The Tizi-n-Tichka pass winds its way across the Atlas Mountains to arrive at Quarzazate. It is filled with wonderful scenery and amazing views.
This was a long day trip! We started at 7 a.m. from our hotel on a group tour this time. The bus seated about 15 people, but as it turned out there were only 5 of us, making a very comfortable and relaxing “group tour”. There was one other American with us, and two French speaking people. The guide unfortunately only spoke French. This wasn’t a huge problem as along the trail there were many photo opportunities but not a lot of things to see that required a long narrative of facts.
The road is good, but treacherous in some spots as it winds its way up the Atlas Mountains. This highway N9 runs from Marrakech, south crossing the country’s highest pass. Over the mountain, the road descends into Quarzazate. The ride one way is about 4 hours including stops.
We made many stops for photos and a couple of breaks and also stopped at a store which made and sold textiles such as blankets and embroidered tablecloths. The embroidery was beautiful with both sides of the stitched fabric looking exactly alike. Not an easy feat! The blankets and fabrics were hand loomed at the store.
Quarzazate is the “Hollywood of the Sahara” with a couple of film studios there, and many films shot in the area.
The highlight of the trip after a wonderful lunch was the visit to Ait Benhaddou. We had an English speaking Berber tour guide for this portion and he was wonderful. This Kasbah is on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites and is one of the best preserved of all the Kasbahs in the Atlas Mountains. There are only 8 families left living in the Kasbah.
This site has been in many movies such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Mummy, Gladiator and Alexander. They were building a gate for a new movie, Prince of Persia II.
This trip cost 350 dirham or about $50 each plus a great lunch for an additional $10. Primarily the cost is for the transportation, but it is a trip well worth taking. The scenery is stunning!