“Dreams are only the plans of the reasonable.” Message on door at Kasbah du Toubkal
When we travel to destinations in remote regions where day-to-day life for local people is a struggle, we try and select accommodations that support the communities around them.
Fortunately for all, Sustainable Tourism is a fast-growing trend around the world. If your kids are old enough to process the shift in how people live in in other countries versus what they are used to seeing at home, staying in accommodations that are deeply integrated in local communities, not islands within them, will accelerate the impact of the experience.
In Morocco, spending the night at Kasbah du Toubkal gave us all reason to ponder how families survive the harsh environment of the High Atlas Mountains.
Located at the foot of the highest mountain in North Africa (Jbel Toubkal), Kasbah du Toubkal seems far away from urban civilization. Amazingly, however, it’s only 40 miles from Marrakech (albeit a slow road).
As soon you leave Marrakech and enter the Atlas Mountains, the road narrows and the landscape turns rocky and rugged. In this case, the Berber village of Imlil is the end of the road as Kasbah du Toubkal can only be accessed on foot via a steep, narrow walking trail. This is the same path used by local families to access their villages. Heavy lifting is done by mules, including luggage transport.
Hospitality is a big part of experience at Kasbah du Toubkal. New guests are warmly greeted with dates and milk, followed by traditional mint tea.
The common room is filled with maps, history, and photos of the faces of the community. If the mule bellboy is the first cause for pause, this is the second. This is no ordinary hotel, but one with a story to tell.
Kasbah du Toubkal is a venture between a British adventurer and a mountain guide from the local community. 5% their proceeds go to the Association des Bassins d’Imlil, a Moroccan-based NGO that provides essential services for the remote, mountainous surrounding valleys including an ambulance, garbage clearing, public baths, and educational development in the region. In short, these two men set out to both preserve the fragile mountain environment and improve the quality of life its inhabitants.
One of the things I love most about Kasbah du Toubkal for families is that this mountain retreat attracts guests of all ages from around the world. Travelers are here for an array of reasons including incredible trekking and the ability to get an authentic glimpse of Berber mountain life. We met families, students, solo travelers from the USA, England, Holland, Germany, New Zealand, and South Africa — all within a single night!
The reason it works is that the owners have built room categories for a variety of needs and budgets. From “Berber Salons” with shared bathrooms to standard rooms to one to three-bedroom suites, there’s something for everyone.
We stayed in one of the one-bedroom apartments with kitchen facilities, a spacious living room, and a non-stop mountain view. An ideal set up for families! It’s not luxurious, but certainly upscale given the setting — comfortable, clean, and very private.
Kasbah du Toubkal is appropriate for school-age and up children. We took a lovely afternoon hike with a guide from a nearby village who was able to share insight about traditional life in the valley. We always find that local guides are the best way to engage kids in a destination with a radically different way of life. The fact that our group included a 10-year-old boy was certainly helpful — they were thick as thieves and we actually enjoyed a three-hour tour with zero complaining. Amazing!
We hiked to a nearby village and even just a short excursion was enough for us all to wonder at how challenging it would be to live in such a rugged environment with access to few resources.
We stopped at a local guest house and the boys learned how to pour tea like locals.
Meals at Kasbah du Toubkal are social and fun. You either eat on the rooftop with uninterrupted mountain views or in the common room with a cozy sofa set-up. Regardless, dining is the time when the guests swap stories. There’s a true traveler’s vibe here that is all about meeting and sharing.
Kasbah du Toubkal is an excellent two-night stop with school-age kids. If you have teenagers and can access extensive hiking, more days may be in order. The advantage is that it’s close enough to Marrakech for an easy getaway without extensive driving or a complicated itinerary.
We were introduced to this property by Kensington Tours. I am very grateful they suggested it as Kasbah du Toubkal was a trip highlight for us!
Kasbah du Toubkal hosted us as part of our media tour with Kensington Tours. They did not ask us to express any particular point of view.
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This is a challenging time for our clients given the uncertainty around the spread of coronavirus, particularly for those with near-term travel plans in impacted areas. We’re working with our suppliers on being flexible with their booking conditions, and enabling families to postpone travel to a later date without a penalty, when possible. Likewise, given the unpredictability around destinations that may be impacted in the future, we’re helping clients planning new trips and understand ways that they can protect themselves until the situation improves. We are ready to help our clients work through questions and concerns.