Archive for the ‘Skoura’ Category

Zagora 4×4 Sahara Desert Tour Of Amezrou & Ancient Jewish Mellah, Your M’hamid Morocco Travel Guide

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

A Zagora 4×4 Sahara Desert Tour of Amezrou Silversmiths and the Ancient Jewish Mellah offers a unique flavor of the Sahara. Places to visit include the Dunes of Tinfo, the Amezrou Silver makers workshops, the Tamagroute Pottery Cooperative, the old Spiritual Zaouia site, the Koranic Library and an adventure into the M’hamid Dunes of Sahara Desert.

Zagora is a town that is nestled within the Draa Valley river in Souss-Massa-Draâ, southeastern Morocco. Zagora is surrounded by the mountain Zagora and is how this Saharan town got its name. Zagora was originally called ‘Tazagourt’ the singular of plural ‘Tizigirt’, Berber for ‘twin peaks’, referring to the form of the mountain. In old European maps the mountain Zagora is can be found however the town itself was only built in the 20th century.


On the top of the Zagora Mountain the remains of an Almoravid fortress can still be seen. A famous sign in Zagora is located at the town Border States “Tomboctu 52 jours”, the estimated time it takes to get to Timbuktu, Mali by camel. One of the most interesting and artistic places to visit in Zagora’s Sahara Desert is the Amezrou Silversmiths workshop located footsteps inside the old Jewish Mellah. The Silversmiths workshop offers a look back in time at how traditional Moroccan silversmiths and blacksmiths worked with silver by hand from the stage of creating a mold from scratch, melting silver, pouring the silver into the mold, with the final outcome being a creation of what is referred to as a Southern Crosses.

The Southern Cross in Morocco and North Africa is made by both Berber and Tuareg Tribes. The Berbers refer to the cross as a Southern cross and also sometimes a fibula, which differs from an actual cross. The Tuareg refer to their crosses as either a Tuareg Cross or “Cross of Agdez.”  Berber and Tuareg parents are known to give these exquisite crosses and silver beaded necklaces to their children when they are about to depart from home but they are worn by all as a form of good luck and protection. These well crafted crosses are 50% silver and 50% nickel.

Amezrou-Zagora Silver-Mold

The Silver-making Workshop in Amezrou is the perfect place to discover silversmiths and blacksmiths working by hand and side  by side creating silver jewelry and other precious items. The silversmiths and the blacksmiths, trained by the old Jewish population, are still using the models left by them to make fibula (pins to hold garments together) and medallions. The overall process of silver making is one that can be observed on a tour to the Zagora and M’hamid Sahara Desert during an M’hamid Morocco Travel vacation. In Amezrou a demonstration of how silversmiths and blacksmiths work is available along with a workshop where artists and guests can participate in the process and keep what they make.

Amezrou, located just footsteps outside the 17th Century Jewish Mellah and home to the old Jewish Kasbah boasts a petite museum that is attached to its silver making facilities. Silver jewelry is still produced there and workshops are available through Travel Exploration Morocco. Jewish people lived in this old Jewish Mellah for many centuries and controlled the silver trade. However they moved en masse to Israel in 1948, leaving about 7,000 Berbers to carry on the tradition. Today, Draouis are the sole occupants. The Old Jewish Mellah in Amzerou has narrow streets and covered areas that accentuate the high walls. The west door was once used by the Jews and the east by the Muslims. Amezrou has an old synagogue, which is in better shape than others in the Draa Valley.

Amezrou-Zagora Silver-DesignerSilversmith demonstration of Southern Moroccan Cross in Amezrou, Zagora

Amezrou-Zagora Silver-Worker-HandmadeSilversmith demonstration at Jewelry Workshop in Amezrou, Zagora

Zagora-Sahara-Amzerou-Silver-Cross Silver crosses at Jewelry Workshop in Amezrou, Zagora

The old museum in Amezrou, Zagora has precious finds, some that are just for viewing and others that are for sale. On a recent tour Travel Exploration Morocco uncovered an old Jewish Menorah along with a fabulously decorated old Passover Seder plate. These antique Jewish items are treasures mong the ancient Jewish population which has mostly disappeared in the Moroccan Sahara.

The Jewish menorah is a nine-branched candelabrum that is lit during the eight-day celebration of the Jewish Holiday called Hanukkah. The ninth holder, called the shamash (“helper or servant”), is for a candle used to light all other candles. The menorah is among the most widely produced articles of Jewish ceremonial art and also a traditional symbol of Judaism. The Passover Seder Plate is a special plate containing symbolic foods used by Jews during the Passover Seder. Each of the six items arranged on the plate has special significance to the retelling of the story of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt;which is the focus of the Passover ritual meal. Visiting Zagora and the M’hamid Sahara Desert takes you off the beaten path. These Sahara Desert excursions are for those who are looking for a unique Moroccan adventure or die-hard authentic Sahara Desert Experience.

Amezrou-Zagora -Jewish-Mellah-MenorahAntique Jewish Menorah in Amzerou, Zagora

Jewish-Seder-Plate-Amezrou-Zagora-Old-Jewish-MellahAntique Jewish Menorah in Amzerou, Zagora

This Morocco Sahara adventure will take you off the beaten path, visiting Zagora, Amezrou Silver makers and the M’hamid Sahara Desert of Erg Lihoudi, south of Zagora. It is for the die-hard Sahara Adventurers and is a great way to visit Southern Morocco’s Sahara from Marrakech and Ouarzazate.


►Pick-up from your Riad or Moroccan Hotel in Marrakech. Then take the Tizin’ Tichka pass through the High Atlas Mountains.

►Stop for lunch, in the village of Tadart and then witness women making Argan Oil, butter and cosmetics from the Argan Nut. Continue the road to Zagora. Spend the night in a beautiful Riad that is set within a palmary in Zagora.

►Visit the town of Zagora, the Tamagroute Pottery Cooperative, the ancient Zaouia site and the Amezrou Silver makers Workshop in the old Jewish Mellah. Visit the old Jewish Synagogue in Amezrou and the ancient alleys. Then take the road to the M’hamid Sahara. This part of the Sahara Desert is vastly different then the Sahara Desert’s Erg Chebbi Dunes in Merzouga.

►The M’hamid Sahara Desert claims a more rocky and desolate landscape with mile wide dunes and very quiet. Visit the Erg Lihoudi after having your head fully wrapped with a dark blue turban by your camel guide. Take a camel trek at sunset across the M’hamid Dunes. Have dinner in the M’hamid Sahara Desert at your bivouac tent. Then, watch the blue men of the Sahara Desert bake fresh bread and prepare a meat and vegetable tajine.

►Spend the night in the M’hamid Sahara Dunes under the stars.

►Breakfast in M’hamid at sunrise and then explore by piste in 4×4 across the M’hamid Sahara Dunes.

►Continue the road to the Draa Valley, stopping for lunch with a Berber, Moroccan family in the village of Ait Ouzzine. Have couscous and grilled meat in Ait Ouzzine and enjoy discovering the Moroccan village’s green fields. Have your hands and feet painted with henna and then take the road to discover Skoura, the valley of one thousand Kasbahs.

►Discover Skouras’s Valley of one-thousand Kasbahs and then arrive at sunset at in Ouarzazate, visiting the ancient Kasbah and UNESCO World Heritage site of Ait Benhaddou. Ait Benhaddou is located 32 km from Ouarzazate lies the picturesque village. Aït Benhaddou of Aït Benhaddou is situated in Souss-Massa- Draa on a hill along the Ouarzazate River. Lawrence of Arabia was filmed here and Orson Welles used it as a location for Sodome and Gomorrah; and for Jesus of Nazareth the whole lower part of the village was rebuilt. In recent years more controlled restoration has been carried out under UNESCO auspices. Aït Benhaddou is one of many locations in this region used for shooting Hollywood films.

►Dinner in Ait Benhaddou and then continue the road and spend the night in either Ait Benhaddou or Ouarzazate at a traditional Moroccan Riad.

► Breakfast at your Riad and then take the road to visit the Oasis of Fint. Have tea with Aziz at the headmaster’s house in this quaint, beautiful Moroccan Oasis.

►Next visit Kasbahs Telouet and en route to your return to Marrakesh, driving through the High Atlas Mountains.

For a complete more information a M’hmid or Zagora 4×4 Tour

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate.

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806  or 1 (917)703-2078  and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Ouarzazate Travel Agency, Kasbahs & Kilims: Your Guide to Southern Morocco Travel & Sahara Desert Tours

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Ouarzazate Travel Agency – Kasbahs & Kilims, Your Guide to Southern Morocco Travel & Sahara Desert Tours

Traveling to Morocco’s Sahara region through a Ouarzazate Travel Agency guarantees an authentic Morocco Travel experience. When traveling to Morocco’s Zagora region of Ouarzazate, the Draa Valley and the M’hamid Sahara Desert (Erg Chegaga Dunes) it is important to also have a Ouarzazate or Saharan driver and licensed guide who speaks fluent English, Arabic & French as well as the local dialect of Berber (Tashlhiyt).


Kasbahs & Kilims are two genuine reasons to consider a short break to Morocco or a tailor made Private Morocco Tour. A Ouarzazate Travel Agency will be able to organize a seamless tour that enables you to discover the gems of Southern Morocco such as its ancient Kasbahs and Kilims. Southern Morocco’s Ouarzazate region is known for its ancient Kasbahs and hand made Berber Kilims. For centuries Morocco has been a premiere travel destination for American explorers, literary writers, artists and composers such as Paul Bowles, Allen Ginsberg, Brion Gysin, Isabelle Ebrehardt, William S. Burroughs and Yves Saint Laurent.


Unlike other regions of Morocco both the Ouarzazate and Zagora region offer an untouched Morocco Travel journey that will enable you to engage up close with the Berber and Tuareg people. The Berber villages within the Draa Valley and Zagora region still retain their century-old traditions that makes for an attractive Morocco Travel cultural and enlightening educational experience. These Berber Villages are home to some of the most magnificent Kasbahs and High Atlas Mountain scenery. The century old Moroccan Kasbahs that once served as fortified villages to protect the Berbers now mainly serve as homes for their immediate and extended families.


The Berber village experience is unlike another in Morocco. Spending a day with a Berber family in a traditional Moroccan village offers insight into how they live using ancient traditions that include baking bread by earthen oven, while using the wheat grown in locally in their fields and cooking couscous by candlelight. You can also witness how the henna plant is used to decorate the hands and feet of the Berbers in extraordinary beautiful patterns. Part of touring through a Ouarzazate Travel Agency also enables you to have your hands and feet hennaed while spending time in the village and partake in the other daily activities.


A Kasbah is referred to as a fortified village or a medina, Islamic city fortress. Traditionally Kasbahs is where local leaders lived and a Kasbah served as a defense when the city was under attack. Kasbahs high walls that are made of mud and earth typically have no windows. Kasbahs were traditionally built on top of a hill, which made them easier to defend however some were also built near the entrances of harbors. Having a Kasbah built was once a sign of wealth however almost all Moroccan cities, especially those in the Middle and High Atlas Mountain regions of Morocco had them as a necessity of survival. Today, Kasbahs in Morocco are often restored by foreigners and made into Raids, Bed & Breakfast style hotel accommodations or lived in by families. The Kasbah is by far one of the most charming and delightful forms of ancient architecture found in Morocco.


A Kilim is a flat tapestry, woven carpet or rug. In Morocco Kilims are often referred to more generally as Berber carpets and is another great reason to travel to Morocco through an Ouarzazate Travel Agency.

Southern Morocco’s Ouarzazate and Zagora region are famous for Berber carpets and offer travelers the opportunity to see how they are made locally and purchase them directly from Berber villages or in local shops that have more reasonable prices then the big cities such as Marrakech and Fes. Berber carpets are essentially the “free trade” carpets of Morocco. Berber carpets are often used as prayer rugs as well as for covering concrete and tiled floors in Morocco today. When traveling to Morocco you can choose a Sahara region tour for a cultural trip and adventure or opt for one that allows you to Shop the Souks of Morocco!

Kilim-Berber-Carpets-In- Ouarzazate-Souk-and-Villages

Here are the Top 10 Sites & Places to Visit When Traveling With a Ouarzazate Travel Agency In The Southern Morocco Region:

#1: Ait Benhaddou Kasbah

#2: Kasbah Taouirit

#3: Kasbah Tifoutltoute

#4: Oasis of Fint

#5: Atlas Film Studios

#6: Skoura Oasis & Palmary

#7: Dunes of Tinfo (Zagora)

#8: Dades Valley

#9: Todra Gorge

#10:  Valley of Roses

For more information about a Ouarzazate Travel Agency and to discover the Ouarzazate & Zagora region

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate.

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Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Google on call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 or (212) 661-4898-960 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.