With the first sound of the rooster Unique and I woke up in our Riad, had a quick breakfast and ducked our heads through the door outside into the Medina. Today was the day to start our tour towards Imlil – right at the Atlas Mountains. Even before coming to Morocco we saw the breathtaking pictures of these Mountains with the colorful Berber villages, glittering snowy mountain tips and cozy Riads at the bottom of the drastic altitudes. Once we left our cosy Riad we were awaited by Hassan, a friendly young man who grew up close to the Atlas Mountains himself but then decided to move to Marrakech. We made our way down south in Hassan’s comfortable van that had all the space you could ask for. Halfway there Mohammed – our guide from Atlas and Sahara Tour – joined us.
The scenic part of our journey began and Mohammed started to answer every single one of the countless questions we had; What is the origin of the word “Berber”? And how to they live? What is their history within the story of Morocco? What is the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains? And what movies where filmed here? How do you say Hello and Thank you in arabic? What is the typical food? Mohammed did not get tired of explaining every single detail about the country he grew up in – always with a friendly smile and perfect English. After half an hour we made our first stop to have a fresh mint tea with Hassan and Mohammed. We learned that the style the tea is poured into the colorful glasses is not just to show off – it makes the tea build a layer of bubbles on the surface to filter out the sand when you drink it. An old hack from the Touareg people from the south. After this sweet refreshment we crossed a small river across from the parking lot and found ourselves amidst a herd of friendly feeding camels.
Unique and I both got to chose one and the friendly workers helped us to get on their comfy backs. We had an amazing one hour scenic ride in the mountains , accompanied by Mohammed and one of the camel herders. Shaken but happy we got off our rides and back into the car for the last and most beautiful part of the journey. The Toupkal, the highest peak in North Africa appearing after every corner, ice cold rivers flowing next to the winding roads, we made our way to Imlil – our final stop. Mohammed guided us to the Riad Jnane Imlil and we were received with a warm welcome by the owner – Mustapha and his little son Hamsa. The Riad that seemed plain from the outside turned out to be a paradise in the inside. Hand carved ceilings, open fire places, an amazing two floor rooftop, chill-out areas and possibly the best views a traveler can ask for. Mustapha brought us to our room and our jaws dropped – an open fire place in the bedroom, hand carved wooden ceilings, cherry tree branches so close to the window that one could smell the blossoms, fossil stone surfaces in the bathroom, loads of space and a huge comfortable bed to relax.
We checked in and made our way upstairs to have lunch. Typical morrocoan lentil soup, olives, salad and bread as a starter, followed by a beef tajin with dried fruit. As a dessert we had orange raspberries with strawberries mixed to a fruit cocktail.
Our tastebuds and tummies were more than satisfied and we had a quick nap in the calming sun right on the rooftop sun-beds. We could not believe how amazing this hidden gem turned out to be. Rested and fed we were ready for the last adventure of the day – a hike to the Imlil waterfalls. We walked past walnut trees, Berber carpets hanging off the ceilings, natural crop mills and friendly Berber people on Mules. Once at the waterfall we enjoyed a freshly squeezed orange juice and another signature mint tea.
Mohammed helped us to not get off track and gave us even more in depth detail about the Imlil village. Once the sun started to set we walked back downhill and toward the Riad. We were awaited by Mustapha who had already started a dazzling fire at the fireplace. This time we were served lemon chicken in a tajin – different but just as savory and amazing as the beef we had before. Tired, happy and with hearts full of new memories we relaxed in our luxurious room that allowed us to fall asleep watching the star-sprinkled sky. We woke up by sun-rays peeking trough the cheery tree and walked up to the rooftop to eat breakfast – bread, eggs, honey, yoghurt, cheese, olives, coffee and fresh orange juice – the Riad Jnane Imlil knows how to satisfy hungry customers.
That day Unique and I decided to ask Mustapha to arrange a Mule ride for us – a truly amazing experience. On the backs of these gentle animals we rode through the whole Berber village, got to see how people live in one big community, stopped at random places and enjoyed the sun shining over the Toupkal.
Countless pictures and new memories later and back in the Hotel it was time for us to leave. For the first time in a long time we both were sad to say goodbye to a place and to people we had just met for a day. The tour with Atlas and Sahara Tours turned out to be one of the best adventures we had so far – don’t miss it when you are in Marrakech.
Check out our experiences in our recent video! 🙂