Kasbahs in N’kob

Renovated kasbahs in N’kob

After a second night at Chez Ali in Zagora, we’re back on the road and it’s the same game as the previous days: to go east, we have to make a detour to the north to find a passage or pass suitable for our rental car. So we head up the Drâa valley from Zagora by the same route taken two days earlier, but at Tansikhte, we turn right onto the R108 to head east again.

As soon as we leave the Drâa valley, the arid steppe resumes in the valley bottoms.


Nekob (N’koub, Nekoob) is a small town south of Jbel Saghro, with few tourists and many large casbahs, all in good condition. A hotel (the Baha Baha La Kasbah) occupies a very well-kept kasbah, and the owner is also financing the renovation of other kasbahs in the town, because he recognizes that it serves him better than the ruins around his hotel. The house is an old renovated kasbah, and the interior has been decorated with respect for Berber traditions, and of course with a certain amount of luxury. We visit this hotel for the price of two teas with cookies.

Two stairwells lead to the roof. There is no real terrace (for example, for sleeping under the stars on hot summer nights).

At the Hotel Baha Baha, we’re trying to restore the house using original parts and techniques.

Black or brown Berber tents are made from camel or sheep hair woven into long strips. These are then assembled to form the large surfaces under which the poles are placed to support the tent.

N’Koob is an ideal starting point for exploring the Sarhro massif.

The rooms are nice and inexpensive, but you can also sleep in these Berber tents in the hotel garden.

Brasseros are terracotta legs (not glazed) on which embers from a wood fire are placed, and on top of which the tagine pot is placed to cook for long hours. The procedure is a little complicated, as the embers have to be changed during the long cooking process, but this prevents overheating.

Along the N12 between Tazzarine and Rissani

From Nekob, we head fairly straight eastwards. The last palm groves are covered in sand, and all that remains is a stony desert. First we see live camels, then dead ones.

There is no traffic on this road. We stopped for a drink and André wanted to photograph the dune at the bottom of the valley on the other side of the road, when this well-dressed man out of nothing passed in front of his lens.

Dunes are often formed in the center of valleys in the axis between two passes, where the wind passes regularly.

Dromedaries are bred primarily for their wool and secondarily to transport tourists. They are rarely seen transporting goods. It’s also rare to see them butchered. Dromedary herds are never without a shepherd. But shepherds are very poor people, as they generally don’t own their animals. Photographing a dromedary is therefore almost worse than photographing Muslim humans: these shepherds are furious if you take a photo of the animals. Of course, it’s not for religious reasons – they just want to be paid for the photo. The shepherd is usually sitting somewhere in the shade, out of sight. But when we stop by car, they’re there in no time, as they’re all equipped with mountain bikes (dromedaries move much faster than sheep, for example). Refusing to pay money for a photo, we usually give them some food (pomegranate, tin of sardines, water), as shepherds usually have very little with them.

Normally, everything is done to prevent the dunes from invading the palm groves, but here nature seems to have won out over man. However, the remaining palm trees seem to be doing well.

Near Timerzit, we can see parts of the old road. This gives us a chance to leave the main road for a break. When the new road is destroyed (by bad weather, but also by movement of the dunes), we are sometimes diverted onto portions of the old road. But we don’t find anything beautiful there.

This camel either died naturally, or was involved in an accident with a car. The carcass is completely desiccated and still in shape, proving that there are no large carnivorous animals in the region. The hindrance between the front legs serves to delimit the animals’ range of action when they’re not on the move.

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