Ouarzazate travel information and tips
Ouarzazate travel information and tips
Ouarzazate, in Morocco, is also known as ‘The door of the Moroccan desert. It is distinguished by the variety of its landscapes, the friendliness of its people, the depth and diversity of its folklore, and the architectural authenticity of its habitat. It is situated at an elevation of 1,160 meters and encircled by a mountain range.
Ouarzazate was born from an outpost created by the Foreign Legion in 1928, and even today it continues to be an important garrison city. In fact, approximately 56,000 people live and work here, although more than a destination in itself, it is more of a departure and returns point for trips to the south. Marrakech to Ouarzazate excursion is also a common option for tourists to the ‘red city’.
Ouarzazate is a mandatory stop for all those who do the Oasis route and lately it is booming at the cinematographic level since its region offers a natural landscape of great beauty for filming. For this reason, it is a great attraction for the main producers and film directors, including those of Hollywood. This city has several film studios, where many feature films have been shot, some of them Oscar winners: Lawrence of Arabia, Kundun, Gladiator, Asterix, and Obelix, Tea in the Sahara desert, and Babel… Three film studios and a museum are all located in the city.
Ouarzazate is prepared for tourism, with a wide variety of quality hotels, which offer a total of more than 3,937 beds. Therefore, it is a city with all the conditions to stay and enjoy its attractions and its surroundings.
What to see in Ouarzazate
The highlights of the city center are probably the Central Market, Al Mouahidine square, and the craft souk. On the outskirts stands the Kasbah of Ouarzazate or Taourirt, which can be visited from 8:00AM to 6:30PM It is not only the biggest point of interest in the area but also one of the most interesting Kasbahs in Morocco. This adobe fortress, flanked by crenelated towers, was built by the Glaoui tribe in the 18th century for the gold route that ran from Marrakech to Timbuktu. It is possible to visit its interior, where the rooms of the Glaoui dynasty are located, accompanied by one of the guides who will offer their services.
In addition to visiting the Kasbah of Ouarzazate, you can also visit the craft center, from Monday to Friday, from 8:30AM to 6:30PM on the Saturdays from 8:30AM to 12:00PM Here pottery, stones, tapestries, and rugs from the region are made and sold.
The film studios are also worth a little visit, where you can see the sets of the films that have been shot in the area. Both the Atlas Film Studios and the Oscar Hotel can boast a great list of films shot in them. Lately, it also enjoys great fame among the followers of “Game of Thrones” since Ouarzazate has been the scene of Game of Thrones and part of its scenes can be visited in the film studios.
Kasbahs and Berber villages around Ouarzazate
Apart from an excursion to Ouarzazate, we recommend visiting the Ksar-Ben-Haddou or Ait Ben Haddou, which is located about 26 kilometers in the direction of Marrakech. UNESCO has designated this magnificent fortification a World Heritage Site. It is currently being restored. Since ancient times, it has been a significant commercial and cultural crossroads for the area. Going through it on foot, you will discover at its top a splendid view over the town, the surrounding fields, and the Moroccan desert.
The palm grove of Ouarzazate
It is forty kilometers from Ouarzazate, at 1,188 meters above sea level, between the Atlas, Anti Atlas, and Dades valley. Famous for its olives and oil, it offers a cool oasis and a labyrinth of gardens in the shade of date palms, pomegranate, fig, almond and cereal fields.
This forest contains a collection of spectacular kasbahs, and for this reason, it is called by tour guides “The route of a thousand kasbahs”. It is the ideal place to practice tours of any kind, whether by car, 4×4, mountain bike, hiking, horseback, mule, etc. Spending lovely evenings in tents in the center of the oasis is a different intriguing suggestion.
How to get to Ouarzazate
To get to Ouarzazate, you can only do it by road or by air, as the train stops in Marrakech. By road, a good option is to take the bus with the CTM or Supratour company. It takes approximately 4 to 5 hours. Each person will pay less than 100 dirhams. Another option would be to hire a taxi in Marrakech: the trip is faster since it takes between 3.5 and 4 hours. But keep in mind that the departure takes place only when the taxi is full (6 people: 2 in front plus the driver and 4 in the back) unless you buy several seats. The price is also less than 100 dirhams per person. By minibus or 4×4, with a transport agency, the price will be higher than in the previous options, but with the convenience of stopping anywhere to take photos.
Getting around the city of Ouarzazate
The city center is not very big. You can take a taxi to move around the urban area for about 4 dirhams (5 DHS if it is after 9 at night). From the airport to the city they usually charge about 50 DHS. The maximum seats of in these taxis are three.
Shops, restaurants, and hotels in Ouarzazate
There are numerous stores and eateries along Mohamed V Avenue. Right behind, you have the pedestrian area, the ‘prince’, which are also shops and restaurants. Around Taourirt, many vendors will try to get your attention.
The weather in Ouarzazate
The climate of Ouarzazate will logically depend on the date on which we travel, although it must be taken into account that its average temperature is 19.1 °C. Winters are chilly and dry, and summers are quite scorching. The best date to travel to Ouarzazate is between the months of March to May and from September to the end of October since it is the most temperate. It must be taken into account that Ouarzazate is close to the Atlas Mountains, exactly close to the High Atlas, which means that snowfalls are frequent in winter, and the Tizin Tichka mountain pass that connects Ouarzazate with Marrakech may be cut off.