Ait Ben Haddou is an ancient city located along the Ouarzazate river near Marrakech. This UNESCO World Heritage site in Morocco is very popular among travelers. Mainly because it is one of the filming locations of HBO’s blockbuster series: Game of Thrones. The Kasbah of Ait BenHaddou in North Africa are over a 1000 years old but still just as relevant and a must-visit if you are planning to visit Morocco.
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How to get to Ait Ben Haddou
To reach Ait Benhaddou from Marrakech you have to pass the Atlas Mountains. This 4-hour drive will bring you along Tizi n’ Tichka and provides you with some of the most amazing views. The easiest way to visit Ait Ben Haddou is by booking a tour, but there are more options.
With a tour
The easiest way is by going with a tour operator. Our visit was part of a tour we had with GetYourGuide. A nice thing about going with a tour is that you don’t have to worry about planning at all. We even stopped a few times to take some pictures in the Atlas Mountains.
The only downside about going with a tour is that you have to stick to a schedule and in this case that resulted in only 3 hours at Ait Ben Haddou.
Renting a car and driving yourself is an excellent option but keep in mind that driving in Morocco is quite the adventure itself. The roads can lead to difficult situations and you have to be comfortable enough to conquer them. Most car rental companies in Morocco ask you to pay a security deposit of somewhere between €800 and €1200.
In Morocco you have two major bus companies named: Supratours and CTM. From Marrakech you can take the bus to Ouarzazate which is the city close to the kasbah. The busride will take about 4,5 hours and costs 95 dirhams. One thing that is really important is asking the busdriver to drop you at the intersection road that leads to Ait Ben Haddou.This is about 20km before reaching Ouarzazate.
From this point it is 8km to Ait BenHaddou and it cost you 15 dirhams to take a grand taxi. Many locals will offer you a ride if you pay them some money.
This is the most difficult option but the cheapest for travelers on a budget.
One downside about traveling with a bus is that you don’t stop in both the High Atlas Mountains and the Tizi n’ Tichka pass. These sceneries are some of the highlights of Morocco and a delight for every travel photographer.
Best time to visit
Like always the best time to visit a UNESCO World Heritage is as early as possible or later in the afternoon. With Ait Ben Haddou it is the same situation as it is very popular among travelers in Morocco.
We always try to travel to a destination during shoulder season and so far we have experienced a lot of benefits for doing that.
The weather at Ait Ben Haddou
November to February - In the winter you won’t see many other people at Ait Ben Haddou, which is perfect if you want to have the place all for yourself. Don’t forget to bring layers as it can be surprisingly cold, especially in the evening.
March to April and September to October - The temperature is best if you visit during spring and this is also when the country looks best. The landscape is in full bloom and is turning green as the temperature is rising. During autumn you can expect the same weather.
June to August - During summer the heat can be quite fierce and the days are long and sunny. Cover up in loose clothes to avoid sunburn and don’t forget to hydrate.
How long to stay at Ait Ben Haddou
If you plan to visit Ait BenHaddou as part of a trip to the Sahara you will only have 3 hours to explore the area. Even though there is not much to do you can still easily enjoy yourself for a whole day and it is actually quite a good spot to watch sunset.
What to do during your visit
When exploring the old kasbah you will find out there is not that much to do. But when you stroll through the narrow streets you will discover some of the magic that this place has to offer.
Chat with the berber people
Have a genuine chat with the berber people while they show you their local crafts. You might even get tempted to buy an amazing handmade rug. One of the berber guys even learned me how to play his traditional berber instrument.
Hike to the top
Hiking all the way up on the hill above the ksar will reach an amazing panoramic viewpoint. On one side you see a stony desert that stretches into infinity while the other side gives you an overview of the palm grove that lies at the foot of the village.
Ait Benhaddou is among the best places to watch sunset in Morocco. At the end of the day you might like to find a quiet rooftop or spot on the viewpoint. With such a great panoramic view it is a magical place to watch the sunset.
Game of thrones filming location
Ait Ben Haddou was used as a filming location for Yunkai during season 3 of Game of Thrones. The city of Yunkai is a slave-trading city that was freed from their slave merchants by Daenerys Targaryen. Since Ait Ben Haddou been a part of Game of Thrones it became even more popular.
Where to stay in Ait Ben Haddou
In the sleepy town that surrounds the old kasbah you will find a good selection of hotels where you can stay. Have a look on booking.com to see the current rates for hotels in Ait Ben Haddou. Find out some of our favorites here.
Auberge Ksar Ait Ben Haddou - This hotel is in walking distance and has a great view over the kasbah. For a decent price and facilities such as a swimming pool, restaurant and free wifi this is one of the best picks.
Riad Tamdakhte - When your in Morocco it is always nice to stay in a riad. The design of this riad is in traditional Moroccan style and from the terrace you will have a fantastic view. All rooms have airco and its located at only 4.4km from the ksar, which makes it a quiet place to hangout.
Kasbah Tebi - If you are looking for the full Ait Ben Haddou experience don’t look any further. This hotel is located inside the ksar and looks absolutely stunning. Everything inside the room is traditionally decorated and all rooms have a private bathroom. You can relax on the terrace while you enjoy the surrounding valley.
Have you walked among the kasbah in Ait Ben Haddou? Let us know in the comments below.