Marrakech: An overview - Part 31

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Marrakech: An overview - Part 31

Road trips out of Marrakech – continued,

The other main route out of Marrakech is via the Tizi-n-Tichka Pass. This pass is on highway N9 which run South East over the Atlas Mountains, crossing the country’s highest pass. On the other side, it then descends down to the town of Ouarzazate which is considered to be the gateway to the Sahara. Along this route, you will come across some interesting sights, including the kasbahs of Telouet and Aït Benhaddou, which is off the main road. The whole route is only 122 miles long and is on a good road all of the way. However, there are some twisting stretches that demand careful driving. Therefore the journey regularly takes longer than you would think and it is best to plan on about four hours. Tourists can arrange for a grand taxi or hire a car. However, there are several Ouarzazate buses that travel this route every day from Marrakech’s main bus station. A company called Supratours also runs daily trips to Ouarzazate.

Aït Ourir is no more than a small roadside hamlet which is 22 miles outside Marrakech. However, the place does comes to life each Friday when it hosts a weekly country market. If you choose to pass through on the right day, it makes for an entertaining short stop off.

After Aït Ourir, the road starts to climb. The last place to stop before the pass is the busy village of Taddert which is set amongst walnut groves. In the higher part of the village you can find a small number of good cafés that offer a view of the valley below. Whenever the pass is closed by bad weather there is a barrier here that is lowered to halt all the traffic.

As the road leaves Taddert the vegetation comes to an end and the landscape turns desolate and rugged. The twisting highway has precipitous drops that will insure drivers’ keep their eyes firmly fixed on the road. At its highest point the pass reaches 7, 415 feet, this point is marked by a few stalls selling mineral-filled rocks. The rocks are found around this area and when they are broken in half they reveal glittering crystal formations inside. This is one of the few souvenirs that is really worth buying.

Telouet was the stronghold of the Glaoui clan in the early 20th century. They were the rulers all of all of southern Morocco, under French sponsorship It is a fairly small town dominated by a magnificent Kasbah. It has been abandoned for nearly fifty years and much of the structure is crumbling and dangerous, so you need to be careful. However, you can visit the ornate reception hall and the rooftop terrace, which gives stunning views all around.

Continued in part 32

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Page added on: 27 May 2018
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