Travellers from Marrakech to Ouarzazate (and vise -versa) often detour to Ait Benhaddou.
Not far from this site is another place well worth stopping at for an hour or two- Telouet!
The main reason for visiting Telouet is to visit the Telouet Kasbah - Built in the 1940's as a Glaoui palace, its crumbling red mud exterior belies the treasures held within.
However it is being left to fall to the elements, so visit it while you can- there are no attempts being made to save it- partly due to the ill feeling remaining in this area for the ruthless Glaoui brothers who ruled the area, and partly due to funding for preserving Moroccan monuments being chanelled elsewhere.
Telouet also has a good carpet shop - If You want to buy a carpet from Morocco, this is probably one of the better places to buy from, less hassle and they know their stuff!They'll parcel the carpets up into compact packets that you can carry as hand luggage. One of our party had been ripped off earlier in Marrakech with a carpet that she'd purchased. These chaps gave her the advise that she needed to go back and get it for a decent price - which she did, and she got the rest of her money back - They didn't get anything for this, but were proud of their trade, and annoyed that others were giving the trade a bad name.
There is also a weekly market, where produce and crafts are sold by locals from the surrounding villages.
Please see my Telouet page for more info, or contact VTer Angiebabe for more info about the carpet shop and Telouet, as she lived here for a while.
A further 7 km from Ait Benhaddou, of bitumen/tarmac road, is another Glaoui fortification the Tamdaght kasbah.
I walked right around it as I was captivated by the almond blossoms in the valley below - from where there are also great views of the ornate turrets and stork nests on top.
As to be expected there is a guardien/caretaker who has the keys and the entrance fees - though usually minimal of about 5 dirham.
From here is the old road through to the Glaoui stronghold of Telouet, several years ago we drove this road with a normal car, but generally it is strictly 4x4 road - a beautiful route and well recommended if you have the opportunity. It can be walked in 2 days with a couple of gites generally advertised as available to stay at along the way at Tioughassine and Tiguert and of course Anmiter and Telouet.
Visiting in February was fantastic for almond trees in full blossom around the area! - not just lots of snow on the mountains to get me excited, along with the blue blue skies great for even more colourful photography, and the red and pinks of the earth and mudbrick of the traditional buildings and kasbahs in the area.
So not only is the area around Tafroute, famed for its prolific almond and argane growing and its Almond blossom festival, the place to see almond blossoms - but the valleys from Ouarzazate to TiznTichka and on to Marrakech and also on down to Zagora - including here at Ait Benhaddou! So obviously an addition or a staple to the diet of the locals over a large area here in southern Morocco!
Park your car at Auberge Cafe Restaurant Kasbah du Jardin further down the road past the main entrance and parking area to Ait Ben Haddou - plus the advantage of some palm trees in their parking area to park in some shade from the heat! - and make your way along the working fields and palmeraie to the river and then upstream which you get to see the local residents backyards behind the scenes and you miss the touts and hustlers trying to catch the tourists coming past their shops!
then enjoy some coffee and orange juice in a cool spot beside the auberges pool or even stay the night!
Most visitors to Ait Ben Haddou just cross the riverbed and go through the main gates. They'll wander around town and, if they're feeling energetic, might even climb to the ruin at the top of the kasbah. However, for a different perspective climb the hill to the right of the kasbah as you look at it. It's loose shale and there is a path of sorts. But the view is well worth the climb. For photographers, you can get some great cropped shots!
While I found that the experience of the Kasbah was slightly lessened by too many tourists and salesmen, the briefest of walks the other way was the complete opposite. The village itself was empty of foreigners, touts, or even people! Apart from a few kids kicking a football about it was very quiet and peaceful. The budding football stars were very pleased to see a foreigner and we had a good kick about for a while before an unseen voice sent them rushing indoors - when it comes to boys rolling about in the dirt mothers sound the same all over the world!
There are apparently a few hotels in the village but there's nothing to see other than the kasbah and the surrounding scenery so only consider staying here if you have lots and lots of time on your hands.
This is one guy i made friendship with in Ait Benhadou. My friend and I end up slepping in this guys store and made some cuscus for them. Of course my olives were not very good and many people got sick and vomited. lol.
I think this guy's name is Mohammad.