Ghardaïa in the M'zab Valley
M'zab is a limestone plateau in Saharan Algeria and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its collection of desert fortress-cities are exotic to the point of surrealism.
M'zab is made up of five separate "cities," which essentially serve as separate urban centres of one large "Pentapolis," home to over 350,000 people.
- Beni Isguen
- Ghardaïa — the largest city of the valley, with a population over 100,000.
- Melika — a small and less remarkable centre, but one that offers the best views of both Ghardaia and Bounoura.
Outside the Pentapolis of the valley, there are two other Mozabite oasis towns far to the north:
There's only one way you are likely to get to M'zab, and that's by vehicle on the N1 south from Laghouat.
M'zab architecture (Ghardaïa)
- M'zab architecture in each of the fortified cities
- Berber Carpets in the Ghardaia Marketplace - Ghardaia is famous for their carpets. If you go into any of the carpet stores, chances are, the owner will invite you in for tea, and even tell you the meaning behind the Berber symbols embroidered on the carpets. However, most people only speak Arabic or French
- Beni Isguen - Take a guided tour of Beni Isguen. It is relatively easy to pick up a local guide at the entrance where the main gate and tourist office is located. The guide will explain the history, the architecture and its materials to you as he takes you safely through the alleyways. Beni Isguen is closed to the public from 1pm-4pm