The charming little town of Imlil is the perfect gateway to the Atlas Mountains.
It’s easy to access from Marrakech, is a convenient starting point for many treks, and it can be super affordable.
For someone like me, who loves nature and budget travel, and who has been living in the crazy city of Marrakech for a few weeks, Imlil felt like heaven.
With this budget travel guide, I’ll highlight the best things to do around Imlil, and explain how I was able to do it all on a very tight budget.
Despite our lack of funds, we still had an incredible time and didn’t feel like we missed out on anything. We stayed in lovely accommodation and got to enjoy the scenery through hiking and exploring.
Budget Travel Guide To Imlil
We traveled from Marrkech to Imlil by collective taxi, which costs 50 Dirhams per person ($5).
The ride takes just over an hour, and drops you off at the bottom of the town center in Imlil. This is the easiest, most direct transportation option from Marrakech to Imlil, and it’s still super affordable.
You catch a collective taxi from the Grand Taxi Stand, near the south side of Jema El Fnaa. Just walk up to any driver and say “Imlil” and they’ll direct you to the taxi traveling there. I recommend arriving in the morning around 8 or 9, as sometimes you have to wait for the taxi to fill up with 6 people.
An even cheaper option is to take a public bus from Marrakech to a town called Asni, which I heard is 20-40 Dirhams for a bus ticket depending on how lenient the driver is. But you then have to get a transfer from Asni to Imlil, as there is no direct bus from Marrakech to Imlil.
To get back to Marrakech, we also took a collective taxi. Luckily we met 5 other people in our hostel to travel with us, so when all 7 of us approached a collective taxi we were able to bargain for a bit cheaper. So we paid 40 Dirhams ($4) each for the journey back.
This means in total, I spent 90 Dirhams ($9) getting to and from Imlil, for a nice easy 1+ hour taxi ride directly to the town centers. Super cheap and convenient.
We stayed at a hostel called Gite Tamsoulte, which we found on Hostelworld for 80 Dirhams ($8) per person, per night. Arriving was a bit confusing because there are two hostels with the same name in Imlil, but we eventually learned they are both run by the same family.
Abdul, the owner, was super nice and helpful. He welcomed us with mint tea, directed us to some nice walks and hikes, and gave us hats/scarves to block the sun. The included breakfast was also delicious and saved us a bit of money on food.
The hostel was also cozy and charming. We had our own room and bathroom, and could see the stunning mountains and neighboring village outside our window.
So for 2 nights in a private room, Matt and I paid 160 Dirhams ($16) each.
Food and Drinks:
We tried to keep our food budget super low, and found this surprisingly easy.
Our meals were usually fresh bread with cheese and olives, with some fruit and nuts on the side for snacks. There are lots of nice cafes and restaurants in Imlil that looked tempting, but we were determined to stick to our budget and the cheap food from the street was actually super filling and delicious.
We also had to buy 4 1.5L water bottles, on top of the 2 we brought from Marrakech. We spent about 30 Dirhams on all these, and luckily had the chance to refill one of them in a freshwater stream while hiking.
Also while hiking, there was a man selling fresh orange juice at the top of a super steep hill. After spending over 2 hours hiking uphill in the heat, it was the best orange juice I’ve ever tasted.
I’ll list the prices of the food we bought, mainly just because it’s shocking how cheap this stuff is.
7 Bread rolls: 7 Dirhams ($0.70)
Bag of olives: 4 Dirhams ($0.40)
Peaches, plums, and oranges: 12 Dirhams ($1.20)
Small bag of mixed nuts: 5 Dirhams ($0.50)
Packaged cheese from convenience store: 24 Dirhams ($2.40)
Sandwich in town for Matt 10 Dirhams ($1.00)
Water: 30 Dirhams ($3.00)
Orange juice: 30 Dirhams ($3.00)
So we spent about 62 Dirhams, or $6.20, on food for 2 days for 2 people. It’s crazy how cheap Morocco is if you eat this way, and the bread and produce is always fresh and delicious.
If you have the money to splurge on a real meal, definitely do it. But if you’re on a tight budget like us, just know that eating cheaply can be done.
The most famous trek from Imlil is hiking Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in Northern Africa. This trek takes 3 days and requires camping overnight, and it’s usually recommended to have a local guide with you.
We opted to try a few smaller, day hikes around the area. We did two half day walks/hikes, and one full day hike, all of which were completely free (except for a tip for our 10 year old guide at the end of the full day hike).
Here are the details:
From our hostel to the waterfall took about 30 minutes, and it was a super easy, peaceful walk. A dirt path shot out from the main road, right across the street from our hostel.
After walking through the woods for a bit, we passed through a little village on a hill and followed the tourists to the waterfall, which had cold refreshing water and an orange juice stand with tables and chairs.
If you’re coming from another part of town, the route might be different. But the waterfall is well known and I’m sure the path is straightforward. There’s also usually lots of tourists coming here, so just follow everyone else.
If you have Maps.me, the most convenient app for traveling that lets you download maps and use them offline, you can find the waterfall on the map easily.
We did this hike right after arriving at our hostel, and the whole journey took about 1.5 hours, including chill time at the waterfall.
Circuit to Aroumd:
There are other small towns nestled in the valley next to Imlil, and you can walk to all of them. There is only one main road that snakes through the valley and up around the mountains, so you can follow this road to pass through other towns.
We walked from our hostel to Aroumd and followed the circuit back down to the other side of Imlil town center. The whole circuit took about 3 hours, with lots of stops for photos and taking in the views.
This walk was pretty easy and absolutely gorgeous. The little clusters of homes look like lego towns, and the massive peaks behind them make the scene look like the cover of a fairytale storybook.
The terrain is pretty arid, but the waterfalls in the valley create rich green forests that flourish against the dry, rocky surface of the mountains.
We did this hike in the late afternoon on our first day, after the short waterfall hike.
Full Day Hike To Big Waterfall:
Abdul from the hostel recommended this hike to us, and we went with 5 other people from the hostel. All the locals know about this hike, so it’s best to ask them for directions. Abdul told me the name of the waterfall and village on the trek, but I couldn’t pronounce or remember them.
We left at 9am for the hike, and spent the first 2.5 hours trekking up steep, dusty trail that eventually led us to the top of the mountains surrounding the valley.
I took the following photo near the start of the hike. The “V” shape between the two mountains is where we hiked to.
Already tired, the man at the orange juice stand atop the hill said we still had 2 hours to go to reach the falls. So we began hiking on the other side of the mountains, looking down onto another valley.
The views were breathtaking, as if we weren’t already breathless from hiking.
The never ending layers of mountain peaks looked powerful and majestic, and the streaks of natural colors mixed with trees, villages, waterfalls, streams, goats and sheep made the scenery stunning for literally the entire hike.
After hiking for another 2 hours through the mountains, we reached an adorable village lined with layers and layers of thick green crops. There were little kids running around and small dwellings made of stones.
One of the little boys volunteered to take us to the waterfall, saying it was only 20 minutes away. As we had already hiked over 4 hours, we were exhausted and it took us more like 40 minutes to hike up and over the village, and up into the mountains again.
But the thundering sound of the waterfall, and the shade and the ice cold water that came with it felt like paradise. We sat and ate snacks and enjoyed the company of all the local boys playing in this serene spot.
As a tip for our 10 year old guide, we all pitched in 10 Dirhams so he made 70 Dirhams. He must have been the richest boy in that tiny village that day.
The hike back took a bit less time, but we arrived around 7pm, making the entire adventure take about 10 hours.
Our limbs were shaking, our skin was sunburnt, and we had dirt and dust caked onto our bodies but it was so worth it.
There were barely any other people on the trail all day, and the only sounds we heard were animals, rushing streams, and our own conversation. It was an amazing day for fitness, and the exercise and fresh air cleansed my body and soul after living in Marrakech for a few weeks.
It was also so rewarding to see this remote area of Morocco, where the villages are untouched by commercialism and modern life. The people are happy and genuine, and the landscape is pure.
So you can enjoy the charm of Imlil and the beauty of the Atlas Mountains without spending a fortune. There are also plenty of hiking options besides Mount Toubkal, for those short on time and money.
For some of my other budget travel tips in Morocco, check out The Best Sahara Desert Tour (Marrakech to Merzouga) and Budget Travel Guide to Essaouira, Morocco.