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4 min.

There are places whose uniqueness inevitably leaves you speechless and make you fantasize, and the Kasbah of the High Atlas of Morocco is a perfect example.

In about four hours drive from Marrakech, the trip to Ouarzazate is a great classic proposed by all travel agencies in town, and it actually truly deserves it. Personally, I recommend you opt for renting a car and staying overnight in one of the traditional Kasbah in the Vallée des Roses.

Ouarzazate e dintorni

Heading south, already a few kilometers outside the center of Marrakech, you will find yourself in another world … the houses are turned into makeshift huts often semi-ruined, but still inhabited. Poverty becomes tangible, and the beauty of nature amazing.

The landscape changes several times from dry and dusty to lush, merchants of souvenir on the roadside appear every few turns, and shepherds with their flocks are a constant and colorful presence.

Ouarzazate e dintorni

Another landscape leitmotif is the cooperatives huts wanted by the current King Mohammed VI to ensure minimum economic independence for women in the Atlas.

Some are dedicated to processing argan nut and other weaving, and producing traditional carpets and leaving them without shopping is really tough. In addition to introducing the literacy of the members, both types of cooperatives have enabled to offer nurseries and gynecological and pediatric principals in rural areas.

In short, a good project that deserves the support of the tourists that go over there, and then it comes to high-quality products.

Ouarzazate e dintorni

After two hours of uphill bends, you reach the Col du Tichka at over 2000 meters. The 360-degree panorama is spectacular, as noteworthy is the drop in temperature if you go out of season as I did the first time.

Keep in mind that at the end of November, I left Marrakech at 7 am with about 28 °, and when I stopped for a break to drink a cup of mint tea and eat some gazelle near the Col, it was 10 °. Needless to say, I had not expected it, and my clothing wasn’t appropriate for that freezing temperature!

Halfway between the Col and Ouarzazate, I recommend a stop at the Kasbah Télouet, named Palais du Glaoui, named after the Pasha Thami El Glaoui who enlarged and made it spectacular. It seems that to achieve what for him was decorative perfection, he set to work 300 workers that took three years to decorate ceilings and walls.

With his death in the ’50s, the Kasbah Télouet was abandoned, also because he was considered a traitor by the Moroccan people. El Glaoui, in fact, was a big supporter of the French government during the occupation, and once Morocco obtained independence, this position could only make him persona non grata …

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The building is located just outside the small village of Télouet, where it’s easy to find a guide that for a few dirhams will open you the doors of the building and take you for a walk around the village, telling you its history and traditions.

I met Malik near the public oven in the village while chatting with his mother, cooking batbout and delicious Moroccan bread. Malik told me that Télouet has always been considered a strategic village in the Atlas because of the passage of caravans of merchants not far from the salt mines.

Ouarzazate e dintorni

Ouarzazate e dintorni

What to tell you of the palace? Without question, the most beautiful fortress I’ve ever seen! Of course, the towers and the outer walls are not very well preserved, but the interior rooms and the many terraces and courtyards still recall an unimaginable luxury.

The building meets the typical fees in pisè, an amalgam of mud, straw, and pebbles. You can still see engravings representatives Berber motifs on the walls, while the interior walls are finished with stucco, zellige, and gorgeous inlaid moucharabia.

Wander among the apartments of the concubines of the Pasha and the boardroom with Moorish arches on the windows has been a special experience, and it would have been impossible not to imagine scenes from novels …

IMG_1285 Ouarzazate e dintorni

Unwillingly I left the citadel of Télouet. A few kilometers further, I reached the most famous and externally flawless Kasbah Ait Benhaddou, a fairytale sandcastle, amid almond trees, streams, and dunes. Awe-inspiring and aptly chosen as the location for several Hollywood movie productions and designated UNESCO world heritage.

Ouarzazate e dintorni

A single Berber tribe now inhabits the fortress made up of a few dozen people, who assist to the flow of tourists who replaced the legendary sub-Saharan merchant caravans trading gold and ivory … I felt a little discomfort in the historical heart of the village because I do not know how much benefit brings the horde of barbarians which alas I’m part of visiting certain realities.

Passing by without stopping is impossible, and that the beauty of this citadel is breathtaking!

Another Kasbah is the one in Taourirt. It was certainly very nice, but it was expropriated to transform it into a tourist resort depriving it of its charm, not to mention its soul … it’s like a small amusement park, and I was very saddened.

Ouarzazate e dintorni Ouarzazate e dintorni

The penultimate stage of this small periplus in Ouarzazate in the Dades valley. One of the gates of the Moroccan desert, the border between farmland and barren and stony land, this small town was founded by the French in 1928 but reached fame only recently when the government decided to establish the headquarters of the Moroccan cinema.

Visiting Ouarzazate and the Morocco High Atlas

  • I rented a car at Mandolin Travel in Boulevard Zohra in Marrakech, very close to the Koutoubia. Between car and gasoline, I have spent 760 dirhams.
  • I stayed at the Kasbah Itran outside Ouarzazate, in the Vallee de Roses. I recommend you visit their website because the photo gallery speaks for itself … having said that, it’s really a magical place. The Berber family Taghda manages it deserves respect and admiration for the work done daily and the undertaken project.

Ouarzazate e dintorni

Bon voyage !

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Silvia's Trips

Hi there! My name is Silvia and after 15 years between the Paris Opera and the Palau de les Arts in Valencia I now run a boutique hotel in Cinque Terre, deal with tourism management and blogging, sail, horse-ride, play guitar and write about my solo trips around the world. For more info about me and my travel blog check my full bio.