Secrets of the  Draa Valley

Approaching the Draa valley at sunset reveals a vista of brown curving hills , small valleys and the distant snow capped high Atlas mountains giving little hint of what lies ahead.   

Most people associate sand, camels and intense heat with the Sahara.   Few know about the deserted ancient kasbahs and ksours lying in South East Morocco.  

A kasbah is a fortified house behind defensive walls while a ksour is a fortified village or town.   In the past, these structures protected their inhabitants from bandits, enemy attacks and hostile families.   Today, most lie crumbling.   

The Draa valley holds some prime examples of old kasbahs and ksours, especially near Agdz and in Tamnougalt, 6kms away.  

The mud walls of Tamnougalt hide secrets which the traveller senses while walking through the narrow lanes.   Crumbling walls and deserted houses create a sense of past importance mingling with modern obsolescence.  Few live here today.   Most prefer the modern homes of near by Agdz.   Kasbahs serving as hotels house the more adventurous visitor.  

As I wonder these past lanes, the expectation of camels or donkeys loaded with dates evaporate into deserted reality.   Arched gateways and passages beg to be photographed while mud brick walls and tiny windows create a mysterious atmosphere demanding to be preserved and explored where only pigeons now roust.   

Walking over the stone paths presents new vistas with each step.  High walls surround me while new alleys draw me in.   Thoughts of the past fill my head.   An errie silence creates mystery.  

The Draa river mianders through the valley presenting a green backdrop to the sun backed villages.   Date palms rule this essential oasis.   Donkeys carry the goods and their owners.   I hear the complaint of an overworked donkey in the distance.   Their life resembles the loads they carry, heavy, unchanging and unforgiving.   

Today, the coo-COO-coo of the eurasian dove and the chirping of other birds break the silence.   Only the occasional tourist stops to view the valley’s hidden treasures.   Most visit Morocco’s cities without every seeing its desert past.   

Agdz lies hidden one hour away from Ouarzazate, Morocco’s film capital where films like Cleopatra and the hit show, Game of Thrones, were filmed.   Few venture further, more should go and see this side of the country and feel the atmosphere of past lives and perhaps the real setting of Thrones’s Free Cities.   


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