When most people think of Morocco, they imagine hot sunny days, dusty Medina streets, rolling deserts, dazzling souks, and exotic spices. What many don’t picture are snow-capped peaks, hillside villages and cool mountain air.
If you’re looking to experience a more authentic side of Morocco, and get a taste of how locals truly live in this North African country, a trip to the Atlas Mountains is exactly what you need. Keep reading to discover more about our day trip to the Atlas Mountains from Marrakech – my best guided-tour experience.
The Best Day Trip to the Atlas Mountains
After two full crazy days in Marrakech, we were ready for a peaceful escape, so we booked a day trip to the Atlas Mountains through Airbnb Experiences. On Sunday morning, our guide, Mohammed, picked us and eight other travelers up at Jemaa el Fnaa square, and we began our journey south toward the Atlas Mountains from Marrakech.
We made a few stops along the way to the foot of the Atlas Mountains. Our first stop was to enjoy some mint tea and cookies, followed by a short camel ride that included dressing up in traditional Berber attire. Following our camel ride, we drove a bit further before stopping at an Argan Oil Women’s Cooperative where we witnessed argan oil being made the traditional way. Here, you can also purchase argan oil products to help support the local Berber women.
Tip: The argan oil you will see being sold at the souks in Marrakech is typically not pure argan oil. If and when you decide to purchase argan oil, whether it’s at a Women’s Cooperative or not, be sure to check its quality.
After sampling some argan oil products, we continued our drive toward the Atlas Mountains. Along the way, we passed Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot resort that sits at the base of the mountain range.
It took us about two hours of driving from Marrakech (not including the stops along the way) to reach the Imlil Valley, home to the small village of Imlil, nestled right in the heart of the Atlas Mountains. This particular village often serves as a starting point for trekkers hiking up to the peak of Mount Toubkal (the third-highest point in all of Africa).
Though we weren’t trekking to the top, we did embark on a one-hour hike through the lush gorges and green valleys of Imlil. Walking through the village, our guide, Mohammed, taught us about the traditional Berber family values regarding relationships, marriage and family roles as well as a bit about their culture. This was a great way to get to know the traditional Moroccan people – something I could not have learned had we just stayed in Marrakech.
Along the way, we passed over rivers and streams, women herding sheep, and men selling traditional Moroccan rugs, before reaching a beautiful viewpoint overlooking the entire village. After taking in the gorgeous landscape, Mohammed led us to a local Berber family’s home for lunch.
The family prepared a wonderful meal for us of couscous, several steaming Moroccan tagines, fresh salads, and juicy orange slices sprinkled with cinnamon. We enjoyed this family-style meal with the best view of Mount Toubkal – it was truly an unforgettable experience.
Once we were finished with lunch, we made our way back to Marrakech just in time for dinner.
If you’re visiting or planning a trip to Morocco, I highly recommend taking a day trip to the Atlas Mountains from Marrakech with Mohammed. This experience made our entire trip to Morocco that much more memorable, and I can’t say enough good things about our amazing guide.