Morocco is a genuine mosaic. For a country that is 710 850 square kilometers (274 461 square miles) this is a concentrate of architectural types, climate zones, geological formations, and landscape variations. From November to May, taking one of the country’s most scenic drives (Fes to Erfoud: 474 km or 296 miles) amounts to going through the four seasons in one day. You start from springtime in the green fertile Saiss plain, up to winter the Middle Atlas snow covered oak and cedar forests, on to the fall’s grey skies and leafless trees of the pre-Sahara plateaus; and down to summertime with a hot winds blowing tumbleweed, bright sun illuminating dry bush; and endless stretches of sand dunes under a bright blue sky.
We are now south of the High Atlas Mountains. Here the portion of the Sahara desert that is part the Moroccan territory stretches from the Atlantic coast to the border lines with Algeria and Mauritania. This is not only a visual discovery; it is an unforgettable experience as the traveler is exposed to a completely different landscape. Canyons, vermilion ranges, slick rock gorges and cliffs, sandstone and granite boulders all concur to bewilder the viewer. Rivers and streams have been pushing their way through this mineral world for millions of years. They carved mind blowing scenery, and created oases along their winding beds. People turned them into lush produce gardens planted with different crops, vegetables, and fruit trees. Here the palm tree is the prince of vegetation. It treats locals and visitors to many delicious varieties of dates including the world famous Mejhoul.
Throughout the ages, communities thrived to develop techniques and ways of making the best of their environment. They developed ingenuous irrigation techniques. They also acquired sophisticated engineering and construction methods to secure comfortable housing. The Kasbah is the outstanding outcome of this endeavor.
A kasbah is both a residential compound and a fortress. This is a three to four level eco-friendly building. A small courtyard at its center lets the light and air in and serves as a cooling tower. During the hot season, the dwellers live on the ground floor and enjoy its coolness. In the winter, they use the upper levels and benefit from the heat of the sun. At each corner of the building there is a tall tower. Peppered with loopholes these four structures served originally as defensive fortifications and watchtowers. The facades are intricately decorated with bricks and superimposition of layers of clay. Due to their shape and magnificent height Kasbahs are labeled “Clay Giants”
Some of these Kasbahs have been turned into luxurious guesthouses that allow their guests to enjoy a memorable time. They offer the most romantic alternative to a dream night in a luxury encampment on the Sahara sand dunes to which you can either ride a camel, drive; or be chauffeured in a 4X4 vehicle.