Morocco Stories and Tips

Ait Benhaddou Stop

Ait Benhaddou steps Photo, Morocco, Africa

My group was aware of the long trip ahead for our overnight camel ride tour. What I did not know was the journey itself was part of the thrill of the tour. The van would stop every so often during the almost 200km road trip so the group could stretch their legs and take pictures of the exciting road to Zagora.

Around the third hour of our trip, the van stopped by the ancient town of Ait Benhaddou, a ksar or 'fortified city.' The snaky silver Ourzazarte River breaks the monotony of clay red and brown of the place. More green are also visible which be probably attributed to the presence of water.

Ait Benhaddou is a quite famous location for filming movies. The more famous of these are "Lawrence of Arabia," "The Mummy" and "Gladiator."

It is no wonder that this place is the preferred place for shooting movies. It is like time was trapped in this place. I could imagine myself wearing a colorful tunic with leather sandals leading a herd of goats to the pasture. My impression of Ait Benhaddou is like a sloped clay hill on which houses have been built all over it.

The houses are made from the earth -- consisting of mud, straw and lime -- thus giving the place its reddish color. The doors provide a splash of color, usually in shades of blue.

Going up the hill, the houses along the path can be tourist traps, selling colorful silk cloths, traditional prayer dresses and beautiful paintings. The locals are definitely used to the tourists as they sit by the shops inviting the foreigners to look at their wares, tempting them with beautiful mementos. On top of the hill, one can see houses lining the horizon and the length of the river.

The sight was absolutely breathtaking. For people who have been used to metal skyscrapers and noisy cities, Ait Benhaddou allows you to travel back in time without a machine. It is what I would have imagined the ancient people of the Bible and Q'uran would be living in.

It was unfortunate that we were only given 30 minutes to explore the place. I would have wanted to stay longer and relish the different world that Ait Benhaddou is.

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