Posts Tagged ‘Kasbahs’

Discover the Diverse Region of Ouarzazate, Through Kasbahs, Berber Villages & Desert Road Trips

Monday, August 31st, 2015
Ouarzazate Region, Kasbah

Ouarzazate Region, Kasbah

Ouarzazate became famous when it’s nearby Kasbah; Aït Benhaddou appeared in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia. This spellbinding quiet town is the perfect home base for exploring the southern region of Morocco which is comprised of ancient Kasbahs, the Dadès Valley, the Gorge of Todra, the Atlas Films Studios, the Skoura Palmeraie along with the Sahara Desert regions of Merzouga, Zagora and M’hamid / Erg Chigaga. On a private tour from Ouarzazate there are many site seeing opportunities ranging from visiting the historic Ait Benhaddou Ksar, Kasbah Taourirt, open air forts Atlas landscapes to the the Valley of Roses and Erg Chebbi Sand dunes.

Ouarzazate is often referred to as a city “without noise” and is a direct translation of its name. This dusty Sahara town has immense desert charm and is the Hollywood of Morocco. Ouarzazate’s unique combination arid and dry North African landscapes boast stunning views of the Atlas Mountains. Ouarzazate was once the leading administrative city in the region and was purely developed for this purpose by the French during colonization. As the region of the South expanded, Tinghir and Errachidia, became a provinces with Ouarzazate losing its name as a hub for administrative purposes.

“See Ouarzazate and die” are feelings often expressed by Moroccans with regards to this magical city that is the door to the Sahara desert. Located just four hours from Marrakesh, Ouarzazate is the main Berber city in the south. It is also known for its spectacular sunsets and dramatic mountain and desert scenery. Surrounded by breathtaking valleys, Ouarzazate was once 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 became the administrative centre of the Zagora region.

As a diverse region Ouarzazate offers various site seeing opportunities ranging from the Atlas Film Studios, the CLA Film Studios, the Oasis of Fint, Ancient Ksars and Kasbahs along with Berber Villages.


Kundun, Atlas Film Studios, Ouarzazate

Kundun, Atlas Film Studios, Ouarzazate








What to Visit in the Region of Ouarzazate:

Atlas Film Studios/ The Oscar Film Studios are flanked by Holly-wood style Egyptian figures and cover 30,000 square meters of desert. David Lean filmed Lawrence of Arabia at The Atlas Film Studios in the early 1960’s. Since then many famous directors have followed in his footsteps to exploit the magnificent scenery. International blockbusters shot here in recent years include: the French version of Cleopatra, Bertolucci’s Sheltering Sky, Scorsese’s Kundun, Gillies MacKannon’s Hideous Kinky, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, Black Hawke Down, Oliver Stone’s Alexander The Great, Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, and Penelope Cruz’s Sahara along with the series Game of Thrones. Most of the filming takes place in the desert in the south however you can view the Tibetan monastery featured in Scorese’s Kundan and an Egyptian temple from Cleopatra.

Cleopatra, Atlas Studios, Ouarzazate

Cleopatra, Atlas Studios, Ouarzazate

CLA Film Studios was established in 2004 in partnership with Dino de Laurentis, Cinectittà and Sanam Holding. CLA Studios is open daily to travelers visiting Ouarzazate and the ideal place to see a combination of costumes, props, film sets other movie items used in major independent films and television productions. CLA studios is surrounded by varied landscapes, from desert to oasis. Renowned directors like David Lean, Bernardo Bertolucci, Martin Scorsese, Ridlye or Oiliver Scott Stone, chose to film at CLA Studios for its location. Films and television series shot at CLA Studios range from Lawrence of Arabia, The Sheltering Sky, Black Hawk Down, Kundum, Gladiator, The Mummy 1 and 2, Alexander the Great, The Kingdom of Heaven, Sahara, Troy, Exorcist 1 and 2, Hidalgo and Babel.

Ancient Moroccan Ksars & Kasbahs

Ait Benhaddou Ksar 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.

Kasbah Taouirt was was built by the Pasha Glaoui. Kasbah Taouirt’s location was strategic for trading routes and in the 1930’s when the Glaoui ruled the South it was then one of Morocco’s largest Kasbahs. Explore its nooks and crannies and discover some local female painters who sell their art inside as well as the many quality silver shops just steps outside the Kasbah.

Kasbah Tifoultoute is an ancient Kasbah (fortress) in Ouarzazate located 8 kilometers West of the city. Kasbah Tifoultoute once belonged to the family of Thami El Glaoui, the Pasha of Marrakech. The kasbah of Tifoultoute served as decor for films such as Lawrence of Arabia and Jesus of Nazareth. There is a stunning view from the terrace of the Atlas Mountains.

Berber Villages:

The Berbers are the original inhabitants of Morocco. The Berbers once occupied much of North Africa before they were persecuted and driven out or into the mountain ranges by the Arabs who came from Yemen in the 7th Century. One-third of Moroccans are Berber and live in the mountains, in villages within the Middle-Atlas and within remote areas of Morocco. Today, most Berbers understand and speak Arabic but their primary language is Berber. During a private tour to Morocco you can visit Berber villages in the High Atlas, the Middle Atlas or Anti-Atlas Mountain regions of Morocco. Within the Berber Villages you can visit old ksars, have lunch with a Berber family, and also learn about their village life. Ait Ouzine is a small village of 1200 inhabitants nestled within the Middle Atlas Mountains. Aït Ouzzine-Nkob is a Berber village inhabited by over 300 families who live in beautifully painted crenulated kasbahs, with their own henna fields, water wells, livestock, and gardens. This peaceful village is tucked away along an impressive desert route connecting the Draa Valley (Tansikht) and Rissani. On a private tour, travelers can meet a local Berber family, sip tea in the Saghro Mountains, and dine on couscous.

Merzouga Erg Chebbi Dunes

Merzouga Erg Chebbi Dunes

Sahara Desert Regions:

Merzouga is a small village in Southern Morocco which is home to the highest and most gold dunes called Erg Chebbi. Merzouga is located in the Moroccan Sahara Desert and has the largest underground natural body of water. It’s Erg Chebbi dunes are the most visited by Moroccan tourists who want a majestic and authentic Sahara experience for camel trekking and desert camping.

M’Hamid El Ghizlane is the last Oasis in the Great Sahara Desert and historically where caravans gathered before setting off on journeys to Timbuktu. M’Hamid is also referred to as Bounou which historically was a village of various Southern tribes such as the Ait Atta Berbers, Drawa and the Hassani.

Zagora is referred to as the “direct door to the Sahara” since it is the last town before one reaches the heart of the Dunes of Tinfo, M’hamid and Erg Chegaga also known as Erg Chigaga.

Erg Chegaga (Erg Chigaga) is one of the two major regions of dunes in the Sahara Desert, the other being Erg Chebbi of Merzouga. These dunes are located in the region  referred to as the Sous-Mass- Draa and approximately 50 kilometers west of M’Hamid El Ghizlane and 98 kilometers south of Zaogra. Erg Chegaga remains virgin and an untouched region of Morocco and can be reached only by 4×4 land cruiser or camel trekking on a private tour to Morocco.

For More Information about Ouarzazate Travel and Regional Siteseeing

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber 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 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Travel Morocco’s Historic Kasbahs and Majestic Waterfalls

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Morocco boasts beautiful cities with majestic mosques, imperial palaces, and hotels worthy of royalty, but outside these sprawling cities there is a different sort of majesty and beauty for travelers to discover.  Leaving the chaotic and busy city centers the Atlas Mountains and the sprawling Sahara desert give way to a different Morocco, one of camel caravans, ancient trade routes, and breath-taking natural wonders.


Moroccan Kasbahs

Morocco is often referred to as the land “of a thousand Kasbahs”, the “way-stations” for the traveling merchants, tradesmen, and adventurers of ancient Morocco.  These fortified cities were safe havens for the weary traveler, a place to rest and to socialize with fellow travelers and inhabitants of the Kasbah towns.  Exotic goods, skills, languages, and beliefs were shared and exchanged at these Kasbahs attributing to Morocco’s rich and diverse history combining European, African, Christian, Muslim, as well as many other cultural and ethnic influences.  While the harsh dry climate of the Saharan desert takes a toll on these ancient cities the Moroccan government, as well as many private companies, are working to restore and ensure the survival of the Kasbahs.


Ouarzazate – The Door of the Desert

Located just four hours from Marrakech, Ouarzazate is known as “The door of the desert” and is a main Berber town.  Once a major stop for travelers on the ancient camel caravan route through Morocco and much of Africa, Ouarzazate is a must-see for travelers wanting to experience Moroccan history as well as Moroccan natural wonders.  Ouarzazte boasts two Kasbahs, Ait Benhaddou and the Telouet Kasbah and the famous Cascades d’Ouzoud waterfalls.  This Berber town is a popular destination for travelers looking for a little adventure.

Ait Benhaddou

Ait Benhaddou is a fortified city located in Souss-Massa-Draa, not far from Ouarzazate, along the Ouarzazate River and is a wonderful example of the ancient Kasbahs found along the camel caravan routes throughout Morocco.  This enclosed city was home to many families all of whom had their own house within the city walls, although most of its inhabitants have since moved to more modern towns nearby a handful of Moroccans still live in this ancient town.

Since 1987 Ait Benhaddou has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its magnificent red walled buildings and impressive architecture has made Ait Benhaddou the site of many films including, most recently, the films Gladiator in 2000 and Alexander in 2004.  It is a city that’s rich with history, culture, and amazing architecture that is sure not to disappoint.

Taourirt Kasbah


The Taourirt Kasbah, while not as old as some of the more ancient Kasbahs in Morocco, is considered one of the most important sights in Morocco and has a significant history.  In 1893 Sultan Moulay Houssan was stranded in the Sahara Desert and he and his army of 3,000 were taken care of by two brothers, Glaoui, of the Taourirt Kasbah.  In return for their hospitality the Sultan gave the brothers political power over the

High Atlas Mountains.

The brothers maintained and strengthened their position and when the French occupied Morocco 20 years later they managed to enter into an agreement with them and by the end of the French colonial rule the Glaoui brothers had almost as much political power as the Sultan.


While the Saharan Desert has taken its toll on the Kasbah the huge structures make for an impressive view that are sure to awe visitors.  The reception room and main halls, the only interior rooms still open to the public, are adorned with high vaulted ceilings with grand pillars and huge ornately carved wooden doors.  The large scale luxury of the Taourirt Kasbah is surprising to find so far into the desert and certainly speaks to the power and influence that the Glaoui brothers once held.

Cascades d’Ouzoud


Gorgeous cool blue water falls 100 meters through a lush green terrain into refreshing pools perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day.  The last thing you might expect to find in hot and deserty Morocco is waterfalls but the Cascades d’Ouzoud exist nonetheless and provide Morocco with just one more natural wonder for visitors to experience.

Located near Ouarzazte, through a tiny Berber village called Ouzoud, the cascades provide the perfect spot for locals and visitors alike to spend the day picnicking and swimming in the refreshing pools.  The cascades are a popular camping spot offering visitors the chance to sleep under the Moroccan stars next one of the most beautiful natural wonders in northern Africa.  At the summit of the falls there are several old mills, many of which are still in use, and, if you look carefully in among the trees you might even spot a troop of Barbary apes that live among these majestic falls.


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 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.