Day trips from Ouarzazate and attractions

The best excursions and day trips from Ouarzazate

If you plan to stay in Ouarzazate for a day or two, this city, just south of the High Atlas Mountains and known as “the gateway to the desert”, offers you a wide choice of excursions and day trips in all directions. In this way you will make the most of your stay in this city and you will get to know the surrounding area very well. You will leave feeling that you have had an insight into the way of life in this part of Morocco, which is so different from the coastal regions. And, on top of that, you will have had several adventures. To the northwest, you have fortified Kasbahs and old Berber dwellings set amongst self-sustaining gardens and fields. To the northeast is the rocky Dades Valley, a paradise for nature lovers. Geologists will be fascinated and intrigued by the rocky landscape with the retreating ice and the upheaval of the earth’s crust laid bare as a witness to the geological history of the region and how it emerged from the sea. And then southeast, the road winds through the Dra’a Valley oases with their countless palm trees to the desert.

All about Ouarzazate:

Located south of the High Atlas Mountains, Ouarzazate is considered the gateway to the magnificent Sahara Desert. For much of its history, Ouarzazate was a small crossroads for nomadic caravans of African traders on their way to northern Morocco. They brought in metal goods, salt, cloth, beads, and slaves—all “precious” cargo. But in 1928 the city was taken over by the French colonialists to serve as a military garrison to subdue the nomadic tribes of the south. You might be surprised to find that Ouarzazate is also known as Morocco’s Ouallywood. It has been the location of many Hollywood blockbusters with the first film Lawrence of Arabia being shot here in 1962. Morocco’s largest studios located at the entrance to the city have invited many international companies to work here. They provided an excellent location for many other Hollywood blockbusters such as The Man who would be King (1975), Kundun (1997), The Mummy (1999), Gladiator (2000), Kingdom of Heaven (2005), The Hills Have Eyes ( 2006) and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011). Many more popular movies could be added to this list and most recently part of the Game of Thrones TV series

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The nearby Ouarzazate Solar Power Plant, co-financed by the Arab League, was connected to the Moroccan electricity grid in February 2016 and remains a pioneer among solar power plants. Many more are planned in other parts of Morocco. Our clients often comment on the absolute tranquility, safety and quality of sunlight (lasting at least 300 days) enjoyed by Ouarzazate. The city is a mixture of green oases, fortified kasbahs, flower-filled valleys and vast desert plateaus that attract tourists from all over the world to explore this natural beauty. Today, Ouarzazate is a popular tourist destination receiving visitors who fly direct from Europe to its international airport. So this is another way to approach the city in comfort. There are also flights from Marrakech and Casablanca. As you may have seen, this charming city is well positioned to offer a wide range of desert tours, day trips from Ouarzazate to the fascinating surrounding area, and attractions within the city.

Here are our picks for day trips to Ouarzazate:

Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou, Telouet and Atlas Mountains 1 day:

The first name on this list is probably the most popular day trip from Ouarzazate and a place that should definitely be on your bucket list. There are, in fact, thousands of Kasbahs throughout southern Morocco. They are built in clay mixed with chopped straw with very thick walls as an ideal insulation against the winter cold and summer heat, they have a unique and unmistakable design of small grilled windows, corner turrets and distinctive decorations along the roof. They are ideally placed between palm trees. But the Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou has its charm. It is a small village located 30km from Ouarzazate on the main road to Marrakech and is one of Morocco’s seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In addition to the city’s film studios, the Kasbah was the setting for many of those Hollywood blockbusters, including Gladiator, Lawrence of Arabia, The Mummy, and some scenes from the TV series Game of Thrones. This is a place to explore on your own, up and down the small stairs and climbing up to the restored barn at the top of the central hill to admire the view. Alternatively, you can ask a guide to accompany you to better explain the history and significance of this special place.

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North of the Kasbah, you travel along the beautiful Ounila Valley with green fields, orchards, gardens and Kasbahs. The river far below the road offers green and cultivated banks, in stark contrast to the bare slopes and hills beyond. At the far end of the road, one reaches Telouet, one of the most famous Kasbahs in Morocco and a hidden gem nestled in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. It was once the palatial residence of the powerful Glaoui tribe and headquarters of Thami Al Glaoui, who ruled the southern areas of Morocco, eventually becoming a powerful Pasha of Marrakech. However, it now lies in ruins, although parts are still safe to enter and give the visitor an idea of the immensity of this palace once filled with courtiers, wives, concubines and slaves. You will be pleasantly surprised by the traditional interior decoration. The inside of the walls and ceiling of the Kasbah are decorated with Moroccan tiles called “zellige”, while the windows and doors are made of precious wood and metal. Your day trip from Ouarzazate to Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou and Telouet ends around 6pm. This day trip from Ouarzazate will take you back in time and give you an interesting insight into a significant chapter in recent Moroccan history and a way of life that in many ways has stood still.

Skoura Oasis, Rose Valley and Dades Valley 1 day:

The second day trip from Ouarzazate that is definitely worth including in your visit to Ouarzazate is an adventurous insight into Berber culture and way of life. This day trip takes you east to Skoura Oasis and Dades Valley. The oasis of Skoura is located just 40 km east of Ouarzazate. This small town is largely hidden among the vast palm trees and is a nature lover’s paradise, offering plenty of opportunities for strolling through fields of fruit trees, olive groves and date palms. The beautifully restored Kasbah Amredhil is the most famous site here. He has been immortalized in Moroccan culture on the reverse of the Moroccan 50 dirham banknote. Today it is a perfect representation of Southern adobe architecture and, like a small museum, showcases life in times gone by. There are still more wonders in store as you travel along the Road of a Thousand Kasbahs (an understatement) and the beautiful Rose Valley to Kel’aa M’gouna. The best time to visit Kel’aa M’gouna is during the spring. Every year in early May, this city holds a large rose festival to celebrate the harvest of the abundant Damascus roses that sustain much of the area. Here you breathe the scent of prodigious roses and visit the local cosmetic cooperatives. They create a series of organic products based on roses from the abundant flowering of the valley. From here, the itinerary takes you along a path that you are unlikely to find on your own and where you might wonder if it actually leads anywhere. On this back road to the Dades Valley, you can have a glass of tea with the local Berber nomads, who settle here for weeks at a time, herding their goats into the stony ground in search of forage. One wonders how they survive this hard life.

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Exit directly into the Dades Valley where you will feel ready for your lunch in one of the restaurants overlooking the river. After lunch, you will drive to see the gorges and flowing river, wondering how many thousands of years it must have taken for the river to cut its way through this hard rock. You will be back in Ouarzazate by the end of the afternoon.

Ouarzazate Dunes Tour: Draa Valley & Tinfou Dunes 1 Day:

If you have settled in Ouarzazate with the hope of visiting the Sahara desert, you must know that at least two days are required for the main desert destinations in Morocco. However, even if you can spare just one day, you don’t have to give up on seeing the desert. This desert trip to Tinfou dunes offers a great desert experience and the option of a camel ride in the dunes. This route takes you south over the Anti-Atlas Mountains to Agdz, a quiet city oasis known for its date palm variety. It’s an excellent place to sample some of these big numbers of dates. Heading down to the city you get a great view of the Dra’a Valley oases with Jebel Kissane to your left, dominating the skyline. You drive along the Dra’a Valley, which includes 125 km of beautiful green oases and unlimited palm trees, with ancient fortified Kasbahs idyllic among the palm trees and by the roadside.

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Zagora, the last major outpost before the Sahara desert, is well known for its 44 varieties of palm dates and offers the opportunity to seek out authentic Saharan delicacies in its local markets before heading to the village of Tamegroute to visit the local pottery cooperatives. This is where the green glazed ceramic products that you may have seen in Marrakech or Ouarzazate are produced from the local clay in a way that is unique to the workshops here. At Tinfou Dunes, you will be welcomed with a relaxing glass of traditional tea and refreshments. Then, lunch is served in a nomad tent and followed by the long-awaited camel ride. Cycle around the Tinfou sand dunes and you can do some sandboarding if you like. You will be back in Ouarzazate by the end of the afternoon. Overall, this desert dune bashing from Ouarzazate is rich in terms of natural landscapes and interesting attractions. You will discover the Dra’a valley, the Anti-Atlas mountains, the fortified Kasbahs, the sand dunes, you will ride camels and meet the nomads.

What is included in Ouarzazate day tours?

This is an important question to answer so that you are fully prepared to enjoy your trip to the fullest. Before booking an excursion or day trip from Ouarzazate or any other destination, it is essential that you read and note all the company’s inclusions when booking. Some companies offer an all-inclusive package, while others may not include lunch and entrance fees, for example.

Here’s what’s included in our exclusive selection of day trips from Ouarzazate:

Transportation in a private air-conditioned Toyota Prado Tx 4×4 or Deluxe van and fuel
Pickup and drop-off at your accommodation in Ouarzazate
English/French/Spanish/Italian speaking Berber driver/guide and nomads
Free time to explore sites such as Kasbahs, valleys, Berber villages and walks
Entrance fees and local guides in the places concerned
The opportunity to ask the driver to stop for breaks or visits whenever you wish
One-hour camel ride and free sandboarding (applicable to desert day tour)
Camel ride in Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou if desired

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