From Marrakesch to Imlil we we took first a taxi from J. el fna to the Grand Taxi station (15DH), than a Grand Taxi (30 years old Mercedes Benz) to Asni (20 DH each person) and from Asni to Imlil (15 DH each). We needet all together 2 hours, it was a worthful adventure.
29th April 2011
The taxi strike was over by Friday April 6th, the day we planned to return to Marrakech. We had managed to do the journey up between us for 40 Dh each but I didn’t think we’d be as lucky on the way down. We walked to the car park at the bottom of the village where the Grand Taxis were located and spoke to some of the drivers there. They wanted 300 Dirham for the trip to Marrakech. This would be fine if we had six people but as there was only the tow of us, it was excessive (and more money than we had left).
We then met a Spanish couple who also needed to go to Marrakech so we agreed to team up with them. They didn’t want to pay 300 Dh for four as they had paid 175 for five people on the way up, so it was clear our friend the taxi driver was trying it on. In the end they agreed to 200 for four of us, with the allowance that we would pick up two more people if anyone on route needed a lift.
There were four of us until Asni, and it was quite comfortable, though I was a little worried when I tried on my seat belt and the driver said it didn’t work! Just what we wanted before crossing the switchbacks on the descent to Asni. There were a few scary moments when our taxi speeded around blind corners and overtook in some dangerous places but we just tried to ignore it. We chatted in French to the Spanish couple, who were from Malaga, and had climbed Toubkal a few times and on this occasion were doing the six day Toubkal circuit.
At Asni, we picked up 2 Moroccans so there were now 7 in the car and it was quite a squash. It was just as well we had only 4 hikers as all our stuff had taken up the boot and there was no space now in the car. However, we got to Marrakech very quickly in about 1hour 15 minutes, and 50 Dirham each was not too bad a price to pay for it. He wouldn’t go any further than the station on route 501 so we had a 20 minute walk with all the bags when we got back to Marrakech.
Getting to Imlil was quite an adventure. 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 but from a station almost 1 km away on Route No 501. (Turn right out of Bab 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 (17km short of Imlil) 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, the last stop was just around the corner so we stopped there for lunch.
Moving onwards from Asni, we faced similar problems to leaving Marrakech. Again there were few taxis because of the strike and no buses. One taxi was willing to go for 300 Dirhams (for the whole taxi in which there are six places) but we didn’t see anyone else who needed transport. It was too long to walk the whole way (17km uphill) with our backpacks so we decided to walk out to the Imlil road to look for a lift.
On the outskirts of town, at a car repair shop we spoke to a guy who offered to take us there for 20 Dh each. We had to wait 20 minutes or so for his van to be fixed but at least we had a good price. Our bags were tied on to the top of the van but the route was so circuitous and bumpy that we kept looking out the back to see if they had fallen off.
It was a fairly steep climb to Imlil and there were some scary moments on the switchbacks. The van had 3 people in the front, 4 in the second row and 9 at one stage in the back so it was absolutely packed. We did pick up and drop off people on route. Every time I though it was full we would manage to fit one more in. We chatted in French to some of the people in the back and it was a fun experience. One guy kept asking us to stay at his place in Imlil so eventually I told him we had a reservation at the CAF refuge. It took about 30 minutes to reach Imlil and it was a lot more fun than taking a grand taxi. For 80 Dirhams in total we’d made it from Marrakech to Imlil and met some great people.