Located about 70 kilometers from Marrakesh, Imlil Marrakech is the last village accessible by road before climbing Toubkal mount, the highest point of the Marrakech Atlas Mountains. Imlil is a small village at the foot of the highest Atlas Mountains Marrakech Toubkal and its valley are also known to offer a change of scenery. With its pure and abundant water, its many orchards and its breathtaking views, the valley shows another unknown side of the region.
Tours from Marrakech, to the lake of Lalla Takerkoust dam and then joins the Berber village of Asni winding among desert landscapes breathtaking. It then goes to the valley to join Imlil Marrakech, the road terminus. On the way back, go to the Oukaïmeden ski resort, Morocco’s main ski resort.
At the exit of Marrakech, heading south-west to cross the 30 kilometers that separate the ocher city from the village of Lalla Takerkoust. After a little more than half an hour drive in a rather desert landscape, the road rises a little around the village. An immense lake appears then, with a blue which contrast with the arid and ocher landscape which surrounds it. This lake is not natural and it owes its presence to the dam of Lalla Takerkoust, built on wadi N’Fiss. Built in the 1930s, this dam created a 7 kilometers long lake that buried the old city. Created for hydroelectric power generation and irrigation, the lake permits a production of nearly 15 MWh and over 7,000 hectares of land.
Water and sports activities have also appeared along the lake. Even if swimming is forbidden, we find many inhabitants of Marrakech come to take a little cool on the edge of the water.
The road gradually abandons the lake and continues south. Sinuous, it rises gradually in the middle of an almost desert landscape where only a few isolated villages populated by shepherds continue to subsist. Laces closer and closer and a steep slope can reach the outskirts of the village of Aguergour. The view of the valley that has just been crossed is striking. An impression of grandeur and immensity is added to a strong feeling of freedom in front of this panoramic view. With the freshness of the morning nearby, the sound of the passage of some sheep that just barely disturb the silence, the change of scenery is total.
The feeling of crossing a desert plateau is becoming stronger as one moves towards the high Atlas. It is difficult to imagine that we are halfway between a city as large and dynamic as Marrakech on one side and a place as wild and green as the high Atlas Mountains Marrakech on the other. Again, rare villages seem to emerge from nowhere and the few flocks that pass their way here and there reinforce this feeling of loneliness. But at the turn of a bend, the road takes the other side and the vast expanses of the plateau are quickly replaced by a mountainous landscape where the greenery begins to appear and where the summits that seemed so distant a short time ago, now reveal very close.
The road catches up with the city of Moulay Brahim, a recent city created in 1992 and still home to more than 10,000 people, then wins Asni. Created in 1959, it is of no particular interest, being a perfect example of the urbanization of rural towns that has led it to now host more than 20,000 inhabitants. Asni as Moulay Brahim are the bases of the first starting points of the ascent of Toubkal.
Asni has just marked the entrance to the Imlil Valley. The mountains are getting closer, the air is cooling and the vegetation is changing. Many orchards are crossed by the road on the first kilometers, mostly apple orchards. At the season, the crates of freshly picked apples are deposited along the road which, in addition to the visual appearance fills the roadside with a good smell of apples. Many walnut trees complement the crops. The road becomes less and less good as it rushes into the valley and, soon, the first Berber villages hung on the sides of the mountains begin to appear. It is now a track of good quality that has replaced the bitumen and leads to Imlil. Perched at 1740 meters above sea level, this Berber village acquired the title of commune in 1959 when the municipal division of Morocco became independent again.
The track continues, meanders on the side of the Atlas Mountains, revealing with each lace a different and more and more grandiose panorama. It ends in a village that seems cut off from the world, where a minaret seems to be the protector of the villagers who are busy in the fields. A school stands at the end of the track and carefree toddlers play under a secular tree while watching the tourists. Shepherds keep their flocks on green plots, women keep the cowshed where one or two cows are kept. And many adventurers begin the real ascent of mount Toubkal imposing mastodon that dominates the scene with its 4167 meters of altitude. All are equipped with a solid bag and walking shoes, some are alone, others accompanied by a local guide when the latter advance with a mule carrying their heaviest belongings. For the bravest, the summit is a few days walk, for others, it is time to enjoy the village before returning to his car and begin the return to Marrakech.
Returning to Marrakech, it is possible to reach Oukaïmeden by making a detour of about half an hour (for about thirty kilometers). The road as we know it was built in 1965 to allow the development of the station. It is also the largest winter sports resort in Morocco with twenty tracks for all levels. Positioned at 2620 meters altitude, it is the highest ski resort in Africa and the American chain CNN has even ranked in the top 100 world stations, not without some mockery in its description. However, with few accommodations on site, a limited number of shops and restaurants, it is mostly frequented by locals or visitors based in Marrakech. In the low season, it’s a bit of a ghost village that acts as a welcome even if a street vendor always appears on a vintage moped to sell a necklace or shell. Open from December to March, it is always interesting to go for a tour whatever the season to see a ski resort on the Atlas. The station takes its name from Jbel Oukaïmeden (3,273 m) which dominates places, soldier close Jbel Toubkal.
Atlas mountains day trip from Marrakech to Imlil
The trek is about an hour 30 minutes drive from Marrakech to Imlil, the main starting point of treks. We will drive through the valley of Tahnaoute and Asni. And in Imlil we will take a walk of 2 to 3 hours through the Berber villages then we will visit the wonderful Toubkal Kasbah in the valley. In the afternoon, we will retrace our steps to return back to Marrakech.
* What’s Included
* What’s Not Included