If you are in Morocco and are stationed at Marrakech then a trip to Ouarzazate and Ait Benhaddou should definitely be on your touring list. It is one of the most beautiful deserts in Morocco that you would ever see.
As you drive up into the mountain you will come across exquisite Berber villages perched in the mountains like jewels embedded in a necklace.
As you go further you will reach Tizi n Tichka Pass (2160m) of the High Atlas to reach the ancient village of Ait Benhaddou. This fortified vilage is declared a world heritage site by UNESCO and is preserved very well.
Villagers are usually self-sufficient as they rely on agriculture and livestock. They sell their livestock at the weekly market to buy tea, sugar, clothes and pay the electricity bills. The land is rich in growing wheat, a variety of vegetables, fruits and oils.
In the olden times Aït Benhaddou was an important spot for transporting gold, silver, salt and spices. Even human slaves were transported from the depths of the African Sahara across Morocco and to Europe. Barter system is still prevalent in these areas as merchants exchange their goods.
Interestingly the salt mines are still active in the area and if you notice carefully you will see white marks which are actually salt marks on the sides of the Ounila river before reaching the village.
aIT BENHADDOU: AT THE KSAR
Ait Benhaddou is renowned film making location. It has been the backdrop for many Hollywood movies, such as Gladiator,Lawrence of Arabia, The Mummy as well as the famous Jesus of Nazareth.
As you reach at the top of the hill, you will see a wonderful view of the whole valley which will leave you spellbound. You must explore the traditional village and do enjoy a meal on a terrace with clear views of the Kasbahs.
After leaving Ait Benhaddou, you can head to the city of Ouarzazate,which is a mere 30 km from the site of Ait Benhaddou. The name “Ouarzazate” is a Berber combination of two words, meaning noiseless and peaceful.This city too is very famous for film shoots. It boasts of two major studios in the city and has a huge museum of cinematographic art which attracts a number of tourists. The museum has a massive display of a large collection of tools, costumes, cameras, VFX technics and chambers used in the filming of movies.