true Berber country. The almost constant hustling continues, but it feels of a much less threatening nature.

The Imlil Village Association[edit]

There is an Imlil Village Association which is using money from tourism to address the problems it brings, like litter, as well as start new projects. A local "tax" has been agreed by many of the businesses providing tourist facilities to fund projects. To date a Land Rover Ambulance has been acquired so that the valley population has a safer way of getting to hospital, litter collections have been started and in December 2004 a village Hammam (Community Bath house) has been opened on the little road up to the school.

Oddly, while the villages in the next valley don't have running water or electricity, Imlil has its own mobile phone mast: The villagers never stop texting each other.

The Imlil Association is part of the "Valleys of Imlil Association" which is an umbrella organisation which other villages are able to join to promote and plan ecologically responsible tourism and infrastructure.Its a great place to go.

Get in[edit]

Imlil is approximately 60 km south of Marrakech, and it can be reached by road through the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains. Taxis regularly run to and from Marrakech. I understand that there may be a truck that runs weekly to Imlil from Marrakech. Vehicles go from the scrubby space next to the Hotel-Cafe Soleil at the bottom end of the village, by the river.

It takes about 2 hours to get from Marrakech to Asni. There are buses from the central bus station which ostensibly leave every 30 minutes (but often don't for hours). A quicker way is to take a petite taxi to the out-of-town grande taxi park (cost 15dh. If you're better at haggling you can get this lower, if you care about a few pence). From there, a grande taxi will take you to Asni (cost 90dh split between 6). Grande taxis are maybe not the way, if you don't like sharing very confined spaces with strangers. However, travellers usually get on well, swapping food and drink, etc.

One can also take a grand taxi directly to Imlil, from the grand taxi station near Sidi Mimoun Garden in Marrakech. The price for a seat in a grand taxi 2014 is 50 Dirhams, and the trip takes around 90 minutes.

In the rough guide, it says something to the effect that there's open-back trucks that take the villagers up and down the mountain to Imlil. This is true, but they leave only a few times a week. Be warned there are many conmen in Asni: Travellers are told about the 'bus', by a 'local' who's story matches the guide book's exactly. They are told they should follow him to the village where the truck is. However, this is just a ploy to try to get them to buy his cheap jewelry. Instead, you will be better off hitching to Imlil. The road up the pass is quite busy during the day, and a ride can be found for around 20 or 30 dh.

The road is being upgraded but can be prone to flooding.

As you travel up the valley from Asni to Imlil, the countryside around you will transform: From arid dust to green, leafy foliage. The temperature will drop also, a very welcome break from the baking heat of Marrakech

Get around[edit]

Grand taxis arrive to the parking in the entrance of the village. Imlil is a relatively small village, so travelling by foot is the best option. Many of the paths are fairly rocky, so appropriate footwear is recommended. If you walk up the road to further south, you'll reach the village Souka, with few more accomodation options.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Trekking is one of the very best things Morocco has to offer In the High Atlas, the country boasts one of the most rewarding mountain ranges in the world. If you are used to the Pyrenees or Alps, here you will feel you are moving a country or so back in time.
  • For all trekking activities (for guides, maps or information) one can pass by Imlil Bureau des Guides just near the main parking. An official mountain guide for Toubkal ascent costs 400 dh/day.
  • Imlil is the starting point for the ascent of Mount Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa. There are many guided treks up to the mountain and two refuges, Refuge de Toubkal and Les Mouflons at 3200m altitude for an overnight stay. You should seek guidance locally as to weather conditions.

Visitors can use the new Hammam by joining the Imlil Village Association and paying a small entrance fee.

If you are planning a trek into the mountains, as well as the traditional stays in village houses, there is a new "Toubkal Lodge" opening in the village of Id Issa in the Azzaden valley in March 2006. This is the first of other lodges which will provide further accommodation around the area and is being built with the help of the village associations. Relax at the cafe until night falls. Mind the mosquitoes though from the river. At 9:30PM you will hear the sound of the call to prayer. The Mosques sound even more ancient and timeless in the mountains, the sound echoing through the hills, the distant villages far down the valley seeming to reply.

See[edit][add listing]

One of the great delights of the area is to sit on the Kasbah roof eating lunch or taking tea and watching the subtle changes of colour of the surrounding mountains as the sun moves.

Buy[edit][add listing]

There is a group of shops that cater to tourists towards the south of the village, selling items including jewellery, headscarves, and the moroccan djellaba - a full body garment with a pointed hood worn by both men and women.

Trekking resources(crampons, hikin poles, ice axe, mountain boots) are also available in several shops around the village, and nowhere higher up.

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • DAR Tighoula
  • Chez Les Berberes
  • Cafe Aksoual

Drink[edit][add listing]

There is a small café near the tourist shops selling soft drinks. The Kasbah du Toubkal also sells soft drinks at higher prices.

  • Tamatert Guest House, Imlil (Tamatert), 212661962844, [1]. Tamatert Guest House is located in a small berber village of Imlil with an amazing view of Imlil valley and Toubkal Mount. 30.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Leaving the stress and insanity of Marrakech for this little mountain village and surroundings is a good idea, even just for a day or two. You can pitch a tent in a grassy clearing beside the French Refuge. You can stay in the Refuge too. Both options are cheap. The refuge was washed away, along with part of the village in 2000-2003. It's since been rebuilt and is fine for use again.

[Dar Adrar]Dar Adrar Very nice guesthouse with 8 Ensuite rooms run by Mohamed Aztat who is an expert tour guide in the area.

  • Atlas Trek Shop (Trekking Equipment), Imlil (top of the Imlil village), 0668760165, [2]. small equipment shop where trekkers can hire or buy trekking equipment. Crampons , ice axes and lot of other things are available here.  edit

On the website [3] you can find other possible accomodations with telephone numbers.

Get out[edit]

From Imlil the trekker can strike out into the mountains. The most popular route is southwards, towards Mt Toubkal. However heading North over the pass to Ikkiss and Tacheddirt is possible too.

When heading out, it is possible to hire a mule or donkey to carry your luggage. If you're inexperienced, or the weather looks dodgy, a guide might be a good idea too.

To go back to Marrakech, one needs to go to main car park and take a seat in a grand taxi.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!



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