The UNESCO-listed Kasbah Ait Benhaddou is one of Morocco’s most impressive historic landmarks and a popular film location for Hollywood movies. Sculpted from traditional mud bricks and fortified by walls of dark red pisé, this kasbah lies on the old trans-Saharan trade route, at the border of the High Atlas Mountains and Sahara Desert.
A guided tour of Ait Benhaddou takes in highlights such as the Telouet Kasbah, once the lavish 20th-century home of Thami el Glaoui, “The Lord of the Atlas”; the magnificent hilltop Granary; and the elaborate Mausoleum of Benhaddou. Full-day tours to Ait Benhaddou from Marrakech usually combine a tour of the hillside kasbah with a scenic drive along the Tizi N’Tichka mountain pass and a visit to the desert town of Ouarzazate.
Multi-day tours into the Sahara Desert from Marrakech or Fez also often make a stop at Ait Benhaddou, en route to Erg Chebbi or Merzouga, where you can trek through the dunes on a camel and spend a night at a traditional desert camp.
Things to Know Before You Go
- A tour of Ait Benhaddou involves a lot of walking uphill and along uneven paths, so wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water.
- There are a number of restaurants, accommodation options, and souvenir stalls at Ait Benhaddou.
- Ait Benhaddou is not easily accessible for wheelchairs users.
How to Get There
Ait Benhaddou is about 3.5 hours’ drive south of Marrakech, or a 30-minute drive northwest of Ouarzazate. There is no direct public transport to Ait Benhaddou, and most travelers opt to visit as part of a guided tour or to take a taxi from Ouarzazate.
When to Get There
For the most impressive photo opportunities, time your visit for sunrise, when the golden light is most magical, or stick around until the evening to watch the sunset from the hilltop. Most day-trippers arrive during the mid to late morning, so it’s worth making an early start to avoid the crowds.
Ait Benhaddou on the Big Screen
Ait Benhaddou boasts an impressive resumé of film credits, having served as a set location for a number of international movies. The city’s dramatic edifice and mountain backdrop have appeared in films such as Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator, Jesus of Nazareth, The Mummy, and Babel. Most recently, the site was used to film on location for HBO’s hit TV series Game of Thrones.