And here we are, standing at 2200 meters in the High Atlas mountain range in Morocco, with Mohamed – our 22-years old Berber mountain guide; the bravest mule – Daisy that accompanied us for the whole two days in the mountains; and two lovely friends I met just few months ago. Never in my wildest dreams I would imagine that I’ll end up talking and living with Berbers in Morocco even only for a few days.
This was all thanks to Kasbah du Toubkal – a Berber Hospitality Center and a Luxury Eco Lodge in Imlil valley, that took care of our 2-day hiking trip in the High Atlas in Morocco. If you are an outdoor enthusiast as I am, this experience is a great alternative to visiting the popular big cities or the Sahara desert.
High Atlas Mountain range in Morocco
The High Atlas mountain range in Morocco serves as a weather system barrier in the country separating the Sahara desert from the Mediterranean and continental zones to the north and west.
The Atlas mountains are primarily inhabited by Berber populations, who live mostly from agriculture. The mountain range is a famous hiking spot for people from all over the world. During winter, there is also an opportunity for winter sports.
Many international travellers end up in Imlil valley – a starting point for most of the hiking trails in the High Atlas. That’s where our journey started as well.
From Marrakesh to Kasbah du Toubkal
As most hikers, we started our journey in Marrakesh (see also my Marrakesh guide). Our accommodation took care of the transfer from our hotel in Marrakesh. It took around 1 hour and 20 minutes to get to Imlil valley and Kasbah du Toubkal.
For the next two days, we saw and felt how Berbers in Morocco live – we slept in a locals’ house and ate home-made tagines, learned some Berber words and saw how people in the mountain live.
From the very beginning, the staff at Kasbah du Toubkal made us feel like home. The high-level service and the friendly staff showed us what the Berber hospitality is all about.
I had never imagined Morocco as a hiking destination. However, the view from the lodge made me want to live there forever.
If you decide to go for a more challenging trek, there is also an opportunity to climb the Toubkal peak – the highest in North Africa. This time, we went for a scenic and more relaxed hike.
Hiking the High Atlas mountain
What we did in the High Atlas was a two-day trek from and back to Imlil valley through Azzadn valley. We spent one night in a lodge in Azzadn, where Berbers took care of us while our feet were resting after the long day in the mountains.
- Day 1: 6 hours hike from Imlil valley to Azzadn valley with lunch in between.
- One night in a lodge in Azzadn valley.
- Day 2: ~7 hours hiking from Azzadn valley back to Imlil with lunch in between.
The trek was not hard and is good for beginners. We had many breaks in between and took our time to rest when needed.
The mountain terrain was steeper in the beginning – the first 3 hours of the hike, until we reached the place for lunch. After that, it was mostly a downhill hike with beautiful views to the mountains.
During the whole trek, we were accompanied by a mule – which was carrying our luggage, and two guides with us. Our mountain guide – Mohamed, born and bred in Imlil valley, was only 22 years old but experienced enough to lead us through the mountain. We even learnt a few Berber words on the way.
What to bring: comfortable hiking shoes, sunscreen, hiking poles, a sun hat, water, long trousers, a camera. You’ll also need something to cover your shoulders and knees when you are passing through the villages.
Luggage: The mule will be carrying your backpacks and additional water.
Food: All the breakfasts, lunches and dinners are taken care by the hosts from Kasbah du Toubkal during the whole 2-day experience.
Language: All the staff in Kasbah du Toubkal and your mountain guide speak English. Most of the people in Morocco speak French.
Other than that, you just need to enjoy the hike, take many pictures and soak in the once-in-a-lifetime experience hiking the High Atlas mountain in Morocco.
Staying at Kasbah du Toubkal
Besides a starting point for the hikes in the mountain, Kasbah du Toubkal is also a great place just to relax and enjoy the Berber hospitality outside of the busy cities.
Located at 1820 metres altitude, the lodge is surrounded by great mountain views. In the village, you can find many shops, cafes, restaurants and curious and smiling Berbers.
The accommodation: The authentic eco guest house, run by local Berbers, is open all year round. You can find a good combination of modern comfort and authentic hospitality in the Toubkal National Park. A garden, large open terraces, a library, a hammam – anything you need for a great stay.
Sustainable and eco-friendly: Kasba du Toubkal was renovated using local resources and craftsmen, and is fully staffed by members of the local population. It is also part of Green Pearls, following sustainable and eco practices in all service operations.
Animal friendly: Thanks to the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad, proper working conditions and treatment of donkeys are followed in Imlil valley.
- Sustainable and Luxury hotel in the High Atlas mountains – My friend Amandine from Les Berlinettes wrote a detailed review of Kasbah du Toukal.
- Kasbah du Toubkal – learn more about the accommodation options and amenities from the source.
- Going to Marrakesh? Here’s my guide and tips for What to see and Where to eat in Marrakesh
Many thanks to Kasbah du Toubkal for hosting us during our stay in Morocco. It was a pleasure to meet the Berber culture and hospitality.