Land of a thousand Kasbahs

Sunday, November 6 A thousand Kasbahs

We enjoyed a leisurely start this morning after a really good night’s sleep. It was nice and cool and the bed had super thick, heavy wool blankets.

Stops along the way included scenic views of the valley of a thousand kasbahs (fortresses). It being Berber country, thank you is now saha, rather than the Arabic shokrun or French merci. We passed the largest solar power station in the world. With 323 days a year of sunshine, this is the perfect place for it. In Aït Ben Haddou, Ouarzazate, is the gateway to the Sahara as there’s desert on one side and the High Atlas mountains on the other. They call it the Hollywood of Morocco as several movies were filmed here including Lawrence of Arabia and Indiana Jones. It’s kind of ironic that it rained while we visited.

Our final destination was the Todra Gorge where, after checking into our hotel we set off on a walk. It’s a great place for climbers with it’s sheer cliffs of the red rock that’s found everywhere in Morocco rising a couple of kilometres in the air. The valley is full of fertile farmland where villagers share plots of land growing barley, wheat, corn, alfalfa and other vegetables.

Some of us visited a woman’s cooperative where they weave carpets out of lamb, sheep, goat and camel hair as well as cotton and agave silk.

The donkey knows were to go. His owner caught me taking a photo and wanted money.

The donkey knows where to go. His owner caught me taking a photo and wanted money.

Walking through the village

Walking through the village

Todra gorge

One of many kasbahs along the way

One of many kasbahs along the way. All the buildings are this colour of red.

Nice little camel

Nice little camel

Woman's cooperative

Woman’s cooperative

Ait Ben Haddou

Located in the foothills on the southern slopes of the High Atlas in the Province of Ouarzazate, the site of Ait-Ben-Haddou is the most famous ksar in the Ounila Valley. The Ksar of Aït-Ben-Haddou is a striking example of southern Moroccan architecture. The ksar is a mainly collective grouping of dwellings. Inside the defensive walls which are reinforced by angle towers and pierced with a baffle gate, houses crowd together – some modest, others resembling small urban castles with their high angle towers and upper sections decorated with motifs in clay brick – but there are also buildings and community areas. It is an extraordinary ensemble of buildings offering a complete panorama of pre-Saharan earthen construction techniques.

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