Imlil, a natural paradise (and corrupted by tourism)

After two agitated days in Marrakech, we continue towards Imlil, where in just 90 kilometers, the scene changes completely: the bikes change for donkeys, the urbanization changes for mountains, the aridity changes for rivers, the noises change for silence. All this made the Imlil valley one of the natural landscapes that impressed us most in our trip through Morocco. The tiny villages located so delicately in the mountains make both elements almost merge into one thing, and the natural can not be differentiated from the built.

Green, brown and blue, the colors of Imlil
After the aridity of Marrakech, we could not believe what we were seeing: waterfalls and rivers, only 90 km away! 

Before reading further, a clarification: what is this post?

This is a story of our experiences and is 100% subjective. If what you are looking for is practical and useful information for traveling in Morocco, with statistics and specific data, you can find all that and much more in this post Morocco: practical guide for travelers (by clicking here). Clarified this, let’s continue with the story…

Imlil and its symbiotic relationship with tourism

What, unfortunately, does not change in Imlil with respect to Marrakech, is the relationship between locals and tourists. Imlil is the base of all those who want to climb Mount Toubkal, which is 4167 meters above sea level and is the highest mountain in Morocco and North Africa. This makes it very oriented to that and revolve exclusively around it.

As there is not much else to do in Imlil, the most common professions in the town are: men with their donkeys or mules that charge to carry the burden of climbers, stores that charge to rent or sell climbing equipment, guides that charge for its services and lodgings that offer homemade dinner prepared by the local family and owner of the place, worth about 7 or 8 euros per person. Of course, for someone who has just come down from the mountain after two days of climbing and can also afford it, the homemade dinner plan will sound more than good. So far, everyone happy. The locals make the most of the situation and tourists have everything they need without moving a hair: whoever carries their luggage while they climb and who cooks them when they return home.

Imlil everyday scenes 

And I do not say that this is right or wrong, it is not a value judgment. The problem appears when one wants to get out of that hamster wheel that does not stop turning, like us, that we did not want to climb Mount Toubkal and to whom 7 or 8 euros seemed like a fortune (think that we spend 10 euros per day on average on our trip, including ALL expenses… so spending 70% / 80% of our daily budget on a single meal didn’t sound very logical…)

The mint tea present in every Moroccan welcome, if it was included in our accommodation… at least! 

How to visit Imlil without climbing Mount Toubkal and not die trying?

What we were looking for in Imlil was to rest, enjoy that natural landscape that left us breathless, take short walks through the valley independently and at our own pace. And, as we normally do, cook our food. But in Imlil, that’s not that easy. Most of the lodgings did not let us use the kitchen and others even told us that if we wanted to use it we had to pay a kind of “right of use” of 5 euros per day… something that had never happened to me on any previous trip.

Me, on one of the walks we did on our own
Me again, in another part of the walk (spoiler alert: remember that white hat for the next post) 

But well, let’s say that there are places that are like scenographies and live exclusively from tourism, like Imlil, and simply cannot understand that some travelers are not part of that type of tourism that needs and wants everything served, in exchange for which they don’t It is important to spend the money that is necessary. Perhaps for the people of Imlil it was too difficult to understand that some of us prefer to travel in a low-budget mode and live in the local way, as they do, cooking at home. Anyway, let’s say that for its immense natural beauty, we forgive her.

PostScript 1: If you want to help me to continue with this project, don’t forget to share!

If you have any questions, queries or suggestions, you can leave it in the comments below. And if you think someone can serve or interest this information, I thank you very much for sharing it!

PostScript 2: how do we continue?

If you want to read the chronicle of how we arrived at the next destination, crossing the Atlas mountain range by finger, you can click on the photo below to read the next post…

One thought on “Imlil, a natural paradise (and corrupted by tourism)

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