Imagine this. You're cruising along through the barren, rocky desert in the back of a dusty Mercedes taxi...no building, no trees, just nothing. After about 10 minutes, you follow the curve around a barren hillside and come across a verdant valley; a true oasis of trickling creeks and date palms and at the center of it all is the spectacular Kasbah Aït Ben Haddou like something out of a fairy tale. It's simply indescribable!
The Kasbah is more or less abandoned excepts for store fronts and a few cafés. You'll arrive in the town itself, but you need to cross the river to get to the Kasbah itself. First, follow the roads in town down to the river to get some amazing views of the Kashab head on, then head towards the concrete bridge (you'll see it) to cross into the Kasbah itself. There's no entry fee and you can explore the Kasbah at your leisure.
I'd suggest winding your way to the very top via the signs that point you along the way. Make your way to the fortified granary atop everything and you'll be rewarded with some simply stunning views of the valley. Then, head down towards the river where the big towers are and you can pay the "owner" (typically a friendly old Moroccan woman who might invite you to have a tea) 10 Dirhams (around $1.20) to enter the buildings. This is the best part, in my opinion. You climb up the winding stairs and explore the various floors, patios, and courtyards with no other tourists around. You feel like Indiana Jones. When you reach the top, you really feel like you're in a different world.
All in all Aït Ben Haddou was probably one of the best things we did in Morocco. It's probably worth the journey in and of itself. For me, it's one of the wonder of the world!
The majority of travelers visiting Morocco decide to experience the desert, usually that in Erfoud where the major tour operators are. The result is that the desert has lost some of its authenticity and has become an actual tourist attraction. There is, however, another semi-unknown place in Morocco where you can experience real Bedouin life in an untouched wilderness free from hordes of tourists: Erg Chegaga. To get to the dunes, you have to first reach the town of M'hamid with the help of some local tour agency. From there, a multi-hour drive over a rocky terrain takes you to a campsite at the foot of the dunes.
If you go during the off-season, you'll most likely have the place to yourself except for the Bedouins accompanying you. Starting from the camp, you can hike a rather grueling half-hour trek through the sand to the highest dune which reaches over 300 meters high. It's from there where you get to enjoy one of the world's most fascinating natural spectacles: the immense sea of desert sand dunes.
The first moment of pure magic comes at sunset when the sun dips below the dunes and the sky is lit up by millions of stars. The authentic feeling along with the sheer beauty of the place makes for a truly memorable experience.
Between Marrakech and Ouarzazate is the atlas. It can be seen from the top of the ridge that divides Morocco, with a stunning view. The peaks are red and arid. Death and wind seems to shout from there. Far away from the last village children that bring herbs to sell that they collected from the mountain. Water appears but not a lot. Palm trees and some grass can be seen around the houses that spring from the sand, as if they were just a continuation of the soil itself.
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Following the narrow track running along the Todra river valley from [poi = 118246] TINEGHIR palm [/ poi] for about 15 km, you will reach the spectacular gorge that was carved by the river. It's only 10 meters wide, but 160 meters high. The place is really impressive and ideal for hiking, trekking or mountain biking. Inside, there are a couple of hotels, but I recommend a little hotel in the Todra Valley (it's pretty good and cheap) because the best thing about this place deep in the earth is the daylight. By car, you can only go so far, past that, you need a 4x4.
The seafront is called the Corniche in French, and borders the long beach of Agadir. It leaves from the Marina, the most luxurious area of the city and runs to the south, which is more authentic. It's a bit like a Rambla, people come just to walk, after a day's work, enjoying an ice cream or eating nuts, but you'll see it's very different from Spain. Young women walk on one side, and the guys on the other side. They barely acknowledge eachother. You also see engaged couples out with parents, or with a family member. The only couples you see alone are married. On the waterfront is where you find all the nightlife spots, bars and nightclubs.
While decidedly not as grandiose and exotic as some other Kasbahs in the region, the Taourirt Kasbah has it's own merit and is definitely worth a visit if you're in Ouarzazate. It's be completely restored and is in (what I can imagine) similar shape as it was in its heyday hundreds of years ago.
It's right at the edge of town and easily reached in a "petiti taxi"...the entrance costs 10 Dirham (around one dollar) and you'll of course be offered plenty of "guided tours," which I'd suggest turning down with a smile and a polite "la shokran" ("no thanks" in Moroccan Arabic). The building itself is like a maze. Each floor is filled with tiny corridors and passageways and multiple staircases, and the fact that many of the rooms are empty or unadorned might lead you to breeze on through. Big mistake. Right when you think there's nothing special, just more empty rooms, you stumble on an amazing chamber with Arabic engravings, gorgeous original tilework, and impressive views of the surrounding Kasbah.
The best rooms, though, are towards the top, and typically farther away from the staircase. If you go during the off season, it's an amazing sensation to be crawling around an ancient adobe palace all by yourself. Really cool place!
Tafraout is a town in southern Morocco, located in a small region called Atlas. It is a region of mountains but quite rich, which lives on tourism, agriculture and receives remittances from immigrants working outside. There are plenty of things to do in Tafraout here, but the peak season is between October and March, when temperatures drop a bit and people come to hike in the surrounding villages. Life is very cheap in town. You can stay for as little as €5 and eat for two or three euros. There are a half dozen hotels, some of them luxurious. There is also a permanent market, but on Sunday they have the largest market when the people from the surrounding villages come. There are also a couple of travel agencies in Tafraout where you can get a guide for hiking and excursions organized by the palmar too.
The market town of Agadir has a Souk which is quite far from the tourist area of the beach and the hotels. It is not in the center in Agadir simply because there is no historical center, the city was completely destroyed by an earthquake in the 60s. The market is on the edge of town, it took a 30 minute walk to get there from the coast. It is a very large space, where you can find everything. There are many craft products, manufactured in the Agadir region, but also in the Atlas and the Sahara. It is well organized so you are not likely to get lost, as in Marrakesh or Fez, and it is fairly easy to locate. It is an obligatory place to buy souvenirs before returning home.
It´s like Alicante but with clean beaches which are tranquil and with a cold ocean. All the hotels are like paradises, with golf fields and views of the ocean. The people speak French, Ingles, Dutch, German, but not Spanish. It´s like a resort that gives you no reason to leave.
It's a great place where there's certainly a desert, but all the desert features a well. Perhaps this is what makes them mysterious. The trail begins Zagora and ends in Merzouga. It's very hard because of the bike we had, but it was an experience. Before doing this kind of adventure, you should assess the complicated route first.
The memorial museum is located in the southeastern part of the gardens of Olhao, in the modern centre of Agadir. It is a museum that recalls the terrible earthquake of 1960, which destroyed the entire city of Agadir, leaving more than 18,000 dead. The city was left abandoned, and the modern city was later reconstructed. The museum has a large collection of photos, showing the city before and after its reconstruction. Admission is 20DH (two euros), and the museum is open every day until five in the afternoon. During the month of Ramadan schedules change to adapt to the meal times. After your visit, you can enjoy the beautiful gardens outside.
In the past, Ouarzazate was a tiny crossing point for African traders who wanted to get to cities in Morocco and Europe. During the French period, Ouarzazate expanded as a city, becoming an administrative center later on.
During our adventure into the south of Morocco and the Merzouga dunes, we visited the Dades Gorges and Todra, which are two narrow canyons that helped the nomads to cross the Atlas mountains. They are places with a special charm but do not forget the wonderful surprises that you'll find on the way.
Agadir is without doubt one of the top tourist cities in Morocco. This is because it has a very quiet atmosphere, a special atmosphere with a western touch, streets lined with palm trees, and spectacular beaches where the sun shines brightly all year long. ALso, being in a very quiet and touristic area, you can find a perfect contrast with other Morroccan cities like Marrakech or Fez, because its interest is in the architecture and historical sites there. In this destroyed city, it is almost non-existant.
Taghazout is a charming fishing village just north of Agadir. You can go with a public bus from Agadir, which does not take long but the bus leaves the overpopulated city and fills-up even more, as if it were possible, on the way there. It is bus number 12 or bus 14 which is taken at the start from the collective taxi station near the Kamal Hotel. The trip costs half a euro, 5 Dh, and I think a bus leaves every half hour. Once there, you have a beautiful beach that is almost empty. Most people come to surf, but you can swim. If you want to longer you can also find a nice town and some hotels.
The Draa River Valley is over 100 kilometres in length, stretching between Ouarzazate and the beginning of the desert. It's a very green valley, with date palms, but a very poor region once you get away from the water, and into the red desert area, but rich enough on the riverbank. I got off the bus to Mahmid to visit this region, around the city of Agdz. Agdz has a campsite and a couple of hotels, but there's a lot of desert influence. The Bedouin cover their faces in a dark blue veil, and the people are darker there than in the north or near the coast. You can stroll through the palm trees, which is nice because trees provide shade and a lower temperature. There's also not a lot of dust, and you can relax with your feet in the water if you want. There are many walking paths, which is how people reach their fields to look after their cattle, goats and sheep, and go home. On the riverbank, you can the Ksar, impressive castles of dry land that served to defend the inhabitants of the region.
If you head south from Agadir, Morocco towards Sidi Ifni, just 10km out you'll find this amazing place where nature shows off her beauty and the water and wind have carved the majestic red stone arches than extend along this sandy beach. It's quiet her, not very touristy...you can really feel the sound of the ocean and it transports you to another world. It's known among nature lovers and surfers, not only for its beauty, but also for its friendliness. The few hostels in the area have only been serving tourists for a short while. If you choose to stay here for a while, you won't forget the feeling of the red mountains bathed in the roar of the surf. The colors of in the morning and at sunset are unique and unforgettable.