Ouarzazate Travel Guide
At first glance, the sleepy modern oasis town of Ouarzazate is far from the exotic destination one has in mind of a Saharan adventure. The town is not compelling in itself and has few sights of more than passing interest. Rather, the strategic location of the town at the crossroads of the south and its fantastic array of modern accommodation make it the perfect base from which to explore the Sahara.
Some 20 miles off Ouarzazate, the famous Kasbah of Ait Benhaddou provides a compelling introduction to Ksours and Kasbahs, a feature of much of Southern Morocco. To the north begins the magical Dades Valley, the Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs, threading its course through dramatic desert scenery and a fascinating line of oases, gorges and Kasbahs. South, on the other ridge of the High Atlas, is the Draa Valley – a 100-miles stretch of date palm oases, orchards, Kasbahs and stunning Berber villages.
Essaouira Travel: Getting There
Ouarzazate Airport, Taorirt Airport, is two kilometres north of town. There are daily morning flights to Casablanca – see our Flights to Casablanca section for UK and continental flights to Casablanca. The town is a five-hour drive from Marrakech.
It’s a good idea to hire a car before you leave Ouarzazate to explore the south of Morocco. See our Ouarzazate Car Hire for a complete guide on car rental in Ouarzazate.
Essaouira Travel: Sights and Activities
The only real sight in Ouarzazate itself is the local Glaoui Kasbah of Taorirt. In the 1930s, it was considered the largest of all Moroccan Kasbahs, housing numerous members of the Glaoui dynasty and hundreds of their servants.
Movie fans should not miss the Atlas Film Corporation Studios, on the outskirts of town, where you get shown around sets and props used in several international blockbusters.
The town is best used as a staging post to explore the south of Morocco, thanks to its strategic location and excellent array of modern accommodation. From Ouarzazate, the famous Kasbah Ait Benhaddou is only 32 km away. To the north is the Dades Valley, where you can explore gorges and astonishing desert oases at Skora and Tinerhir. South of Ouarzazate, on the other edge of the Atlas, is the Draa Valley lined with palm oases, Kasbahs and Berber villages. A good base here is the modern town of Zagora, from where you can explore the fringes of the Sahara.
For a full guide to all Ouarzazate has to offer and suggestions of excursions from the town, read our guide to Ouarzazate Sights and Attractions.
Ouarzazate Travel: Accommodation
Ouarzazate has a fantastic array of upmarket hotels, so finding a hotel shouldn’t be much of a problem – although advanced bookings are always advised during the festive season. A more picturesque alternative would be to stay out in one of the few Ait Benhaddou hotels, with some fantastic views over the Kasbah.
Read our reviews and recommendation of Hotels in Ouarzazate.