THE ROUTE OF THE THOUSAND KASBAHS
1st step: From Marrakech to Ouarzazate and Skoura
Coming from Marrakech, just crossing the High Atlas by the Tichka pass (2.260 m), we get into the route of the thousand Kasbahs.
Beyond Telouet, we follow the same road towards Ait Ben Haddou through the beautiful Ounila valley, where we will observe a dozen Kasbahs of high aesthetic value in Anemiter, in Anguelz and in other points of the route. It goes likewise through interesting earthen villages, As Taguendoucht and Assaka. Below, a secondary road goes to Tazlaft (31º 05,903' N - 7º 08,777' W) in a little more than 1 kilometer. There, a community barn has been restored by the Belgian Cooperation and it's open to visitors (foresee a tip).
Then we got to Tamdakht, where we find a Kasbah in ruins that belonged to the El Glaoui family (31º 05.125'N - 7º 08.700' W). The outside image is impressive. Its managers propose the access into the annex, which is characterized by its urban decor, with an input of 20 DH.
Finally we reache Ait Ben Haddou (31º 02,824' N - 7º 07,773' W), a Ksar that contains within half dozen Kasbahs (for understanding the difference between the two concepts, see the page "What is a Kasbah?"). The whole, that has been declared part of the World Heritage by UNESCO, receives several hundreds of tourists every day and several thousands of them in the high season. Its aesthetic value is undeniable and it is being restored by the Ministry of Culture.
The access to the Ksar is free by the moment. Do not fall into the trap of some neighbors who propose an admission fee to pass through their homes!
Beyond Ait Ben Haddou we arrive to the national road, where we find a track going into Tikert (30º 57,246' N - 7º 05,874' W). This village has several very attractive Kasbahs, but usually we only look them from outside.
From the road of Ouarzazate, we see also a beautiful earthen village called Tazentout. It includes an old Ksar and a community barn under protection of a shrine (30º 58,047' N - 7º 05,599' W). Unfortunately, this barn is now in ruins.
Before arriving to Ouarzazate, if we go right by the Zagora road, we pass near the Kasbah of Tifoultout (30º 55,587' N - 6º 59,396' W). Very big in its origin, it is now almost all in ruins, except the restored part, which is visited by an entry of 10 DH. Its terrace offers a panoramic view over the region.
If we follow the Zagora road and then we go left, we arrive to the Talmesla Kasbah (30º 54,347' N - 6º 52,879' W), better known as "Storks Kasbah" due to the large number of these birds nesting on its towers. It also belonged to the El Glaoui family, but it is in complete neglect. Its image, with the swamp of Al Mansour in the background, is very picturesque.
Within the town of Ouarzazate rises the great Kasbah of Taourirt (30º 55,183' N - 6º 53,966' W), that has been one of the power centers of El Glaoui family during the first half of the twentieth century. The main part is open to the public through an input of 20 DH, while in the back are situated the offices of the CERKAS, an agency created by the Ministry of Culture and responsible for the protection of architectural heritage in southern Morocco. The Kasbah of Taourirt has been restored in the 1990'. Near it, the old Ksar of Taourirt is still inhabited. Inside are numerous shops, as well as some housing for tourism.
From Ouarzazate to Skoura
The road between Ouarzazate and Skoura has small interest from the architectural point of view; however, an asphalted turning that goes to Ghassat and Asseghmo (31º 13,921' N - 6º 48,773' W) allows to discover many beautiful Kasbahs. The same think by a track practicable with any vehicle that goes to Timatdit (31º 06,325' N - 6º 47,287' W). In this last village there are five Kasbahs, all in ruins, while in Asseghmo there are eight and many other are scattered along the route. Ighrem Amellal stands for its beauty. In Ghassat, the Tighremt n'Ait Rho (31º 11,225’ N - 6º 48,821’ W) is open to visitors.
Excursions in the Skoura oasis and around
Skoura oasis is one of the highest concentrations of soil strengths in
Near Amerhidil, the Kasbah Ben Moro (31º 02, 595’ N - 6º 34,590’ W) is also very famous. It is now transformed into a hotel. Also the Kasbah Ait Abou, the tallest of the palm-grove, offers accommodation possibilities and it's open to tourist visits. The other usually are looked just from outside.
In Skoura were also a lot of community barns protect by shrines. Unfortunately all these silos have been disappearing with the time, leaving only the shrines. The Sidi Aissa one in Tascoucamt (31º 02,605’ N - 6º 34,711’ W), near the Kasbah Ben Moro, has been restored in 2007.
Skoura is also the starting point for various excursions in the region . The most interesting is undoubtedly that of Sidi Flah (31º 08,196' N - 6º 28,991' W), a gorgeous palm-grove full of picturesque Kasbahs and located in the Dadès river bank, 10 km far from Skoura by a track practicable with any vehicle.
Another excursion gives us to Toundout by paved road. There are some Kasbahs still inhabited and, consequently, well conserved. The biggest one was the residence of the Khalifa of El Glaoui in this region (31º 15,962' N - 6º 35,313' W).
Finally, a track crossing all the oasis of Skoura goes to Ait Said ou Mansour, where we'll admire the Tighremt n'Ait Moho, very great, now abandoned (31º 07,334' N - 6º 38,294' W).