Ouarzazate (pronounced war-za-zat) is well established as a tourist base due to it's perfect location in a low lying area between three stunningly beautiful areas; the Atlas Mountains, the Draa Valley and the Dades Valley. Ouarzazate is an administrative centre with a population of about 40,000, but it's main claim to fame is for being the 'Hollywood of Morocco' with the world renowned Atlas Studio nearby. The town is less than an hours drive, just 32 kilometres, from the most impressive and authentic kasbah in Morocco, kasbah Ait Benhaddou, the location for many well-known Hollywood films.
Ouarzazate is literally the Hollywood of Morocco, it's claims to fame being films such as The Sheltering Sky, Star Wars, Alexander, Babel (to name only a few out of over 20 blockbusters!) which were filmed here. You can visit the Atlas Corporation Studios (7 kilometres west of town) for daily tours 9am-6pm depending on film schedules. It's on a regular bus route, is a fun day out and if you'r lucky, you might even be able to sign yourself up as an extra!
The 17th Century Taourirt Kasbah is at the far end of the town and it's probably to best to take a taxi in hot weather, although it is walkable along the main street, Boulevard Mohammed V. For a small entrance fee you can do a tour of the rooms that have been restored and view it at it's best from down by the river. You can also hire the services of a guide for an additional cost, although a guide isn't really necessary. You can then take a wander through the narrow streets of the jewish quarter nearby and visit the synagogue if it's open.
Transport yourself back in time by visiting the huge 1000 year old Kasbah of Ait Benhaddou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is located 32 kilometres north of Ouarzazate, on the road from Marrakech (which is a further 4 hours drive northwards through the Atlas Mountains). You can wander through it's sprawling maze of narrow streets, home to about 700 people and the backdrop for films such as Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator and Jesus of Nazareth. You can even book yourself into a kasbah style palace hotel with it's terrace overlooking the Kasbah where you can watch the sun go down.
The town of Agdz (pronounced ag-a-dez) is 20 kilometres south of Ouarzazate and is a great base for walking in the Draa Valley which owes it's beauty to the one of the longest rivers in Morocco, the Draa, which runs down from the Atlas toward the desert. The town itself has a palmeraie, it's own Kasbah and several carpet shops.
Drive out just 40 kilometres in the other direction, along the oasis studded route, known as 'Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs' to the town of Skoura. Skoura is home to Kasbah Ben Moro and great starting point for walking and mountain biking in the Dades Valley. Here you can explore the lush green palm oasis amid rugged terracotta coloured mountain valleys, sleepy rural villages and some of the most scenic spots in Morocco.
The Rose Festival every year takes place in Kelaa M'Gouna.
Due to it's location near the desert, Ouarzazate can get very hot and dry in summer. Average daytime temperatures from June to August are between 37 and 40 °C, though nights are around 18 to 20 °C, giving at least some relief of the heath. However, due to it's mountainous location, it can also get very cold in winter, especially at night, when temperatures just average slightly above zero. Days are perfect though at almost 20 °C.
Probably March to May and September to early November are great times with warm but not too hot weather and relatively cool nights. It's mostly dry and sunny and only about 100mm of rain falls annually, most of it during the wintermonths. Summers are almost completely dry.
Due to it's importance in the film world, Ouarzazate has it's own airport (international code OZZ). Currently, Atlas Blue flies directly to Paris, Regional Air Lines flies to Agadir, Casablanca, Laayoune and Marrakech and Royal Air Maroc flies to Casablanca, Barcelona and Paris. Spanair serves Barcelona as well.
Ouarzazate is not connected by a rail link.
The best way to reach Ouarzazate is by car to avail of the stunning mountainous scenery in the regions that surround it. The well maintained tarmac roads that wind up and down through the mountains are wide enough and empty enough to help avoid any serious hair raising moments. All you need to hire a car in Morocco is a valid international drivers licence, a creditcard and passport details and the added bonus is that they drive on the left too!
Ouarzazate is the ideal stop-over on your journey from Marrakech (5 hours) towards the Todra and Dades Gorges in the Dades Valley. Travel a further 2.5 hours south and you reach the desert town of Zagora and further on M'Hamid (5 hours), or head northeastwards to reach the desert dunes of Merzouga (6 hours).
Well maintained and comfortable CTM buses run daily to and from Marrakech and further along into other regions.
Considering the amount of actors and film directors that stay in Ouarzazate whilst on location during film making, it is surprising to find that good restaurants are a bit thin on the ground here. Best advice is to take a wander along Boulevard Mohammed V or Avenue Moulay Rachid to find a place that takes your fancy or find out where all the French people go to eat here, as it's sure to be good!
Being a popular stopping of point and ideal base for adventurous tourists wishing to explore the areas natural beauty, the town has a broad range budget to moderate hotels to chose from. For those who (like the film stars and their entourages!) want some style and pampering, there are plently of top end luxury resorts to chose from.
|Zaghro Hotel||1.5km sur la route de zagora tabounte Ouarzazate||Hotel||87|
|Dar Isselday||Douar Tisselday, Ighrem Nogdale||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Sogatour Le Zat||BP 39 Ait Kdis||Hotel||-|
|Riad Salam||Avenue Mohammed V City Center||Hotel||-|
|Riad Maktoub||Ait Ben Haddou Village||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Etoile Filante D'Or||Route Principale Ait Ben Haddou||Guesthouse||-|
|Auberge La Goulade||Rue principale Ait ben haddou||Hotel||-|
|Dar Timitar lodge & kasbah||Agoulzi Ait Ouassif Vallée des Roses Kelaa des M'gouna||Guesthouse||-|
|Dar Rita||Rue de la Mosquée 39 Tassoumate Ouarzazate||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Hotel Saf Saf||Rue Ibn Sina Lotissement du Centre, Prés du Marché Couvert||Hotel||-|
|dar isselday||Village Tisselday||Guesthouse||-|
|Kasbah Assafar Ecolodge||Ait Khiar ait Ouassif (vallée des Roses) Kelaa M'gouna||Guesthouse||-|
|Résidence Rosas||82 lot. El Massira||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Riad Ouarzazate||N°1462 Hay El Wahda||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Nadia||km 2 route de Zagora Tabounte||HOTEL||-|
|Daralaafia||Douar Tigmi Ljdid Tarmigte||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Chez Talout||Oulad Aarbiya BP 03 Skoura||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Maison d'hôte Kasbah Hajja||Ksar Ait Ben Haddou Ait Ben Haddou||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Kasbah La Cigogne||Tamdaght Ait Ben||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Authentik Skoura - Les Bassatines||Skoura||Guesthouse||-|
|Dar Alaafia||TARMIGTE TIGMI LJDID||Hostel||-|
|Riad Sarayas||Douar Aghane||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Hotel MarMar||19 Avenue le Prince my Abdellah Cité Alhizam||HOTEL||85|
|Chez laila||skoura center douar rouh||Hostel||-|
|Kasbah Tifaoute Auberge Restaurant Chez L'habitant||A 3 KM Dait Ben Haddou Amerzeguane||Guesthouse||-|
There are plenty of Cybercafes in cities and small towns and accessing the Internet won't be a problem. The price is around 4 to 10DH/ hour. If you have a laptop while traveling then you can buy a USB key for wireless connection from one of the 3 main telecommunication companies (Maroc Telecom, Meditel, and Inwi). Credits are available starting from 10DH/24 hours (starting from the time you use it, if you start at 2:00am then next day at 2:00am you will have to recharge it again). Wifi is getting more and more common in places like hotels, shopping malls and in restaurants and coffee places in larger cities. The wireless connection in some areas might be slow, that depends on the signal as not the whole of Morocco has 3G coverage.
See also: International Telephone Calls
Morocco's country code is +212, International Call Prefix is 00. The telephone numbering scheme is changed starting March 2009. All fixed telephone numbers have a 5 inserted after the 0, and all mobile telephone numbers have a 6 inserted after the 0. All numbers are now ten-digit long, counting the initial 0. Useful numbers are Police: 19; Fire Service: 15; Highway Emergency Service: 177; Information: 160.
Public telephones can be found in city centres, but private telephone offices (also known as teleboutiques or telekiosques) are also commonly used.
The GSM mobile telephone network in Morocco can be accessed via one of two major operators: Meditel or Maroc Telecom. Prepaid cards are available. It is very easy and cheap to buy a local GSM prepaid card in one of the numberous phone shops showing a Maroc Telecom sign.
Post Maroc is the national postal service of Morocco and has details on their website (French) regarding the sending of letters, postcards and parcels, both domestically and internationally. The postal service in Morocco is very efficient and the post offices are generally open Monday through Friday, from 8:30am to 12 noon and 2:30pm to 6:30pm. On Saturdays it is open from 8:30am to 2:00pm. Some might keep longer hours though, especially in larger tourist cities and central areas. You can post your mail at one of the post offices or otherwise in the yellow post boxes you'll find throughout the country. For packages, you can also use international courier companies like TNT, DHL or UPS. They offer quick, reliable services and competitive rates.
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