Trekking in Style - 5 day mountain retreat with Kasbah du Toubkal, Morocco
Kasbah du Toubkal, Moroccan Trekking Retreat - Review
Location: Imlil, Morocco
Summary: Serene surrounding, demanding treks, invigorating and rewarding
Being a city girl, I’d never previously given much thought to ‘experience’ breaks and much preferred the luxury city break. However, travelling further afield over the past couple of years made me realise that there are some experiences that just can’t be missed, and trekking in the Atlas mountains is one of them.
I visited Kasbah du Toubkal earlier this year in the winter months and quickly fell in love with it. Even though I’d only spent three days there I wouldn’t hesitate to call it one of my favourite places on earth. So when the chance to go back came up, with the opportunity to see more of the unspoiled local area, I jumped at the chance.
The first time we visited Kasbah du Toubkal we treated it as a mountain retreat and spent the time relaxing and recuperating in the beautiful oasis. The fresh mountain life, quiet surroundings and exemplary service certainly lends itself to a healing break. However, located at the foot of North Africa’s highest peak, Kasbah du Toubkal offers more than that, and specialises in trekking trips across Imlil and the Atlas Mountains. To support this, they also have accommodation in the Azzaden Valley, the Azzaden Trekking Lodge, where guests can stay during their trip. So on our second visit we decided to challenge ourselves and try the 5 day ‘Trekking in Style’ package they offer.
We’d done a little bit of trekking in Austria and Edinburgh, and were really looking forward to getting into it again!
Kasbah du Toubkal are able to organise airport transfers for guests, and when we landed at Marrakech Menara airport our driver was waiting to whisk us away to Imlil. The ride is approximately 90 minutes away in a luxury car but it is uphill on windy roads so be warned if you suffer from travel sickness.
Once you reach the town of Imlil and Kasbah’s town office, your luggage is transferred to a mule and you are guided up to Kasbah du Toubkal. It’s about a 20 minute walk and can’t be reached by car but it gives a great mini introduction to the type of terrain you’ll be trekking on for the next 5 days.
Upon check-in we meet with our guide, the welcoming and friendly Hussain, who explained the route and timings to us for the next few days. We then checked into our room and spent the rest of the day relaxing on our private balcony, acclimatising to the altitude and enjoying a lovely authentic Berber dinner on the rooftop.
All rooms at Kasbah are eco-friendly and extremely cosy. Rooms are equipped with a fridge with plenty of soft drinks, as well as tea and coffee making facilities. There is an en-suite bathroom with shower and bath and local soaps. The bed is very comfortable and large with good air-conditioning and heating provided if needed.
Meals at Kasbah are included in the package price and usually consist of three courses with mint tea, coffee and soft drinks. All meals are freshly made in the kitchen and although there is no menu, they can cater to all allergies and dietary requirements.
We started the day with a luxurious and filling breakfast made up of homemade orange juice, honey, yoghurt, fresh pancakes and local breads as well as fresh fruit and cereals. Tea, coffee and very good lattes are also available.
At 10am we met our mountain guide, another friendly Hussain, and headed out on a half day walk through the valley. This introductory trek was a great way to see the local area and towns around Kasbah du Toubkal and gave us the opportunity to admire the lodge from different vantage points.
Three hours into the walk we entered a beautiful deserted valley full of juniper trees, and halfway up a hill we spotted a gorgeous picnic laid out for us in the shade of one of these lovely trees. This picnic spot really made the trek even more worthwhile, as you are the only ones in the valley and have magnificent, uninterrupted views of the landscape. I’ve dined in many beautiful settings and this was one of the best.
We were then served a substantial lunch which was made under the tree by our cook Mohamed. We had a large and luscious salad to start and a bubbling hot lamb tagine with fresh local breads as our main. For dessert we had fresh fruit and delicious mint tea. Once we were fed and watered we headed back toward Kasbah du Toubkal and arrived for about 3pm. This allowed us to enjoy the hammam after the walk and relax before dinner.
Dinner was served on the rooftop again and one thing I particularly enjoyed about this package is that although the treks themselves are done separately at your own pace, you dine with the other guests doing the 5 day package too, so you can get to know them quite well and share stories of the day.
Day three marked the day of our trek to the Lodge, so we packed some essentials and met Hussain. This was a supported trek so we had a mule and muleteer with us who would carry our bags, water and even us if we needed a rest!
The trek through the Azzaden Valley is beautiful and remote. The area has barely changed to the modern way of life and it was beautiful to see it up close.
The day consisted of a six hour walk, broken up by a beautiful picnic at a peak which is an uphill hike for about 90minutes. I struggled on this section due to the constant uphill so had to get on the mule for the last 10 minutes of it. It was a fun albeit sometimes bumpy ride!
From the peak it’s downhill for another couple of hours to our accommodation at Azzaden Trekking Lodge. We received a welcoming greeting to the lodge and checked into our room which was located right next to the outdoor communal balcony with incredible views of the mountains.
The rooms are similar to those at Kasbah du Toubkal but with less furnishings. We had a fridge, kettle and tea and coffee, as well as a large bath and shower with running hot water - which is a total luxury when trekking in the middle of the mountains! The lodge also has a hamman which can be used by guests after their treks.
We spent the rest of the evening relaxing on the balcony with the other guests and enjoyed another delicious three course meal for dinner, served to the same standard as Kasbah du Toubkal.
Our bed was even more comforting after our trek, but we still stayed up long enough to enjoy the mass of beautiful stars that filled the night sky. We even saw a few shooting stars.
Top Tip: There is no wifi at the lodge so make sure to bring a book to fill your time! We enjoyed this as it actually made us put our phones away and make the most of our surroundings.
On the fourth day guests have a choice to take either a short three hour hike through the local villages, or to hike to a waterfall approximately 4 hours away.
We chose the local hike so not to tire ourselves out and really enjoyed seeing the local villages and their lifestyle. We even enjoyed mint tea in a traditional Berber house with a variety of locally made bread.
We were back at the Lodge in time for lunch and had the afternoon to enjoy the hamman and recoup on the balcony with a book.
Top Tip: If you choose to hike to the waterfall bear in mind that it is unassisted, so you’ll have a guide but no mule to carry food and water for you. Also the lunch provided is a lunch box rather than a picnic and it isn’t as substantial. All this makes it quite a tough trek so make sure you are prepared.
The final day at the Lodge we enjoyed breakfast and left at 9.30am to head back to Kasbah du Toubkal. This is another 6 hour hike but much of it, after the first 90mins, is downhill, making it easier than the previous days. The hike goes through local villages, follows rushing streams and includes a picnic by one such stream too.
The hardest part of the hike for me was actually the last 20 minutes! I knew Kasbah was close but it seemed like an age to get there. However upon return we all had a great sense of achievement and satisfaction on conquering the longest trek we’ve ever done!
We really enjoyed our last dinner at Kasbah du Toubkal as we all were feeling great about our accomplishment. Needless to say we all had an early night!
After a good night’s sleep I was looking forward to a long and leisurely breakfast before checking out. The meals at Kasbah certainly are a highlight and we relished our delicious last breakfast here.
We said our goodbyes to all the friendly staff at Kasbah du Toubkal and they arranged a transfer for us to our riad in Marrakech.
I love Kasbah du Toubkal and it was great to experience the trekking package and stay at their accommodation in the Azzaden Valley. Although the hikes are demanding for a novice, they are certainly worth it for the luxury lunches and accommodation.
For those who enjoy trekking this is an ideal break and an enjoyable one at that!
Book your stay at Kasbah du Toubkal on their website!
Main Booking Office Tel: UK +44 (0)1883 744667
Where’s your favourite place around the world to hike? Let me know in the comments below!
Her Favourite Food & Travel x
Our stay at Kasbah du Koubkal was complimentary - all opinions are my own.
Pin for later: