The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.Sir Richard Burton
After an exciting trip to the Berber villages, it was time to see more of the Atlas Mountains and one of the world’s most unique heritage site – Ait Ben Haddou.
We left early from our Riad in Marrakech as it was supposed to be quite a long drive and a long day. We soon were away from the city limits of Marrakech winding our way up the Atlas Mountains. We had the best company with our guide – Rasheed who spoke on various topics about Morocco including the monarchy, education system, politics, Islam and other interesting subjects.
The landscape changes dramatically from dusty barren land to rolling hills. Its truly a hard life for the natives here – Barren land, incomplete houses, dried up river beds and those faces telling a million hardships define the state of life in Morocco at the moment.
Soon we take a pit stop to relax and take in some fresh mint tea before the road gets more steep and we start climbing the famous Tizi-N-Tichika pass at 2260 meteres.
Soon we passed the Tizi-N-Tichika pass – luckily no thought of motion sickness till now!
As I said earlier, the drive is quite a lot but all worth it. The heat can really get to you at times but that’s Morocco for you. After a long drive, we were close to the famous Ait Ben Haddou when we stopped for another pit stop including camel ride looking over a valley and a Kasbah below on a dried river bed.
Read our Travel tips for Morocco which can come very handy – Click here.
Finally, we made our way to the famous Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou, the fortified clay city listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. This mud brick Ksar seems absolutely frozen in time still resembling its glorious days in the 11th century. The Ksar of Aït-Ben-Haddou is a striking example of southern Moroccan architecture.
We cross the river and made our way inside this beautiful UNESCO protected site. I was left spell bound at this awe sticking beauty. And being a movie buff myself, it was more a pilgrimage as it has featured in numerous movies from Lawrence of Arabia, Jesus of Nazareth and of course the Gladiator. This is a collective group of dwellings inside the defensive walls. And to our surprise we were told there are still two families which stay inside these walls!
Studded with crenelated towers and decorated with geometrical patterns, it is truly one of the world’s cultural treasures. Truly felt like a Arab trader in the Saharan desert.
We then made our way for a much needed Lunch as it was almost 3PM and we were quite hungry. There is nothing much to gloat about the lunch except for that it was way too pricey for Moroccan standards – “Touristy”!
Read more about our list of the top things to do in Marrakech – Click here
Post lunch we head to Ouarzazate, which marks the beginning of the Sahara desert. Morocco offers a solution to the Hollywood studios who want to shoot films that are set in the Middle East, but in an environment which would seem to them much safer and hence Ouarzazate is known as the “Hollywood of Africa”
We passed quite few movie studios on the way and reached the quite town of Ouarzazate famous for grandiose Taourirt Kasbah which belonged to the Lords of the Atlas, the Glaoui family.We decided not to visit the Kasbah and just see from the outside and instead chose to visit the movie museum/studio which was well worth it to see various sets and know more about the movies shot here.
Finally we made our way back to Marrakech after a day well spend.
Read more about our Morocco visit– Click here.
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