The Skoura oasis begins quite suddenly, around 30km east of Ouarzazate, along a tributary of the Drâa, the Oued Ameridil. It is an extraordinary sight even from the road, which for the most part follows its southern edge – a very extensive, very dense palmery, with an incredibly confusing network of tracks winding across fords and through palms to scattered groups of ksour and kasbahs.
The grandest and most extravagantly decorated kasbah in the oasis, Kasbah Ameridil may well look familiar: it’s eminently photogenic and features in travel brochures and coffee-table books – and on the front of the current fifty-dirham note.
Ameridil was built in the seventeenth century for the caïd of Skoura, and various implements from the original building line one wall of the courtyard, including some ingenious little locks whose keys doubled as toothbrushes. You can poke around a variety of rooms that once served as kitchens – one still retains the ovens used to cook tafarnoute (bread baked over stones on the ground) and tanourte (bread baked on the the side of the oven) – a Koranic school and a mosque, and bedrooms used by the chief and his four wives.