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The Road of the Kasbahs (Morocco)

The Road of the Kasbahs (Morocco)

The Road of the Kasbahs is often times neglected from tours, which comes to prove that sometimes the closer we are to things, the more foreign they seem to us, right? Here you have some tips for travelling to this amazing area in Morocco, which is sure to leave a mark on you.

What’s the best way to get to the Road of the Kasbahs?

The best way to get to this area in Morocco is flying into Marrakech. It won’t be hard to find flights under 50 euros –depending on the dates you want to fly in– or even for less, and then rent a car there.

Although you can go from Marrakesh to Ait Ben Haddou by public transport or hire a tour with a travel agency, our recommendation is that, if you have a couple of days to spend, you rent a car, mainly for the freedom of not having to stick to a schedule and the possibility of moving around easily.

Driving around Morocco, despite what you might think, is not that difficult and it will grant you access to all those places you can’t go to if you are using public transport.

From Marrakesh, you should head to Ait Ben Haddour, which is usually the first stop in the Road of the Kasbahs, calling at Tizi-n-Tichka, the highest mountain pass in Morocco, with 2,260 metres. Don’t be surprised when you have to drive through a narrow but well paved road for at least 3-4 hours, depending on traffic.

We have to warn you though, that it is possible that you GPS estimates less time, but we know for a fact that this stretch will take you a bit longer.

Once in Tizi-n-Tichka, where you can make a pit stop, you just have to go down the road for an hour and a half longer to arrive to Ait Ben Haddou, the first highlight of this incredible route.

Imagen de Ait Ben Haddou, en la Ruta de las Kasbahs

What are the mandatory stops in the Road of the Kasbahs?

  • Tizi-n-Tichka

Even though it is not part of the Road of the Kasbahs, if you come here by car from Marrakesh, you’ll have to pass by it whether you like it or not. Just as we were mentioning earlier, Tizi-n-Tichka is the highest mountain pass in Morocco and also the perfect place to make a stop and stretch your legs, have a look around the shops and grab a bite. There is a restaurant on the top floor of one of the shops (you’ll only find this one, so it is hard to miss), where you can try the Berber omelette, which we can guarantee you will never forget.

Imagen de Tizi-n-Tichka, en la Ruta de las Kasbahs

  • Ait Ben Haddou

The kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou is one of the most photographed enclaves in Morocco. It just takes looking at a picture to understand it, for stepping here is like being part of a fairy tale you’ll never want to leave.

A small path, ending in the river, which you will have to cross using an improvised bridge made out of sand bags, will lead you to the best views of Ait Ben Haddou.

Imagen de Ait Ben Haddou, en la Ruta de las Kasbahs

Once here, you just have to access the Kasbah and get lost in its alleys, surrounded by adobe and mud houses, a typical architectonic arrangement in Berber settlements.

We recommend getting to the highest point for the most amazing views over the area. From there you’ll get a whole different perspective of the Kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou.

Imagen de Kasbah de Ait Ben Haddou.

  • Ouarzazate

One of the essential stops in the Road of the Kasbahs is Ouarzazate, where you’ll discover one of the best-preserved kasbahs in Morocco: the Taourirt Kasbah.

Apart from the view, you can also have a good time visiting the souq, located right in front of the kasbah, where lots of tourists make a stop to do a bit of shopping.

Ouarzazate is also famous for being the place where the film studio responsible for movies such as The Jewel of the Nile, Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra or The Ten Commandments is located.

Imagen de Ouarzazate, en la ruta de las Kasbahs.

  • Palm grove of Agdz

Agdz is the entrance gate to Draa Valley and the Road of the Thousand Kasbahs, another great reason to visit this part of Morocco. Despite not being the most spectacular stop in the tour, we recommend dropping by any of its viewpoints to enjoy the views of one the most beautiful palm groves in the area.

Imagen del Palmeral de Agdz, en la Ruta de las Kasbahs

  • Tamnougalt

Only 6 kilometres away from Agdz, we find one of the most incredible walled towns you can possibly imagine. Although little visited, Tammougalt is the perfect example of this kind of constructions, with amazing kasbahs in the inside, a lot of which are yet to be restored.

You can only get in with a guide, provided that you pay 50 dirhams upfront, plus 20 dirhams extra for each kasbah you get in (remember that you should exchange your currency for Dirhams beforehand, with Global Exchange).

Imagen de Tamnougalt, en la Ruta de las Kasbahs

The earth tones blending with blues skies and green palm trees make this landscape hard to forget.

  • Telouet Kasbah

This other kasbah is less popular among tourists, especially for the delusion that the road is only accessible by 4×4. We can guarantee that in normal circumstances, the road is suitable for any given car, provided that you drive carefully and you are not in a rush. The track that is not suitable for normal cars is the one that goes from Ait Ben Haddou to the Kasbah of Telouet, which is indeed a dirt road. If you want to follow this route, you have to go back to the main road and continue there.

Telouet is a kasbah that stands out for the ornamentation of the second floor and the part that has not been restored yet, which, as of today, is being used as a stable for the animals in the village.

Imagen del Kasbah Telouet, en la Ruta de las Kasbahs.

4 useful tips if you are doing the Road of the Kasbahs in Morocco

  • The fact that renting a car in Morocco is not dangerous does not mean that you don’t have to be careful on the road. In fact, in Morocco, and in this region especially, there are more radars than you would imagine and more police officers willing to get you a fine if you commit a traffic violation than in any other European country.
  • Once you are deep into the Road of the Kasbahs, gas stations are not scarce. We recommend that you fill up your tank in Ouarzazate, where you’ll find several gas stations outside the city.
  • One of the many highlights of Morocco is its cuisine, so do no miss out on the tajine or the Berber omelette, two dishes that will be stored on your memory bank forever.
  • At first, it can look like a bit of a secluded region, but we recommend that if you are travelling during peak season and want to make sure you find accommodation, especially around the most popular spots, such as Ait Ben Haddou, you book with enough time in advance, because they run out of rooms very easily.

Global Exchange in Morocco

You can exchange your money for Moroccan dirhams with Global Exchange. They have more than 13 branches in the international airports of the cities we just told you about: Agadir, Tangier, Marrakesh, Casablanca and Fez, with Customer Service usually open 27/7.

And if you are already there and you plan on changing money upon your arrival (or your coming back home), we will make it easier with a 15% on the margin applied to your change at any of the Moroccan branches. To benefit from the discount, show this coupon at the branch and start your trip off on the right foot.

Vanessa Santiago

Autora de "Viajeros Callejeros" (www.viajeroscallejeros.com), un blog en el que escribo sobre mis viajes alrededor del mundo, proporcionando datos prácticos como rutas, transporte, alojamientos y lugares a visitar en cada país, para poder organizar tu propio viaje por libre con información de primera mano. Mi gran pasión, como reflejo en el blog, es viajar y lo hago tanto como puedo. Y quién sabe, quizás algún día se convierta en mi modo de vida.

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