THE ROUTE OF THE THOUSAND KASBAHS
6th step: from Rissani to Mhamid
From Rissani to Nkob
Between Rissani and Nkob, the road goes through a desert with thorny acacias and engraved rocks. The only important place from the architectural point of view in the entire route is Tazzarine, the rest being basically nomadic grazing areas.
Tazzarine constitutes a vast oasis in which different villages are distributed and where we find again the first Kasbahs from the Todra valley. Several tracks let go through this palm grove and admire its beautiful soil architecture.
When reaching Nkob, we discover forty Kasbahs protruding from a huge palm grove, forming a beautiful picture if we are not in a year of drought. All these Kasbahs have been built in the early twentieth century by the families Ait Atta that became sedentary in this time. Two of them has been transformed into hotels.
Also in Nkob, inside the Baha Baha resort mentioned in the page about hosting, there is an interesting museum about Ait Atta traditions, small but curious. Fee: 10 DH.
From Nkob to Zagora
If we take in Tansikht the direction of Zagora, we discover a little while Ouaouzagour, which is in ruins but has a spectacular view thanks to its location on the edge of the cliff.
A little further, in Oulad Atmane, we'll see the Kasbah of Kaid Larbi (30º 36,263’ N 6º 10,077’ W), one of the strong kaids of the Drâa, who collaborate with El Glaoui during the first half of the twentieth century. The building presents a recent style, with urban influence in some details, as the cedar roofs and the arches surrounding the windows. It's open to visitors by an entry fee and one portion has been transformed into a guesthouse.
In Tinzouline we find a very special Kasbah named Er Ribat (30º 30,436' N - 6º 06,012' W). It's distributed around an enormous courtyard, with twenty six pillars that hold galleries without arches. Inside lives a simply family that can show you the building (provide a tip).
Before reaching Zagora, the Ksar Tissergat (30º 23,784’ N - 5º 51,528’ W) deserves also a special mention for its superb whole image and for the fact that it was restored in 1968 thanks to the UN-funded program about which we have already spoken, so now it is in a very acceptable state of preservation. Inside there is a big museum and an ancient Kasbah of El Hiba, transformed now into a hotel.
From Zagora to Mhamid
Zagora is a modern administrative center with no other attraction that its comfortable hotels.
The Ksar Amezrou (30º 18,436’ N - 5º 49,356’ W) is very next to Zagora and is one of the most interesting in this area. It include a neighborhood where Jewish lived before their emigration in the 1960's and a big mosque with a curious earthen minaret.
Another very important Ksar is Tamegroute, with small streets absolutely dark and mysterious. Tamegroute is also the main pottery center of southern Morocco and a Zaouia that includes a wide library of arabic manuscripts. Nevertheless, this library is now into a modern building. On the contrary, the shrine of Sidi Mohamed Ben Nasser, founder of the Tarika Nasseria in the seventeenth century, is old and decorated with engraved plaster and cedar wood.
Beyond Tamegroute, the road goes away from the valley to pass a stretch of the river, but it reaches back in the oasis of Ktaua, which was another of the great historic commercial centers such as the Tafilalet, when caravans linked Morocco to the sub-Saharan Africa. Among the large number of Ksour of the Ktaoua, the most important for their trade activity were Nesrat (30º 00,804’ N - 5º 31,781’ W), Beni Hayoun (29º 59,117’ N - 5º 33,027’ W) and Beni Sbih (29º 57,329’ N - 5º 33,774’ W).
Next to Nesrat stands also a smaller Ksar, curious for its location between the dunes: Ait Isfoul. It's a little village where inhabited the Ait Atta warriors who protect the sedentary population of Nesrat, composed by peaceful farmers and traders.
Beyond the Ktaoua oasis, we go away again from the valley to avoid by a mountain pass the canyon of Foum Larjam, where prehistoric mounds are very numerous, and we come back in the Mhamid oasis. There the palm trees are scattered among small dunes forming a beautiful landscape.
Among the Ksour of this oasis we must mention Oulad Driss (29º 49,857’ N - 5º 39,337’ W), dated in the seventeenth century. Inside, two homes have been restored and present a large number of antiquities, some of them very curious.
When arriving to the modern Mhamid, a track allows to continue to the south to discover the last Ksour, as Mhamid El Ghozlan itself (29º 48,450’ N - 5º 44,236’ W) and Talha (29º 48,834’ N - 5º 42,897’ W).
In the latter is being revitalized the pottery, an activity that had been important formerly.