City of Yunkai
With the end of the Game of Thrones series this week, I can’t help but pinch myself that I have been lucky enough to step foot and explore one of the towns where Game of Thrones was filmed on my recent trip to Morocco. If you’re a GOT fan or lover of movies set in ancient cities, this is a pretty cool place to put on your bucket list.
Ait Benhaddou was featured in season 3 of Game of Thrones, and represented the slave-trading city of Yunkai; the place Daenerys Targaryen laid siege to and won after only a few short hours. At the end of the scene, the freed slaves surrounded Daenerys and called her, ‘Mother.’
On our tour with Intrepid, this stop was only a few hours, but if you wanted to stay over-night, there are plenty of accommodation options in the main town. If you do end up spending a night or two and find yourself getting bored, check out the nearby city of Ouarzazate. It’s easy to reach by car and is the home of Atlas Studios – a film studio with props and sets from movies like The Mummy and Gladiator.
Things to do
To be honest, there isn’t a whole lot to do at Ait Benhaddou besides explore the old Kasbah but saying that it’s a magnificent place to see and it should be on everyone’s itinerary.
A couple of things to do are:
Hike: If you stay for more than a few hours, be sure to hike the hills surrounding the fortress.
Shop: Have a shop around the village as there are plenty of unique handicrafts and art and jewellery shops to look at and also some great rugs stores where the merchants are not as pushy as in Marrakesh for a sale
Appreciate golden hour: Ait Benhaddou is one of the best places to watch the sunset in Morocco. Find a rooftop, get your camera ready, and watch the sun slip over the horizon. Although the day we were here, it was pretty windy (check out the video above) so we didn’t achieve much of the sunset, but the golden light was still absolutely breathtaking for pics.
We also visited the Skoura Oasis along the road of the fabled ‘Road of 1,000 Kasbahs. A privately owned home with extravagant decorations and mud-brick fortifications that look like you’ve stepped back in time. It was interesting to see the primitive tools and cooking equipment still in working order and fascinating to give you a sense of life back in ancient Moroccan times.