Marriage Moussem

Cultural in Dadès Gorge

Just another striking Middle Atlas Berber village most of the year, Imilchil is flooded with visitors during its three-day marriage moussem (festival) in September. At this huge festival, local Berbers scope the scene for marriage material. Women strut their stuff in striped woollen cloaks and elaborate jewellery, and boys preen in flowing white djellabas (full-length hooded garments with long sleeves).

The festival usually runs Friday to Sunday in the third or fourth week of September; dates are posted at tourist offices throughout the country. Organised tours to the event are available from cities throughout Morocco, and newly paved roads from Rich and Aït Haini to Imilchil have brought busloads of tourists to see romance blossom. With hustlers, faux guides and souvenir stalls eyeing the tourists, onlookers are beginning to outnumber the young lovers – but there’s no denying the voyeuristic fascination of the event.

During the festival, the area is covered in tented accommodation. Otherwise, there is basic hotel accommodation at Chez Bassou and Hotel Izlane.

To get to Imilchil from Marrakesh, head northeast by bus or grand taxi to Kasba Tadla, and onward by grand taxi to El Ksiba. At El Ksiba there is a daily bus to Aghbala. The turn-off for Imilchil is near Tizi n’Isly, about 10km before Aghbala. From the turn-off, 61km of paved road leads south to Imilchil. You may also find local grands taxis or trucks Imilchil-bound for Friday and Sunday souqs.

It's possible to reach Imilchil (a breathtaking 160km by 4WD or souq-bound lorry) from Boumalne Dades or more easily along paved road from Tinerhir. Minibuses leave Tinerhir for Imilchil (Dh40, 2½ to three hours) daily around 9am (also returning around 9am).