Africa

Over the Tizi n’Tichka pass to Ait Benhaddou

After living the city life for two days in Marrakech, it was time to hit the road again. We had  been admiring the beautiful mountain range close to Marrakech for the past days from various locations and now we would finally get closer to it and even cross it. Destination: Ait Benhaddou.

The first part of our trip had been with a focus on the imperial cities, and now we would be exploring the beautiful nature of Morocco. Even though these cities had been amazing, this was the part of our journey I was looking forward to the most.

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March has in the past been a month during which Morocco can still receive quite a bit of snow up in the mountains. So our fear of not being able to pass a snowed-in Tizi n’Tichka mountain pass wasn’t entirely ungrounded. But it ended up being unnecessary as the road was completely free of any obstructions. I guess there wasn’t really anything to worry about.

Relieved with the news, we left Marrakech early in the morning after breakfast, hoping to make most of our day in the area.  To our surprise, we were able to cover ground a lot faster than expected. To be honest, we were a bit disappointed by this mountain pass. The views were nice but nothing spectacular or mind blowing. It was as if I was constantly waiting for something more and better. I think we only stopped about twice to take a picture, which is probably my all time low. I guess I must have been spoiled in the past.

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Because we hadn’t spend nearly as much time on the pass as anticipated, we arrived in Ait Benhaddou early afternoon. The road to our hotel, Paradise of Silence, was also very clearly indicated so another thing we didn’t lose any time with.

We left our car in the hotel parking lot and via a small hiking trail walked to the tiny center of Ait Benhaddou. Since we hadn’t really found any restaurants along the way, we first stopped for a late lunch before heading to the main sight in Ait Benhaddou: the Ksar of Ait Benhaddou. This is an old fortified city still resembling the 11th century way of living. Most of the inhabitants of the city have now moved to live outside the ksar, but four families still remain.

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I fell in love with this place after only one glance. The streets in the ksar, the views from the top of the ksar, the sight of the ksar in the landscape; simply amazing! No wonder it has been used as a filming location for many films and series, with Game of Thrones, Gladiator and Lawrence of Arabia being the most famous ones.

We spent about two hours wandering around this sight before – reluctantly – heading back to our hotel. There was also a restaurant at Paradise of Silence, so we had reserved to eat dinner there. We still had some time left before it was served so with nothing else to do, we decided to relax a bit at the pool. Some down time every once in a while sure feels great. Although I’m sure I’m only able to do this when I’ve seen all the sights in the area before.

Dinner was simple yet delicious, so very satisfied with the second part of our day we went to sleep. By morning we were still unable to stop thinking about the ksar, so we headed back for one last look on it before continuing our journey through Morocco. How can you not fall in love with this place?

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 ♥♥♥

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