The huge snow-capped peaks of the High Atlas Mountains blend into the clouds surrounding the city of Marrakech. These mountains seem a world away from the busy, bustling city but they are actually very accessible and easy to travel to independently.
This post will cover how we travelled to the High Atlas Mountains using public transport, where we stayed once we got there and how we arranged our trek. And, as always, how much it all cost.
At the time of writing, 10 Moroccan Dirham (DH) is equal to £0.80/ $1.
Getting to and from Imlil (a village in the High Atlas Mountains)
The Bab er Robb taxi station in Marrakech is the place where mini-buses and taxi’s shuttle people from the city to the mountains. We listened out for a driver shouting out the town of ‘Imlil’, then bartered for what we felt was a fair price, and hopped into a minibus.
There are no set times for the buses, instead they regularly leave when full. By ‘full’ I don’t mean when all the seats are taken. They leave when there is literally no physical body space left and people were even hanging on where the minibus door should close… Shaun and I actually enjoy this type of travel, but if you like your personal space, you are probably best to get in a private taxi/ transfer instead! The minibus firstly took us to a town called ‘Asni’ where we were then told to get into another minibus for the small remaining part of the journey to Imlil. Again, the minibus was ‘full’ so our backpacks were thrown onto the roof and we stood for the rest of the journey in between people in the aisle. The whole journey in total took less than 2 hours and cost 40 DH per person (we paid this to the driver in Marrakech and this price covered both minibuses).
When leaving Imlil to head back to Marrakech, it is a little trickier as not as many minibuses or grand-taxi’s pass through here, so you can either wait for one to turn up and fill up (again, no time-table, so you could be waiting hours) or get in a taxi.
There was only 1 petit-taxi in the village when we wanted to leave, so we shared this with 2 other backpackers from our guest house. The taxi from Imlil to Marrakech cost 240 DH in total, so 60 DH per person for the 4 of us, although the driver did insist (and show us official documentation) that he was licensed to carry 6 passengers, as well as himself, in his tiny, old, 4 seater car. This would have saved us 20 DH per person, but we could not visualise how this would be at all possible without people sitting on top of each other, so we chose body space over price and paid the whole price between the 4 of us. This journey was direct, quick, comfortable and took about 70 minutes.
Imlil is a small Berber village in the Atlas Mountains located at 1740m above sea level. It is a popular base for trekking in the Atlas Mountains and particularly popular for those wanting to hike Mt Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa.
Tip: There are no banks or ATM’s in Imlil, so bring enough cash with you!
We had booked our accommodation ‘Riad Atlas prestige‘ in advance and we could not have been happier with our choice. We stayed here for 2 nights and it was my favourite accommodation in all of Morocco. The Riad is located about 15 minutes up the steep hillside from Imlil village and we had arranged in advance to meet our host in Imlil village for them to hike up to the accommodation with us, they even arrived with a mule to carry our bags!
On arrival, we were given a free upgrade and shown to a beautiful private room with views of the mountains. It cost us just £17 a night including a huge breakfast. Dinner is an additional cost of 8 Euros per person, but it really was some of the best food we had in Morocco (definitely the best ever Tajine!!). We enjoyed the home-made 3 course meal by the fire. And when it was time for bed, they even gave us a hot water bottle!
Trekking in The Atlas Mountains
We arranged a trekking guide through Riad Atlas Prestige. We felt that the guide for the day was great value for money; 577 DH (about 53 Euros) for both of us for the whole day including a huge packed lunch. We were definitely glad we chose to hire the guide; he took us around many local villages through the rolling valleys, he taught us about the life and culture of the local Berber people, about the elaborate water irrigation systems and the local vegetation. He helped us hike to some of the most amazing views right by the snow capped mountains that we probably wouldn’t have made it to without him!
The hike was not too difficult, just a good level of fitness required, it was totally perfect for us and exactly what we were looking for. It took around 6 hours in total, we visited many Berber villages and saw some ridiculously pretty views. The highest altitude was about 2500m and we ate lunch gazing up at the snowy peaks of Mt Toubkal (we didn’t make it all the way to the top, this would have taken a few days and unfortunately we didn’t have time!)
Overall, I recommend visiting the High Atlas Mountains to any visitor in Morocco. The scenery around Imlil is so beautiful and peaceful and makes a perfect escape from the busy cities of Morocco.
I loved the scenery in the High Atlas Mountains so much that I’m going to end this post with a bit of a photo essay. I hope I have inspired you to visit the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, but if you have any questions, please ask away in the comments below!