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Head out to Telouet
Telouet was one of the principal residences of the Al Thami El-Glaoui, the pasha of Marrakech, who served the sultan, Mohammed V, but switched allegiances to the French in 1912, (because he and others like him knew that any independent Moroccan government would soon put an end to his unlimitless power and extravagance) which gave him power and lordship over a large area of Southern Morocco ie the Atlas and High Atlas.
His kasbah at Telouet he named the Kasbah of 1001 nights and it is said that he had workman there constantly building and decorating his palace into a place of opulence and grandeur that he and the Glaoui after him treasured.
His opposition to the King cost dearly as on his death his family were exiled and all possessions dispersed. This kasbah and town with such an illustrious past has been in neglect since 1956.
Of this opulent kasbah, commenced in the 19th century there is only access to one of the buildings built in the 20th century, in my opinion very beautiful but sadly still in neglect and still deteriorating so its time left is sadly running out.
In addition to visiting the kasbah in its lovely valley and mountain surrounds there is the attraction of the weekly Thursday souk bringing berber villagers from miles around, the salt mine on the road to Anmiter, the lovely route with kasbahs to Tasgha and the lovely road to Anmiter which is an unusually well preserved fortified town at the end of the road and start of the 4x4 route of the old pass down to Ait BenHaddou.
About 140 km from Marrakech in the direction of Ouarzazate, this road is a particularly scenic route taking you over two mountain passes, past berber villages built along rivers and up hillsides. In your own car it can be done in 2 hours depending on how many photo stops you make, 4-5 hours by daily bus leaving early afternoon from Marrakech or by grande taxi to the Telouet turnoff where you will need to meet the bus, another grande taxi or flag a lift for the final 21 kms of stunning scenery to the town centre.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Castles and Palaces
- Family Travel
driving around the Palmeraie
Most people i think might miss the Palmeraie, unless they were on a carriage ride or read up and prepared beforehand of the recommended sights to see, or on a tour.
I was with a group of my friends friends who were visiting from Australia, i think if i hadnt asked and recommended that we get taken there as they had a car but with quite unmotivated moroccan driver we wouldnt have got there. in fact we had a fast straight through drive and then dropped off to amuse ourselves at the well known to me amazing Marjorelle gardens.
i got my moroccan friend to take me again later at a better pace, got some good shots and enjoyed the extravagance that could be seen behind the high walls around the residences in the palmeraie. i have excellent architecture books, especially those published by Taschen, including stunning homes in the palmeraie.
This June i had the privilige of taking my best friend around the palmeraie, which she enjoyed as an elite suburb of Marrakech, seeing the camels at hand for the tourists, seeing the very upmarket golf course and homes - and being able to buy the best postcards i have seen for sale in Morocco at cheaper than most other places!!
- Road Trip
- Arts and Culture
Formerly known as Mogador, this fishing port town is well worth a visit.
About 3 to 4 hours from Marrakesh, your journey takes you past Argan trees, (You might even spot a goat climbing the tree to reach the nuts that are used to obtain the Argan oil) and Thuya trees that are unique to this area.
The fishing port , narrow winding streets and alleyways of the souks, medina and mellah attract artists and photographers.
Each year Essaouira hosts a Gnaoua music festival, with performers ranging from local artistes to International singers and musicians appearing.
This charming town also has featured in many films, with the ramparts famously providing the opening scenes to Orson Welles' Othello, and more recently in Alexander.
Please visit my Essaouira page for more info
- Budget Travel
- Arts and Culture
Day trip to Essaouira
Two days after my fall, and with one day of our holiday already lost to doctors and clinics, we decided to press ahead with our original plan of a day trip to the coast, as sitting in a taxi watching the scenery go past seemed a lot easier than tackling the streets of Morocco on foot. And so it proved – we had a lovely relaxing, though long, day out which showed us that something at least of our holiday could be retrieved despite the unexpected and unwelcome change in our circumstances.
Leaving after an early breakfast we headed west through a fairly dry and dusty landscape interspersed with villages and small towns. Most of these serve as markets for the Berber farmers in the surrounding area, so were full of life and interest for us. We stopped several times en route – for coffee, to visit a carpet co-operative (and succumb to temptation there!) and to see the local oddity known as “goats in trees”. We arrived in Essaouira in time for a leisurely lunch in the main square. The light was beautiful, the sea air refreshing, the activity around us fascinating but much less frenetic than in Marrakesh. After lunch Chris had a walk around the port area and took lots of photos, while I sat on a bench and did the same in the square. I then managed a short hobble around a few streets in the old town before it was time to head back to Marrakesh. It was dark as we approached the city and a huge red moon was rising – a sign of hope after the mess of the previous day and a wonderful end to our day out.
We travelled by grand taxi and paid 900 dirhams for the whole day (£72) which was good value given how long we were out and how helpful Mokhtar was in making accommodations for my restricted mobility. With more people sharing the taxi it would of course be cheaper, and I believe you can also book tours by minibus, or of course hire a car to drive there yourself. For more about our day out please see my separate page on Essaouira.
Just wandering around the backstreets!
I love just wandering around the backstreets of any town or city, and 'getting lost' Never knowing what's around the next corner, and finding those 'hidden gems' Also it doesn't cost anything, and often my memories (and photo's ) last longer than any souvenirs.- oh and it's good exercise too!
Marrakesh was a fantastic place, to wander 'off the beaten path' with it's maze of narrow winding streets. As a lone female, I felt quite safe, and spent most days wandering around the Medina and Mellah areas.
Each corner revealed something new, both on street level, and above. Either in the different architecture, or in local activity.
The boys in the picture were one example of local life, which I encountered, they stopped playing football,and a game pushng this wheel around, to chat with me, before carrying on with their game.
I especially (for some strange reason, but since being on VT realise that others have the same interest!) like old doorways, and Marrakesh has old doorways aplenty!
A few times, I was re- directed to 'The Square' I wasn't sure if the locals thought I was lost and this was where I was looking for, or they didn't want me (and my camera) 'on their land'
- Budget Travel
- Arts and Culture
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Telouet Kasbah – past glory
In the past Telouet was an important stop for camel caravans from Marrakech to the Sahara. The Glaoui brothers built a Kasbah on this place controlling the traffic to/from the south. It was the main residence of Al-Thami el-Glaoui, Pasha of Marrakech. It was built in the 19th and 20th century and housed up to 1000 people. After the independence of Morocco in 1956 the Kasbah deteriorated and nowadays is more or less a ruin, although our guide told the building should be restored.
We were approaching the Kasbah from the (old) village of Telouet along the slave houses and crossing the Mellah River with great of the building. Coming closer and closer the building became more and more impressive with its massive red mud walls.
Through a courtyard with camel stables and a minaret of the former mosque we reached the wooden gate into the palace. Although most of the buildings are really ruins, there are just two rooms, which still gave a good impression of the wealth and power of the Pasha. The central reception and the harem room are beautifully decorated with stucco work, carved cedar wooden ceilings, painted doors and fantastic zellij tiles. Windows do have nice ironworks, which invites shooting a picture of Telouet and the mountains.
These two rooms look like the palaces in Marrakech.
For Telouet turn off from the Tizi-n-Tichka Pass road (signposted) and follow the narrow road into the valley for about 20 km’s. You can not miss the impressive Kasbah, otherwise a ‘guide’ will offer his services bringing you to the palace and showing you around. We had to pay 20 Dirhams for the guide and the entrance fee (10 or 20 Dirhams) to the caretaker.
- Road Trip
- Arts and Culture
- Castles and Palaces
Vallée d'Ourika is a narrow valley that cuts through the Atlas Mountains. Like most of the land south of Marrakech, it is inhabited by Berber villagers. The valley is only about 30-45 minutes away from Marrakech, so if time allows, I highly recommend renting a car (with a driver) and driving into the valley (cost is about 60-70 euros for the day). The road ends at an altitude of about 1600 metres in a small village called Setti Fatma. Along the way, there are numerous Berber markets and merchants, along with breathtaking scenery. There is also an old Berber synagogue to visit. At the last village, Setti Fatma, there is a hiking trail that leads to a scenic waterfall. My fellow travellers and I made it all the way to Setti Fatma, but did not have the time or appropriate gear for a hike to the waterfall. Next time!
Telouet - in the middle of nowhere
Just the drive from the Tizi-n-Tichka Pass road (coming from Marrakech you have to turn to the left about 5 km’s after the pass) is quite an adventure. It is a narrow road, mostly sealed and on a couple of places we had to drive through a dry stream. We were passing a couple of Berber settlements, all with red/pink houses and people working on the fields, before reaching the tiny village of Telouet.
Telouet lies on an altitude of 1800 metres and is surrounded by snow-capped Atlas Mountains in fantastic scenery.
Telouet has two ‘faces’: the one along the ‘main’ road with some shops (carpets, gifts) and cafés/restaurants and the other off road is the real village with a school, mosque, narrow ‘streets’ and little more or less mud huts.
After parking our car immediately a guide, named Aissa, offered his services and we walked with him through the village, saw the old slave quarters, where still descendants of the slaves of Pasha el-Glaoui live and passed the Mellah River on our way to the Kasbah.
Back in the village we had a cup of tea with him, visited a carpet shop and had a lunch in one of the restaurants (see tip). Telouet has also two small hotels. On Thursdays there is a weekly Berber market in Telouet.
What a peaceful and quite place, such a difference from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech.
Turn off from the Tizi-n-Tichka Pass road (signposted) and follow the narrow road into the valley for about 20 km’s.
- Road Trip
The Atlas Mountains
A trip to the Atlas mountains offers a respite from the baking heat of summer in Marrakesh.
As you travel along the roads into the mountains, the air becomes much cooler and pleasent.
The drive is amazing travelling through Berber Villages and past Kasbahs , and by the time you are half way up the mountain, you can see plenty of Marrakech familes cooling off in the river, and then the riverbank seems to come alive with people offering camel rides, horse rides and various moroccan snacks. Some bars even set up tables in the river to offer the ultimate in riverside dining.
If you are planning to walk up to the waterfalls, take sturdy footwear, as the rocks are very slippy.
The only problem with the river and the Atlas mountains is that whilst it is naturally beautiful, vistors to it are not taking care of this enviroment. The banks and the middle of the river are strewn with empty plastic bottles and plastic bags, and in the areas around the riverside cafes, coke cans and sweet wrappers are everywhere.
- Hiking and Walking
- Budget Travel
Asni - Saturday Berber souk
Asni is a small Berber village along the main road to the Tizi-n-Test Pass. Its location is rather scenic with good views of the Toubkal, with a height of 4167 metres the highest mountain of Morocco. The village is spread along the road with some shops and local cafés along the road.
First we had a Moroccan coffee in one of these local cafés together with our driver, before entering the weekly souk of Asni, which is hold every Saturday. Just behind the gate we reached a completely different world, although having seen the Kasbah and souks of Marrakech.
This rural souk looked like we were back in the ‘middle ages’. Fruit and vegetables are spread out on the ground, paths are muddy and most people look poor. In another part of the market vendors were selling chickens and goats, next to the stall of a (donkey)blacksmith. Perhaps most remarkable was the ‘car park’ with a huge number of donkeys. You may find it turning to the left after the entrance gate.
Such a rural souk is much more authentic (I would say a must see during a Marrakech visit) and we liked it much more than the more commercial souks in the city.
We were more or less alone between locals and after making an overall picture of the market some of them were rather angry. So we accepted the ‘help’ of a conman, although we intended not to accept offers from anybody. To be honest it felt quite comfortable strolling around with him. At the end he offered some Berber souvenirs and after a lot of bargaining (from 400 to 70 Dirhams) we bought one.
Be aware: Asni seems to be well known as hustlers, touts and conmen village.
Asni lies about 50 km’s from Marrakech and is accessible by bus or grand-taxi. We visited the market during our trip to the Tizi-n-Test Pass.
Ouriki, donkeys in the oued
When we entered the market village Ouriki, we saw also at the the other side of the bridge a lot of ''parked'' donkeys of the local people, visiting the market. Never before I had seen so many donkeys at one spot.
When we saw the huge amount of donkeys in the oued and all the people at the bridge, we were prepared, that the market must be very crowded.
Ouriki, market day
We were very excited to have a look in this village at the marketday. When we walked around, it was as if we were back in another era. These pictures are not from 1975, but made in 2000.
It was very crowded in the village indeed, but it was also easy to find some more quiet places at the edges of the village with only a few donkeys and local men around.
In another part of the village we found the vegetable market. At this coulourful part of the market we saw many tomatoes, onions and other vegetables and herbs. The soil in the surrounding area of the village must be fertile.
In the animal part of the market we saw only men, as we expected, but also at the vegetable part of the market we saw hardly any woman.
We walked around at the market, exploring and trying to discover the different sections of the market. The market was spread out in the whole village, so it took some time before we had visited all the sections with animals, vegetables, local craft and more.
We enjoyed the special atmosphere and ambiance in the village.
Village near Ouriki
On our way to Ouriki, one hour south of Marrakesh, we saw many fruittrees and agricultural fields in the green Ourika Valley. The villages looked very nice. The kasbah village on the picture we saw just before we reached Ouriki. The red colour of the buildings fits very well against the mountainslopes in the same colour.
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