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Sunset from the watchtower in Ait Benhaddou

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In the middle of the town of Ait Benhaddou, atop the tallest hill in the fortified part of the city, right where the watchtower stands that was once used to monitor caravan traffic on the nearby roads, is the best vantage point for sunset over the valley made famous by movies such as 'Gladiator'.

It's been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1987 and though the fort and the city's buildings are increasingly damaged with each rainstorm due to their being built of mud bricks, it's easy to see why the city has a protected status. It's so unusual in a country that has more than a few unusual things to brag about.

Walk through the oldest part of Ait Benhaddou, the portion only accesible by bridge and still surrounded by the old medina walls, climb the hill fortified with layer-upon-layer of stone, brave the wind that whips your hair around your face and endeavors to peel your layers of clothing right off your body and when you've finally reached the summit and climbed the highest you can go in Ait Benhaddou...

You will be rewarded with such a sight. The setting sun illuminating the city, bathing the entire valley in ochre light; this is the best time to visit. There is none better. Even with the gale-force winds.

Bring a flashlight for the way down, prepare yourself with a bottle of wine or hot chocolate, maybe even the mint tea Morocco does so well. It's not hard to understand why so many films have made the town their set piece!

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by Kirsten Alana
AFAR Local Expert
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