To the high atlas

As instructed in wikitravel in the early morning we got to the Sidi Mimoun Garden in search of the grand taxi. As soon as we got there and walked around unsure if this was the place we heard shoutings “Imlil, Imlil!” Yeah, that was the right place. The fare was exactly as the wikitravel said so without haggling we got in the collective minibus, an old Ford Transit with back door that would not fully close – an air conditioning free of charge! As the the bus was nearly full, we pulled out promptly. Kudlaty got the attention of a Berber girl. She would just stare at him and look him deep in the eyes.

 I could not see much from the bus as the locals would shade the windows hiding from the sun. We drove stopping every now and then and getting more and more people on board. How many people, do you think, can a Ford Transit take? I believe we were close to 25-30 in the busiest section of the way. All standing spots taken! 

In first bigger town some people got of and we continued. At the next one, or a third one (i lost my count) when there were only 3 people left on board we were informed that we have to change. Uncertain of our fate and fare we have already paid straight to Imlil, we got off. We were assured that we pay no more money and we will get to Imlil. The first taxi driver paid the other one a share of our fare and so we boarded another taxi. We were actually very pleased when boarded the new and comfy one. We continued with our spirits high. The High Atlas closer and closer! 

As we got to Asni we got informed that…. exactly, we have to change! Again the money has been passed and we were loaded to another taxi – this time it was an old Mercedes. And so our smooth journey to High Atlas has been halted as we were the first ones to board the taxi. We needed another 4 people before the taxi is full and will go. Yep, 6 passengers and a driver in 4 seater Mercedes. And so we waited and waited. In the meantime our 3rd taxi driver got a call and he simply moved the now 4 waiting people to the other taxi. Finally we got 2 other people some 20minutes after and we moved. All that for the remaining 18 km. Was it a comfy ride? Well, we were all slim so it wasn’t too bad I’d say.

On our way we spoke to a Berber that lived in Imlil. It was the first nice chat with a local we had for some time since landing in Morocco. He actually did not want to sell us anything! Even more, he actually helped us without expecting anything in return. The man spoke very good English and he new so much about the world. We got really curious where he gets all that knowledge living in the mountains. It turns out they all learn languages from the tourists. And it’s not only English, they learn any language that might serve them. And what is more, after hearing some words they can very accurately distinguish whether you speak Italian, Spanish, German, Finnish or Polish! That is quite impressive!

Once we arrived to Imlil our Berber ‘friend’ showed us the direction to our gitek. He guided us for a while and suddenly he stopped and said: “Look, this is the owner of the place you sleep in”. And so we were handed over to another guide and our ‘friend’ shook our hands and wished us a good day, and just left. Now with the new guide, we were led a bit and then showed the direction to follow and instructed that he just called his soon to find us on the way. We walked a bit, and here he was! Easier than we could expect! Escorted to the door and welcomed with mint tea. Awesome!

Going back to Marrakesh turned out much easier and cheaper!

As it appeared, there is a local bus (collective transit one) that passes every half an hour or so. It costs 10DH pp from Imlil to Asni. It can be boarded either in the village by the taxis or at the very end of the village in direction to Asni. Once we got to Asni there was another bus waiting that runs to Marrakesh – al for 20DH pp! We got to Marrakesh in less than 2 hours. Brilliant!

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