A day trip to the Aït Benhaddou and Telouet was a must on our Morocco travel plan! When I saw The Mummy movie in 1999, it instantly became one of my favourites. Although the movie story was based in Egypt, some parts of it were filmed at the Aït Benhaddou. Do you remember the scene where Jonathan and Rick buy some camels while Evelyn gets a new look? In the background is the Aït BenHaddou. Other movies and TV series like Gladiator, Game of Thrones, and Prince of Persia were filmed here too. But Ait BenHaddou is much more than a filming set!
I usually book day trips when we get to the holiday destination as you can negotiate a better price. However, this time after reading more about Marrakesh I decided to pre-book the day trip before we had left UK. It was definitely a good decision. We actually saw only few places in the souks that offered day trips. Be aware that they can promise you more that they can actually deliver.
We booked our day trip with Authentic Tours Marrakesh. The full day trip with a private SUV for a party of 4 was 1980MAD. Our driver Ismail picked us from the Riad early, 7:30am. Ismail spoke very good English so was able to tell us more about Marrakesh history, Berber’s and Arab’s life which was great in such a long trip. Ismail was very familiar with the route and stopped at several spots with great views of Atlas Mountains before we reached the Kasbah Telouet (kasbah- fortified home). On the road we also saw historic local villages in the Ounila valley. The villages were around the important Ounila river, which has transformed the landscape here. All the views are with the Atlas Mountains in the background!
Kasbah Telouet stands on the former trading route between Sahara dessert and Marrakesh. Although exterior in parts is in ruins, the interior still shows off the wealth and prosperity of the El Pacha Glaoui family who lived in the Kasbah. Ismail tells us that 300 skilled craftsmen worked for 3 years to decorate walls and ceilings of the rooms. Maybe it is just a legend but you cannot miss the detailed work of painted woodwork on the ceilings, carefully engraved stuccowork and stunning zellij on the walls. A hidden jewel! The entrance was 20MAD.
Aït Benhaddou entrance
Side view from across the river
After one more hour of driving we arrive at the Ksar of Aït BenHaddou, UNESCO World Heritage site. Before entering the village, we stop for some lamb tagine at the rooftop restaurant with a great view of Aït BenHaddou. Make sure you have some water with you for the walk to the top of the Ksar Ait BenHaddou. Drink prices at local shops are very reasonable. There is no doubt why Ksar of Ait BenHaddou is a popular place to visit. A traditional earthen pre-Saharian architecture buildings made from local organic material and covered by a rich red mud plaster leaves an impression. We actually saw the making of bricks from mud and straw in action. Ismail tells us that six families still live in the Ksar. We went inside to one of the houses and through narrow streets reached the top of the Aït BenHaddou. Splendid view!
There are day trips offering to visit Quarzazate (an extra 1h drive) in addition to Ait BenHaddour and/or Telouet. We did not want to be rushed at sites so decided against visiting Quarzazate on the same day trip. Overall, it was a long day trip, 12h! Make sure you take some snacks, drinks with you and book a day trip with English speaking driver and comfortable car.
Was it worth it? Absolutely YES!
Have you been to here? We would love to hear your experiences and views, please comment below 🙂