After a long road journey through the Atlas Mountains, I had made it to Ouarzazate. I came all this way to stay at the fabulous Dar Rita and visit Ait Benhaddou, because I’m a big fan of Game of Thrones Travel.
Ait Benhaddou – The Yellow City of Yunkai in the Game of Thrones
Ait Ben Haddou is a UNESCO world heritage site and is a striking example of a Saharan ksar. A Ksar is a mud and clay city containing small houses or Kasbahs and a Mosque inside, protected by fortified walls. There are just a few families left living in this ancient city.
Ait Benhaddou is the city of Yunkai in the Game of Thrones. Queen Danaerys frees the city of Yunkai from slavery, which is filmed at Ait Benhaddou. After her defeat at the Battle of Yunkai, the inhabitants celebrate by calling her Mhysa, meaning mother.
Ait Benhaddou is also the film set for many other movies including the Mummy, Gladiator and the last temptation of Christ.
Getting to Ait Benhaddou
You can only get to Ait Benhaddou by car, so you will need to book a taxi or hire a driver. If you are bartering for a taxi from Ouarzazate station, they will try to ask for 300Dh, but you should not really pay more than 200/250Dh. Official taxis are beige in Ouarzazate. Your hotel will be able to book you one if you need them to.
Be aware that some taxis are old and there are a few dangerous drivers about. We got a taxi with a guy called Akhmed who was speeding and taking his hands off the wheel to dance to the Berber music! If you are not so sure about this, book a reliable driver with an air conditioned vehicle.
If you are coming to Air Benhaddou as a day trip from Marrakech (around 400km round trip), the cost is 1200Dh with Abdul – he is the best driver we have found in Marrakech. Abdul doesn’t speed and he has an air conditioned vehicle. You can contact Abdellah Hamouch on +212668215861.
I would recommend staying overnight in Ouarzazate or Ait Benhaddou if you can, because Tichka Pass is a difficult road and you may feel sick, especially if you try to do it twice in a day.
On the journey from Ouarzazate to Ait Benhaddou (about 9k), you can stop off and see camels (or ride them!) If you want pictures with the camels, it is nice to offer the owner a little something. We took pictures with the camels, but couldn’t see the owner, so we left 10Dh on the doorstep of his little clay house.
Arriving at Ait Benhaddou
Try to arrive as early as possible to avoid the heat of the day and get spectacular photos after sunrise. Aim to leave around 7am and be back at your hotel before midday.
You will arrive near the main road, and then you will need to walk for around 20-30 minutes to get to the Ksar of Ait Benhaddou itself.
IT WILL BE HOT – DO NOT TAKE THE WALK WITHOUT WATER AND SUN PROTECTION
Remember to take a marker for where on the road your taxi driver will be waiting – the name of a hotel or a shop. I like to take a photo on my iPhone before I start walking so that I can find my way back easily.
It is difficult to get lost at Ait Benhaddou, because it is a small village and signposted well. You don’t need to pay a local guide, although if you decide to, you shouldn’t pay much more than around 30Dh.
One hour will be sufficient to explore the ground floor of Ait Benhaddou. If you spend 2-3 hours there, you will have enough time to walk to the top. Don’t forget to factor in 20-30 minutes to walk back to your taxi on the main road.
Have you ever visited Ait Benhaddou? If so, I would love to hear your thoughts and travel tips.