10 Oct Morocco | Aït Ben Haddou
The name Aït Ben Haddou means almost nothing to no one, but I’m pretty sure you find this place very familiar, especially to the Game of Thrones fans because part of season 2 was filmed in this ancient village as Yunkai. In fact many blockbuster movies were filmed in this location, and many film production studios have been set up in the surrounding area of Ouarzazate.
Aït Ben Haddou is listed as one of the UNESCO heritage sites since 1987. Ksar – group of dwellings in deep red earth tones surrounded by giant fortification were built back in 17th century . It had its own community with mosque, cemetery and public square. The scale was massive, especially when we were at the bottom admiring this ancient Moroccan architecture. The setting was so photogenic and well preserved, I got no wonder why it’s filmed so many times in hollywood movies.
It took us about 15-20mins to get to the top and the panorama view overlooking the valley was spectacular. I really enjoyed the walk and some shops on the way because it was so quiet and peaceful. Nobody was going to hustle us. In general that’s also why I like Atlas Mountains and Sahara in Morocco the most. It’s naturally beautiful, serene and peaceful.
We had been to a few souks and more or less they were similar to one another. Manoj brought us to a very unique market experience on the way to Aït Ben Haddou from Sahara. I’m not sure where it is but it’s a local souk and we could barely see any tourist around. The most striking market scene was the live cattle and donkey market. We saw almost hundred of donkeys, cows and goats in an open field and Manoj told me a small donkey was about 50 euros and a camel could cost up to 200 euros each.
We were walking towards an alley and there were at least 20 Arabic women covered themselves from head to toe in black sitting on the floor. I was a bit nervous when we followed Manoj to pass through the alley, but he said they were just begging for money and don’t worry about them. The scene totally shocked me….so candid and unexpected.
After visiting a local souk, we were brought to an Argan oil factory where we could see how Argan oil was made. Argan oil (sometimes referred as Moroccan oil) has been advertised as a magic ingredient to smooth your hair and skin. It’s being branded as a luxury haircare and skincare almost. The most interesting part was not how’s made, it’s how the nuts were picked. We were on the bus to Essaouira and Will woke me up from sleep to watch the goats climbing onto the Argan trees. Imagine 10 goats are sitting on a tree and that’s not a dream!!!
We didn’t know what’s going on until later we found out the tree goats were actually eating the Argan nuts from the tree. Nuts would then collected from their poop and processed into Argan oil. Of course big cosmetic companies won’t use this method to collect the nuts for mass production nowadays but it’s very interesting to know Moroccans are still using this old method to pick the nuts. We didn’t get the chance to film this epic moment on the bus but you can watch it from here.
The road trip from Fez to Marrakech via Sahara was extremely long. We had spent sometimes 5-8 hours just on the road. Even though we made numerous stops and visits to a few interesting attractions in our 3D2N trip, I was still getting car sick on the windy roads of Atlas Mountains. Make sure if you tend to get car sick easily, let your tour guide know in advance and make adjustment to your itinerary if necessarily. Having said that… we had a great time in the Sahara tour and I would highly recommend it for those coming to Morocco to visit the regions and learn the culture.
Aït Ben Haddou字面上除左係阿拉伯文之外，應該記唔起係0羊。但你應該覺得張相好熟口熟面，原因就係好多荷里活電影都係響到取景，仲有好多追捧Game of Thrones既電視迷都特登黎朝聖。附近既Ouarzazate仲設立左好多片場方便拍攝。呢個好似盜墓迷城咁既地方響1987年已被納入世界文化遺產，已經有幾百年既歷史。古城位處於居高臨下，四面都有高牆保護外敵，裡面一棟棟既房屋都係用草同泥土混合建成，係屬於摩洛哥傳統既建築材料，難得係隔左咁耐古城都保存得完整。
我地個導遊響又沙漠黎Aït Ben Haddou古城途中仲有去其他地方，其中最特別就係帶我地去一個無遊客既市場。我地仲見識到駱駝，顱仔，綿羊等等係點樣買賣，一群群係個空地等買家選擇。原來一隻普通顱仔大約值50歐羅，一隻駱駝就大約200歐羅。一路跟住導遊行，路經一條窄巷，見到兩旁坐滿起碼20個阿拉伯女人由頭笠到路腳成身黑色坐晒響地下，當堂嚇窒左。導遊話佢地係度乞錢，我都家陣都證實唔到係真係假，但果個景象真係好深刻。