Our day trip from Marrakech to Ait Benhaddou and Telouet is best for Kasbah architecture, Atlas Mountains views and a taste of the Grand Sud.
UNESCO Ait Benhaddou site, Atlas Mountains, pasha's palace at Telouet, Fint oasis and film studios in Ouarzazate can be included in this day tour.
Leaving Marrakech behind, our journey encounters beautiful scenery and small villages built in tiers succeeding among oak trees, walnut groves and oleander bushes. The road snakes up before arriving at the spectacular Tizi n Tichka pass. We are now at 2260 meters high. Once over the pass a totally different landscape is unveiled: the lunar landscape of the Anti Atlas and the plain beyond it. Scent of thyme from the bushes around fills the air.
Just after the pass, our itinerary turns left and we find ourselves on the ancient route caravans used to bring the much sought- after goods at the court of the Sultan. We soon reach Telouet. The ruins of the pasha's palace dominate the village, a fortified citadel that is both a microcosm of an empire and its demise. He had managed to overshadow the sultan by controlling most of nowadays Morocco and decided to erect a palace in the middle of nowhere, where his family had originated from. He had employed the most skilled artisans to build and decorate his main residence and, in its golden age, armies, stables and Christian slaves were confined within its walls while a flourishing Jewish community managed the nearby salt mines.
Leaving Telouet behind, the trip crosses spaghetti western backgrounds to then meet the canyon. The gardens by the river bed melt into a gigantic green serpent imprisoned between the brown ridges, only to escape out into the horizon. The road follows the green serpent and on the other side, carved into the wall of the canyon, grottoes are still being used for keeping the stock or grains over the winter by the semi nomadic people of the area. Here and there, decaying kasbahs stand witnesses of an age soon resolute.
Late afternoon. Then is the time to visit Ait Benhaddou, the postcard- like UNESCO adobe citadel. A fat, red sun, only underlines the beige tones of the mud and straws mixture and through the covered passages and stone walls, the past filters itself into the present. In spite of the local ‘guides’, the best is to just lose yourselves in its alleyways. There is always a new way to reach its peak, from where the snowcapped Atlas Mountains will steal your breath away. If the climb up hadn’t already. Half hour later, our trip crosses Ouarzazate, made famous by its film studios where recently scenes of 'Game of Thrones' were shot. With this background, you may want to ride a camel along the kasbah's walls, by the river bed. Further away, the Oasis of Fint is a great example of life within an oasis.
We will then start our way back crossing the High Atlas, this time on the national road, once a camel track that was turned into a proper road suitable for vehicles in the 1030's with the help of the French Foreign Legion. The excursion serpents its way past abrupt valleys and mountain peaks to descend onto Marrakech later in the evening.
You are free to choose your time of departure. However, in order to make the best out of your day out, we recommend leaving no later than 8 AM. Forecasted return time in Marrakech is 7- 8 PM.
PRICE.............................................................................................. 75 EUROS PER PERSON ( BASED ON 2 PERSONS SHARING THE VEHICLE). DISCOUNTS APPLY FOR 3 OR MORE PERSONS.
The rate includes: private ( sole use) of the modern air conditioned Toyota 4x4 and the English fluent driver- guide, entrance fees to all sites and monuments, refreshing drinks inside the vehicle, pick up and drop off from/ to the hotel/ Riad and transport insurance.