town in Morocco

Asni is a small town in the foothills of the High Atlas mountains in Morocco. It is about an hour's drive from Marrakech.

UnderstandEdit

As the town is on both the routes into and around the Atlas mountains, there is a steady drift of tourists, and hence the place is full of hustlers. For a more peaceful stay near the Atlas mountains, carry on up the road to the more attractive Imlil.

Weather in Asni during the summer (2008):

  • Max temperature of ~45°C (113°F) around 13:30
  • Min temperatureof ~15°C (60°F) around 05:00, before sunrise.
  • Rain: Very rare. Sometimes short, sharp downpours of dirty rain in the afternoons or thunderstorms.
  • Sun: Very intense. It's so much cooler in the shade (hard to find with the sun so high in the sky!). Causes perpetual sweat (despite low-ish humidity): at least 3 litres of water needed during a day spent outside.

Get inEdit

 
Map of Asni

It takes about 1 hr to get from Marrakech to Asni. There are buses from Gare Routière or Jardin Sidi Mimoun which ostensibly leave every 30 min.

A slightly quicker way is to take a petit taxi to the out-of-town grand taxi 'park' (15 dirham. If you're better at haggling you can get this lower, if you care about a few pence.). From there, a grand taxi will take you to Asni for 15 dirham per person. Don't get ripped off taking a taxi straight from the airport!

Get aroundEdit

Asni describes both the small village where the grand taxis drop you and the wider valley, however if we just consider the village: it is split into two parts. The commercial area, down by the main road. Here there are shops lined up on either side of the road. Behind the shops up a slope to the south(?) a short distance is the residential part of the village, consisting of 50 or so houses.

Walking on foot is the way to get around (as the village is only a few hundred metres wide).

SeeEdit

This village has little to see. Old mud-brick houses seem amazing the first time you seem them, but you'll see more, higher up in the mountains, without all the touts and conmen. Compared to Imlil and Marrakech, Asni is noticeably less touristy and therefore is more like the 'real' Morocco whilst still offering all the amenities needed to stay there. It is, however, neither as picturesque as Imlil nor better located for visiting the Atlas. If you are looking for a base from which to explore deep into the Atlas, Asni's a bit too far north.

DoEdit

For many people there's little to do here beyond buying food and water, and leaving. Okay, that's a bit harsh. Asni has many hammam (bath houses), which would have been nice after long walks in the day. There's also an internet cafe (6 dirham/hr: bargain!)

BuyEdit

There are maybe 20 or 30 tiny shops in Asni, mostly selling exactly the same things. Food, water (probably a really good idea if you're planning to head further into the mountains. Bottled water gets more expensive the further you get from Marrakech? And if you feel like being conned, there are loads of really naff trinkets being sold by hustlers. Hustlers are out to get you. They'll invite you to their house, give you lots of mint tea and sell you an excellent but massively overpriced meal (50 dirham each for couscous). They become really pushy when the inevitable "silver" bangles come out. They spend all day waiting around the cafe opposite the petrol station. Sunglasses allow you to avoid making eye-contact.

The weekly market (Saturdays) is big. Traders travel for hours and hours to get there. However, Marrakech probably has everything you can buy here, at a lower price.

EatEdit

  • There are a couple of cafes on the main street mainly selling tagine: It's quite nice.
  • Rounds of bread, eggs and cigarettes all cost 1 dirham each.
  • Fruit and vegetables: from a couple of stalls, really fresh stuff, amazing flavour: e.g. 5 dirham/kg for potatoes
  • There are a few butchers and several places to buy a chicken (alive or dead)
  • Tinned foods and sauces are sold in most shops

There no cheese (except 'Laughing Cow') and although they sell milk, it's already curdled before you buy it.

DrinkEdit

  • Water: bottled water (1.5 litre bottles) can be bought at most shops. Some shops have fridges, and therefore sell cold water! The locals drink the tap water with no problem, but foreigners should drink just small amounts at first to get used to it. The water in Asni is far better than in Marrakech.
  • Soft Drinks: Coke, Fanta, Sprite, cost around 7 dirham for a litre bottle, and can be bought from a fridge too.
  • Alcohol: it's legal, but there's nowhere to buy it in Asni!

SleepEdit

There is one hostel and one hotel (The hotel has closed down, but the hostel is open for business).

  • 1 Auberge Jeunesse d'Asni (Asni Youth Hostel), +212 4-447713. It's very basic but has everything essential. The owners, Omar and Fatima, are very welcoming and friendly although they speak almost no English. A typical dorm comprises: a few metal bunkbeds (with mattresses, mattress covers and pillows), a concrete floor, a tin roof, walls, an electric light, a power socket, a lockable door, and a window, nothing else. There are 2 showers to use free of charge, and the water's perfect in the evening after being heated by the sun during the day. There's a delightful selection of 4 squat toilets in the outhouse (bring your own toilet paper). For water, there's a tap outside and another in the 'kitchen' to get fresh, drinkable water. Also in the kitchen is a sink and a massive table (but no means to cook anything if you don't bring your own stove). Ask Omar nicely to use his freezer. There's a large garden area with plenty of shade under a canopy of trees, outdoor lighting, and plenty of garden chairs knocking about to sit on. The hostel's really peaceful, secluded and shaded compared to the noise, bustle and heat of the town. This place is great: stay there! 30 dirham/person/night.
  • 2 Kasbah Tamadot, +212 24 36 82 00. Sir Richard Branson's new luxury Moroccan retreat is in Asni. It has 19 rooms and suites.
  • Dar Tassa, Douar Tassaouirgane (Near Marigha, in the serene mountain setting of National Park, just over an hour's drive south of Marrakech in a hamlet accessed by a track), +212 5 24484312. Check-in: 13:30, check-out: noon. Eco-friendly and cosy guest house. Built in traditional Berber style with traditional materials, it enjoys with stunning views from the picture window in the lounge and from the large roof terrace. The owners actively support eco tourism and local conservation projects. The seven suites and rooms are arranged around a spacious living/dining room with fountain. The cosy bedrooms are decorated with warm colours and Berber furnishings and have heating and air conditioning. There are three suites with double beds (extra bed possible) with en suite bathrooms, two doubles with shared bathrooms and two twins/singles with shared bathrooms. €35.

Go nextEdit

  • To get back to Marrakech take a minibus or a grand taxi. Taxis back to Marrakech are in general more expensive than coming here. This is because people often travel through the mountains, so there are fewer people coming back to Marrakech.
  • To go on up into the mountains, please read the Imlil page.


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