• The Ouarzazate Region

    The Ouarzazate Region

    The Ouarzazate region is the gateway to the Moroccan south, and in many ways offers the  country’s most iconic scenery. It’s a land of big skies, wide open desert vistas, palm oases and crumbling rammed-earth ruins that have stood for centuries. The exotically-named Ouarzazate has gained international notoriety as a Hollywood film location and is a crossroads to the gorges on the southern flank of the High Atlas, the Draa Valley and ultimately the Sahara Desert. Read on to find out more about the region and the riches it has to offer. 

  • Ait Benhaddou

    Ait Benhaddou

    Ait Benhaddou is a Ksour, which is a fortified village made up of Kasbahs and other dwellings. It sits in the lower Ounila Valley and is one of the must-see sights of the region. Funding from UNESCO and the film industry has restored the village and it can easily be visited by way of a network of stone pathways in the interior of the site. There are a number of small, characteristic, guest houses in the area but most often our suggestion is to visit the site en route between Marrakech and the desert. 

  • Skoura

    Skoura

    Skoura’s main strengths are twofold. Firstly, this quaint palm oasis is situated mid-way between Marrakech and the Erg Chebbi dunes. Secondly, it has more than its fair share of great places to stay that take advantage of its natural attributes. The oasis is a tranquil mix of date palms, farmer’s fields and crumbling rammed earth walls. It’s a fantastic place to wander or to cycle around and it’s hard not to fall quickly under the place’s otherworldly spell. Here the theme is relaxing in your hotel’s luxuriant garden and perhaps staying a few days in order to discover some other nearby sights, like the Rose Valley. 

  • The Dades Valley

    The Dades Valley

    The road through the Dades Gorge is one of the most pictured roads in Morocco. There’s something about its switchbacks and surrounding sandstone cliffs that captures the imagination, but there is more to Dades than the gorge. Lower down the valley there are some excellent easy walking experiences to be enjoyed in a landscape of fields of barley, wild flowers, burbling streams and ruined kasbahs, all set against a typically deep blue desert sky. The valley means a detour from the main route but, time permitting, it’s worth the effort, and particularly in spring. 

  • Telouet

    Telouet

    Telouet is an abandoned, and largely ruined, Kasbah of considerable majesty, set in steppe-style terrain at the head of the Ounila Valley. The Kasbah was built over the course of four centuries and was famed for being the residence of the Pasha of Marrakech during the French Protectorate period. On independence in 1956, the Kasbah began its decline and sits now as an elegant relic of the past that one can visit en route between Marrakech and Ouarzazate.  

  • The Ounila Valley

    The Ounila Valley

    Upon entering the Ounila Valley from the north (Marrakech side) many visitors will experience an overwhelming sense of arrival, on account of its typical, postcard-perfect terrain of stark mountains and abode villages. It’s sometimes termed the Route of a thousand Kasbahs and as you descend the valley, by way of a quiet country lane, the route – one that was used for the trade with Sub Saharan Africa – you will see weathered buildings with fortification at every turn. The valley is a detour from the main Marrakech – Ouarzazate route that is well worth doing. 

  • The Todra Gorge

    The Todra Gorge

    Morocco is home to a number of gorges, and the most famous of these is the Todra, where 300m cliffs straddle a 30m wide riverbed, to dramatic effect. Just a few kilometres from the main road between Ouarzazate and the Erg Chebbi dunes, its accessibility is both its strong and weak point.  It’s an easy detour and hence worth it, but it attracts a lot of visitors which erodes its charm somewhat. For those who are more active, it’s easy to walk through the gorge to the north and avoid the crowds, and for those with more time and a passion for rock climbing, it’s one of the world’s top spots to practice the sport. 

     

  • The Draa Valley

    The Draa Valley

    The Draa River is the longest in Morocco and its course takes it from Ouarzazate to the Atlantic Ocean near Tan Tan. The flow of water is regulated by a dam at the upper reaches of the river and there are said to be 8 million date palms in the valley, which makes it a lushly-cultivated valley set against stark mountains like Jebel Kissane. The valley is of cultural interest and is home to the Tamnougalte Kasbah that grew up around a Jewish community that eventually largely left the valley in the 1960s upon the creation of the State of Israel. The Draa is part of a journey to the Erg Chegaga or Erg Chebbi dunes and the Agdz oasis makes a good place to stay overnight.