Ouarzazate lies in a valley at the foot of the Atlas Mountains. It's popular with tourists on their way to the Sahara Desert. Scenic day trips into the surrounding region offer a glimpse of times gone by in the ruins of ancient Kasbahs. It's a good place to stock up on provisions for desert treks.
Ouarzazate is the film capital of Morocco, with everything from Lawrence of Arabia to The Mountains of the Moon and Star Wars being filmed there. The studio outside town is an impressive sight, and open to the public for tours. Of course the town has its share of luxury hotels, expensive restaurants and shops. The Kasbah is very nice, recently restored and has been used as a movie set many times. The shopping in Ouarzazate is pricey, and the merchants inflexible. The town has an Artisans Cooperative with some nice rugs worth seeing.
Ait-Benhaddou The Ksar of Ait Benhaddou is one of the most beautiful in Morocco and was recently classified as part of the world heritage by UNESCO. Mostly uninhabited, the fortified village is a fine example of clay architecture.
Possible excursion from Ouarzazate:
½ day visit of Ouarzazate : : the Taourirt kasbah, the Tifoultout kasbah former Glaoui Pacha residences. Atlas film studios can be visited when there is no shooting
½ day to Fint Oasis : 15 km/10 mi far by land rover. Beautiful pre-Saharian landscapes leading to Fint Oasis. Visit the plantations and the irrigation system of this rich oasis.
1 day to Tineghir & Todra Gorges by the Dades Valley : 175 km/109 mi far. Tineghir is a market town and administrative centre, built on the top of a hill which overlooks the splendid Todra valley. Two types of dwellings can be seen : towards the Drâa, the kasbah with a corner tower. Tinghir Oasis, famous for its magnificent Todra Canyons which rocks reach an altitude of 250 meters/820 feet. Optional lunch in an Auberge or under nomads' tents at the feet of the gorges.
1 day to Zagora and the Drâa Valley : 195 km/ 122 mi. far. After passing the Tizi N'Tiniffit pass (1.660 m/450 feet) the road descends to the Drâa valley leading to Agdz situated at the foot of the rock face of the jebel Kissane. Then the road follows the Oued Drâa river with palm groves laid out along the banks and dotted with about 50 kasbahs and ksours. Then on to Zagora, the 'gate of the desert' and possibility to continue towards Tamegroute passing by the palm groves. The Tamegroute library contains manuscripts and illuminated Korans dating from the 12th century. Magnificent Berber pottery.image
½ day to Aït Benhaddou : 33 km/21 mi far. The fortified village of Aït Benhaddou has been classified by Unesco as one of the world's cultural treasures. It's considered as one of the most beautiful villages of its kind in Morocco and has served as decor for many great movies. Optional lunch in the auberge facing the kasbah for an immemorable souvenir.
1 day to Marrakesh : 210 km/131 mi far. Visit the Koutoubia mosque exterior (12th cent.), the Saadian tombs (16th cent.), the Mellah Jewish quarter, the Bahia palace (19th cent.) , the Menara garden, the souks and Djemaa El Fna square. Optional lunch with belly dancer in a Moroccan Palace.
Perfect luxury on the way to the Sahara Desert
It may be being hidden away on a dusty road somewhere between the Atlas Mountains and the desert in the Skoura Palmgrove, but as soon as the soaring red-brick citadel of Dar Ahlam comes into view, you know this “House of Dreams” is something special. imageLocated in an oasis that was once part of a medieval sultan’s hunting ground, it simply oozes a unique class that mixes traditional Moroccan values with French chic. It’s as if you are entering a universe of refined decoration and a meeting of styles. This is thanks to team of Parisian entrepreneurs lead by Thierry Teyssier who decided to renovate this 19th century Kasbah, and the result is a stunning tour de force that manages to be both modern and traditional at the same time.
Its eight suites and three villa, for example, are all superbly decorated with unusual pieces and antiques, silk drapes and take in a kaleidoscope of traditional shades ranging from light to deep purple, pink and olive green. There’s nothing to separate them, yet each one is unique making for an exceptional stay - and that’s just on the inside. With the house being surrounded by a palm grove, the landscape is haven like and perfect for contemplation or a dip in the beautiful heated swimming pool. The independent villas, located on the edge of the grounds, though part of the property can also be rented out separately. Given its singular location, Dar Ahlam makes a perfectly luxurious, stopover to the Sahara desert and Atlas Mountains.
Berber Palace Hotel
Adhering to local culture, the hotel is built in the Kasbah style and with a mix of Berber and traditional crafts, an ambience of space and charm has been created. Centrally located on a high point, the hotel has 240 air-conditioned rooms each with private terrace/patio, satellite TV, phone, mini-bar, bath & shower. Facilities include large pool, dining room serving Moroccan and international cuisine, grill and piano bar
Golf in Ouarzazate: Ouarzazate Royal Golf Club
Make a beautiful drive and watch your ball fly up towards the eternal snow! The spectacular High Atlas can be seen from all points on the Royal Ouarzazate Golf Course. Which is all the more remarkable when you consider that the course stands at the very gates of the desert, where the Kasbah Trail begins. Playing here is both incredibly captivating and complex. The broken terrain of the fairways with their slopes and embankments wind their way between palm trees around an immense lake which also serves as a barrage on the challenging final hole. In the Deep South, man's determination and invention make everything grow: this nine hole oasis will soon be extended to 18.