Day 2: Our Moroccan Adventure – Imlil

BrittanyAfrica, Morocco8 Comments

Imlil Donkey

Excursion to Imlil & the Atlas Mountains 

The 5am call to prayer was quite the unexpected wakeup call. We quickly learned that every mosque throughout the city played this call to prayer five times a day through their loudspeakers. And if you were out of earshot of the speakers, you would hear various phone alarms going off at the same time with that same exotic sound as a reminder to pray. We enjoyed a nice Moroccan breakfast at our riad complete with Crepes (Morocco was once a French territory), fresh orange juice and greek yogurt.
Before arriving in Marrakech, I booked 2 excursions with Trek in Atlas Day Tours. Hassan, our tour guide for today, promptly picked us up from the riad at 9am and we were on our way to Imlil and the Atlas Mountains.

Driving_2_Imlil

Along the way we stopped in Asni and walked through their Saturday morning market. Let’s just say that this was not your everyday Farmers market that would meet FDA approval. We passed various carcasses hanging outside of the butcher’s shop that I’m rather certain did not contain a refrigerator. We saw grain piled sky high on tarps, buckets filled with colorful spices and even a medical healer treating a local woman’s broken wrist with what I swear looked like Voodoo.We had people whispering in our ears… “Silver for the lady?” “Hash?” “Spices?” It was complete sensory overload. And since we were in a local village where tourists would not normally venture on their own, we might as well have had “TOURISTS” tattooed on our foreheads. Hassan led us to a row of puebloesque huts that each contained a mini “restaurant.” When you walked inside the room, there was a man who you paid to use his stovetop and water boiler (a camping stove on top of a propane tank) it was about 5 feet wide and 15 feet deep with benches lining both sides where people were eating.  Hassan bought the fresh ingredients and we made a pot of mint tea. The higher you pour the tea the better! On the way out, an old man with a charming toothy smile gave me a bundle of mint as a gift. Too sweet! I’m sad to say I left this little market with only one photo because that was all that I was brave enough to request!

Mint TeaMint Tea in a Berber Village

We got back in the van and drove to Imlil,  the “Switzerland of Africa”…  I wasn’t expecting to see snow covered mountains! We were told in advance that buying rugs outside of Marrakech and “closer to the source” would get us a much better deal so I intended to purchase a rug in Imlil. We were greeted by the store owner with a cup of mint tea and the history of the various types of rugs. After a VERY long and exhaustive haggling session over several different rugs, we came out with one long runner. I think the owner was attempting to make his entire winter profit off of our one purchase and it was at this point that I was ready to call it quits on all shopping (and I know Kelley was too)!

Moroccan RugsMoroccan Rugs in ImlilMoroccan Rugs

We then began our walking trek from Imlil to Hassan’s village on the opposite side of the gorge. I was not properly prepared for that hike. Narrow walkways, no railings and around 50 feet up!

ImlilImlil DonkeyImlil HikeImlil WaterfallImlil SheepImlil SchoolImlil Cafe

Hassan took us to his home and we had a traditional Moroccan lunch in his Berber house. We learned that Berber houses are generally 3 stories; the bottom floor is for the farm animals, the second floor is for the family and the third floor is for guests. His house is in the photo below at the far left.

HassansHouse

The view outside of the window at lunch.Imlil Village

Following lunch, we drove back to Marrakech completely exhausted.  Dinner that night was at the Le Foundouk and it was fabulous!

Le Fondeuk Marrakech

8 Comments on “Day 2: Our Moroccan Adventure – Imlil”

    1. We bought a runner in Imlil… and found out later that we paid way too much ($400). We found a very similar rug for about $250 at the Ensemble Artisanal Market in Marrakech which I HIGHLY recommend! (http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g293734-d1956840-Reviews-Ensemble_Artisanal-Marrakech_Marrakech_Tensift_El_Haouz_Region.html) This place is one of the only places with fixed prices and no haggling. You actually get to shop in peace! The one downfall is the selection… but this will at least give you an idea of what a normal price should be for the type of rug you’re looking for. Then if you see what you really want in the Medina, you can haggle more knowledgeably. I also purchased a larger rug for about $450 which you can see in my wedding post:
      http://www.modernwayfarers.com/2015/05/our-wedding-at-the-chateau-elan-legends-clubouse/
      The Rug is under the arbor 🙂
      In Imlil, there were plenty of rugs to choose from!
      Do you mind me asking how you found my site? I’m always curious! Let me know if you have any more questions!

  1. I searched in Google for rugs around Marrakech and your blog came up, after reading it I decided to book a tour with Atlas just today and it was wonderful. I showed Hassan your blog post, he was really excited, he said you’re a very beautiful person and took your blog info and sent it to his boss immedietly! 🙂 I’ll check out the artisan market tomorrow. I did look yesterday, but not thoroughly. Thanks! And thanks for the follow back on IG 🙂

    1. I’m so glad you met Hassan and visited Imlil… For us, it was such a real experience compared to some of the very touristy options. And FYI, I just remembered that some of the Artisan market shops close for lunch if you head back. Enjoy!! I hope you have a wonderful trip!!

  2. Great story! I’m so glad I found it because I’ll be heading to Morocco next year, and I just recently heard about Imlil. Thanks for the carpet buying tips – I’m not coming home without one. Also, love your wedding pics. I’m in Atlanta, so Chateau Elan feature on the right sidebar caught my eye immediately.

    Love your blog!

    1. Thanks Meagan! I love that you live in Atlanta and ran across our little blog. What a small world. And what we wouldn’t give for chick-fil-a sandwich… and an FO from the Varsity! We do miss home! If there’s anything else I can do to help with your upcoming trip, just let me know! Also… my husband and I are planning our honeymoon this winter and your blog has some great packing tips I hadn’t thought of!

  3. WOW! $400 thats crazy. I’m Moroccan and I always heard of how much they overcharge all outsiders for stuff like this but I think theyre going wayyy tooo far. I always suggest to people to make sure they have a Moroccan friend first and to visit with them, otherwise you will be taken to some shitty places and expected to pay like crazy. I read a lot of these posts and I am embarrassed of the amount of scamming these people are doing!!! The authorities really need to get involved, you cant even take picx without tips? that insane lol

    1. Hi Sara! Thanks for writing! I’m glad you feel the same way we did… we learned the hard way but it won’t happen again! But we do LOVE our Moroccan rugs… If you don’t mind me asking, how do you come across our little blog? I’m always curious what people were originally searching for! Thanks again and have a lovely day 🙂

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