We are writing this blog sitting in one of the best Riad’s in Marrakech, Riad Menzeh, after a trot around the Medina. But you will have to wait for that as this posting is about Ait Ben’Haddou and our trip over the Atlas Mountains, just after a snow fall.
But as a taster this is where we are:
Ait Ben Hadddou 25/03 – 27/03/2015
We checked the weather on our trusty App; WeatherPro HD and the weather forecast for the High Atlas looked terrible with heavy snow predicted. Just to be sure we double checked with MeteoMaroc and it confirmed the weather above 1500m was going to be abysmal. So we decided to stay put in Ait Ben Haddou and let the storm blow over. We could see from Friday the Weather was again benign and consequently that would be the day we would cross the mountains.
Looking at some stories over the next couple of days we could see our decision was the correct one with reports of accidents and incidents involving Motorhomes.
Homie Help: If you are going into the mountains in a Motorhome then check the weather before hand. We know this sounds basic but there were a lot of reports where this advice was not heeded, foolishly.
On the Wednesday evening we went for a good evening meal at the Bagdad Café in the village. Simo was a great host and the food was up to a high standard. The restaurant gradually filled with travellers unable to cross the mountains because of the storm and a great evening was had by all. For some unknown reason Simo took us to his heart and insisted the next day we take a walk across the desert to the Sacred Spring underneath the lone fig tree. We agreed on the proviso the walk could be achieved with the weather kind enough to wear T-Shirts. We went to bed smug, with the wind howling and the rain falling.
Imagine our pleasure when we awoke to a cloudless, windless day. So after a hearty breakfast we marched off briskly to meet Simo and get our detailed instructions we were promised for our foray into the wilderness, or as Lou Read put it, a walk on the wild side. Over coffee the route was laid before us and here it is:
Yep, we thought it a bit sketchy too. We did have a GPS to track our progress so if we did get lost we could find our way back. A sort of electronic Hansel and Gretel. To sum up we left not knowing where we going but we knew how to get home from a place where we had no idea where we were. The plan was to walk in a sort of rough NE direction for an hour to see if we could find some cairns. If we did then we would turn left up the nearest valley, if we couldn’t then we would return home. As I am now writing about it you can guess that we got home safely so you can stop worrying now.
We did find the cairns, we did find the sacred Spring, Tracy made a wish, as only women are allowed too and we did find our way back. You can see where we went with photos by clicking here: Ben Haddou Sacred Spring Walk or you can find it in our Journeys section.
The pictures are below:
You will see a few pictures of the Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou. It has been used in many movies including the following:
It is also used recently for the Game of Thrones. To the visitor it is now just an alleyway of endless tat shops selling some rather over-priced under-whelming goods. The Ksar’s of Skoura are a far better example to visit. Scenically this one takes the biscuit but for authenticity head South and East.
Crosssing the High Atlas 25/03/2015
I still sit here and think how did we do that? How did we get up and be ready to go by 09:30? I do not know, but we did. We have been told by many a local to drive along the P1506 through Telouet and join the main N9 road to Marrakech at Tizi-n-Tichka. When quizzed about the suitability of driving this route they all to a man assured us apart from 7Km of Piste just before Telouet the road was fine and tarmac’ed. An honest opinion would be, apart from the first 30Km the road is not tarmac’ed. It is however the best drive we have done so far on our travels. National Geographic rate the N9 as one of the top ten drives in the world. When you divert via the P1506 for the southern section then this must be in the top five. It is absolutely stunning the entire length of the P1506.
Homie Help: If you are going to drive the P1506 then drive from South to North. In its current state the road would not be passable for a motorhome to climb the hills coming from the North.
Here are some pictures:
The Kasbah pics are the Palace of Teluoet, the home of the Glaouis family. They were one of the most powerful families in Morocco. During the time of the French occupation they decided to snuggle up to their Gallic Oppressors much to the annoyance of the indigenous populace. Hence when Mr Hughot skipped off back to France they were run out of town and their Palace has been left to rot. We did try and find a way in to have a look around but gave up, even the locals, the former slaves, were not too interested in showing the place off.
We pressed on along the pass and reached the N9 just south of the Tichka pass and we made a video. It is slightly longer than usual but we hope you enjoy it.
Click here Ben Haddou to Tizni-n-tichka or watch with all the others on our YouTube channel.
We did plan to film the route from the N9 to Marrakech but we had a technical problem. We stopped at the smashing point for a cup of tea and a biscuit when we were joined by a Dutch couple who were planning on buying a motorhome.
Not having my eye on the ball I managed to drop the SD card inside the dashboard. Oops, so no video I am afraid but a couple of pics for you to finish with before our Marrakech update.
Love to all