10 Rules for Climbing Moroccan Kasbahs

by Nancy Lauer 1 comment


kasbahs 10 rules for climbing

Kasbahs are amazing ancient, crumbling buildings that were built for defense in North Africa.  Another word for kasbah is fortress.  Kasbahs were built with high walls, usually without windows.  Ruins are dotted throughout southern Morocco.  For me, they hold a certain mystique.  My best friend Laura and I have dubbed ourselves professional kasbah climbers.  We love to imagine what life must have been like back in the days of kasbah living.

Moroccan Kasbah Ruins

During our last kasbah climbing expedition, we decided to draft rules for climbing kasbahs. Our rules are as follows:

Rule 1

Select a Kasbah based on the following thoroughly tested criteria:

a.) Kasbah must be ABANDONED.

b.) Kasbah must be OLDER than dirt.

c.) Kasbah must require CLIMBING.

d.) Kasbah roof must have BEAUTIFUL view.

View from a Kasbah

Rule 2

Upon spotting a kasbah matching the above criteria, request the driver to pull over.  Ask him if he minds leaving you on the side of the road to take photos of …. “things.”  Then ask if he’d be willing to take the children onto the hotel, get them checked in and comfortable, and return for you about 90 minutes later or so.

kasbah climbing morocco

Rule 3

Attempt to open ALL closed doors.  Leave no door untried.

Laura: “Do you think we should try the door?”

Nancy: “Of course.”

View from a Kasbah

Rule 4

If door is locked, use a window.

Laura: “The door’s locked.”

Nancy: “It’s ok. We’ll just go in through the window.”

Kasbah Window

Rule 5

 If When you see hundreds of snake holes, try to calm yourself.

Laura: (climbing stairs) “Are there snakes in Morocco? I don’t think snakes would want to live here. That’s what I’m telling myself.”

Nancy: “How aware of your denial do you want to be right now???”

Kasbah Stairway

Rule 6

Study up on the differences between 14th century SKYLIGHTS and 21st century CAVE-INS.  When in doubt, send the one LEAST knowledgeable about structural soundness to run tests.

Laura: (on roof)  “I’m not going over there unless you go first.”

Kasbah Roof

Rule 7

Always explore in pairs.  Remember Murphy’s Law, “Cell phones in Morocco rarely work when needed.”

Murphy’s Appendix: Ambulances may or may NOT exist near your abandoned kasbah.  If by chance an ambulance is nearby, it’s a guarantee that it will NOT be fast.  Regardless, it’s a sure bet that your partner (in crime) will be more effective at fixing your broken leg than the Moroccan public hospital will be.

Kasbah Ruins

Rule 8

Should you find yourself scattering your mother’s ashes from the roof of a kasbah, be sure to check the direction of the wind first.

Laura: “I don’t want people to think I just throw my mom off kasbah roofs.”

Nancy: “You threw her off the Atlas Mountains, the Dades Gorges, and the sand dunes – why not a kasbah?”

View from a Moroccan Kasbah

Rule 9

When you find yourself thinking like an American… STOP IT!  Remember the Moroccan Proverb, “Nothing is strange in Morocco.”

Moroccan Kasbah

Rule 10

Should you discover that Rule 1, Criteria A is not met: (“Kasbah must be abandoned.“) Ensure you’ve set aside at LEAST 45 minutes for tea with the family living in your “abandoned” kasbah.

moroccan tea

No worries, there’s always another kasbah down the road.  Rinse and repeat.

Send us a message to book your kasbah tour.



I grew up in the American Midwest and consider Morocco my second home. I am a former classroom teacher as well as a mental health practitioner. In addition to running Open Doors Morocco, I work with American and international educational publishers. I am the first to tell you that a trip to Morocco is an amazing life transforming experience.

Nancy Lauer10 Rules for Climbing Moroccan Kasbahs

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1 comment

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  • Donna - September 19, 2016 reply

    I can’t believe how brave you two ladies are. Looks like a beautiful adventure.

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