Trekking in Imlil with kids

Quick guide to Trekking in Imlil with kids

Visiting the Atlas Mountains in 2024

Just a stone’s throw away from Marrakech, The Atlas Mountains offer trails for all levels of hikers. From the snow-capped Toubkal (Mount Toubkal is the highest peak in North Africa; standing at an impressive 4,167m tall) to a village tour, there is something for all levels and abilities.

The drive would usually take around 1h 30min drive from Marrakech, however the earthquake in Morocco 2023 caused significant damage to the mountain roads which are still undergoing repairs.

Trekking in Imlil with kids is a great way to escape the madness of the medinas of Marrakech, we headed into the hills with our kids aged 10 and 7 to stretch our legs and get a good blast of fresh air and nature.

hiking Imlil with kids
The morning view from our guesthouse was pretty special

Imlil and the earthquake

An earthquake struck the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco in 2023. While the epicenter was near Ljoukak and Talaat N’Yaqoub, Imlil, was also within the quake zone.

Thankfully, the town of Imlil itself escaped relatively unscathed, however, the tourism industry was certainly impacted. The earthquake hit just as Morocco’s tourism sector was recovering from the pandemic and just before peak hiking season. Many trekking routes and mountain refuges were damaged, making them unsafe for visitors. Lots of business was lost. There is a big effort to encourage tourists to return to Imlil and your visit helps to support the local people.

Imlil as a base

In and around the town of Imlil is the best place to base yourself for Atlas Mountain trek. Just a short drive from Marrakech, the small town of Imlil targets travellers looking to experience the mountains. Our visit in March was relatively quiet and whilst it’s a short drive from Marrakech, we opted to stay for two nights. There are a few restaurants and places to eat but most guest houses will be happy to feed you. We visited during Ramadan so it was a little more difficult to get food in the town.

Organising our Atlas Mountain trek

We’ve talked about hiking with kids lots of times and I think the key to a successful hike is snacks. Just pack a million snacks, but a variety, don’t foolishly think one kind will be sufficient. We know our kids can hike a fair distance so we designed our hike in Imlil with this in mind.

It was a little chilly we set off so take layers, and suncream. We organised our trek through our guesthouse, and whilst we had a great time and the guide was fantastic with the kids, we did overpay- (I blame Jak for his lack of research on this!)

We paid about $15 per person, which is similar to rates on airbnb experiences, but have heard other families paid much less.

Another option for the hike is to take a mule.

You will see mules throughout your time in Morocco, they have been used for centuries in the Atlas Mountains to carry supplies from village to village. Taking a mule means there is the option to rest those tired legs (the kids, not yours!).

While we are talking mules, make sure to check out Jarjeer, a mule and donkey sanctuary, located just outside of Marrakech. This Oasis of kindness is doing fantastic work to care for injured animals and the hosts will give you a great tour of the beautiful set up.

Anyway, back to our Atlas mountain trek. 

Trekking in Imlil with Kids
On our Atlas mountain trek we came across these cute little kids, not ours the furry ones.

How much does trekking in Imlil with kids cost?

Well, there is a lot of varied information out there but I’m pretty sure we overpaid for our hike.

We took an afternoon hike in Imlil with lunch for 600DH. Airbnb experiences come in around a similar price (and we all know how much they hike up the price of things).

Research in hindsight has shown people paying around 300DH for a shorter hike and up to 1000Dh for an overnight hike. (currency converter here)

Which trek for kids?

For the more adventurous hikers the Toubkal Circuit hike (reaching a summit of 4,167 metres) which is one of the most beautiful and accessible multi-day hikes in the world. We had been told that children from the age of 10 and upwards are able to complete it. Whilst the challenge was tempting, my knee reminded me that I was living in fantasy land to think I could do a multiday hike.

There are several alternative hikes though so we opted for the 3-4 hour hike through the villages and to the waterfall. There are a few other variations of this hike you can do to, best to talk through your priorities with your guide.

Two days valleys trek

If you are short of time, but fancy stretching your legs, there is an overnight option with two days of walking. There is less flexibility for the rout so if you are concerned about the kids, consider taking a mule.

Three-day valleys trek

This hike has around 4-5 hours of walking per day through streams and Berber villages, plus if you find the route isn’t quite right, there is a quick escape plan B route with shorter walking options.  With three days you can get far away from the town of Imlil to see some of the more traditional Berber Villages.

Four Days valleys Trek

A more challenging trek, probably for older kids is the hike to Toubkal. Definitely not for all families, this trek offers an insight into the more remote traditional Berber villages, beautiful valleys, stunning high altitude passes and the summit of North Africa’s highest mountain, Toubkal.

Atlas mountain trek with kids in Imlil
Our guide was good fun and appreciated our girls wild side on the mountain.

How old do children need to be to hike in the Atlas Mountains?

There is (surprisingly) no set age for the hikes so use your judgement to decide on what is the best type of hike for your family. The key is ensuring this hike is still fun rather than laborious for all involved.

If you opt to take a mule, you will be able to cover more distance but it is not possible to ride the whole way.

Our Atlas Mountain Day trek

Our hike started with an upward hike above the village. Immediately, our kids declared this to be the most boring walk ever. The steep shale offered little in terms of ‘entertainment’ for the kids. No animals, no plans…nothing! But, what’s a family hike without some resistance?

We were sheltered from the sun and wind by a huge reforested area and we had great views over the town of Imlil.

At the top of the incline, thing’s even out a bit, and this is where things got interesting. With huge boulders to climb and rocks embedded with ‘crystals, the girls became a lot more enthusiastic about our walk.

But the best bit- goats and sheep. The shepherds walk their animals through the hills and to the absolute joy of the kids (and me), he grabbed three baby goats for us to cuddle with. That is another animal added to the girls list of animals we have to own!

We headed through a village back towards Imlil, stopping at the waterfall. Which according to the kids was absolutely freezing! They do have a delicious fresh orange juice shop though.

The views throughout the walk were beautiful. You would need a medium level of fitness for this hike or just take your time. The kids were absolutely fine.

Fresh orange juice at Imlil waterfalls
Trekking in Imlil with kids can be hard work, how can you resist a fresh juice stal?

Getting to Imlil

Imlil is very easy to reach from Marrakech with lots of day trips available. There are lots of tourist buses too. If you driving yourself, take the road to the village of Asni and then brace yourself for the twists and turns for driving through the mountains.  Slow and steady, some travel sickness tablets and a distrust of other drivers will help you on your way.


What to wear

Imlil was cold! Colder than we expected to be honest. We travelled in March and whilst we had fleeces and jackets, the accommodation was also chilly. We drank lots of mint tea to try to warm up. Bring layers, especially for hiking.

Check the weather forecasts for the time of year you plan to visit.

Should you go trekking in Imlil with kids?

Morocco has a lot of contrasts and after being in Marrakech, the Atlas Mountains provide a very different experience. The hospitality we received was fantastic and the hike was fun. If we hadn’t have seen the baby goats, I’m not sure the kids would have raved about it. The experience didn’t compare to our hikes in the dolomites but it’s worth a visit if your family appreciates nature and hiking.

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Meet the author

Lisa is the founder of Boston Tribe Travels. She has lived and travelled abroad for the last 15 years, visited more than 30 countries and has done most of that with her husband and two children. As a full time travel family, they like to travel slow, worldschool and seek new adventures. From living in Borneo for 5 years to backpacking South America, Lisa shares a wealth of travel experience to empower more families to travel and learn together.