Zagora Excursions & information
Zagora Excursions & information
Zagora is located in the southeast of the country, in the Souss Massa Draa region, a few tens of kilometers from the border with Algeria, in southern Morocco. It is a quiet city of about 30,000 inhabitants that is located next to the Draa. Nicknamed the ‘Gateway to the Desert’, its activity revolves around the main street, since it has never been so populated as to have another type of urban structure.
This city is a good place for those interested in trips to the desert from Marrakech, delving into the Erg Chegaga dunes, or for those who want to take a route through the most remote lands of Morocco.
Tranquility, sun, absolute peace, and disconnection. That is what can be found in Zagora, with a real change in landscapes and culture. In fact, a route through this area is one of the most original excursions in Morocco, as it is famous for being the hottest city in the country and the surrounding vegetation is relegated to just a few small green areas and isolated palm trees.
If you can’t stand the heat well, avoid coming in the months of July and August as the average temperature is 45 °C. The hot and dry winds of the Zagora desert, like the Chergui, push the thermometer to the top. The ideal period to visit this area is between October and February, as you can enjoy a more temperate climate.
Zagora is a stop on the caravan route. It is located at the door of the Sahara desert and is a place for reflection and well-deserved rest. You will be surprised by the friendliness of the people and you will be dazzled by the traditional architecture, its exquisite cuisine with flavors of spices, and the contrast between the palm groves and the dunes found there.
The city of Zagora, as we know it today, was founded in the French colonial era as the administrative center of the region, next to the Ksar of Amazon, in the 1930s. It takes its name from the scrubland on which it sits and was built next to the ruins of an old fortress from the Almoravid era. Remains of the walls of that fortress can still be seen on the slope of Jbel Zagora, endangered by the construction of a hotel that, for the moment, is paralyzed.
The entire Draa Valley has been historically populated, and in fact, the Saadian dynasty is native to the region. It was a key point within the caravan routes that crossed the Sahara, bringing down salt and bringing up slaves. The old town of Zagora and the Jewish quarter are of traditional architecture, but the rest is entirely concrete, and it is growing at an enormous speed towards the north due to the proliferation of tourism. It is a rural area that has recently discovered tourism potential, mainly with people interested in desert trips from Marrakech. From here all kinds of excursions to places like the Tinfou dunes are organized daily, although other groups dare long routes of months to Timbuktu. In fact, it is a historical route, as the sign at the entrance to the city reminds us, that says “Timbuktu 52 days” (from camel, it is understood). All these excursions, within Morocco or beyond its borders, must be carried out carefully and responsibly, preferably in the company of an experienced guide and with all-terrain vehicles capable of carrying out these routes.
What to see in Zagora
Among the short excursions that we can take from this city is the ascent to Jbel Zagora, the visit to the Tamegroute library, the Tissergate Ksar, and the palm grove route, which supplies dates to the entire area. In the Tamegroute library, 20 km south of Zagora, there is a famous Ksar that houses ancient religious manuscripts, some dating from the 13th century, writings made on gazelle skin, which are preserved in perfect condition. A visit to the pottery kilns is also interesting, as well as the surrounding ksars, which are magnificent fortified villages. And of course, a sunset in the dunes of the Zagora desert is an absolutely impressive spectacle.
One of the most typical routes is the ascent to Mount, Zagora or Jebel Zagora, about 950 meters high. From there you can see a magnificent view of the Draa Valley,
which is especially beautiful, especially at dawn or dusk. Nearby are the remains of an ancient Kasbah from the 11th century, built by the Almoravids for their defense. It is currently a restricted access military settlement. The Tinfou dunes, located a little further south, offer the most idyllic images of the Zagora desert, more similar to those of M’hamid and Merzouga. Another interesting place in its surroundings is the small town of Amazrau, located just 1.5 km away.
In the mornings, the city is filled with great animation of caravans of SUVs that prepare to complete the old track of the Paris Dakar, which connects Zagora with Merzouga. You can also see nomads and Tuareg in the area.
The animations and parties are, for the most part, organized by the hotels. And we recommend you take a camel or 4×4 trip through the dunes!
Transportation in Zagora, Morocco
There is a small airport that connects Zagora with Morocco. It is actually about 180 km away and is closer to Ouarzazate, the city from which it is named. From there, you can take a taxi or a bus. In the city, the taxi and the ‘normal’ taxi will be the best way to move around the urban area. The city is vast, and getting around on foot is reserved for the bravest, with a hat and sunscreen highly recommended.
The bus station is located in the north of the city, on Avenida Mohammed V, with links to the city of Mhamid and Ouarzazate.
Taxis: They rank right in front of the bus station and are a good way to get to Ouarzazate.
Tourist potential of Zagora
The city is characterized by its variety of landscapes, the hospitality of its people, the richness and diversity of its folklore, and the authenticity of its architectural heritage. Added to this is its strategic position as a destination for trips to the desert from Marrakech: located 360 km to the south, it is one of the favorite getaways for travelers who go on time but do not want to miss the excursion to the desert from Zagora in two days from Marrakech or include it as the next stage in their tours of Morocco.
The province is famous for its diverse folk arts, including Ahidous, Ahouach, Dance Sabre, Roukba, Guedra, and Rasma.
Like all the provinces of the Kingdom, the province of Zagora celebrates many manifestations of a spiritual nature or museums, which are claimed to promote tourism in the region.
Restaurants and hotels in Zagora
This city is becoming the main tourist center in the region and for this reason, it has an abundant hotel offers for all budgets. There are several campsites and numerous hotels in Zagora. In fact, just at the exit to Tazarine, which is the one to go to Jbel Zagora and the left bank of the palm grove, 6 or 7 new hotels have been built in 4 years.