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Escape the City - Where Can you get from City Centre to Mountain Wilderness in 90 Minutes?

Published: 10 November 2018

Marrakech is a vibrant, exciting, exotic city.  Sometimes, especially in the heat of the summer, it can be a welcome relief to escape the hustle and bustle and seek some space and fresh-air.

Head due south from Marrakech you will soon be winding your way up through the foothills of the Atlas Mountains.  Continue along the road and the scenery gets increasingly dramatic and beautiful (queue the story from the driver that this is where James Bond and Mission Impossible movies were filmed) and about 90 mins after leaving the centre of Marrakech you will reach the town of Imlil, the gateway to the mountains beyond.

Imlil is a rural Berber town.  The people are very friendly and local trade thrives on the trekking industry.  If you’ve forgotten any hiking kit, there are plenty of places to pick up a replacement, but otherwise, the shops are basic and there is no cash machine.

Imlil Taxi Rank

High up on a promontory above the town is the iconic Kasbah Toubkal which has to have one of the best views of any hotel in the world.   The Kasbah looks out over a stunning waterfall with Mt Toubkal, the tallest mountain in North Africa, standing behind it.

Had I read the trekking notes prior to departure I would almost certainly have said the itinerary was too challenging for the children.  Little did I know as we set off that morning heading for our mountain refuge accommodation that in the next two days we would trek:

27km (17 miles)

14 hours on foot

On challenging, steep terrain

Over 2 x 2,500m passes

In the snow, sun and rain

Atlas Mountains Trek with Children

We were stunned as the children took it all in their stride - they hopped, skipped, jumped and threw snowballs up and down the mountains, for the entire duration of the trek.  We were at least prepared with plenty of snacks and the trekking crew provided amazing hot tangines and enormous salads for lunch up on the mountain peaks.  There was not a single word of complaint from the children - they relished the challenge and were, rightly, enormously proud of their achievement when we finally made it back to Imlil. 


At the hotel we headed straight for the hammam, a traditional Moroccan bath.  After the cold mountain air, the hammam was wonderfully warm and after throwing copious buckets of lovely hot water over ourselves, the room was so full of steam we couldn’t see each other.  It was a brilliant end to a brilliant adventure.  The next morning we set off back to the souks of Marrakech refreshed, and planning our next adventure!

Marrakech is such an exciting city, and being able to get away from it all and head for the mountains only adds to the appeal.  Traditional Moroccan houses are called riads, they are very different from European architecture.  They tend not to have any external windows, nor are they covered by a roof, and the gardens are inside the house.  If you'd like to take a look at some traditional riads in the heart of Marrakech old town, click here

Adventure Mount Toubkal

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