Luxury trekking vacation in the Atlas Mountains

“This trekking vacation is based at one of the most beautiful kasbahs in Morocco. It’s like a movie set. Thankfully, this is real life, however. In full Technicolor.”

Highlights

Luxurious Kasbah stay| Views of Mount Toubkal | Stay in Azzaden Valley trekking lodge | Village to village hikes in Azzaden Valley | Option for all day hike passing Lepiney refuge hut | Options for all day hikes passing the cols Tizi n’Teouti and Tizi n’Tougdalt cols

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Map

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made at a time to suit you and can be adapted to suit your interests, budget and requirements as necessary
Our top tip:
Plastic waste is a nightmare to recycle here, so best take packaging home. Bring refillable bottle and imbibe the mountain spring water for free.
Trip type:
Tailor made.
Activity level:
Moderate/hard. Treks to suit all.
Accomm:
3 nights eco luxury Kasbah, 2 nights luxury trekking lodge.
Included:
Full board accommodation, transfers, guide and muleteer, hammam, local community levy.
Solos:
Solos welcome. Surcharge for single room.
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Luxury trekking vacation in the Atlas Mountains

Environment

1. Village labourers used traditional building techniques and local materials in its construction, with everything having to be carried in by hand or on the backs of mules. Power tools could not be used, as electricity didn't arrive in this remote region until 1997.

Perched on imposing outcrop 1,800 metres above sea level, the kasbah crowns Imlil Valley with its population of around 5,000 mostly subsistence farmers, whose own fields and walnut, cherry and apple orchards flourish below.

2. Trying to reduce plastic waste. Please help us to make this a reality.

As in many countries, Morocco has a waste disposal problem which here in the inhabited Toubkal National Park can be more noticeable. Rubbish, particularly plastic rubbish, that does not decompose, is one of the main culprits.
Accordingly we are trying to reduce the use of plastic bottles at the Kasbah, as we believe these are unnecessary. We are in the very privileged situation of having safe spring water as our water supply, so we are instigating a new system at the Kasbah based on 2 of the R’s, Reduce and Rethink in relation to plastic water bottles.

Our ultimate aim is that we and our guests will not be a source of plastic water bottle waste. We believe this is possible, as we have a source of safe drinking water and hence bottled water serves no useful purpose.

A NOTE ABOUT ANIMAL WELFARE: We work closely with “SPANA” a British charity working for the Protection of Animals abroad.
We only use mules whether ours or hired in that are in good health have Spana bits, are loaded with 60 to 80 kg of baggage and muleteers are discouraged/banned from riding when the mules are loaded. We worked with Spana to produce this website www.imlilvalley.com and associated pdf brochure for use by everyone involved in tourism to encourage good practice in several area’s of sustainable tourism including mule welfare.

Community

1. Education for All Morocco Limited EfAM is a charity established in 2006 by Discover Ltd and other friends in Marrakech. EfAM was set up to build boarding houses near to secondary schools in Morocco, providing accommodation and care to girls from remote mountain communities in the High Atlas mountains, enabling them to further their education through the Moroccan state system. Primary education in Morocco is compulsory and readily available to both boys and girls between 7 and 14 years old. However, it is unusual for girls in the High Atlas mountains to continue their education beyond primary level. This is because the nearest secondary school may be over 20km away, and impractical to travel to each day. Many families do not have the financial resources to support their daughters through secondary education. Those that do may lack a family network near to a secondary school to whom they can entrust their daughter. Girls from these communities deserve the opportunity to continue their education.

“We believe that if you educate a girl, you begin to educate the next generation.”

Education for All and Discover Ltd organise community work and service projects through which you and your students can make an essential contribution to our ongoing work in Morocco. We have already built 3 boarding houses, which between them accommodate over 100 girls. Through fund raising and practical community work or service projects.

2. All our invoices will incur a 5% charge this is in favour of the local Village Association “Association des Bassins d’Imlil” and Education For All. The Association Bassins d’Imlil covers the whole of the surrounding valleys. This association provides the ambulance that you see in Imlil which provides a service to the local population and visitors, other community projects that have been undertaken include the rubbish clearance system and the provision of the village Hammam. Education For All helps provide college education for girls from the rural High Atlas.

9 Reviews of Luxury trekking vacation in the Atlas Mountains

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Reviewed on 31 Oct 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


It is not a "hotel" in the normal sense, but a true " Berber hospitality centre" which makes it memorable and special. The location straddled across the valley is stunning, the accommodation was atmospheric and charming. Our room was decorated in Berber style and was very comfortable. What you are experiencing here is genuine Berber hospitality, delicious local food and extremely welcoming and hospitable people from the local village who cannot do enough to make you feel welcome and share their unique culture and values with you.

The staff in the accommodation were attentive to every need. We stayed for 5 nights and took a treking package. Each morning, Ibraheim, our assigned local guide would meet with us in the accommodation to discuss how long a trek we would like that day and the route for each days trek. We were accompanied by a cook with a mule who went on ahead and laid out a gorgeous Berber picnic for us.

The treking package was perfect, we had long talks with our guide while walking, learning much about the local culture, Islam and village life . What the
founders of the accommodation have done to support the local village and especially girls education is truly remarkable and their efforts deserve to be well supported. If you are a culturally sensitive person who enjoys the opportunity to engage with lives very different to your own, the opportunity for exercise and to experience a unique place in the world ( in comfort) , the accommodation is not to be missed. You do need to be sensitive to the Call to Prayer in rural areas of Morocco and that this is why the men might need to disappear for 20 minutes or so. My husband is planning to return to the accommodation to climb Mt Toukbal, I would take any excuse to return and sit up on that beautiful roof top terrace again feeling on top of the world.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Adding the treking package and staying for 5 nights at the Kasbah was well worth it . We also included 2 nights in Marrakech which was fabulous, not so keen on Essouira, could have given that a miss.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Absolutely, use the treking guides, buy carpets and gifts in the local village. The local Berber people told us the difference the place has made to their village

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


A fabulous experience, not to be missed

Reviewed on 23 Jul 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Beautiful scenery, great hospitality and it worked with a family including two teenagers and two less than fit parents, even if we resorted to using the mule a
couple of times!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Go for it! Having a personal guide allowed us to enjoy at our pace and do routes that the guide felt would work for us - hard work but doable. Bring your own
water bottles and good hats.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Very much engaged in the local community, not only through the financial contribution from but also through everyone we dealt with on the ground coming from the local villages.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Fantastic. Family really enjoyed it. Hard work at times, great food, great people, stunning valleys and mountains - peaceful.

Reviewed on 15 May 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The stay at the Kasbah du Toubkalh was amazing, what a relaxing place, and the views are quite incredible. Sitting and having dinner by candlelight and
chatting with other guests was so lovely.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Take books with ankle support and don't be ashamed to use walking boots.
Also take the opportunity to go alcohol free to really benefit from the mountain air and refresh body and mind.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, both trekking lodges employ locals and I definitely got a sense of how much of an influence and benefit the lodges provided to the local community.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Absolutely brilliant, the trekking was perfect, just on the right side of hardship (challenging but not too much), the scenery was spectacular and the lodges
were great, cosy and comforting after long walks.

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you Maria for your kind feedback, we are delighted you had such a fantastic time on our Trekking in Style trip

Reviewed on 22 Sep 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Staying at the Kasbah with its high quality everything, and then trekking across the pass to the Trekking Lodge and seeing the marked difference in the village there compared to Imlil.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Do the trek and stay to the kodge. Make sure you read all the detailed info about what to expect as it was very helpful. Respect the no alcohol tradition of the area.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, we think that there was benefit to the local people with us employing them to assist us, guiding etc. Could see that Imlil was benefitting from tourism, but the rubbish reduction overall in the valleys, except Imlil itself, was not evident.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


We were not met on arrival at Marrakech airport and after waiting an hour or so, had to ring one of the emergency numbers. Possibly the oversight was due to Eid. This was a disconcerting start but the Kasbah apologised for the oversight and upgraded our accommodation – which was a nice touch.

However, from then on, things were really well organised and very satisfying.
The guide was very polite and careful to walk at our pace and not to hurry us at any time and certainly we would not have coped without a guide. However, we felt that he was difficult to engage in any conversation and offered little information unless asked specially and then didn't expand on his short answers. We were unsure whether that was a language problem, shyness or boredom with a couple of old folk, as he spend much time speaking with the muleteers and with the lady of the houses we visited without ever telling us what they were talking about.

Overall, we are very glad we did the vacation and it was very memorable.

Read the operator's response here:

In response to question 3:

We have a rubbish clearance system but it is far from perfect and in fact today (24 sept 2017) Mike McHugo met with the governor of the region who said he/the Moroccan authorities would get involved to help – something we have been trying to achieve since we started the village association in 1997 so hopefully we will see further progress.

The quantity of food is almost always more than our guests can eat – it is in many ways a part of Moroccan/Arabic culture “a guest is a gift from god” But rest assured the food does not get wasted.

And in response to question 4:

We are sorry you experienced a transport problem during Eid. We always make sure clients are fully advised of the contact details of the Kasbah transport and who they should ring in the event of a driver being delayed

Reviewed on 22 Apr 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Trekking from Imlil to the Azzedin valley and back, and the amazing "picnic" feasts served on both days.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


The Kasbah and the Trekking lodge are not "luxury" in conventional sense. They are appropriate to location but maybe slightly on pricey side, esp the lodge.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Definitely. Lots of locals get employment, including the mulateers. The 5% added tax has brought visible benefit to the local area.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent. If the accommodation costs were a little lower would say 10/10. The staff were friendly and helpful and we got such a good insight into Berber life.

Reviewed on 20 Apr 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Hiking with our local guide Abdel who is a very gentle and intelligent person to spend time with.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Respect the rich culture of the Berber people and enjoy the freshness of being in the High Atlas mountains.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


As we didn't bring anything to the area that we left behind, drank only freshwater from the tap, gave a polite little "tip" to everyone who assisted us,
we surely reduced environmental impacts and benefited local people.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


A true experience together with local people.

Reviewed on 19 May 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Walking in the High Atlas Mountains and learning about the local people from our guide.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Take a good pair of boots and a big appetite (the size of the meals are amazing).

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


The Kasbah deserves top marks in all three areas. At first we only wanted a guide for our daily treks (there is also a mule and cook who joints you at lunch time) as we normally only have a light meal during the day, but we realised that this was all part of increasing the local employment. Within the Kasbah efforts are made to reduce their environmental impact, apart from water usage, however, there was surplus water available in the area. During our walks we spoke to our guide about the rubbish that was around the villages and he informed us that the Kasbah sponsored rubbish collection. We picked up some plastic bags on the trail and the guide joined in. Morocco is going to ban plastic bags so this problem should reduce in the future.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


It was a wonderful vacation, the staff, guide, locals and countryside were great.

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you very much Colin, we are pleased you had such a lovely stay and we were happy to be able to help arrange it for you.

Reviewed on 05 May 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The stunning location and great service from all staff involved

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Need to have a head for heights and average or above fitness

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent
Only comments and this is personal view is that it may have been nice to have more activities at the lodge itself like cooking classes or yoga

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Shireen,

Thank you for your review. We are pleased you enjoyed the views so much.

In regards for having to have ahead for heights, it is true that for the Trek to our remote trekking lodge in the Azzaden valley, people need to be reasonable walkers as you start the day at the Kasbah du Toubkal 1,800 metres and go over a col at 2,200 metres before descending to our trekking lodge at 1,800 metres.
So the gain in altitude is 400 metres but this is doable by the great majority of people of average fitness who have done some walking.
Some of our clients take a longer walk in as they view the direct route as too short/easy.
Each of our walking tours (they are mainly private trips) tailored to your requirements and the difficulty of the trekking can be changed to some extent according to your abilities and also how many hours walking a day you want.

If you only stay at the Kasbah du Toubkal obviously it is not necessary to go over any cols and easier day or half treks can be arranged. We are always happy to tailor the level of difficulty can be discussed and tailored to our visitors wishes.


We do have a room suitable for yoga and yoga equipment for those guests wishing to practice yoga whilst staying at the Kasbah du Toubkal. We also have regular Yoga retreats run throughout the year.
Also, we offer cooking with a local Berber family and this is arranged at reception on request.

Perhaps next time you come you can enjoy these.

Thank you again from everyone at Kasbah du Toubkal

Reviewed on 21 Oct 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The lunch we were served on our trek to the Trekking Lodge was truly special. A bed (with pillows) was made up in the shade and we were encouraged to remove our boots and have a nap while lunch was being prepared. The food was amazing.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


The rooms in the Kasbah and the Lodge have a fridge - so if you like to have a cool beer - bring some with you.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Absolutely - our trek alone involved a guide, a muleteer, two cooks (lunch) and a cook at the lodge.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent

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