Excursion from Marrakech to Ouarzazate and Ait Benhaddou.
Slip away from Marrakesh and head over the High Atlas Mountains to explore the picture-perfect ancient fortified towns of Telouet, Ait Benhaddou, and Ouarzazate.
Leaving Marrakesh, the snow covered peaks of the High Atlas Mountains will slowly become more and more visible.
Driving higher and higher, we will encounter the numerous winding switchbacks of the Tizi n’Tichka mountain pass, a marvel of modern engineering and design. At 2,260m above sea level, we will stop at the crest of the Tizi n’Tichka to gaze at the surrounding mountaintops.
Going down the other side of the High Atlas Mountains, we will veer off the main road to discover the traditional village of Ait Benhaddou, before continuing to the city of Ouarzazate, all famous for their distinct mudbrick architecture and preserved fortified town centers (Kasbah).
It’s of historic interest to note that all these towns grew powerful with the boom of trans-Saharan trade in the Middle Ages that linked Marrakesh to the sub-Saharan kingdoms; notable among them, Timbuktu.
Returning to the mountain road, we will cruise slowly through the Asif Ounila valley and gaze at the dozens of traditional Amazigh villages lining the valley cliffs. Just say the word and we’ll stop for pictures.
After about a 45 minute drive, we’ll arrive at the village of Ait Benhaddou, an important UNESCO sight in the region.
With its many towers and traditional houses, Ait Benhaddou stands as the most striking example of the pre-Saharan architecture of southern Morocco.
We can have lunch at one of the excellent restaurants overlooking Air Benhaddou.
Our last stop today will be in the capital of southern Morocco, Ouarzazate.
Like Telouet and Ait Benhaddou, Ouarzazate boasts an important fortified center, the Taourirt Kasbah.
Taking full advantage of southern Morocco’s beautiful desert landscapes, these studios have contributed to Hollywood blockbusters, such as The Mummy, Gladiator, and Lawrence of Arabia, just to name a few.
If you’d like, we can visit either the cinema museum, or even one of the studios.
At the end of the long day, we will take a more direct route back to Marrakesh to get you to your accommodations as quickly as possible.