Ouarzazate (war-zazat) is located at the edge of the Sahara desert and for that reason called “The Doorway to the Desert”. A city of palm trees, sandy streets, muddy brick houses, blocky, fort-like buildings and film sets.
This town is surprisingly calm for Morrocan standards located five hours south of Marrakech by bus. This town is in the Souss-Massa-Drâa of southern-central Morocco.
Ouarzazate has a connection with blockbuster cinema and two major film production studios are located here, a film school and even a museum of cinema. Many call Ouarzazate “Ouallywood”.
As a travel destination by itself, Ouarzazate doesn’t have that much to see or do. But because its location can be used as a base for day trips.
Day trips from Ouarzazate
You have the orange dunes in the east and some nice nearby villages and kasbahs to be explored.
The well-known Ait Ben Haddou is a beautiful ancient ksar about 30 minutes outside the city of Ouarzazate. A place used as a backdrop in countless movies and TV programs.
It’s also within easy reach oasis valleys and ancient kasbahs. The Fint Oasis and the Tifoultoute Kasbah are perfect for a nice hike (15km and 8km from Ouarzazate respectively).
A bit further away you have the Todra Gorges, a series of stunning limestone river canyons that are also worth a visit.
What to Do in Ouarzazate
Ouarzazate is a great place to get lost in while you discover the Old District, with its muddy brick houses lining the old streets.
The Taourirt part of the Old District holds an ancient fortified village, still standing right in the heart of the city. Taourirt Kasbah Museum showcases the south Moroccan kasbah architecture.
At Ouarzazate city centre, you can walk around Al-Mouahidine Square and the market, and also stop at a pastry shop or café to take in the city’s lively evenings.
The Ouarzazate Center Market begins at 6pm. Here they sell all sort of goods, from clothes to handicraft. the market is located right in the city centre.
The local market located on the market road (6.00am) sells all kinds of items from clothes to crafts and spices. The market happens every Sunday is probably one of Ouarzazate less visited place by tourists.
Then you have lots of attractions related to cinema, from the Atlas Cinema Studios, the CLA Cinema Studios and the Cinema Museum. I didn’t visit any of these places but if you’re a cinephile I’m sure you will enjoy it.
How to get from Marrakech to Ouarzazate
Getting to Ouarzazate from Marrakech is quite easy. There are two companies that run bus services between these two cities, CTM and Supratours. The cost for both is 80 Dirhams (~$9.8), and the journey takes 5 hours.
photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha