The city of Ouarzazate is located between Merzouga and Marrakesh. The bus from Merzouga to Ouarzazate leaves at 8.30 and arrives around 15:30, the ticket costs 14 euros one way. The road to Ouarzazate is just like in a movie, ups and downs, desert and suddenly from nowhere will appear some oasis or a small village.
Ouarzazate is a small town, but it is very famous because of its surroundings, there is the Atlas film studio, where have been recorded numerous world famous movies as Gladiator, Cleopatra, etc.. The center of Ouarzazate is small enough and only a few hours are enough to see it, the main square Mohammed V, the Kasbah and the Cinema museum.
In Ouarzazate the climate is very good, there are even 340 sunny days in the year, and just because of that, currently they built one of the largest solar plants right here. The best option to see all the places in the area is to rent a taxi with a driver who will be at your disposal all day and will take you to all places. We didn’t have lot of time in Ouarzazate so we decided to rent a taxi for a half-day excursion to visit the film studio Atlas, the fortress Ait Benhaddou, the oasis Fint and Kasbah Taourirt. Full-day tours include also Valley of Roses and Todgha Gorge. The taxi for half a day cost us 25 euros per person, however I think that we didn’t bargain enough.
The end of May was really hot, so we were unable to stay a long time outdoors and we decided to dedicate more time to the Oasis Fint where grow palm trees, almonds, dates and grapes, and around it there were houses where are still living local people that in the past were slaves in the Kasbah and then moved and founded the village in the Oasis. There is also a hotel with a panoramic terrace that offers views of the oasis, with swimming pool that tourists can use, for 2 euros. Near the oasis Fint there is another small village where Brad Pitt was filming part of the movie Babel and brought electricity as a donation for the village.
Definitely the city is known because of many movies filmed there, so we decided to visit the Atlas film studio. The entrance costs 5 euro, including guide, the guy was really funny and all the time was telling some jokes about movies and scenes that were filmed here, there’s another movie studio one kilometer after Atlas, CLA studio – but they told us that there are not so many things to see and also we need to pay for entrance so we decided not to enter.
From here we continued to the fortress Ait Benhaddou, protected by UNESCO, the fortress was built of brick and mud, today is a major tourist attraction, there are filmed more than 10 films including Gladiator, the streets of the fortress were full with shops, souvenirs and traditional products. You can climb to the top of the fortress and from to have a beautiful panoramic view.
I must mention that the taxi driver is completely at your disposal so he stops wherever you want, he also stopped in the middle of the highway where there was a very nice view of the Atlas Mountains. In the end we went to visit the Kasbah Taourirt, jut walk between the narrow streets and get in touch with the locals. Across the Kasbah there is located the Cinema Museum, but someone told us that inside there is nothing special, so we didn’t enter.
In the evening we just walked around the city center of Ouarzazate and sat down for a dinner at one of the many restaurants in the main square, the prices were cheap, couscous was 3 euros and coca cola 0.70 cents. When we were going back we walked around the neighborhood in which was located our riad “Dar Rita”, really interesting neighborhood, full with craft shops, small markets – they just open the window from the room and there is a market inside, neighborhood bakery that at night takes out fresh baked bread, children playing everywhere, I have never seen so many children at one place, and when they saw us with our camera they surrounded us and took a photo all together.In this neighborhood even for a moment you will have the possibility to feel the real spirit of Ouarzazate.