You will be satisfied when you have Ait-Benhaddou trip. As you will discover Ouarzazate which may look familiar to many, having featured in numerous Hollywood films such as Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Gladiator (2000) and The Mummy (1999). It’s not hard to see why. The town and its surroundings are incredibly scenic, sprawling over a dramatic natural plateau, and bordered by the Atlas Mountains and the desert.
The town itself is notable for its numerous examples of beautiful Berber kasbahs, including the Ait-Benhaddou, Atlas Studios, where Morocco is transformed into a mini-Egypt with the sets and props from many of the area’s most famous films.
Just north of Ouarzazate the countryside dominates. The nature is not poor, but does offer good conditions for agriculture. Rivers from the nearby mountain ranges are the main source for this, but as this picture shows, rain also come during the winter season.
This is not a natural lake, but something as surprising as surplus water in Sahara. The Barrage el-Mansour Eddahbi stretches for kilomtres to the east of Ouarzazate Nightlife.
Despite being slighty scorned by certain traveller’s guide books, the kasbah Ait-Benhaddou near Ouarzazate stands out as an exquisite example of how to take care of one’s heritage with style. The entrance is clearly a bit on the clean and proper side, as if it was prepared for a foreign filmtake – something that happens quite a lot actually. Among the better spots for making movies would be near the beautiful Palace of Glaoui on the highest point.
But as soon as you enter the interior, it is packed by people that live here, enjoy it, and who only get help to keep up the standards through a governmental action every fourth year. The red-brown walls are continuously smouldering so that you get a feeling that this is the real thing.
Seeing the kasbah of Ait-Benhaddou from the other side of the river is a great experience. Through a frame of the palm branches you see the structurers of the kasbah slightly bending and stretching to the sky. All in all it could remind you of Yemen, an impression that is helped by the white painting around windows on some of the houses.
Lunch and breakfast to 13H is a moment of happiness. Hospitality and discretion are the watchwords of the Berber people.
Then we followed a track to reach the village of Ait Ben Haddou.
We then visit the Ksar World Heritage by Unesco, and spend the night in Ouarzazat or Ait-Benhaddou.
Departure: 10am. Back to Marrakech.