Published: October 23rd 2011October 23rd 2011
Morocco Day 8
Another day for moving on today so this morning we left Caroline and Les Jardins de Skoura for the High Atlas mountains above Marakesh. One of the first towns we went through was Ouarzazate or the Hollywood of Morocco. The town and the surrounding area are where quite a few Hollywood films have been made including Gladiator. Not long after leaving Ouarzazate we left the main route through the mountains for the old road through the Oued Mellet valley.
This spectacular road is only passable by 4X4 according to our guidebooks but no one has ever bothered to inform the locals as they potter about in their Mercedes taxis and bashed up old Peugeots and Renaults. The route has two fantastic Kasbahs, the first one at Ait Benhaddou is only accessible on foot across the river by stepping stones. When the river is in full flow you can’t get to the Kasbah. There is a long climb up to the top but the views are spectacular.
The onward route to the next Kasbah is via a single track stretch of metalled road with gravel runoff on each side to let vehicles pass and switchbacks round the edge
of gorges and across rivers. On rounding one corner we came upon a group of 4X4’s parked almost blocking the entire road with tourists milling about admiring the view. Our driver Abdul, never one to be defeated by any sort of obstacle, takes to the gravel verges without a change in velocity and using the most essential of all things on a car (at least here) the horn, zooms past them. It may be no surprise to learn that the nationality of this group is better known for taking things over with towels! They are probably even now in their hotel washing dust and gravel out of their clothes.
The next Kasbah at Telouet could be described by some estate agents as ‘a project’, but the state rooms inside are spectacular and are decked out with fantastic plaster work and mosaics that would not be out of place in the most well-appointed Mosques. This castle, despite looking like it was last used in the Middle Ages, was only abandoned in 1956 and its state of decay is more down to local politics. The Glaoui tribe were the feudal overlords of the French during the colonial days and when the chief
A typical mountain settlement
This shows the variety of colours that can be seen in the mountain rock
died, the other local tribes exacted revenge on all his palaces and people for what by all accounts was a rule of terror.
After Telouet we returned to the road. The further we went the worse the road seemed to get but we seemed to make excellent time, as nothing seemed to hold up Abdul, especially foreign tourists on motorbikes which he seems to take great delight in overtaking.
We are now in the High Atlas mountains for two nights in our hotel, Kasbah Bab Ourika. This is reached by a gravel road about two miles off the main highway and is wonderfully peaceful with its own gardens and pool. We have booked some trekking in the mountains for tomorrow and then on Monday we are off to Essaouira.
There are more photos below