Friday, April 15, 2016

L'Oasis D'Or - Ait Ben Haddou, Morocco

One of the spots I was looking forward to on our trip was Ait Ben Haddou, a fortified city along what was a caravan route between the Sahara Desert and Marrakech. It is about 16.5 miles from Skoura, where we stayed the night before, and 112.5 miles to Marrakech, on the other side of the High Atlas Mountains, which was our next destination. The homes inside the walled city are made of clay and it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. Many movies have been filmed there, including Jesus of Nazareth in 1977, The Man Who Would Be King in 1975, The Jewel of the Nile in 1985, The Last Temptation of Christ in 1988, The Mummy in 1999, Gladiator in 2000, Alexander in 2004 and Son of God in 2014, among others that I have not mentioned. It makes for a good representation of old Jerusalem in movies. I did buy a simple water color of some camels from a man that showed us to the back of his shop which was used as a prison in the movie Gladiator. He showed us a picture of himself posing with Russell Crowe. He was an extra in that movie. 
Ait Ben Haddou with the High Atlas Mountains in the background. 
Judy in front of the building at the top of the walled town.
From near the top of Ait Ben Haddou, looking down and across the river.
Looking off in another direction toward some colorfully banded desert hills.
A look in the same direction, but with a little wider foreground and backdrop.
This was my biggest disappointment in Morocco. It was incredibly touristy, felt like it was just a hawker bazaar, and more like a movie set. I was happy to leave. 

Our driver, Aziz, picked our restaurant, and per usual he picked a spot where he would be fed and disappeared to eat with his fellow drivers and guides. What L'Oasis D'Or does have going for it is a great view of Ait Ben Haddou from across the river.  The menu is limited and it is expensive by Moroccan standards, but cheap in comparison to touristy restaurants in Fez and Marrakech. 
The sign on the front of the restaurant is barely readable.
We got a salad, unusual in Morocco per our experience. It was simple with lettuce, tomatoes, olives, boiled potato pieces and some jalapeno slices. It was actually nice to have a little salad. We got bread with olives, olive oil and some spicy ground chilies which was also unusual. We really loved both the olive oil and the ground chilies on the bread. We both got the usual fresh-squeezed orange juice and Coca Cola Zeros as well. 
The salad, though not great, was a nice change.
The olive oil and hot chile pepper past were nice add-ons to the bread.
I got a tagine of beef that came with couscous, squash, carrots and some chickpeas. It wasn't bad. Judy got a tagine, I believe of chicken, that was loaded with chickpeas and olives instead of couscous. Dessert was bananas and oranges. 
Tagine of beef with couscous.
Tagine of chicken, I believe with lots of chickpeas.


  1. I really liked Ait Ben Haddou. The souvenir hawkers were fairly contained to a few areas, and the winding pathways and mud construction were really intriguing. The view from the tower on top was spectacular. You say to-may-to and I say to-mah-to this time.

  2. The colors of Ait Ben Haddou are strikingly beautiful. I think I might be able to overlook the tourist-y problem by enjoying the view. However, I do agree that many lovely areas of the world are spoiled by those who need to make a living.