Asni Things to Do
Asni is only 17 km from Imlil and hence has some lovely views of the High Atlas mountains. We were planning to hike up to Jebel Toubkal (Morocco’s highest mountain) over the following days and it was with some excitement (and a bit of trepidation) that we gazed on the mountains from Asni.
BP 67, Asni, 042150, Morocco
Good for: Couples
After arriving from Marrakech, we had a quick lunch in Asni before searching for a lift to Imlil. There is a better selection of restaurants in Imlil but if you're passing through Asni at lunchtime it's easy to find basic, cheap but filling food. There were a number of basic restaurants at the northern end of the village and after looking at a few of these places we chose the busiest looking one. The owner called us in and showed us some of the tagines he was cooking.
We asked for a tagine aux legumes (vegetarian) and shared this between us along with Berber bread and bottled water (all for 40 Dh). There were plenty of legumes but also quite a bit of meat! Maybe he had misunderstood us. Our restaurant had no name and was surrounded by other similar cafés/restaurants so it‘s hard to describe how to find it. My advice is to look at them all and pick the one where most of the locals are eating.
We left Marrakech early in the morning and went to Bab er-Robb, one of the gateways south of the medina. Only to find grand-taxis no longer go from Bar er-Robb (as all the guide books claim) but from a station almost 1 km away on Route No 501. (To get here, turn right out of Bab er-Robb, walk through one crossroads on to route 501 and shortly after and you’ll find the station).
At the station, we were told no grand taxis were leaving as there was a 48 hour strike. Apparently there had been 3 accidents in involving these taxis and the drivers had their permits taken. So the other drivers were holding a strike. We were told to come back the following day, which would have been a big inconvenience. Luckily, a bus was leaving for Asni so we decided to hop on this and it was good value to, at 20 Dh each.
This was quite a fun trip and as the only non Moroccans on board we were the object of some fascination. We chatted with lots of people on board and they were a really nice bunch. Two young Berber girls asked our names and introduced themselves to us and their family. There was a bit of a delay when one guy refused or didn’t have the money for the 20 Dh fare. Eventually I think someone paid for him.
When we were climbing over the switchback routes in the mountains, many people became very frightened and it was quote scary as there wasn’t much space between us and the side of the road, where there was a huge drop. The guy who didn’t want to pay his fare started the Call to Prayer which I think scared more people than helped them. The woman across from us was in hysterics.
But we made it to Moulay Brahim in one piece, and most of the bus descended there and wished us well for our climb. There seemed to be some festival at Moulay Brahim, involving lots of horses, so perhaps this explains the crowds on the bus. Asni was just around the corner and we arrived there in time for lunch.
The taxi strike which affected Marrakech also affected Imlil and there were no taxis making the trip to Imlil. We were lucky enough to get a lift for 20 Dh each in a van with a group of Moroccans. While we were waiting we were offered a much higher price by another truck. In the end I think we were lucky with the price we got. It's often pot luck with these things and if you're in a hurry you may spend far more that you'd bargained. I've described this journey in more detail in a tip on my Imlil page.
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Asni Warnings and Dangers
In Asni you'll be approached by lots of people offering lifts to Imlil and also by some guides offering mules and porters for the Atlas mountains or in some cases basic accommodation. Asni is not as realistic a trailhead for visiting the mountains as Imlil so I wouldn‘t recommend staying here. Imlil is also a better place to organise a guide and mules. If you need a lift to Imlil try not to pay more than 25Dh for a place in a Grand Taxi or one of the frequent mini buses which make the trip.