About Zagora, Draa Valley & Beyond
Deep in the south of Morocco, well beyond Ouarzazate, is the stunning Draa Valley which ranges from lunar landscapes to lush oases full of kasbahs. The main town, on the fringes of the Sahara, is Zagora - 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 the place you should head to if you are looking to visit the oasis of M'Hamid and the dunes at Erg Lihoudi and Erg Ch'Gagga. You can do so through one of our fabulous desert adventures, staying in luxury camps or with nomads and travelling by camel and 4WD vehicle; alternatively, you may like to explore yourself by using Zagora as a base to visit the region in your own vehicle on a self-drive holiday.
Zagora is flanked by the mountain from which the town got its name; originally it was called 'Tazagourt' which is 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 and each year the moussem (festival) of the Sufi saint moulay Abdelkader Jilali is celebrated at Zagora.
Here are some of the towns of the south where it is possible to stay as part of a tailor-made self-drive or private journey holiday in Morocco.
The Drâa Valley extends for almost 200km towards the South and irrigates a narrow oasis where dates and henna grow. Exploring south of Ouarzazate your journey will take you along this stunning valley to the village of Agdz and if you turned off this main route for a short distance you can head off the beaten track to N'Kob via the great southern road. Once you approach the end of the route a series of oases rapidly succeed each other along the fine desert-like road leading to Zagora. Don't hesitate to stop along the way to experience the unchanged way of life, this environment is exceptionally well preserved.
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 to Foum Zguid at the western edge of the Erg Ch'Gagga sand sea; further along this route you can drive to Tata or head directly west from Agdz, between the High Atlas and Anti Atlas, to the Souss Plain (Taroudant) and the Atlantic coast beyond.
An oasis town, crammed full of kasbahs and overlooking a lush palm-filled valley, N'Kob is ideal if you are wishing to stay off the tourist route, particularly for hiking towards Jbel Saghro, and is a good overnight stop along the southern desert road that links the Draa Valley and Zagora to Rissani and Merzouga to the east.
Heading south from Zagora don't miss Amezrou village, an ancient Jewish kasbah, and Tamegroute with its prestigious Koranic library housing 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. At the end of the asphalted road is M'Hamid, one of the locations for trips into the Sahara; for the real true desert experience consider nearby Erg Lihoudi or go (with a guide) to the wild and exotic dunes of Ch'gagga which extend for 150km.
Foum Zguid is just about as far from the tourist roads 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, just outside the town at the edge of Erg Ch'Gagga, is the ideal accommodation for you. The dried lake bed of Iriqui National Park is to the south of Foum Zguid, although it does require access along roads only suitable with a 4WD.
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Hotels to visit
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.