Festival of Imilchil 2021

Imilchil Festival is a unique tribal betrothal gathering in the Atlas Mountains for over 3000 years..


Betrothal festival of Imilchil for marriages

Deep in the heart of Morocco survives a culture with an ancient way of life virtually untouched by the world outside. Until today, scattered among the peaks of the High Atlas Mountains, Berber tribes maintain traditions begun by their ancestors hundred and hundreds of years ago. The Berbers are the indigenous people of North Africa. They are the herders, nomads, mountain rug weavers of the land and they lead a free-spirited mountain lifestyle very liberal and democratic to our days. Although the Berbers have been exposed to many organized faiths with Islam being the last - they have nevertheless kept their pre-Islamic rituals and beliefs B a heritage which can be traced to the Neolithic period.

One of the most unique of these rituals is the betrothal ceremony at the Imilchil festival fair. High on a verdant plateau sits Imilchil, the pastoral gathering place for the surrounding tribes of the Ait Sokham and Ait Bougemmaz. They gather at the end of summer, in the early days of September, having spent the spring and the hot days of summer high in the mountain peaks with their flocks. It is the time to begin the transition to leave the nomadic life behind and settle in for the winter months. Now is the time to prepare the plots and terraces for the fall plowing. And now is the time, as it has been for centuries, for the social gatherings to occur. Now is the time for the fair.

While trade, communication, introductions among families and dispute resolution settled by the wise elders goes on throughout the three days of the Imilchil fair, by far the most unique and magical draw is the betrothal ritual of our present days. For it is here that singles of all ages and youths in particular come to find or be found by a partner. Men don their Djellabahs (outer robes) and embellish themselves with the most precious silver daggers they own to signal maturity and wealth. The women in turn wear most beautiful handiras (capes) covered with the best embroideries their hands can stitch. They also adorn themselves with resplendent silver jewelry, belts and draping. The mornings are reserved for browsing and making acquaintances. The women saunter from grouping to grouping while the men remain stationary B on exhibit as it were. It is the woman's prerogative to make the first advance.

When a woman feels an attraction for a man, she approaches him, picks him by the hand, and invites him for a walk. It is during the walk that she asks all the important inquiries that help her determine this is the man for her. If her decision is positive, they both walk to the tent where the scribes will announce them husband and wife, and the ceremony begins. Otherwise, she will continue her search for the man of her choice. Sometime three days are not enough for a woman to find her man and she may wait for the fair next year. For those who are lucky to find their match and even those who did not, it is equally a time of ultimate joy and celebration of an ancient and sacred way for matchmaking. Imilchil is a unique place in the world and a hidden treasure for the respectful traveler with a deep interest for learning. This small group tour to Imilchil festival is scheduled for 2021 and 2022. Join in the spirit to explore the best of Morocco history, nature and sacred music. this is a pre-packaged Morocco Tour but id you prefer independent travel, we can personalize a special private Morocco expedition just for you.

DAY BY DAY ITINERARY

The festival of Imilchil tour starts as follow: once you land at Mohamed V Airport in Casablanca, your guide will meet you at your arrival gate to take you immediately to check-in to your hotel in Rabat. This is a pleasant short drive of about 45 miles. You will reach Rabat, a city styled in a spaciously elegant European grid, yet slightly aware of its modernity. Rabat and its twin city Sala Colonia are separated by only a river but are historically worlds apart. They have an ancient legacy that spans hundreds of generations. Each civilization that has inhabited each of the cities has left its mark, resulting in a wide variety in architectural styles, including those from the Phoenician and Roman eras.

You will spend your day discovering the delights that Rabat has to offer. Your guide will take on a historical visit in this vibrant city.

You will continue your quest exiting the Oudaya Kasbah and up the hill to visit the Hassan Tower and Mohamed the V Mausoleum, an emblem of the real Moroccan architecture at its finest. You will reach the Royal Palace and the Necropolis of Chellah at the end of your tour. Finally, you will return to the hotel for dinner and other accommodations.

You will travel with your guide to Fes exploring noteworthy landmarks. This trip will take you from imperial Rome to the ninth century A.D. Unlike the movies, this temporal voyage will take almost the entire day. (Of course there will be stops along the way.) The first stop on the way to the city of Fez will be the ancient Roman city of Volubilis. Volubilis was a critical city in the imperial Roman department of Mauritania (modern day Morocco, and the Western Sahara) during the reign of Caracalla. Volubilis is impressively well preserved and the genius of Roman urbanism is still intact. The two central integral streets in every Roman castrum, the Cardo and Decumanus, are prominent. The cardo is the boulevard which runs north-south and the Decumanus, east-west. The intersection of the two is the heart of every roman city. There you will find the ruins of the ancient forum.

Jumping forward in time and just few minutes away is the venerated citadel of Moulay Idris, founded in the 8th century by Moulay Idris Al Akbar, grandson of the Prophet Mohamed (s.a.w.s). This citadel is considered to be both the cradle of Sufism to Moroccan society as well as the first Islamic capital for the premier Arab dynasty. The city was created primarily for the indigenous population that migrated with Moulay Idris from the Middle East. You will drive around 15 miles to the next stop, the imperial city of Meknes only 40 miles from Fez. Meknes is a 17th Century city built by Moulay Ismail King ogf Morocco in the 17th century to rival Fez. It is also considered to be the Versailles of Morocco.

Upon your arrival to your destination, the ninth century city of Fez, you will meet with your local guide who will introduce this magnificent Islamic city. In the evening, you will get a taste of the greatest of the Imperial Cities. You will visit the sights on the outside of ancient walled city, including the ramparts, the gates, and the Borjs (Moorish Forts).

The City of Fez is the creadle of Islamic civilization. Undeniably enticing Fes is a feast for the senses with its haunting yet beautiful sounds, visual splendor, and evocative smells. Fez Medina The most ancient of the imperial capitals and the most complete medieval city of the Islamic world, Fez is reminiscent of a city suspended in time, unfazed by the constantly evolving world outsides of its walls. Fez city owes nothing to the Western world, save electricity.

Time spent in Fez will reveal much about the sophistication of the Moroccan culture and intellect, providing an unparalleled learning experience to those who cross its path. Your morning will be spent visiting the Medina (old city of Fez). Our specialized guide will take you on a historic discovery of the city of Fez starting at the King's Palace and its Meshwar with ramparts and majestic gates.

You will walk to the tannery and on to visit the great Mosque university of Al Quarrawiyyine, passing by Shemma'ine, the market of dried fruits. After that, you will visit the Medersa Attarine and walk to Sbetryyine, a guild of book binders, which will lead you to the Seffarine Square, where the tapping of metalworkers is still deafening passerby as it was the case for centuries. You will break for lunch then continue exploring the marvels of Fez Medina. These will highlight the Dyers souk, Foundouk Tetouani and the shrine of Sidi Ahmed Tijani. You will end your walk at foundouk Lihoudi where a local Fez family will host you for traditional mint tea in their home. Finally, you will return to your hotel for dinner and other accommodations.

Depart from the city of Fez. You will spend your day discovering the rural environs of the Atlas Mountains Berber villages, wards, and nomadic settlements. Covered with evergreen pines, tall cedar trees, and poplars, and laced with flowing streams, your first view of the Middle Atlas will appear oddly un-Moroccan. Passing by Imouzzer, with a quick stop at the Swiss-like town of Ifrane, you will soon come across the first real town of the Middle Atlas, Azrou.

Azrou is an important market center for the region's Berber tribes, located at a major junction of mountain routes. Your driver will take a little detour in a cedar forest to introduce you to one of the oldest inhabitants of this region, the Barbary apes. This may also coincide with the encounter of a nomadic family at its temporary encampment. As nomads are very hospitable people, whenever we encounter them we are all invited at least for a mint tea under their tents.

At Khenifra, the Middle Atlases give way to the High Atlas Mountains, whose peaks are visible through the haze, soaring to over 12,000 feet. You will reach the village of Imilchil in the afternoon. Camp will be set for you. where you will relax and enjoy a Berber dinner in the peaks of the Atlas Mountains.

After breakfast we will take a mild hike to the breath taking plateau des lacs. We shall return to camp for lunch. Afternoon will be devoted to the festival activities among the Berbers. (Camping) Closing Ceremony.

After breakfast, we will take a morning walk in the mountains visiting the Berber nomads in their tents and sipping mint tea with them. Return to Imilchil for lunch. The afternoon is to share the happiness of the newly wed couples in a festive atmosphere with the indigenous Berber in their joyful chants and dances.

Travel in the morning back to Ouarzazate visiting the Dades Valley and continue to Marrakesh across the Tizen=Tichka pass. Dinner is at the hotel.

You will begin your day by traveling to Essaouira (Mogador), a picturesque city with a rich history. With a fascinating antiquity, Essaouira was occupied by the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, supplied essential purple dyes to the Romans, absorbed the sophisticated Jewish arts of silversmith, and spent centuries as a Portuguese enclave.

Despite the obvious influence of these civilizations, Essaouira has managed to remain a small, authentic Berber town. Alive with the breath of fresh air provided by the Atlantic, Essaouira is a jewel nestled in the ragged coast, with a vast expanse of empty sands trailing back along the promontory towards the South. After an introductory tour, you will conclude your day with dinner and other accommodations in your hotel.

The historic visit of Marrakech will include the Menara, a magnificent pool surrounded by flowers, reflecting the image of a beautiful moorish construction built in 1866 for the dignitaries. See glorious sunsets with the Atlas Mountains as a backdrop. Also, the pool is a functional irrigation system to the surrounding areas. The tour will see several impressive sights: The Koutoubia Minaret (the twin tower of la Giralda in Sevilla, Spain), the Saadian tombs demonstrating Moorish architecture in its perfection. The tombs, consisting of splendid mausoleums built in the sixteenth century, were walled for some time, not to be discovered until 1917. Other sites include: the museum of Dar Si Said with the best display of Berber arts and crafts to be found; the remains of the Badii Palace, a historical monument chosen to host the annual National Festival of Popular Art, beginning the second Friday in June. The Bahia Palace still hosts dignitaries in the heart of the Mellah (Jewish quarter) today. Lunch is at the hotel then a walk through the colorful souks of Marrakech in the afternoon. Conclude the day with a sunset drink overlooking the exciting Jamaa El Fna Square. Dinner is at the Hotel.

Day at leisure, relax and reflect or go to the colorful souks of Marrakesh. Farewell dinner at a Shehraman Restaurant

In your last day in Morocco, you will depart for the Casablanca Airport early in the morning. There you will catch a flight back home with a lifetime's worth of memories packed neatly into your suitcase.

  • 10 night accommodation in 4-star hotels (best in Morocco)
  • halal Breakfast and dinner daily
  • Land transportation in chauffeured vehicles
  • Muslim Services of English-speaking guides in major & tour leader throughout
  • Entrance fees to monuments and museums
  • Private camp or Guest house at Imilchil Fair
  • Hotel tax and service charges
  • Rabat: 1 night, Oudaia Hotel
  • Fez: 2 nights, Riad Dar Kenza
  • Imilchil: 3 nights, Camping
  • Marrakech: 3 nights, Hotel El Andalous
  • Tinghir: 1 night, Kasbah Lamrani

WHAT IS INCLUDED

  • 11 Days Land Transportation
  • Accommodation in 4 star Hotels
  • Breakfast and Dinner daily
  • guides and tour manager
  • Fees to monuments museums
  • Taxes and luggage handling
  • Festival Event in Camp
  • Cost per person: $2485.00

WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED

  • Round Trip Flight
  • Tips for Drivers and Guides
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal spending

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Imilchil festival Expedition

We are always available to answer any question you might have about this tour in Morocco (what to wear, weather, security...) or customizing this tour just for you.

info@alcazartours.com