Ouarzazate Travel Guide
‘The Doorway’ to the spectacular and magnificent Saharan regions, a crossroads through which everyone must pass in order to access the desert.
Ouarzazate is situated South of Marrakech and known as ‘The Doorway’ to the spectacular and magnificent Saharan regions, a crossroads through which everyone must pass in order to access the desert.
Head South East through the Dades valley, to reach the Chebbi dunes, Head South through the Draa Valley, to reach the Lihoudi dunes and the Chigaga dunes.
The journey from Marrakech involves travelling a two-lane highway, spectacular at every turn. This dramatic roller coaster of a road is travelled daily by every type of vehicle. From cars, SUVs and lumbering motor coaches to tanker trucks, lorries loaded with livestock They all pass wherever they choose!
Travelling with a skilled driver on this road is a real asset, Hassan is that asset!
By twists and turns the landscape is arid and lush, dotted with picturesque Berber villages beneath the towering snow-capped peaks of the Atlas mountains. The road winds higher and higher until it reaches the highest pass in North Africa, the Tizi-N-Tichka, at an altitude of 2260 metres, from there this ribbon of highway descends gracefully into the red clay region of the Moroccan high desert and into Ouarzazate.
Ouarzazate is also situated close to the UNESCO world heritage site of the fortified village and Kasbah of Ait Benhaddou, amazingly still inhabited by 10 families.
The Kasbah has also proved the perfect exotic location for numerous international films.
It is a wonderful example of Morocco’s protected heritage and offers a unique insight into Bedouin life in the region.
Ouarzazate is an attractive, peaceful, palm oasis town with towering palms, wide streets, many hotels and well placed municipal gardens, beautiful red-earthed Riads, pavement cafes and the Kasbah Taourirt, partly restored by UNESCO.
Ouarzazate is also a noted film making the location, as is much of the surrounding area, with Morocco’s biggest studios inviting many international film companies to shoot their films. Ouarzazate is known as Morocco’s Hollywood. In fact the Kasbah Tiffoultoute, just west of the town was made into a restaurant and hotel for the cast of Lawrence of Arabia and still remains a place of interest to head to for mint tea, taken from its terrace with picturesque views.
Lawrence Of Arabia, Star Wars, The Living Daylights, The Last Temptation Of Christ, The Mummy, Gladiator, Kundun, The Sheltering Sky, Salmon Fishing In Yemen, were all shot in the Ouarzazate area. Some filmed at the Atlas Film studios and others at the CLA studios. The CLA houses the more convincing sets and a host of fantastic props.
Both studios are open to the public and tours can be arranged.
Ouarzazate is also a city of Hollywood worthy contrasts, where donkey driven carts clip-clop their way past the entrance of Le Berber Palace Hotel, a grand establishment of elegant rooms and sweetly scented gardens, where Gucci sunglasses by the pool and Louis Vuitton luggage in the lobby is the order of the day!
The Beautiful Berber Inhabited Fint Oasis, a green oasis hidden deep in a small river valley surrounded by barren hills is a said favourite area of the region for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt filmed ’Babel’ in this region of Southern Morocco. Testimony to the fact, there is no escaping the nod to fame and glamour in the Berber town of Ouarzazate! Film studio, glamour and manufactured wonders aside, Ouarzazate principally serves as the gateway to the Natural wonders, awaiting discovery, in the Dades Valley, the Draa Valley and the extraordinary Moroccan Sahara
All of which, is most definitely not a filmmakers illusion!