An eco-friendly paradise in rural Morocco – Travel Weekly

While a trip to Morocco often begins and ends with visiting the big cities like Marrakech for most people, it is worth getting out of town to explore the High Atlas mountains. For anyone who likes to be surrounded by serenity, nature, and traditional Berber hospitality (and in the cooler months, views of the snow-capped mountains), this is the place to be.

And the Kasbah du Toubkal hotel, located in the Toubkal National Park (home to North Africa’s tallest mountain, Jbel Toubkal) is the perfect base for travelers looking to relax and soak up nature with light hikes – offering a striking contrast to the hustle and bustle of Marrakech.

The eco-friendly hotel is located in the small village of Imlil and is surrounded by beautiful gardens (with cute resident kittens) and large terraces offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

The hotel is reached by a 15-minute uphill walk (the well-groomed mules carry the luggage, don’t worry), and offers fourteen comfortable en-suite bedrooms, three of which can be used together as a private self-contained home while traveling in a group.

Meals are usually served as a set menu on a rooftop terrace, where guests enjoy simple, delicious and nourishing Moroccan cuisine while being captivated by the privacy of the mountain and valley views (spectacular especially at the golden hour). The warm, friendly and knowledgeable staff make a stay here feel like being welcomed into someone’s home.

The Kasbah du Toubkal was founded in 1995 by Mike and Chris McHugo, British brothers who have been mountain hikers and Atlas adventurers since the 1970s. They bought the ruined property and, in partnership with Oma Ait Barmed, a guide to local mountain that first took Mike through the Imlil Valley in 1978, they restored it to its original splendor using local materials and techniques.

The boutique hotel has won numerous awards and accolades for sustainability, setting a benchmark for responsible tourism in the country. From design and architecture sensitive to the local environment and exemplary protection of natural heritage, to its full immersion in the local community – the hotel runs several programs that give back.

The Kasbah team co-founded the Imlil Valley Association, which manages everything from waste disposal and improved fresh water to running a community hammam and also works at a senior level to ensure the area is protected from insensitive and unsustainable tourist development. An automatic tax of 5% is added to each tourist visit to the Kasbah, which is used to finance the association.

Another impressive program that the Kasbah has been instrumental in creating is the hugely successful Education for All Initiative, which ensures that girls in isolated mountain communities are able to continue their education beyond the primary stage. To do this, they have opened and operated several boarding schools that meet the educational, social and cultural needs of girls. (If you would like to donate to this fabulous cause, you can donate here.)

Hotel guests also receive a guide on how to be a more respectful and conscientious guest when visiting Berber land. This means that the hotel does not serve alcoholic beverages on-site, although guests can bring their own.

This kind of education about how travelers can have a direct impact on a region’s environment, economy and culture goes a long way to developing a deep and meaningful connection with the place and its people – and making a memorable stay here.

About Wesley V. Finley

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