Marrakech to Imlil, Morocco

Im 01 PartyWe arrived back in Marrakech at midday on Sunday. I was beginning to feel unwell, having developed a head cold. I relaxed through the afternoon while Rina went to the nearby Henna Café to get a small pattern on her wrist for her birthday.

In the evening, Ibrahim (our guide) and the staff of the Riad threw Rina a party, including traditional Berber clothes. We were treated to a wonderful filling meal of tagine Kefta and salad, some dancing and a Chocolate Mousse Cake.  A family that was staying in the hotel came and joined the party and made for a great evening. We then went out on the town for a quick beer at a rooftop bar Red Hotel and some Shisha.

The follow morning, I was feeling worse than ever, but not wanting to miss a thing, I rugged myself up and went out for a walking tour of Marrakech. Our guide Sharriff was excellent, taking the time to answer our question regarding living in the Medina, but also regarding Islam and many other aspects of Moroccan society. For three hours we made our way through the area visiting the Saadian Tombs (10 MAD entry fee) (Meticulous and elaborately decorated tombs with some exquisite Moroccan stucco), the Bahia Palace (10 MAD entry fee) (The former residence of the Grand Vizier), the Kasbah, and the Jewish quarter. It was a great experience to walk the streets and be shown the various monuments of the city.

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We stopped by a herbalist in the Kasbah and picked up some Sanouj (the Arabic name for Nigella Sativa seeds), which are commonly used as a remedy for pretty much everything in the Arab world. For me, I intended to sniff the vapour of the seed oil to clear my sinuses. Amazingly, sniffing the oil acts like a desiccate, drying my sinuses almost immediately and providing relief.

In the afternoon we visited the Majorelle Garden (50 MAD entry fee), established by French artist Jacques Majorelle in the early 20th century and opened to the public in 1947. It is very well constructed garden containing a range of plants not familiar to the area, the layout is highly structured and reflects more a work of art than a slice of nature.

That night I went to sleep very early in an attempt to conquer the cold that was overtaking my senses. The night was filled with fever dreams and when I woke in the morning, I was feeling better. I wanted very much to be better as today we were travelling to Imlil in Toubkal National Park to go hiking, and as hiking is one of major reasons I travel anywhere, I really wanted to be able to enjoy it.

We arrived in Imlil around 10:30am and picked up our guide, Mohammed, then stopped off at our Riad for a quick mint tea. We had booked for a hike with an overnight at a Gite but as I am still a little under the weather staying at a Riad works best.

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The walk took us up through the valley to the Tizi Tamatrte pass (2300m) on a path that winds through a village then through a pine forest and above the snow line. The weather was cool but the sun was shining as we ascended. There is a small store at the pass where you can stop for a bite and get some tea. We met a couple of guys at the top who had mountain biked and chatted a while.

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While we waited the weather began to change, the clouds were being drawn down into the valley, the thermals twirling and curling the vapour like a ballet. With the weather changing and my health, we opted to walk the road along the valleys edge rather than descend to the nearby village (which is what we would have done if we were staying at a Gite). We walked a few kilometres then returned to the store and ate a lunch of tuna, cheese and bread. This time we met Australian and Canadian doctors who were walking to the Gite down below. For the walk back to our Riad we opted to take the return road rather than the trail to see Imlil from a different perspective. On the way down, it began to snow and we enjoyed the very novel experience.

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Imlil, Morocco

Other Experiences in Morocco:
The Route of a Thousand Kasbahs
A Walk in the Dades Gorge
A Night at Erg Chebbi, the Sahara
The Middle Atlas

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