NOW Traveller Diaries

Credit: Alan Keohane, Provided by: Kasbah du Toubkal

Many of us travel because it connects us to other cultures and nature, and a different perspective is the secret of creativity. When we return, home is still the same, but something in our hearts and minds have been changed, and that changes everything.

As conscious travellers, we prefer ‘homes away from home’ that offer a more conscious way to travel and promote authentic local experiences, create joy around being healthy and provide a high standard of comfort,
nurturing and wellbeing in a sustainable way.

Experiencing Sustainable Travel

Getting there was a fantastic journey in and of itself. From the urban center of Marrakech to the rural mountains of Morocco, the remarkable changes in both the landscape and culture whet my appetite for the adventure yet to come. It all came to life at Kasbah du Toubkal.

Muleteers hauled my luggage (and I learned they could also do people if needed) through the shop and café lined narrow passageways of the village of Imlil. Fifteen minutes later, like something out of a movie, at the Kasbah’s entrance, a gentleman artist dressed in traditional Moroccan and Berber garments greeted mr with a National Geographic coffee table-sized book featuring a picture of him and his art. WELCOME!

Set on an outcropping of rock and Earth on the edge of Imlil, the Kasbah is a social and economic center for the local Berber Community of less than 5000 fulltime residents. Several books depict its astounding transformation from an ancient ruin to its current state, an oasis of tranquility and comfort. It feels as if the natural ingredients, renewable resources, and sustainable practices were baked into its DNA.

Using the Kasbah and trekking lodge as a home base, guides and team leaders led me through expert trekking adventures through this stunning landscape. Harsh desert, steep hills, beautiful peaks, and rich juniper forests that offer shade from the never-ending sun are a part of each day on the trails that network the mountains. The Kasbah team is made up exclusively of resident guides, chefs, muleteers, and managers whose families have lived here for generations. They know their stuff.

Each day exploring offered new challenges to my visual senses. Small collections of stacked mud homesteads form little villages that seem to cling to the steep mountain slopes. Narrow passages took me past rustic windows and doorways that offered little protection from the gaze of passing trekkers.

After a full day of activity, the Kasbah’s hammam was a welcome relief. First a shower, then steam – lots of steam. A fresh cold-water dip and final rinse. Totally refreshed and ready for dinner.

Dinner was served Berber style. Our host offered a traditional welcome hand wash and towel before sitting at the low tables. We feasted on a tajine of beef, lamb, or goat over a bed of couscous and topped with vegetables, olives, figs, and dates. There was some great bread too. Locally known as Khobz, they are whole grain and white flour flatten round bread. They were served with every meal, and they’re delicious, especially the ones with anise. We ate in both the quaint dining room and sun-drenched rooftop. There is also a glass-enclosed space with a central fireplace and a 360* view of the surrounding mountains and tons of cozy nooks to take in the mountain air.

The interior spaces blended in perfectly with the rustic style of the exterior surroundings. Children were playing in a small stream that trickles below the verandah of the family suite - space for 8 adults, a huge kitchen, dining area, and living room. There are 14 more rooms, with more or less of the same amenities. It was PERFECT.

The staff shared a few local Berber and Moroccan customs, and even helped with a few Berber and Arabic words, which I tried, but promptly mangled. No worries, the transition into mountain life is carefully and cheerfully guided by every member of the staff.

Imlil, Asni, near Marrakech, Morocco, Morocco

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About the Traveller

Gene Taylor

Gene Taylor CEO of the Walking Connection and iConquer Adventure

Since 1989, I have traveled the world to meet people, see places, watch, listen & learn, write, take pictures & share.

As the CEO of the Walking Connection and iConquer Adventures, I lead our company team that has creates walking and hiking based adventures in more than 20 countries around the world. We create guided and unguided small group and independent FIT based travel adventures as well as team-oriented adventures that are utilized by nonprofit organizations (NGO) as awareness and fundraising campaigns. Post pandemic, our emphasis has shifted to the creation of “personal environments,” within our style of travel.

Living Positively at Kasbah du Toubkal

Laugh

With genuine warmth, care, and consideration for the local community, the Kasbah extends its impact far beyond its own footprint. As part of its residency, the Kasbah and its ownership are key founders and supporters of EFA Morocco, which provides housing for young girls to access secondary education.

Learn

Kasbah owner, Mike McHugo, Walking Connection’s Jo Ann Taylor and EFA Morocco’s Asni #3 Head Mentor and House Mother Khadija Oukattou share and appreciate the extraordinary graduation rates of the students in her care.

Look

EYE CANDY – Just steps away from the front entrance of the Kasbah lies the dramatic and diverse landscapes of Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains. An afternoon exploring the rugged mountains paves the way for a relaxing hammam and sumptuous authentic Berber themed dinner.

Love

We love adventure, and Morocco delivers more than you can imagine. In this region, the Kasbah du Toubkal is the center of the adventure universe. This is the main road leading into the property.

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