Over The Atlas Mountains,Ait-Benaddou Kasbah and Dades Gorge
Dades Gorge Travel Blog› entry 5 of 15 › view all entries
Early start and picked up at the hotel at 7am. We had arranged this trip from the UK,confirmed and paid the balance locally, through Moroccan Views agency, and it was just our guide, Farim, and the driver already on board. Drove into the medina for another 3 pick ups and that was us. There would be a dozen of us for the trip, the four of us, four Spanish boys, 2 girls from New Zealand, one guy from the US and another lad from Hong Kong.
Driving out of Marrakech noticed something that looked quite grand and interesting, and then discovered it was a golf course :-D. Wasn't long before we started into the foothills and then into the mountains. At 9am we stopped at the top of a pass at a small cafe by the road for breakfast.
Stopped off twice fairly soon after to get some pictures and at the second stop by the Berber village there were a few guys up at the road trying to flog stuff to the tourists. The roads started to twist and turn a lot more and then headed higher and up a road that spiralled up the side of a mountain.
On we drove for a good while before we reached Ait-Benaddou Kasbah. The new village is just across the dried up river bed, and we got the chance to go into the shops and stock up with drinks before going into the Kasbah.
Just looking at it the Ait-Benaddou Kasbah oozes history. Told that this was one of the first to offer shelter in Morocco to the trade caravans the came in from the Sahara. There were a few shops just inside the kasbah, but nobody made any great effort to try and sell us anything, and we went up and into one of the inhabited houses, where after a look about we were treated to tea in what was a a room in it that was a cave . Like many parts of this region they lay claim to being the setting for so many movies, but the house was full of pictures of the owner with the cast and crew of Gladiator, and Farim said they had built additional bits of set outside the kasbah for filming.
We the did the steep climb up through the Kasbah and up to the top. Right at the very top is an observation tower, and Farim decided he wasn't going to bother and waited at the lower level and let the rest of us go up. Quite good getting out and wandering and the interaction between the group really started here. Got back down to find our guide with just one shoe :-D as he had been clearing his sandals of the small stones and dust and had put one on the wall and the wind had blown it over the side and down into the rocks and it was nowhere to be seen. Farim stopped at one of the shops in the Kasbah and haggled for a new pair of sandals, even getting the price reduced for leaving the odd sandal and giving the owner the opportunity of finding the one that was lost.
Stopped for lunch in one of the restaurants in the village before boarding the bus again for what was to be longest drive so far. Thought we might have stopped in Ouarzazate, but we carried on through it. Farim told us that ,despite it having an old kasbah, the town was really only built in 1912 as an administration centre for the French. On and on we drove and just as like it seemed we it would never end we stopped at a cafe ,entering Kelaat Mgouna, in the Valley Of The Roses. Opposite a nice looking settlement but told it was the wrong time of year. Best time for here is in May when the roses bloom, and there is a festival in the town as well then.
Back on the bus and we got to Boumaine and turned off the main road and headed up to Dades Gorge.
Short drive back to hotel, by which time it was after 8pm, and it was OK. Given time to shower and then all met up for dinner in the small pavillion at the back of the hotel.