Ouarzazate (ورزازات) is a city in Morocco.
Ouarzazate is relatively small (60 000 inhabitants) and for Morocco quiet town, built mostly along main street - Avenue Muhammed V. Ouarzazate is situated at an elevation of 1,135 m. 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.
- From Inezgane (close to Agadir) twice a day, 120 dirhams, fixed price with CTM and a similar price with Supratours.
- The morning CTM bus from Inezgane departs at 09:30 (April 2009).
- From Marrakesh - There are two CTM buses a day (80 dirhams), along with three local buses (also 80 dirhams). You can also reserve a place in a grand taxi for around 100 dirhams per person.
Often two flights a day during the week from Casablanca, occasional flights to Agadir and other cities.
The area around Mohammad V is very walkable. The CTM station is there as well. Petits taxis for within the city (no more than 10 dirhams from the airport to the hotel), grands taxis for between cities (no more than 150 dirhams 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.
- Machi Car Rental (Machi), Ouarzazate 45000 (No 13 Tabounte), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: / email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com. 09:00-20:00. 300-600 dirhams.
- Aït 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 300 dirhams, however you can haggle (perhaps 220 after some serious effort), driver will wait couple of hours. Very picturesque place, lots of movies were shot there (Gladiator). 10 dirhams 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.
- Atlas Studios. It lies about 4 km 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, The Living Daylights and Alexander, Kingdom of Heaven and Babel were shot there. Most of movie decorations are a bit crumbled, but Egyptan decorations are still impressive but in very poor condition, left to rot.
- 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 desert). 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 300-400 dirhams. A grand taxi will also take you out that way and back for 150-200 dirhams. Everything out here is negotiable, so shop around for the best price.
- 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. 100 dirhams.
- Make a half-day trip to beautiful Oasis de Fint. A small paradise of vegetation in the midst of the dry hills surrounding Ouazarzate. Cross the river into Tabount, then take the road direction Agadir. After ~1 km there is a signpost, from here it is ~10 km by mostly unpaved roads. At the Oasis there is an auberge with restaurant. You can get there by car, taxi or rent a bike in Tabount.
- Local agencies also offer trips to mountain Valley of Dadès. Be prepared to negotiate hard; otherwise, they will rip you off! Plan a full day tour by 4WD jeep. Make a shortcut off-road in order to avoid a part of the paved N10. The views are spectacular and you have a great chance to meet shepherds (often young girls) with their herd. In the area are many Kasbah's, some inhabited, some abandoned. Don't be surprised if you see a for-sale sign on an abandoned Kasbah.
- Ecolodge Adventures, kasbah tawrirt bloc 2 nr 31, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Excursions and tours from Ouarzazate
- Ouarzazate Explorer, Lot du centre N 69, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Expeditions to the heart of the desert of the south of Morocco, and to the mountains of the Atlas and the gorges of Toudgha and Dades with their canyons. Camel rides and bivouac nights. Camel meharees.
- Go for a swim, Public pool between Tammasint and Gar routier bus station on Mohamed V, 20 dirhams. Nice break from a road trip. The river is usually full December-January where you can find locals swimming.
- 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
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 town's 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.
There is a large local market every Saturday in El Hay Mohamadi where locals including the nomads sell their crafts and animals -- a great place to buy carpets.
There is another market across the river in Tabounte on Sunday with the same goods on offer.
Plenty of cheap restaurants along Mohammad V street and in central square near market. Normal price for tagine should be about 30 dirhams.
There is a supermarket across the road from Place de Mouahidine (main square), including 5L water bottled for 11.5 dirhrams
There is a small liquor store across the road from the main square, next to the supermarket.
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. 156 dirhams double room with hot shower.
- Hotel Atlas, Rue du Marche no.13 (5-7 dirhams by taxi from CTM), ☎ , . Convenient location, English and French spoken, WiFi, clean rooms, Hassan can guide desert tours. singles 60-90 dirhams, double 110-160 dirhams.
- Hotel Amlal (Hotel Ouarzazate), Rue du Marché Nº24-25 Centre Ville (Located on the town center, in front of the big Somalian mosque), ☎ . Check-in: until 23:00, check-out: 12:00. Simple and clean hotel located right on the town center. This is a nice cheap option and great quality price and facilities. All rooms have private bathrooms and tv. Breakfast served on downstairs restaurant. 1 person 200 dirhams, 2 persons 250 dirhams, 3 persons 300 dirhams.
- 1 Zaghro Hotel, 1½ km on the the Route de Zagora, Tabounte Ouarzazate, (From the airport or bus station you have to take a taxi (50 dirhams during daytime or 100 dirhams at night. At anytime you can have the hotel car to bring you to the hotel just call), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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. €7-20 per person with breakfast included.
- Hotel la Vallée (Hotel Ouarzazate), Km 1 route de Zagora, Taboute Ouarzazate Morocco (Located in Ouarzazate Tabounte district on the way to Zagora), ☎ . 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. €20-30 per person with breakfast and dinner included.
- Hotel Royale. Right in the centre, has ugly rooms. It can get very cold in winter, and the street facing rooms are very noisy. triple room 160 dirhams.
- Dar Rita (Riad Ouarzazate), Rue de la Mosquée 39 (Located inside Tassoumate old district on the entrance of Ouarzazate coming from Marrakech), ☎ . Check-in: until 23:00, check-out: 12:00. 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.
- Hotel el Salam, Mohamed Ave. Not bad for budget people, however cold in the night. 70 dirhams for single room with hot shower.
- 2 Hotel Yasmina, Gorges Todra, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 300 dirhams.
- Dar Ahlam. 10-room hotel in Skoura, about 40 km from Ouarzazate. Expensive, but distinctive in every element: architecture, style, service, and food. They also have 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).
- 3 Riad Ksar Ighnda (Ksar Ighnda), Douar Asfalou - Amerzane, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. On the edge of the desert, the Riad Ksar Ighnda opens its doors onto the Atlas Mountains. Authentic yet modern setting. ~€100-240.
Ouarzazate is very safe, but don't wander into weird corners at night. Crime throughout the Moroccan south is minimal, but it's best not to take (too many) chances.
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. Touts will join the bus at stops along the way and try to lever you into going on a 'discounted' desert tour. They are persistent 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.
There are two bus stations in town, the "gare routier" where vans and local buses leave from, and the CTM terminal in the center of town, don't buy CTM tickets at gare routier as their buses don't leave from there.
Buses that pass through Ouarzazate can be badly delayed en-route, and the buses always take a long lunch break, keep this in mind to avoid arriving at your next destination too late