South Morocco – What to Do and why Travel There

kasbahs and ksour ouarzazat

Most tourists to Morocco will only visit the overcrowded and chaotic major tourist hubs of Marrakech, Fez, and Rabat and only a little percentage of them venture beyond the Atlas Mountains to experience rural areas.

Traveling south of the Atlas Mountains allows you to experience the important, authentic Morocco where life is slower, undisturbed, the air is clean and bright, and therefore the mountain or desert sky is actually unforgettable.

trips from Marrakech to Ouarzazate

If you travel from Marrakech toward Ouzarzate, Zagora, and therefore the sand dunes of Merzouga you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Crossing the Atlas Mountains from Marrakesh is a pleasant ride through red-colored rolling mountains rich in iron and dotted with small green trees overlooked by majestic snow-capped peaks. There’ll be many lookout points where you’ll stop for pictures taking or buying raw mountain crystals from local vendors expecting interested tourists. You’ll drive through some Berber villages where you’ll stop for refreshments and visit an Argan oil cooperative where you will get explanations and free demonstrations on how the famous Moroccan anti-aging oil is produced from the kernels of the now endangered Argan tree. The rare oil is rich in vitamin E, phenols, and unsaturated fatty acids and is employed as a base for several cosmetic products including creams and lotions for psoriasis and eczema, also as for cooking. The products are indeed very effective but pricy since at the cooperative store the costs are fixed and thanks to the endangered status of the tree, yearly production is restricted.

trip start from Ouarzazate to Zagora

Crossing the passes you’ll reach Ouarzazate, a serious hub, and neat-looking town, commonly mentioned because the Hollywood of Morocco, because it has several film studios where many major motion pictures are filmed. During daily guided tours at the Atlas Studios (in French with some English explanation by the local guide), you’ll see and explore the previous sets of a number of the foremost famous movies ever filmed like Cleopatra, Alexander, Kingdom of Heaven et al., and can have the prospect to ascertain the recreated city of Jerusalem from a distance.
The most attractive features of this part of Morocco are the exotic-looking kasbahs – castle dwellings – and ksours, which are fortified villages made from reddish-brown dried mud and typically surrounded by beautiful palm groves and oases. a number of these now crumbling buildings are in real despair but once they housed large Populous, the maximum amount as 100 families at any given time. Many of them are becoming empty nowadays since their former occupants are slowly getting into more modern dwellings in surrounding neighborhoods. It’s easy to steer through the Ksar Tissargat right the most road between Quarzazate and Zagora. a number of the fortress-like Kasbahs once owned by powerful local lords are converted into guest houses, restaurants, or stores. you’ll visit them inside, usually, there’ll be a contract guide at the entrances offering evidence for a couple of euros, prices are always negotiable and you’ll pay the guide after the tour supported your satisfaction level.
Between Ouarzazate and Zagora there are many of those villages and Kasbahs along the road. My recommendation is that the neatly reconstructed Kasbah Oulad Othmane, where the owners are going to be wanting to show you around for a little museum admission. This kasbah remains within the ownership of the first Othmane family that’s battling the maintenance of their magical castle since the mud-brick walls require regular patch-up and practically need to be rebuilt every 60 years. Of course, there’s no government funding to save lots of the country’s architectural treasures, therefore the owners are forced to show the properties into money-making machines just to save lots of them from turning into ruins. You see neglect everywhere and although most of those kasbahs are but 150 years old, many have an antique feel to them as a result of their deteriorating state. there’s one exception, the kasbah, and village of Ait Ben Haddu, located north of Ouarzazate, whose history is usually traced back to Medieval times. it’s a delegated World Heritage Site under the protection of UNESCO. The funds received from the planet organization, however, not always find yourself within the right hands and certain parts of this medieval wonder still have some crumbling and neglected walls. Despite its fame, the location surprisingly has little or no infrastructure and, to approach the village perched on a hill you’ve got to cross a bridgeless river by foot jumping from stone to stone or sandbag to sandbag.
East of Ouarzazate follows the street of the 1000 Kasbahs toward scenic Dades and Toudra Gorges and therefore the Tinghir palm valley overlooked by its own ksour, one among the foremost beautiful sites in Morocco.
The best time to go to these kasbahs and ksour is during the late afternoon when setting sun rays turn the reddish walls into many reminder reds, orange, and ochre that glow under crispy blue skies.

Dromedary (single-humped camel) ride

dromedary in merzouga

Of course, a visit to Morocco isn’t complete without a camel, rather a dromedary (single-humped camel) ride. The simplest place is near the village of Merzouga at the pre-Saharan sand dunes. Ridings are offered either at sunset or sunrise, my suggestion is sunset since dawn temperature within the pre-Sahara region is extremely cold and windy, so unless you visit during summer months, you’ve got to form sure you wear enough layers of protective clothing.