By Mike McHugo
Imlil is increasingly turning back to normality and the apple harvest is in full swing in the valley. I met tourists from Yorkshire, Australia, New Zealand and Colombia yesterday who were walking on the path that goes past the Kasbah.
Yesterday (19th September) the muleteer association went to the base camp of Toubkal and repaired all the mules paths which are essential to life in the valleys. Jbel Toubkal summit is now open and the mountain refuge huts are due to open on the 1st October.
Here are a few pictures:
“If tourists stop traveling to Morocco it will have a huge impact on the livelihoods of the people and businesses that rely on them – visitors bring with them hope of recovery."
Owner of El Fenn Hotel, Marrakech
Morocco is a big country, almost twice the size of the UK. The disaster of the recent earthquake mainly affected the mountains and valleys of the High Atlas and parts of Marrakech, but most of the country is unchanged. Anything you could have enjoyed before Friday 8th of September you can enjoy equally now, more so perhaps because you know that your holiday spends are benefitting the community as a whole. “The last thing the Moroccans want is to be hit by an earthquake and then hit by an economic downturn,” says Mike McHugo.
So why should you go to Morocco?
To read more, please download our PDF, Why should you visit Morocco? (PDF)
In the confusion of media reporting of the terrible destruction caused by the earthquake on Friday 8th there was inevitable confusion, especially as some of the higher mountain roads are still un-passable. Rumours have spread that Imlil suffered major damage resulting in death, and that Kasbah du Toubkal, perched as it is on the top of a hill, was almost destroyed. But as one of the founders, Chris McHugo, who himself was there when the quake struck, says, “The new build prevailed, but the older walls failed.”
“It’s mainly the oldest part of the building where the dining room is that sustained most damage and will have to be rebuilt,” said Mike McHugo, who was also at the hotel at the time, “but all the bedrooms and newer buildings seem fine. Thankfully, because the earthquake struck late at night, all the guests and staff had left the dining room when it struck. They were in their rooms, which weren’t damaged. No-one was hurt at all.”
Here are a few pictures. The tower is not damaged. We hope to have more photos soon. [ continued below ]
The Kasbah is closed until further notice but it most certainly will be back. “We’ll build it bigger and better,” said Gilly McHugo, Mike’s wife, “with maybe a panoramic window with that wonderful view where the hole is now at the back of the dining rooms.”
While the Kasbah itself will be closed until further notice, Imlil and the Imlil Valley escaped much of the devastation that other villages have suffered. From October we will be running trips to our sister properties Dar Imlil and Village du Toubkal in Imlil village, and to our Trekking Lodge in the beautiful Azzaden Valley.
If you would like to download this update to redistribute, it is available as a PDF. Please click here to download.
By Mike McHugo
The Kasbah is closed until further notice.
The road to Imlil has now been opened and electricity and telecoms are back in Imlil, which is not bad, just a little over three days after the quake.
Imlil in many ways has considerably less damage than the worst hit villages that you are seeing on your TV. See these pictures taken yesterday (12th September) of the Imlil area. [ continued below ]
Why is this? It's because most houses have used reinforced concrete during their construction as Imlil is a relatively rich area. Where did these funds to construct more stable buildings come from? The answer is tourism, which can clearly be a huge source of positive development.
Yes, some buildings in Imlil have some structural damage and the old part of Kasbah du Toubkal (where the dining room is located) has been damaged, but all the bedrooms around the Kasbah site have held up well, which is why there were no injuries to our guests; they were all in bed at the time the quake struck.
I continue to be touched by the many messages of empathy and support from past visitors to our Kasbah.
Many of you have been asking about the Education For All girls. The new term had not yet started so the girls were not in the EFA houses but were in fact in their homes. Many of these homes would have been close to the epicentre and their houses are sadly of poor quality, so we fear there may be sad news from some of these villages. Please look at the EFA social media for updates on EFA. Links can be found on their homepage here: https://www.efamorocco.org/
Thank you for your support and well wishes.
All at Kasbah du Toubkal and Discover
By Mike McHugo who was at the Kasbah the night of the quake
The earthquake that hit Morocco is a major national disaster and our thoughts go out to the many who have lost friends and family.
Whilst our Kasbah du Toubkal was close to the epicentre and has suffered some damage, we are pleased to let you know that all our staff and guests are safe and unhurt and have now left the Kasbah.
The Kasbah is closed until further notice.
There is no electricity, phone or internet and the road to Imlil is currently closed but there is hope this will reopen on Sunday. We currently have very limited telecommunications with Imlil.
Mike McHugo and his brother Chris were both at the Kasbah during the earthquake and we shall update this button as soon as we have relevant information to give you.
If you would like to donate more generally to the effort, please kindly consider making a donation to the British Moroccan Society (BMS) charity who have set up an urgent appeal for donations to support those in immediate need. BMS has worked for decades with local associations across Morocco and with a particular focus on the Atlas Mountains in the Al Haouz region around Marrakech. The BMS is a British Charity, Registered Number 1111793, and donations by UK tax payers are eligible for GiftAid.
Here is the link to their Gofundme campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/f/british-moroccan-society-earthquake-appeal
The second option is more specifically to donate to the charity we ourselves support, Education For All (EFA). As many of you know, EFA provides the opportunity of a secondary education for girls from the High Atlas Mountain region by building and running boarding houses for girls. Sadly, all of the houses have suffered much damage as a result of the earthquake and will most likely need to be totally rebuilt. The lack of accommodation will undoubtedly have a devastating effect on the education of the girls as you can imagine.
Here is the link to the EFA campaign https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/earthquake-crisis-appeal/