Imlil, Morocco, is such a pleasant escape into the Atlas Mountains. Most people traveling to Imlil will be coming from Marrakesh and hence will discover the cooler and more tranquil environment found, in comparison.
In Imlil, the heat is gone and so are the touts that often bother travelers in Marrakesh. There are some interesting things to do in Imlil, Morocco too. But it should be known that taking a trip up to this section of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains revolves almost entirely around trekking.
Imlil is a beautiful haven for hiking in Morrocco!
This post is meant to give other travelers a glimpse into what it’s like to visit Imlil Morocco, by offering some travel tips and also recounting our three-day trek around this mountain village. After spending over a month traveling extensively throughout Morocco, trekking the Imlil Valley remains a favorite experience.
Introduction to Imlil Morocco
Upon arriving at Imlil from Marrakesh you can tell that things are different.
The desert heat dissipates to snow-capped mountains. The air becomes more crisp and cool, even during the summer months. This Moroccan village in the Atlas Mountains sits at an elevation of 1,800 meters. (That’s 5,905 feet, or over a mile high.)
Gone are the annoying menu holders that grab you throughout the souks of Marrakesh. They are replaced with warm Berber hospitality and homecooked meals.
Also here in Imlil, prices for accommodation and provisions are a fraction of what they cost in bustling Marrakesh. Imlil, Morocco, is a perfect little oasis in this fascinating, yet sometimes-maddening, country. We simply have to share what we found to be a very special place in Morocco. Welcome to Imlil!
Things to Do in Imlil, Morocco
So what exactly are some things to do in Imlil Morocco? Imlil boasts some great hiking. And lots of it!
If you do not like trekking, then a trip from Marrakesh to Imlil may not be for you. But if you are a hiker, then we cordially welcome you to a Moroccan mountain wonderland up in the Atlas Mountains.
Summit Mount Toubkal from Imlil
Many people come to Imlil to tackle Mount Toubkal. At 4,167 meters, Toubkal is the tallest mountain in Morocco and actually the highest mountain in all of Northern Africa. It’s also the 22nd tallest peak on the entire continent of Africa.
Summiting Mount Toubkal is no easy feat, requiring some trekking experience, stamina, acclimation to the higher altitude, and a bare minimum of two days to trek to the summit and back.
Imlil acts as a base camp and staging ground to summit Toubkal. It’s where the trail leading up to Toubkal’s summit begins.
For those interested in the 2-Day challenge of tackling the summit of Mount Toubkal from Imlil, this convenient excursion to summit Toubkal picks up in Marrakesh and takes care of transport to Imlil, food, lodging, guide, and all your needs. Check availability, reviews, and prices.
Day Hikes in Imlil Morocco
There are a number of interesting day hikes that are possible to go trekking to right from the town. These treks are possible for visitors who are coming to Imlil even if just for one night.
These day hikes are navigable on your own without a guide for experienced hikers with some semblance of navigation and direction. But a guide can easily be arranged from your guest house or the guide center.
Take the Imlil Waterfall Trek
The most simple trek from Imlil is the easy hike to the nearby waterfall. It’s only about a kilometer or so to get there. There are a few different trails to get there.
To get from Imlil to this waterfall, locate one of the trail routes that is clearly marked on your phone using the offline maps app, maps.me. Or just ask a friendly local to point you in the right direction. Alternatively, have a guide show you the way to get there.
At the waterfall, there are some opportunistic Moroccans who have set up chairs to offer you a nice sit and a tangy fresh-squeezed orange juice. So be sure to rest your legs and enjoy some OJ in this scenic location.
But do be careful while at this waterfall. During our visit, an unlucky Spaniard met his fate by getting too close for a photo and slipping on a rock. Seriously, be careful! It’s safe, but that minor slip had major consequences.
Hike from Imlil to Aroumd Village
Trekking another kilometer or beyond this waterfalls leads hikers to the village of Aroumd, Morocco. Here in Aroumd, you can wander around its alleyways and maybe even poke your head into a Berber home for a mint tea. If you’re really lucky, you may even be invited in for a meal to experience some authentic Berber hospitality.
Aroumd further offers nice views of Mount Toubkal. This hike to the Aroumd village is actually the route to Toubkal. So it’s possible to continue on from here towards the mountain summit. But that is of course, not possible, for a day hike from Imlil.
Returning back to Imlil from Aroumd, you can make a circuit by taking a different trail back. You’ll pass through a forest, by a stream, and the interesting irrigation systems flowing down into the fertile valley. Really, checking out this irrigation system is an interesting thing to do in Imlil unto itself.
For those who only have time for a single day hike in Imlil, trekking to the waterfall and Aroumd is what we’d recommend.
However, if basing yourself in Imlil because you’re planning to summit Mount Toubkal, then don’t do this day hike because you’ll end up repeating much of it in route to summiting Mount Toubkal.
This day hike in Imlil can be navigated on your own, but there is not a single well-defined trail, so it can get tricky to follow.
If you’re not the best with navigation or don’t have time to stay overnight in Imlil, consider a day trip from Marrakesh to hike around Imlil in a single day then return to Marrakesh. This day trip to Imlil & the Atlas Mountains goes to the places mentioned above and even more stops along the way. If you’re short on time and just want to get to Imlil for the day, this day trip is likely your best option. It’s very affordable, includes a 3-course lunch with a Berber family, a trekking guide, a camel ride, and a few more points of interest to stop at. And it’s received over 1,000 5-star reviews from travelers on GetYourGuide.
Check the latest reviews, availability, and up-to-date pricing.
Imlil Hike to the Radio Tour
Another relatively easy nice half-day hike is up to the radio tower where you can take in views of all of Imlil Valley below. The radio tower itself is easy to find since it is visible from Imlil. The view of Imlil Valley and the surrounding mountains is just stunning.
A Few Other Things to Do in Imlil Morocco
Really, the main draw to Imlil is trekking. In addition to that, here are just a few more low-key suggestions:
- Shop for local products and crafts, which further helps support the local community.
- Walk around the Imlil itself and immerse into local life.
- Relax at one of Imlil’s cafe and enjoy a mint tea or coffee.
Multi-Day Atlas Mountain Treks from Imlil Morocco
These Imlil day hikes are nice but to really get a feel for the Atlas mountains, you need to take a multi day (or at least overnight) trek. Having an assisted trek with a guide and a cook is very affordable and makes such a trek relatively effortless and quite enjoyable. We found it to be necessary, as most of the trails are unmarked and very difficult to follow. At times it’s challenging to tell what is really a trail versus an irrigation system versus a goat path.
There are a number of different trekking options available which can be booked directly at the Bureau des Guides (Bureau of Guides) in Imlil or booked through your guesthouse in Imlil. Popular overnight treks originating in Imlil include:
- The trek to summit Mount Toubkal that can be done in 2 or 3 days.
- The one-way 3-day trek from Imlil to Setti Fatma.
- A longer trek to Toubkal that takes hikers around the Berber villages surrounding the mountain before making the summit that can be done in a week’s time.
- A circuit (loop) 3-day trek through Imlil Valley and the surrounding Atlas mountains
- Countless other itineraries that may be attractive to you.
The 3-Day Circuit Trek Through Imlil Valley Morocco
We were looking for a semi-challenging hike that took us through some of the Berber villages in the mountains, so we opted for a nice 3-day trek through Imlil valley and up mountains surround Mount Toubkal’s summit.
We were hooked up with our own personal guide and also a personal cook, who doubled as a mule handler. We zigzagged up and down switchbacks heading towards a small Berber village of Tinerhouhine. It was here, east of Imlil, where we resided for the evening.
We left the bulk of our luggage back at our guesthouse while a mule carried the rest, in addition to all the food we would be eating over the three days.
Speaking of food, the Berber cuisine was quite plentiful and delicious.
A hot lunch was always accompanied by beautiful mountain scenery, served picnic style, outdoors. We dined on a number of different pastas, salads, hearty tagines and other traditional Moroccan food throughout our journey.
Meals always included way more food that we could ever consume.
Our Berber guide was friendly and was patient when answering our ignorant and random questions about his culture, religion, and life in Imlil.
But throughout the trek we gained a much deeper understanding and knowledge about the Berber lifestyle and Islam. Our local guide also offered us a plethora of insider knowledge about the little Berber villages we passed along the way.
The trek itself was perfect for us. It was challenging enough to really wear us down for the day, yet not feel completely overly exhausted. This guided three-day circular trek from Imlil was really nice not having to carry any pack nor worry about directions.
The May weather in Imlil Morocco also felt ideal for the hike, except at one point when a fierce storm rolled through. It rained where we were but we could watch the peaks above us receive a dusting of snow.
It was so strange being in the Moroccan desert in May and watching snowfall! Meanwhile was nearly 40°C (over 100°F) in Marrakesh just a few days prior. And here we were witnessing snowfall. Absolutely surreal!
After trekking from Imlil, we reached our first destination for the evening a few hours before sunset. It was a tiny Berber village in the middle of the Atlas Mountains.
Here, we were treated with popcorn, cookies, and the requisite mint tea. It was just the snack we’d need to have time to wash up and explore this secluded mountain village before our hearty dinner would be served.
The accommodation during this three-day trek was very basic yet comfortable enough. After long days of trekking we had no problems following asleep. That is, until around 4:00 am, when the pre-dawn prayer calls would blast from the nearest mosque.
But such is life in Morocco. That’s all part of the charm.
Both nights of our trek we got our own beds or mattresses in our own private room. It certainly wasn’t the Ritz but was a heck of a lot better than sleeping in a tent.
The daily hiking would take us through a number of small remote Berber villages. It was always interesting to wander through the villages.
Some aren’t connected by roads, so the only way in and out is by foot. Any groceries, supplies, and other amenities are all carried to the village on the same trails we were trekking as visitors.
Upon reaching these Berber villages, we typically would trek past women gathering grain for the livestock. Shepherds would work with dogs to steer sheep and goats in the right direction. Children would laugh and play in the trees after school.
Meanwhile, men sipped mint tea and smoked cigarettes on the porch until they were interrupted with a prayer call. It was so great to really be able to absorb the culture and see the way of life in this unspoiled land of natural beauty.
This three-day circuit trek from Imlil throughout the Berber villages finished up in the early afternoon of the third and final day. For hikers, it’s really a great thing to do from Imlil in addition to the famed Toubkal summit. It can also act as a less intense alternative to climbing Morroco’s highest peak.
If You Go to Imil Morocco in the Atlas Mountains:
Below you can find some additional practical information should you be traveling to Imlil and are in need of directions or a great recommendation for accommodation.
How to Get from Marrakesh to Imlil
🚕 How to Get from Marrakesh to Imlil – by Taxi: If you want to Walk or take a taxi to the Bab er Robb taxi rank, which is near Bab Agnaou at the southern gate of the town. See exact location on Google Maps. At the Bab er Robb taxi rank, you can find a grand taxi to Imlil, which will pass through the town of Asni. If you want to share a taxi with others and split the cost, you will need to come in the morning. Otherwise, show up whenever and just pay for all the seats in the taxi. We did this and our taxi fare from Marrakesh to Imlil came out to 300 Dirham (about $31 USD or £24 GBP) for the 90-minute trip.
🚐 Marrakesh to Imlil – day trip: If going to Imlil for the day, it makes more sense to join a day tour to maximize your time and hassle. If traveling solo, the price of a day trip will actually be about the same, compared to attempting to get to Imlil and back on your own in a single day. This day trip to Imlil includes round-trip transport from Marrakesh, 3-course lunch with a Berber family, guide, camel ride, and mint tea (of course). It’s currently listed for only $57 and boasts fantastic reviews.
Check the latest reviews, prices, and availability of this day trip for your dates here.
🥾 Multi-day Excursions from Marrakesh to Imlil: You can organize overnight treks in the Atlas Mountains departing from Imlil. Or there are trekking excursions available that can pick you up right from your hotel in Marrakesh. Such treks typically include your transportation, meals, guide, mule, and accommodation. We discuss three options to organize this below.
Organizing an Overnight Trek in Imlil Morocco
Book through your guesthouse in Imlil: We organized our trek through the guesthouse we stayed at (see the section below). They simply reached out to the official agency in town, Bureau des Guides and booked through them at no additional booking cost.
Book at the Bureau des Guides in Imlil: To book directly with the Bureau des Guides, you can find their office right where the taxi drops you off. It’s located here on Google Maps. The staff there is friendly, helpful, speaks English and is accommodating to find a trekking itinerary that meets the number of days and fitness level you’re looking for. The price for the trek costs 450 Dirham (about $46 USD) per person per day, which includes basic accommodation in gites, guide service, mule service, and all meals. Expect to budget additional money for bottled water, which could be purchased at the stands within the Berber villages you pass through or stay in. It is also customary to tip the guide and mule handler after the trek. The total cost came to 1350 Dirham ($140) per person for all three days plus waters and tip. (Transport to Imlil and staying there was an additional expense.)
Prebook an Excursion Online: You can book this 3-day Imlil Valley trekking excursion online which covers a nearly identical route to the one reviewed within this article and includes all of the same amenities. But this excursion also includes transportation from Marrakesh to Imlil and back to Marrakesh. As such, it is actually less expensive to book this tour than it would be to arrange transport to/from Marrakesh on your own and book an excursion at the Bureau des Guides. So when comparing prices, take transport costs from Marrakesh into consideration.
Check up-to-date reviews, pricing, and availability for this 3-day Imlil Valley trekking excursion.
Where to Stay in Imlil Morocco
There are a number of accommodation options in the area ranging from expensive hotels catering to packaged tourists to nice budget-friendly guesthouses. When we weren’t on our 3-day trek, we resided at Riad Oussagou and highly recommend a stay in one of their nine rooms. A stay here including a hearty breakfast is usually priced under $30 USD, a fantastic value.
The communal dinner at Riad Oussagou (100 Dirham extra per person) also comes recommended by us and can be eaten on their lovely outside patio, weather permitting.
You can even get a Moroccan cooking lesson beforehand for free! Just ask the friendly owner, Hussein, and he’ll allow you to come into the kitchen and see how it’s all done.
They can also arrange trekking guide services and transfer service to/from Marrakesh. The owner/manager is extremely helpful, knowledgeable and friendly.
Use HotelsCombined to compare prices at Riad Oussagou among all the major hotel booking sites.
Roaming Around Imlil Morocco
Trekking in the Atlas Mountains around Imlil was a highlight of our trip to Morocco and a welcomed diversion from the typical tourist trail in Morocco. We had only planned to stay in Imlil for a few days but ended up here for an entire week. It was like our secret little secluded getaway outside of hectic Marrakesh.
If you’re heading to this intriguing mountain village in Morocco, we wish you a great trip!
Not ready yet to go on a trekking adventure in Imlil, Morocco? Then bookmark this page for later or pin the image on the right to your travel Pinterest boards for future reference!
Publishing note: This post about traveling to Imlil Morocco was first published in September 2014 and last updated January 2018 in an effort to keep this travel information up-to-date.
Diana Lopes says
We’d love to do the 3 day trip but are against animal exploitation. Do you think there would be a way in which we could carry our own stuff or any other way around having mules carrying our luggage and food?
John Widmer says
I don’t know with certainty, but I’d guess that you’d probably be able to work something out if you agreed to carry your own stuff and the food weight. I’d imagine it’s feasible. I’d inquire with the hiking guides once in Imlil.
Just a little update – it is no longer allowed to hike around Imlil without a guide because of the two girls that got murdered there few months ago.
The waterfall and Armoud are connected to the village so there is no problem to go there without a guide. There are even guesthouses up in Armoud.
John Widmer says
Thank you very much for this update. We have been reading up about that disheartening news story.
Me and 4/5 friends are looking to do a 3 night trek in the Atlas mountains starting from Imil. We are quite presses for time. Our flight arrives in Marrakech at 10am and we were hoping to get straight to Imil and start walking that afternoon (spending 3 nights there). Does anyone know how feasible that is?
John Widmer says
If you’re flight lands at 10:00, you’d probably not reach Imlil until around 2:00 pm. It’s only a 2 hour drive from Marrakech but once you factor in going through customs, getting luggage, finding a ride to Imlil, traffic in Marrakech, stopping for lunch, and other occurrences that may pop up, it could easily take a good four hours between the time your plane hits the ground and you reach Imlil. So you’d only have a few hours left of daylight to meet a guide and begin a 3-night trek. What I’d suggest instead for the day you arrive is to do a day hike and stay in Imlil. On that first day, you could walk to Armoud and the waterfalls, returning to sleep in Imlil. Then the next morning, set off on 2-night (3-day) trek, like the route we did. Hope that may help to sort your plans.
Gary Moore says
Hi John and all,
We are thinking of doing the Imlil Waterfalls and Armound Hike in early April. Weather OK? Will be driven out from Marrakech and will stay in Imlil or higher up near Toubkal Park. How long is the hike?, ie, can we do the hike, stop for tea at the waterfall, explore the Armound village, etc. between lunch and dinner? Any extensions recommended?
Gary & Kerri
John Widmer says
Weather will probably be fine for a hike in April, but it will really be dependent on the conditions once that date rolls around. You never really know. As for hike length, it depends on which hike. You can easily do a hike to the waterfall, stop for tea, and explore Armound village all within a single day from Imlil. It’s even possible in a half-day if moving quickly. As for extensions, there are many options. You can attempt the 2-day hike all the way up to Toubkal. Or there are 3-day and longer treks that you can make to the areas surrounding Imlil, like the 3-day circuit we pursued.
thanks a lot for saying such good things about imlil
i work as Mountain guide in Imlil and we see more people coming thanks to blogs like this
so thank you
Fascinating article; I enjoyed reading it, and I liked it. Morocco is a beautiful country for lovers of hiking!!
Will will be challenged by inclement weather in October in the Atlas Mts? Do we have a high probability of summiting Mt.Toubkal? Any other issues we should be aware of at this time of year? Thanks!
Heather Widmer says
Hi Denise, thanks for your question.
We trekked in the Atlas mountains during the month of May. We didn’t summit Mt. Toubkal and rather opted for day hikes and overnight treks in the mountains and valleys surrounding Mount Toubkal. Unfortunately, I can’t answer your question based on first-hand experience. However, I have read that visiting during September and October is the best time to take advantage of ideal weather conditions. If you’re planning on summiting Toubkal, plan also for the colder temperatures at the higher altitude.
It is really nice Article about Morocco thank you very much!!
Heather Widmer says
Our pleasure! We had such a wonderful time trekking the Atlas Mountains. Hoping to return some day to tackle Jbel Toubkal.
Michelle M says
Thank you for this information! We traveled a month in Morocco and your information about Imill was very helpful! We stayed at Riad Oussagou and enjoyed our time very much! They were incredibly helpful in arranging the overnight treks.
John Widmer says
Ah, great to hear! Imlil was such a special place, so different from the rest of Morocco. We’re so glad to hear this was helpful and that you enjoyed Riad Oussagou as much as we did. Really good people there, so it makes us happy to know that you found that too and they’re still delivering on that. The overnight trekking there was a highlight of our travels in Morocco. Happy travels! -John
David Wittkamp says
Thank you for the excellent information. I just returned from Morocco spending two nights in Imlil. Enjoyed my stay at the Riad Dar Imlil. I took a grand day tour; a loop through six villages. Walked about five hours. Lunched in Armoud. I was guided by Rashid. I highly recommend using a guide as it enhances the experience. My guide Rashid knew everyone and provided interesting information and insight to the Berber culture.
John Widmer says
Awesome! So glad to hear you had a nice stay in Imlil! We wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments about having guide. We learned so much when trekking through the Atlas with our guide, learning about the Berber culture and way of life.
Hi thanks for all the useful info, we are going to Imlil in August and we’re looking for things to do. Have you had any experiences with travel to Marrakech? We’re excited about all the hiking, your photos are very picturesque. We have two weeks there so any suggestions welcome. By the way, would you know any tips about vegetarian food there?
Thank you 🙂
Really nice article about Morocco and high atlas.
Gran Canaria Local says
Morocco is frustratingly close to us. We’re geographically nearer to there than mainland Spain, but flights are overly expensive. Hiking sounds great, though. Something we like to do in GC. Whose Berber-descending canarii people lived in relative isolation until the 15th-century Castilian invasion.