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The Annual Imilchil Marriage Festival

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Travel To Morocco For The Imilchil Marriage Festival

Imilchil is a Berber village located in the Oriental High Atlas. In this charming village you will find mainly Berber tribal clans who have a strong sense of culture and tradition that has been conserved for decades.

The Imilchil Marriage Festival is celebrated each year in September in an open space Moussem. It has special significance to the surrounding tribes, Aït Sokham , Aït Bouguemmaz  and the Ait Hadiddou tribe.  This festival is also known as September Romance where hundreds of young girls and boys celebrate their marriage.

 Throughout the festival hundreds of young men and women mix freely looking for their ideal spouse and celebrate the marriage during the festival. Traditionally, a nod and a wink is the unspoken language between men and women at the festival to show interest in each other. When men receive a gesture from a female, if they agree, they may hold hands to show intent and announce their engagement. The couple meets with their families in a tent whereby discussion is carried on over warm mint tea. Later, the marriage will be arranged more seriously in the couple’s home village.

The celebration goes on for three days which includes the engagement ceremony followed by marriage that takes place around the tomb of their patron saint. Close to 30,000 people from the mountains gather under tents for three days with their flocks, their horses and camels. It is also an occasion when young girls dress up and wear their best clothes and silver jewelry, and dance for hours.

The legendary tale of the Imilchil Marriage Festival states there were two young people who fell in love from enemy tribes and Their family would not allow them to marry. Out of grief, they wept bitterly day and night. These tears created two individual lakes. One lake was "Isli", meaning bridegroom and the other, "Tislit", meaning bride. Their despair was so great; they committed suicide by drowning in those two lakes. The Imilchil Moussem has been created to pay homage to these two young lovers. Legend also has that with the mountain separating the two lakes; their souls remained apart even after their deaths.

As a result, grief overwhelmed villagers hence the tradition was changed, and all the families decided to let their children marry whomever they chose. Today, neighboring tribes gather together near these lakes, and the women choose their husbands. Besides being the place to select a potential spouse, the Moussem of Imilchil functions as a big local market, with artisans and farmers selling their local products.

If you have an opportunity to visit Morocco in September, Imilchil Marriage Festival, it is highly recommended and an opportunity not to miss. During this festival  you find great food, music, dancing, and beautifully dressed Berbers in traditional and ceremonial costume. For a long time the festival was closed off to visitors but in recent years has opened to stimulate tourism

 

 

Day 1 : Casablanca - Marrakesh

Arrive at Casablanca International Airport. Have breakfast upon arrival, then visit the Mosque of Hassan II Casablanca's landmark building designed by the French architect Michel Pinseau. It is an extravagant symbol not only of the city, but also of Morocco itself.  Hassan II Mosque II  is one of the largest mosque in the world with a gigantic glass floor for over 24000 worshippers. Its minaret is the world’s tallest at 210 meters.  Its location looking out to the Atlantic gives it an exceptional beauty. Intricately carved marble pieces, vibrant mosaics and zellige tile details pay honor to traditional Islamic architecture, and yet still manage to feel contemporary.

After visiting the Hassan II Mosque, take the road to Marrakesh. Check in your Riad and then you will be escorted to one of the best restaurant in the medina.

Day 2 : Marrakesh

Breakfast at your Riad. Explore the fascinating city of Marrakesh starting from new part Gueliz or Nouvelle Ville of Marrakesh. Continue to the magical Majorelle Gardens designed by Jacque Majorelle and preserved by Yves Saint Laurent. Its bleu and yellow colored paths make of it a attractive garden with various ponds, cacti, and plants. On our return to your Riad, a stop at  Mamounia Hotel and Garden.

Explore the El Bahia Palace which is a set of gardens located in Marrakesh. It was built in the late 19th century, planned to be the greatest palace of its time. The name means "brilliance". As in other buildings of the period in other countries, it was intended to capture the essence of the Islamic and Moroccan style. There is a 2-acre (8,000 m²) garden with rooms opening onto courtyards.

Visit the Saadian Tombs are mausolea in Marrakesh which date to time of the Saadian dynasty sultan Ahmad al-Mansur (1578-1603). The tombs were discovered in 1917 and were renovated by the Beaux-arts service. The mausoleum includes the burials of about sixty members of the Saadi Dynasty that originated in the valley of the Draa River. Among the graves are those of Ahmad al-Mansur and his family.

Next visit the old Medina. Explore this charming area on foot. In Djemaa el Fna, you will visit the famous 12th century Koutoubia Mosque. The guide will take you through the intricate streets and alleys of the Djemaa el Fna. Enjoy the smells of food and explore the souks specializing in Berber carpets, silver jewelry, handmade shoes, and leather tanneries. Enjoy a delicious lunch at one of Marrakesh’s most tasty restaurants.

After lunch, visit the Museum of Marrakesh, a Contemporary Moroccan Art Museum, a private museum devoted to popular arts & crafts situated within a beautiful Spanish-Moroccan house.

Visit the Jewish Mellah istablished in 1558 by Moulay Abdallah. During the Spanish religious wars, Jewish refugees escaping the country were welcomed by  the Sultan and offred this place to settle and live in peace.

Evening free to explore Marrakesh on your own. Your private driver will be available to escort you to a variety of restaurants we recommend.  B&B accommodation in a nice Riad

Day 3 : Marrakesh - Ait  Ben Hadou - Ouarzazate

Breakfast at your riad and start your journey towards Boumalen Dades. you will pass the olive fields of the Oued Zat as you ascend to the Tizi n’Tichka pass (2260-meter-high) that will take you through spectacular mountainous land. Along the road you will see panoramic sights of the High Atlas Mountains as well as rich valleys, colorful villages, and striking geology

Explore Ait Benhaddou kasbah which is located at 32 km from Ouarzazate.  It is situated in Souss-Massa-Draâ on a hill along the Ouarzazate River. The site has been declared as a world heritage by UNESCO and many movies has been filmed there:  Lawrence of Arabia, Sodom and Gomorrah and Jesus of Nazareth. Ait Benhaddou was a caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakesh. Most of the town’s inhabitants immigrated to other nearby villages and only few families still live within.

Visit to Ouarzazate film studio, the Moroccan Hollywood where many famous movies were filmed. Overnight in boutique Riad at Ait Ben Haddou

Day 4 : Ait Ben Hadou - Dades Valley - Tinghir

Have breakfast and continue to Kellaa Megoun ‘ Rose Valley’ and visit of local cooperatives of Roses local product.

Continue to Dades Gorge carved through the walls of the High Atlas Mountains by the Dades River. It has stunning views which is best seen in the morning when the sun reaches the bottom of the canyon. Driving along you will pass fertile agricultural fields, riverbanks, and several fortified Ksours.

Full board accommodation at Todra Valley a boutique Riad.

Day 6 : Tinghir - Imilchil

Have your breakfast and take the road to Imilchil which is located High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. In this charming village the Berber tribal clans have preserved for decades their authentic culture and traditions. It is well known for its famous Marriage Festival attracting various neighboring tribes to whom the festival is of great significance.

Have a traditional Berber lunch: tajine, locally fresh baked bread, and fruit and then visit the largest souk in the valley where men come to buy and sell cattle and get supplies for the winter.

Continue your 4x4 drive discovery of the valley and explore the authentic everyday life in this charming valley. Overnight at a Boutique Riad or Guest House in Imlilchil.

Day 7 : Imilchil

Have your breakfast and assist the celebrations of the Imilchil Marriage Festival. The Imilchil Marriage Festival is the major attraction of this village and takes place annually in September in an open space Moussem. It has special significance to the surrounding tribes, Aït Sokham , Aït Bouguemmaz  and the Ait Hadiddou tribe.  This festival is also known as September Romance where hundreds of young girls and boys celebrate their marriage. Enjoy the celebration. Overnight at a Boutique Riad or Guest House in Imlilchil.

Day 8: Imilchil- Errachidia - Aoufous Ziz Valley

Have breakfast and take the road to the village of Aoufous  which is located in the heart of the Ziz palm groves and is one of the best places to tour in Morocco to catch a glimpse of life inside the palmeries. The village itself is calm and sleepy.  Locals are friendly and life here presents a very different side of Morocco to the bustling imperial cities. Renting a bicycle or allowing some time to explore the village on foot is a must, and you’ll quickly find interesting people to meet and things to discover. Expect to be invited in for tea or food and relax in the comfort of knowing that this is an area renown for its truly genuine Moroccan hospitality.

One of the best things to do is simply wander the palmeries surrounding Aoufous and discover all the produce that is grown in the region, some of which may take you by surprise. Depending on the season, you can expect fresh quince, pomegranates & grapes on the menu as well as interesting herbs like lemon verbena, and of course some of Morocco’s best dates are always readily offered as a snack. This intense cultivation of produce relies on complicated irrigation techniques using water sources that spread out across the region.  Tata, one of our local guides, knows farming in the Ziz better than anybody. With a degree in animal husbandry, a date farmer, and president of the local tourism association, Tata is a wealth of information on the region. He is seen above overlooking his home village of Aoufous from a viewpoint, wearing the traditional Ziz Valley dress.

Day 9 : Aoufous- Erfoud- Merzouga

Breakfast at your Riad. Take the road to Merzouga.  On the way to Merzouga stop for lunch at the desert town Rissani that dates to the ancient Alawi Dynasty. Continue your journey to Merzouga via Erfoud to enjoy the panoramic view from the top of the Borj-Est that rises 935 m to see panoramic views over the town and its palm dunes. 

Erfoud is a vigorous city with gorgeous surrounding landscapes filled with oases, dunes, and Rocky Mountains. Arrival to Merzouga and before sunset venture out on a 1-hour camel ride to watch the sunset in the Erg Chebbi Dunes. Your Berber guide will lead you through the golden dune where you can enjoy taking pictures the endless rolling dunes of golden. Diner and overnight at the heart of the desert in a camp.

Day 10 : Merzouga- Rissani - Agdz

Take you breakfast and return by a different route today through Alnif to Agdz, giving a taste of the Draa Valley. Agdz means ‘resting place’ and is set on the old caravan route that connected Marrakech with Timbuktu.

Go through Alnif, a town in Tinghir Province, Drâa-Tafilalet, Morocco. It is in oasis of palm groves located between Ouarzazate and Errachidia from one side and the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara from the other side.

Continue to Agdz which is a town in mid-southeastern Morocco, in the Atlas Mountains. It lies at the feet of Djebel Kissane and along the shores of the Draa River. Dinner and overnight in nice Riad in Agdz

Day 11: Agdz -N'kob - Ouarzazate -Marrakesh

Breakfast at your Riad in Agdz and drive to Ouarzazate, the Hollywood of Morocco.

Start your visit with the Atlas Film Studios in Ouarzazate with its Holly-wood style Egyptian figures and cover 30,000 sq m of desert. David Lean filmed Lawrence of Arabia here in the early 1960’s. Many other famous directors have followed in his paths to use the magnificent scenery. 

On the way you will visit also Kasbah Telouet which is one of Morocco’s hidden gems. It is the ancestral home of the Pacha Glaoui Family and former route of the caravans from the Sahara over the Atlas Mountains to Marrakech. The Kashah was established in the 18th and 19th centuries and represented the El Glaoui family's power hence named Glaoui Palace. It can still be visited but it is steadily becoming more damaged and is slowly collapsing. In 2010, work was underway to restore the property

On the way stop for lunch and visit the Argan Cooperative where argan oil, argan butter, and argan cosmetics are made by hand from argan nuts by Berber women. You will be invited to taste the argan natural products. Drive to Marrakesh; inner at a nice restaurant. B&B accommodation in a nice Riad in Marrakesh

Day 12: Marrakesh - Casablanca airport

  

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