Where to from Marrakesh?
From Marrakesh, we were offered several options where to go. We could go west to the sea, south to the mountains or east to the desert. The desert near the town of Merzouga, almost 600 km from Marrakesh, won as the most attractive option. A journey that will take us several days and stops at interesting destinations. And the first of them is the famous village of Ait Benhaddou.
Road to Ait Benhaddou
The road to Ait Benhaddou is about 200 km long and the navigation shows us that it will take us about 3.5 hours. It’s already clear that we won’t be able to do it under 7 hours. We are also worried about the ongoing Ramadan, whether we will be able to find places where we can eat on the way. Fears are ultimately unfounded, we meet enough open restaurants along the way and the road makes more wrinkles on our foreheads. It is being reconstructed to a greater extent, which slows us down significantly. In return, however, Morocco rewards us with beautiful views, thanks to which the journey stretches even more endlessly. We stop every 5 minutes and enjoy ourselves.
Risk is profit
Towards the end of the trip, we managed to make one risky decision, for which we were incredibly grateful. Originally, we had planned accommodation just outside the city, but when we asked if they had any food in the accommodation, they didn’t show much, far and wide nothing in the city.
About Ait Benhaddou
Ait Benhaddou is a traditional Moroccan fortress and settlement located at the confluence of a river and a dry river bed. This place is located at the crossroads of the roads leading from Marrakesh to the desert. Ait Benhaddou is built at the foot of a hill and consists of many small houses made of straw and mud, which are connected by narrow streets.
This unique place is known for its history and was even declared a UNESCO cultural heritage. Ait Benhaddou is an exceptional example of traditional Moroccan architectural style and represents an important historical and cultural monument.
In the past, Ait Benhaddou was an important trading center that served as a key point for caravan trade between the Sahara and Marrakesh. Today, this place is a popular tourist center that attracts visitors from all over the world who come here to see the local sights, taste the local cuisine and experience the atmosphere of a traditional Moroccan city.
Gladiator and Lawrence of Arabia
In 1987, Ait Benhaddou became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has since become a popular location for filmmakers and tourists alike. Many Hollywood films and series such as Gladiator, Star Wars, The Mummy, Lawrence of Arabia, Prince of Persia and Game of Thrones have used the beautiful surrounding landscape and architecture of Ait Benhaddou as a backdrop for their scenes.
We also managed to barter with a Moroccan merchant. We needed a headscarf to fit in and keep our hair from burning in the heat, and the salesman liked my sunglasses. We argued for a long time about how much we would pay for valuable scarves to go with his glasses, but in the end the deal was successfully completed. After a few days and some messy deals later, we found out that the scarves cost much less than what we paid for them, the glasses not the glasses 🙂 But the process of haggling and trading, when both sides smile after the deal is done, is a priceless experience. Where is Mastercard digging 🙂
Ait Benhaddou is also the place where we learned the zoom from the Asians. A video shot I’ve enjoyed practicing ever since. It’s good to learn from people who know what they’re doing 🙂