The ancient village of Ait BenHaddou is one of the most memorable sites in the arid south, a mesmerising example of ancestral architecture.
The Ksar is a fortified city upon a dramatic hillside on the east bank of the river. The modern village stands on the west bank, enjoying a clear view, across the bed of the river, of the stunning old village, where some families still live in their ancestral homes.
The Ksar (a group of kasbahs) consists of a group of packed-earth, sun baked brick buildings built entirely of local organic material formed on site, and thanks to the peculiarity of this majestic fortified village UNESCO sponsored it in its world’s heritage list. These buildings, which were mostly houses, are surrounded by high walls and the defensive function of the walls was reinforced by the construction of corner towers.
Apart from the domestic buildings, there were also public structures, including a mosque, a caravanserai, a sanctuary of a local saint, and a public square.
The more you climb into the Ksar, the more respect you feel for the energy invested in this beautiful sun kissed assembly of human craftsmanship and resilience, facing one of the most incredible views on this valley. Thus, the collection of buildings in the Ksar is a unique showcase of the various pre-Saharan earthen construction techniques, it is no secret that the place has been slightly restored on its outside shell for some Hollywood productions.
Merzouga is a village in the Sahara Desert right on the dune line of Erg Chebbi which is an area of sand dunes up to 500feet high. Access is 25miles from Rissani renowned for its souk.
Khamlia is a village in Erg Chebbi Dunes where you can visit and listen to the music of the Gnaoua, descendants of sub-Saharan slaves. In spring, there is the opportunity to see pink flamingos on the large lake of Merzouga at the foot of the dunes, a fascinating place where the nomads bring their camels to drink and graze.
Erg Chebbi is Morocco’s most popular camel trek and desert camping experience and there are several camps here including our favourite – Tiziri Camp which is the first ECO camp in the area.
In the south of Morocco, M’hamid is the last town before the desert starts and is safe and friendly with cafe’s, shops and hotels.
At 450km (7.5hrs) from Marrakech, it is in quite a remote spot and this is part of the reason why it is a lot less commercialised than Merzouga.
The town is the base for organised desert treks and we offer those via Walking with Nomads . This is a high quality, authentic desert experience.
For more information about the places to visit in this area check out this blog – Best 10 Places to Visit in M’Hamid Desert
The name of this town means without noise. It is the largest Saharan town (city) in Morocco, a main crossroads of the South and an excellent stopping point en-route from Marrakech to the desert.
It was created as a French Foreign Legion Garrison town and it is thanks to its location, not its looks that it holds the important tourism position that it does. Famous for its huge movie studios and well known for its carpets and pottery.
The Skoura Oasis runs along a tributary of the river Drâa, the Oued Ameridil. An extraordinary and extensive palmery, with a confusing maze of criss-cross tracks winding through the landscape to a number of scattered kasbahs.
The most wonderful of which is Kasbah Ameridil which is featured on the fifty dirham note. This 17th century kasbah is a living museum and contains some amazing artefacts.
A modern Berber market town in the Draa Valley.
Zagora is dominated by a mountain from which it takes its name and from which you can see the sand dunes beyond. At the top of the mountain are the remains of an Almoravid fortress.
An authentic trading town, there was a well known sign here stating Tombouctou 52 days. This is referring to the time it was supposed to take to get to Timbuktu, Mali by camel.
Zagora has a twice weekly market and fairly relaxed feel although tourists are likely to find themselves hassled. The town is lined with cafes serving excellent local food and North African atmosphere.
Here you will see the local men dressed in the famous blue robes of the desert and within a one mile walk you will be in the palm oasis Amazrou.