This day trip takes you right across the chain of the High Atlas mountains and over the famous Tizi-n-Tichka pass, the highest in the whole of Africa. All along the route you can see the Berber villages perched on the side of the mountains, sometimes hardly distinguishable from the mountains themselves. At times you come down into the valleys to drive alongside the river bordered by oleander and fruit trees. The gardens are full of olives, walnuts, pomegranates, apples, pears and quinces. Berber women and children tend goats and sheep and climb even the steepest slopes in search of fodder and firewood.
As you reach the far side of the mountains the landscape changes dramatically, becoming semi-arid and desert-like. Here is the Kasbah architecture with turrets on all the buildings, adorned with grilled windows and soft peach coloured walls. These traditional houses are made of adobe, highly suitable for the climatic conditions of the south.
After the Tichka pass, you leave the main road and take a side road to the Telouet Kasbah, which belonged to the Lords of the Atlas, the Glaoui family, which stands in ruins after the last Pasha fled the country after the departure of the French. From there you continue for lunch at Ait BenHaddou along the newly asphalted road.
The afternoon is spent exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ait Benhaddou, a “fortified city” which has been used as a backdrop for many Hollywood blockbusters including Lawrence of Arabia, Jesus of Nazareth and Gladiator. It was one of the most important fortress strongholds on the old Salt Road caravan routes, where traders brought slaves, gold, ivory and salt from sub-Saharan Africa to Marrakech and beyond.