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Surprisingly lush and abrupt as it springs from the tawny landscape, Skoura deserves a lingering look for its kasbahs and its rich concentration of date palm, olive, fig, and almond trees. Pathways tunnel through the vegetation from one kasbah to another within this fertile island—a true oasis, perhaps the most intensely verdant in Morocco. Skoura is such a pleasant and magical place to hole up
that if you're on a grand tour of the Great Oasis Valleys, it's well worth considering staying here rather than in often-lackluster Ouarzazate.
With so many grand deep-orange-hue kasbahs in Skoura, a tour of the Palmery is compulsory. The main kasbah route through Skoura is approached from a point just over 2 km (1 mile) past the town center toward Ouarzazate. The 18th-century Kasbah Aït Ben Moro is the first fortress on the right (now restored and converted to a hotel); you can leave your car at the hotel, which will happily arrange for a local guide to take you through the Palmery, past the Sidi Aïssa marabout (shrine to a learned holy man). Alternatively, continue along the main road for a few hundred meters till you find the Museum of Skoura. By the Amerhidil River is the tremendous Kasbah Amerhidil, the largest kasbah in Skoura and one of the largest in Morocco. The partially renovated edifice is open to the public.
Down the (usually bone-dry) river is another kasbah, Dar Aït Sidi el-Mati, while back near the Ouarzazate road is the Kasbah el-Kabbaba, the last of the four fortresses on this loop. North of Skoura, on Route 6829 through Aït-Souss, are two other kasbahs: Dar Lahsoune, a former Glaoui residence, and, a few minutes farther north, the Kasbah Aït Ben Abou, the second largest in Skoura after the Amerhidil.
The ksar (fortified village) at Aït Ben Haddou is something of a celebrity itself. This group of earth-built kasbahs and homes hidden behind...