About Zagora, Draa Valley & Beyond
Deep in the south, well beyond Ouarzazate, is the stunning Draa Valley and the main town, on the fringes of the Sahara is Zagora. This is the place you should head to if you are looking to visit the oasis of M'Hamid and the dunes at Erg Lihoudi and Ch'Gagga. Zagora is an outpost in the deep south suitable as a base for excursions into the Sahara by 4WD or camel. Famously on the edge of town is the signpost indicating Timbuktou to be a mere 52 days journey across the desert (by camel caravan of course).
Zagora is flanked by the mountain Zagora from which the town got its name. Originally it was called 'Tazagourt' Berber for 'twin peaks', referring to the fortress of the Murabitun, or Almoravid, people. On the top of the Zagora mountain the remains of an Almoravid fortress can still be seen. Each year the moussem (festival) of the Sufi saint moulay Abdelkader Jilali is celebrated at Zagora.
Exploring south of Ouarzazate your journey will take you along the stunning Draa Valley to the villages of Agdz about half way to Zagora and turning off the main route for a short distance will bring you off the beaten track to N'Kob. The Drâa Valley extends for almost 200km towards the South and irrigates a narrow oasis where dates and henna grow. After leaving the Drâa Valley, a series of oases rapidly succeed each other along the fine desert-like road leading to Zagora. Don't hesitate to stop to experience their unchanged way of life. The environment is exceptionally well preserved.
Heading south from Zagora, don't miss Amezrou village, an ancient Jewish kasbah, and, above all, Tamegroute and its prestigious Koranic library which houses precious handwritten Korans, the oldest dating from the 11th century, and works of mathematics, history and medicine. The Tissergate ksar (fort), one of the ksour (forts) which line the valley, houses a museum of arts and traditions in which many everyday articles and Berber craftwork are exhibited. M'Hamid is the starting point for trips into the Sahara. For the real thing continue west from Tinfou to the Erg Lihoudi or Ch'gaga dunes which extend for 150km. Many bivouacs are organized in the dunes.
Agdz is located on the main route from Ouarzazate to Zagora and is a charming spot to break your journey, particularly at the delightful Kasbah Azul. Agdz is also the location where the road branching west departs; this route takes you off the main tourist roads and allows you to head south of the Anti Atlas Mountains via Foum Zguid and Tata or west between the High Atlas and Anti Atlas to the Souss Plain and the Atlantic coast beyond.
An oasis town, crammed full of kasbahs and overlooking a lush palm-filled valley, N'Kob is worthy of consideration for those wishing to stay off the tourist route and is a good overnight stop along the southern desert route between Zagora and Rissani.
Foum Zguid is just about as far from the madding crowd as you can get without taking serious off-road routes. If you are longing for adventure, wide open scenery or simply want to discover the Sahara, then the luxury Bab Rimal is the ideal accommodation for you. The Iriqui National Park is to the south of Foum Zguid, although it would involve access by 4WD.
Where to stay
If you are looking for adventure, wide open scenery or simply want to discover the Sahara, then the Hotel Bab Rimal is a great base. Located close to the desert, this luxury hotel has 12 suites and 9 ...
The Kasbah Azul is a wonderful place, located in the village of Aslim just a short drive north from from the centre of Agdz. Perfect for an overnight stop on a circuit of the south.
The Kasbah Baha Baha is a welcome retreat after the long road between Agdz and Rissani.
The family-run Fibule du Draa Hotel is a small, kasbah-style hotel offering true Berber hospitality on the edge of Zagora.