Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou

A half hour taxi ride from Ouarzazate is this earthen built, defensively walled village, grouped around a rocky outcrop with a stone built communal granary on the top, where you might expect to find a castle.

Ksar of Ait-ben-Haddou

Ksar of Ait-ben-Haddou

Most of the villagers have now moved just across the river to new concrete built houses with running water and electricity but a few families remain, with solar panels on their roofs for power.

In the Ksar the larger houses are at the bottom of the hill and are square with a tower at each corner.  My teenage guide James (I didn’t have the will power to resist the hustle at the gate and go in by myself) told me that four families could live in one building, each having one tower (stairs) and one side of rooms.  It wasn’t clear what happened with the dark central rooms. The tops of the towers were decorated, each building differently.

Decorated house towers in Ait-ben-Haddou

Decorated house towers in Ait-ben-Haddou


At the top by the granary we spent some time watching a film being shot just below the hill. Groups of horsemen and a few men on camels appeared to be squared up to each other and we rather hoped that the group on a small rise would charge impressively down on the one below. Disappointingly they merely meandered down as if to have a chat, so James and I moved on to a visit to his family’s house where I said hello to his mother, sisters and two cute goats and was impressed by the size of the photograph of Russell Crowe hanging in the sitting room.

Back across the river I was invited in for tea by the shop keeper my taxi driver Abdul had spent the last couple of hours with. I tickled his cat Mimi and admired her new kittens but declined to stay for lunch despite his offer to drive me back himself if my taxi left without me. I was tempted, but my last Dirhams had been cajoled out of me by my guide and I wanted to get back to somewhere with an ATM and get cracking on my first Lego model.

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