Ouarzazate (ورزازات) is a city in Morocco.
Old housing around kasbah
Ouarzazate is relatively small (~60 000 inhabitans) and for Morocco quiet town, built mostly along main street - Avenue Muhammed V. Ouarzazate is situated at an elevation of 1,135 metres. Its name comes from a Berber phrase meaning "without noise" or "without confusion". Once in its history, Ouarzazate had been crossing point for African traders seeking to reach northern cities in Morocco and Europe. During the French period, Ouarzazate expanded considerably as a garrison town and administrative centre. It is largest town in saharan Morocco.
- Inezgane(close to Agadir) twice a day, 120 dirhams, fixed price with CTM and a similar price with Supratours.
- As at 12th April 2009, the morning CTM bus from Inezgane departs at 09:30hrs.
- Marrakesh- CTM Bus 80 dirham(twice a day, morning, evening), grand taxi 100 per person. Be aware if you travel in winter as you may be scared of the snow and roads you will pass at the Atlas mountains.
Regional bus is cheaper, but not as nice, and runs more often.
There are two bus stations, one for regional bus, other for CTM bus.
Often two flights a day during the week from Casablanca. Note that as with the rest of the town, the airport shuts down in the middle of the day for siesta (at least during the summer), so make sure you have cash with you when you arrive, or you may find yourself stranded at the airport!
The area around Mohammad V is very walkable. The CTM station is there as well. Petits taxis for within the city (no more than 10Dh from the airport to the hotel), grands taxis for between cities (no more than 150Dh to Ait Benhaddou and back...though you can probably get it lower), including to Ait Benhaddou and surrounding Kasbahs.
Don't be surprised if during a local taxi ride the driver requests you to "transfer taxis" or has "a friend to pick up on the way." When this happens, a friendly English (or other language) speaking person will start pitching you outings, most of them to Erg Chebbi near Merzouga or Zagora. If you are not interested, just politely tell them so, but if you are, you can negotiate a reasonable price with them.
Ouarzazate is very safe, but don't wander into weird corners at night. Crime throughout the Moroccan south is minimal, but its best not to take (too many) chances.
Kasbah Taourirt in Ourzazate
Egyptan decoration at Atlas Studios
- Ait Benhaddou - one of the best preserved Kasbahs. It has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Taxi can take you to Ait Benhaddou for 150 dirhams (probably possible to haggle cheaper price), driver will wait couple of hours. Very picturesque place, lots of movies were shot there (Gladiator). 10 dirham to visit kasbahs. You don't need a guide, but locals will follow you pretending to help and at the end will ask for money. Careful not to get too wet from the river when crossing it, since there's been reports of Schistosomiasis contracted from the water.
- Walk along the central square behind Muhammad V at night when everyone comes out. The kids go out to play football on the square, people go eat and socialize, and you'll get a feel for the community just walking around.
- Go to Atlas Studios. It lies about ~ 4km from town center. Entrance ticket is 50 dirhams. Films such as Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra, Lawrence of Arabia, The Man Who Would Be King, Cleopatra, Kundun, Gladiator and Alexander, Kingdom of Heaven and Babel were shot there. Most of movie decorations are a bitt crumbled, but egyptan decorations is still impresive but in very poor condition, left to rotten unfortunately, a shame.
- Plan an expedition out to M'Hamid. A night in the Sahara is unforgettable and can be the best part of your Moroccan adventure. Ourzazate is the last big town in the south where this is easy and cheap to do. There are lots of agencies around that can arrange a trek like this, though this is the more expensive way to do it. A cheaper way, if you don't mind worrying about a few details, is to rent a car, go out there yourself, and negotiate an overnight in the desert with a Merzougan auberge (most of them offer overnights in the dessert). Renting a car and driving the way is relatively easy if you drive a stick. The roads out that way are very good and easy to navigate. The overnight in the Dunes should only cost about 300-400Dh. A grand taxi will also take you out that way and back for 150-200Dh. Everything out here is negotiable, so shop around for the best price. Local agencies also offer trips to mountain valley of Dades.
Be prepared to negotiate hard otherwise they will rip you off!
- CLA Studios. CLA Studios aka Dino de Laurentis Cinecitta Studios, is along the same road as Atlas Studios about a kilometer closer to Marrakech. If you have to go to only one of the two studios, this is the one to go to. The Atlas Studios tour is mosly TV movies and The Mummy Returns remake. The sets are unconvincing in person. CLA, on the other hand, has the Jerusalem set from "Kingdom of Heaven," which looks real in person, and a host of great props. 100Dh.
- Travel Exploration Morocco, 4 Lot El Hassania La Resistance, ☎ 212-66148996 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . A Ouarzazate based travel agency that offers a variety of 4x4 Circuits to the Sahara Desert. 5% of all proceeds are donated to assist families in Berber villages
- SheherazadVentures, Residence Ali, Ave Mohammed VI, Marrakech, ☎ +212 (0)61 5647918 (email@example.com), . An English-Moroccan travel company offering custom-made tours via Ouarzazate starting from Marrakech, Ouarzazate or Agadir. Cultural tours, desert trips, volunteering holidays and community-based group holidays. Desert expeditions either to M'Hamid el Ghizlane (via Draa Valley) or Merzouga and Erg Chebbi (via Dades Valley and Todra Gorges). Private trips in 4x4, bivouac camp and camel-trekking, extra activities can be organised e.g. horse-riding, traditional crafts
- Road Junky Retreat, ☎ 0623035315 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . January 18 - 22 Join with 20+ travelers to make music, meditate and share travel stories under the full moon in the dunes!
Whatever you buy, it is likely you won't find it cheaper in Marrakech or Fes. Realize everything is negotiable! In Ouarzazate, there is souk, some local stores. At the towns center, there two western like shops with fixed (but pretty high) prices, but at these you can by alcohol including judeo-berber vodka and local wine.
Plenty of cheap restaurants along Mohammad V street and in central square near market. Normal price for tagine should be about 30Dh.
Bottled water is cheap (10Dh) and widely available.
Plenty of hotels of all ranges around town. Ask a cabby to bring you to one, but realize he'll pocket commission for bringing you there.
- La Gazelle. Clean, cheap hotel, safe parking in the courtyard, ATM just next door, bakery across the road. 156Dhm double room with hot shower.
- Zaghro Hotel, 1.5 km sur la route de zagora, tabounte Ouarzazate, Ouarzazate, Morocco (From the airport or bus station you have to take a taxi (50 MAD/€5 during daytime or 100 MAD/€10 at night. At anytime you can have the hotel car to bring you to the hotel just call), ☎ +212 524 85 41 35 (email@example.com). It is located a bit far from the village but is neat and clean, has a restaurant and a pool to enjoy after some time in the desert. €7 to €20 per person with breakfast included. (30.909775,-6.907528)
- Hotel la Vallée (Hotel Ouarzazate), Km 1 route de Zagora, Taboute Ouarzazate Morocco (Located in Ouarzazate Tabounte district on the way to Zagora), ☎ +188.8.131.52.34, . Offers accommodation, restaurant service, swimming pool, Moroccan caidal tent party lounge, tours and organized excursions in Morocco and 4wd / ATV adventure activities. Rooms decorated in traditional Moroccan style. 20 Euros to 30 Euros per person with breakfast and Dinner included.
- Hotel Royale. right in the centre, has ugly rooms (160 dh triple). It can get very cold in winter, and the street facing rooms are very noisy.
- Hotel Amlal (Hotel Ouarzazate), Rue du Marché Nº24-25 Centre Ville (Located on the town center, right in fron of the big Somalian mosque), ☎ +212.672.730.585, . checkin: 11pm; checkout: 12pm. Simple and clean hotel located right on the town center. This is a nice cheap option and great quality price / facilities. All rooms have private bathrooms and tv. Breakfast served on downstairs restaurant. 1 person = 200 dirhams / 20 euros. 2 persons = 250 dirhams / 25 euros..
- Dar Rita (Riad Ouarzazate), Rue de la Mosquée 39 (Located inside Tassoumate old district on the entrance of Ouarzazate coming from Marrakech), ☎ +212.672.730.585, . checkin: 11pm; checkout: 12pm. New riad in Ouarzazate located on the typical district of Tassoumate near the river bank and palm trees. 7 Rooms with private bathroom, terrace tend, all amenities. Double room + breakfast + diner = 70 Euros.
Dar Ahlam is a spectacular 10-room hotel in Skoura, about 40 km from Ouarzazate. It is expensive, but distinctive in every element: architecture, style, service, and food. Possibly the best hotel in Morocco. Ask to stay in one of the villas.
- I Roccha (Irocha), Tiseldey/Tisselday, . Extremely friendly hosts and international mix of travellers. Quiet and relaxing place overseeing a valley in a small village of Tisselday. For New Year holidays, normally confirms booking only for those who visited previously (and hosts liked them).
- Riad Ksar Ighnda (Ksar Ighnda), Douar Asfalou - Amerzane, ☎ 00 212 (0)5 24 88 76 44 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: 00 212 (0)5 24 88 76 44), . On the edge of the desert, the Riad Ksar Ighnda opens its doors for you onto the Atlas Mountains. In an authentic yet modern setting, our hotel blends in with the environment. Our guests do not arrive at KSAR IGHNDA by chance but they long to return here. ~100-240€. (31.066150154853492,-7.143001556396484)
Drive further through Zagora to M'Hamid for trips in the desert by camels, 4x4 or quad bikes.
There is a bus line which runs from Ouarzazate to Er Rachida, a mid-sized administrative town which can be a good launching pad for Merzouga and the desert, note that on this line touts will join the bus at stops along the way and try to lever you into going on a 'discounted' desert tour. They are persistant and will ask you about yourself. Claiming to be a 'veteran' of Saharan travel (perhaps more convincing if you can speak French) and already booked into a hotel at your destination may help convince them to let you be.