By Ghita El Hafidi
Rabat – Imlil is a small village 1800 meters above the sea level located in the high Atlas Mountains of Morocco. It is close to Mountain “Jebel Toubkal,” the highest peak in Northern Africa.
Imlil makes a good base for attempting to summit Toubkal. If you’re an adventurous person looking to get away from technology and life of the city, here are the 8 best things to try in Imlil.
1 – Local Cuisine
Most restaurants offer a wide range of lamb and goat tagines, topped with local, organic vegetables and served with olives and herbal tea. Most come at a price as low as 80 MAD.
“Riad Imlil” for instance, makes fresh dishes, cooked on coal, served in mud containers, along with hot tea, olives and a mix of sliced tomatoes and onions. Moroccan pastries come afterwards, with more tea or coffee.
It is also the occasion to taste “Amlou,” a paste-like spread to enjoy on homemade bread. It’s sold in jars and is made of extra virgin Argan oil, raw honey, and organic almonds.
2 – Beautiful Accommodations
While it’s a small village, accommodations in Imlil are among the finest. Located on the cliffs of valleys and flowing waters, Riads are all built with mud and stones and make for a peaceful stay.
Places to stay range from 100 TO 4000 MAD a night.
3 – Unique Transportation
Moving around, transporting luggage or climbing mountains has never been more unique. Donkeys and mules are the main means of transportation in Imlil, and is how many local people make a living, since they are the ones who own the mules and use them for transportation purposes.
The trip to the mountains peaks may be longer than normal, and takes at least 3 to 4 hours to visit all the nearby waterfalls, but it is still inevitable.
4 – Thrilling Travels
The road to Imlil is very narrow, yet enjoyable. It’s surrounded by valleys and high mountains, making the trip more adventurous, especially the challenging part from the nearby village “Asni” to Imlil.
People from far-away cities prefer to rest in Marrakesh before hitting the 2 hour road separating it from Imlil.
5 – Panoramic Landscapes
Visiting Imlil is an opportunity to enjoy sunsets through mountains, waterfalls at mountain peaks, and watch thousands of stars in the dark night sky: lights of the town are turned off by 9pm to allow for a better view. The rooftops of Riads make for a perfect view, especially with a warm cup of mint tea and a blanket.
6 – Alfresco Activities
Hiking in the area and climbing Toubkal, accompanied by a tour guide, is a must do in Imlil. Guide offices open in the early morning to receive tourists.
Services cost about 1200 MAD, including hiking and camping in the mountains. Mountain biking is an activity for experts only that requires professional training and robust bicycles. Camel tours are still the most popular activity and remain a staple of Moroccan tourism.
7 – Local Products
Homemade beauty products like shampoos, face creams and gourmet soaps are all naturally made from scratch using Argan oil and other essential oils.
Locals claim that these are a golden secret for beautiful skin. Price ranges between 10 and 200 MAD depending on the quality, quantity and number of ingredients used. It is a source income for local women in many cooperatives, which help them overcome unemployment and dissolve rural stereotypes.
8 – Chilly Weather
Covered in white layers of snow in the winter and immense green lands in the summer, Imlil has unique weather that satisfies both snow and sun lovers.
The cold days of winter and fall where the temperature varies between 0 and 16°C soon turn sunny and windy in the spring and summer to reach 45°C, but remain fresh and cool under the shade of trees.
Chilly nights persist all year long, so be sure to wear extra clothes, and a wrap yourself up in a warm blanket.
All of this gives reason to visit Imlil, not to mention the hospitable and friendly local people that increase the quality of service and are eager to maintain the beauty of the mesmerizing town.