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This intriguing location begins at the southern tip of the High Atlas Mountains, where desert meets mountains. The hard desert is broken up by verdant oases filled with shade-giving date palms. It is cut by steep gorges and dotted with arid hills, and it is crisscrossed by wadis all the way to the Sahara. The light is incredibly bright here, and the colors are sumptuously rich.

The two major routes to the Sahara are the Draa Valley south of Ouarzazate and the Tafilalt Valley south of Errachidia. The Dades valley connects the valleys, stretching 120 kilometers between Ouarzazate and Boumalne Dades. It runs over a desert flat at an elevation of 1,000 to 1,500 meters, between the High Atlas on the north and the Jbel Saghro foothills on the south. The Dades valley is surrounded by other valleys watered by wadis pouring down from the Atlas. They provide access to the interior of the High Atlas on foot or by four-wheel-drive vehicle. It takes at least a week to explore this region, experiencing the picturesque oasis and visiting the most interesting ksours.

Explore Ouarzazate

Ouarzazate, a former garrison town of the French Foreign Legion, was built in 1928 after the French picked it as a strategic location fromwhich to subdue the South. It lies on the primary route between the mountains and the desert, located at an altitude of 1,160 m at the convergence of the Draa and Dades valleys, with the Agadir region to the west. It’s also a suitable starting point for trips to Ait Benhaddou and the Skoura palm plantation. Ouarzazate is a quiet provincial town includes wide avenues, numerous hotels, and municipal gardens.

The lone main roadway, Avenue Mohammed V, runs through town and goes to the Dades Valley. The Atlas Film Studios are located about 6 kilometers west of Ouarzazate, off the road to Marrakech, and are surrounded by towering pisé walls that appear to be protected by enormous Hollywood-style, pseudo-Egyptian figures. The apartments, which occupy 30,000 square meters of desert, offer a living for a sizable portion of the Ouarzazate population. Hundreds of films have been shot in this area over the last century, including Bertolucci’s The Sheltering Sky (1990) and Martin Scorsese’s Kundun (1997). The Andromeda Italian film studios are located on the other side of town, opposite the Taourirt Kasbah.

Best Things To Do In Ouarzazate

1. Ounila Hike: Step into a world of timeless charm as you embark on the Ounila Hike. This trail winds through the rugged beauty of the Ounila Valley, offering a glimpse into traditional Berber life. As you traverse the ancient paths, you’ll encounter picturesque villages clinging to the mountainsides, their terracotta buildings contrasting against the rich green of the date palm oases. The hike reveals awe-inspiring views of deep gorges and arid landscapes, creating an unforgettable experience of Morocco’s natural diversity.

2. Megdaz Hike: Prepare to be enchanted by the Megdaz Hike, a journey that leads you through the heart of the High Atlas Mountains. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of lush valleys, where crystal-clear streams weave their way between emerald fields. This hike is an opportunity to connect with nature at its most pristine, as you follow ancient trails that have been traversed for generations. With each step, you’ll be surrounded by towering peaks and the soothing sounds of the wilderness, creating an atmosphere of serenity and wonder.

3. Bou Tharar Hike: For those seeking a challenge, the Bou Tharar Hike offers a thrilling adventure in the rocky terrain of the Atlas Mountains. This trail takes you to lofty heights, where panoramic vistas extend as far as the eye can see. As you ascend, the landscape transforms from rugged slopes to dramatic ridges, providing a sense of accomplishment and awe-inspiring views. The Bou Tharar Hike is a testament to the power and beauty of
nature, a rugged path that rewards hikers with unforgettable memories.

4. Ait Sedrate Hike: Experience the fusion of culture and nature on the Ait Sedrate Hike, a route that weaves through charming villages and pristine landscapes. This journey takes you along well-trodden paths that have witnessed the passage of time, offering an insight into the daily life of the Berber people. The hike is punctuated by encounters with friendly locals and the opportunity to witness traditional activities. From the terraced fields to the rugged cliffs, the Ait Sedrate Hike is an exploration of both the natural world and the human spirit. 

The Southern and Eastern Oases

There are numerous oasis in southern and eastern Morocco. Their existence is dependent on the presence of water, which is supplied by either rivers coming down from the mountains or a subterranean water table. Underground water naturally rises at the foot of dunes or is pushed by artesian wells or down underground canals called as khettaras, some of which are quite long. This explains why the oasis are arranged in a line along the Dades, Draa, and Ziz valleys.

Irrigation In The Oasis

Oases, which are found in exceptionally inhospitable environments, are a very fragile ecological ecosystem that only exists due to constant human intervention. Many dams are created to manage the flow of water in the wadis, which can ruin the plantations in the oases in a matter of hours if they flood. Khettaras and seguias must be cleansed on a regular basis.

Morocco Meander

Animals Of The Oasis

Some of the more common species seen in the oases include the common bulbul, rufous bush robin, house bunting, and doves. Toads inhabit the banks of streams, geckos and lizards cling to stone walls and tree trunks, while scorpions lurk beneath stones. Jackals will occasionally approach human dwellings throughout the night. The fennec, horned viper, and herbivorous lizard are all born in dunes and rocks and rarely leave their birthplace.


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