South of the High Atlas

South of the highest peak in the Atlas (Jbel Toubkal 4167 metres), which sometimes remains snow-capped into summer, a small-scale biblical landscape stretches into the distance. An hour’s journey beyond the Tizi-n-Tichka pass is the famous Ait-Benhaddou casbah, where individually fortified houses rise dramatically on the southern slope of a bare table mountain. Orson Welles shot several scenes of his film “Sodom and Gomorrha“ here.

At Ouarzazate, the not especially interesting regional centre, the road branches north-east into the Vallée du Dades and south-east into the Vallée du Drâa. Both trips are worth making. The Vallée du Dades leads to the Gorges du Dades and into the Tafilalt oasis. The aforementioned gorge offers a stunning landscape. The rocks in particular, ranging in shade from pink to ochre, are breathtakingly beautiful.

Berber architecture, which can be admired throughout the region, is completely unique. Prime examples are the casbahs and ksour. The casbah is the ancient citadel which controlled access to the oases and was built to protect the local population against robbers. Ksour are fortified oasis villages. The ksour emerge from the extensive palm forests with their reddish and ochre-coloured towers and walls with small white-framed windows.