Zagora Things to Do

  • Date Palms - Antiatlas.
    Date Palms - Antiatlas.
    by Beefy_SAFC
  • Berber and his camel, Zagora
    Berber and his camel, Zagora
    by Beefy_SAFC
  • Grump Victor, Zagora
    Grump Victor, Zagora
    by Beefy_SAFC

Most Recent Things to Do in Zagora

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    Beni Selmane Pass - Zagora to Mhamid

    by angiebabe Written Jun 19, 2007

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    approaching Tizi Beni Selmane
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    If like me you drive with maps that show the scenic routes then you will see that on the Zagora to Mhamid road that the section from Jebel Bani through the town of Tagounite and over Beni Selmane pass to Mhamid is marked as a scenic route.

    My various guide books refer to Tizi Beni Selmane, with an altitude to 747 metres, as 'dramatic' with good views to Jebel Bani and surrounds.

    Id not been south of Tamegroute so i wanted this time to see this scenic route to Mhamid! When you see the flat flat terrain that is the terrain between Tamegroute and around Tagounite the jebel Bani range certainly stands out as dramatic and you can see that the road takes you over ...

    There are excellent views from both the pass over Jebel Bani and the Beni Selmane pass - from the pass at Jebel Bani/Anagam you can see over to the dunes of Tinfou.

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    see the animals in the desert

    by angiebabe Updated Jun 19, 2007

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    like us headed for Chigaga?
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    As much as the camel thing has become rather commercialised -
    when we see them in obviously strategic places such as the palmeraie or near the airport(!!) in Marrakech, on many beaches, maybe we groan and think just to catch tourists -
    i think we still do get a kick out of seeing camels, especially out in the desert, and get quite excited and get our cameras ready -

    or is that just me!!

    I think its great to get cool camel and people and donkey shots - to capture the local life in the area we are visiting and portray it even if just for personal looking back over later!(again and again..!)

    so heading off from Mhamid out into the desert where it started looking flat and barren with miles of flat hamada/stoney desert or flat sandy terrain around us and ahead of us,like there was going to be nothing really to see until Chigaga, and then seeing quite a number of camels, that when asking about the vegetation and whats able to eat it or what camels are able to eat and get shown only one particular grass out of a variety because all the rest is bitter and inedible! - shows how harsh the environment is for sure!
    Even later when at the Chigaga dunes there were lots of green bushes with large leaves i was told that they are inedible to even the goats who i always thought ate almost anything!

    But we started seeing camels, occasionally with foot ties to stop the compulsive ones from taking off, and occasionally a camel keeper. Out further we saw more camels, quite a number of occasions saw donkeys, (out walking but as if they had a mission and direction they were headed for), and then also goats and a few bedouin huts or houses.
    and we even picked up one camel man and gave him a lift to the oasis camp. and if the donkeys in a long line were with him they seemed to be happily heading off to the one destination without him.
    Really it was quite surprising just how much animal and human life is still living out around the area. and at the bivouac camp even a cat! (tho like in Australia they live anywhere and everywhere!?)

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    4x4 thru stoney desert to Chigaga

    by angiebabe Updated Jun 19, 2007

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    nearing Chigaga stoney desert becoming sandy
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    From Zagora down to the 'end of the road ' at Mhamid is tar seal road so you can drive down to there and then get a 4 wheel drive excursion from Mhamid out into the desert.

    Its approximately 56 kms from Mhamid and possible to have a trip taking you there and around the dunes and then back or the whole overnight or several day thing with a stay in a bivouac there with meals, entertainment - ie sunset over the dunes, sunrise, drumming and singing, camel rides etc.

    I got taken for several hours out past the hamada (the stoney desert) which is also very photogenic out to and around the Chigaga dunes, a visit to see the bivouac and then back via the camping ground oasis where Desert Dream actually had a huge group of bikers riding around.

    We got to see all sorts - these bike riders, 4 wheel drives riding big dunes, camels, goats and sheep, donkeys and bedoin families living and working out in the desert. We even gave a wizened old desert herder a lift - interesting with his big smiles and listening to the conversing going on between him my driver and guide.

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    visit the Sahara sands of Chigaga from Mhamid

    by angiebabe Updated Jun 19, 2007

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    driving in the sands of Chigaga
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    The road ends at Mhamid and then you can do an excursion by 4x4 vehicle out to see the sahara desert - which takes about 45-60 minutes of fairly heavy going driving to get out to but along the way you get to see changing landscapes of heavy sand piles to dry and hard terrain or stoney desert - with camels and their keepers, or bedouin families that live out there having family time in the cool under trees away from their desert homes, or even donkey caravans! and goats. all out there in the harshness but surviving.

    you can just go out for an afternoon trip to drive around and see the dunes or stay the night in a bivouac camp and be fed moroccan meals such as tagine and be entertained with local drumming and singing - anything really - take a camel and keep going for a weeks trek even - stay out separate away from the tents and have a private night under the stars - whatever your ideas or desires are discuss them and see whats arranged into reality for you.

    but you will certainly see some lovely sand and dunes - that roll on for miles.

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  • angiebabe's Profile Photo

    take a tour around ksar malal

    by angiebabe Written May 24, 2007

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    beautiful views over the ksar and palmeraie behind
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    Of the many ksars around the Draa Valley and Zagora - traditionally and historically designed for security against marauders ie village communities still living as individual families in separate houses with their own living areas enclosed within one main outer enclosing defense wall with main gate or entrance way that would be locked each night with a guardian or night watchman.

    When staying at Riad Ksar Malal which is a new and lovely riad hotel that has been renovated from part of the ksar take the well worthwhile time to have a roam around the ksar. The best way though is to have one of the staff guide you around - particularly as one of their excursions such as a 2 hour or so walk around the nearby area through the ksar and down to the palmeraie a few minutes away and villages that are in the area.

    There are good views over the ksar from the roof of Riad Ksar Malal as well which is particularly nice for sunrise or sunset views and pics.

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    M'hamid, last oasis before the great sahara

    by angiebabe Written May 20, 2007

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    entrance gates to Mhamid
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    96 km from Zagora is the town of M'hamid on the edge of the Sahara.
    Population 2000
    Most happenings here - camel trips.
    Weekly souk/market day is on Mondays.

    Overnight camel trips end up mostly in Erg Lehoudi with 100m high dunes 10 km northeast of Mhamid. An array of tours and treks is available as are personalised trips and requests. Other possible destinations include the Iriqui oasis which isnt far from Chigaga, or the smaller dunes at Mesouria. You could also consider a 14 day trip to Rissani!

    Or 4x4 for an excellent tour and trip to the dunes of Chigaga about 56 km from Mhamid.

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  • angiebabe's Profile Photo

    Drive to the end of the road at Mhamid!

    by angiebabe Written May 20, 2007

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    Jebel Bani
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    Ive been many times and much love the Merzouga sahara of Morocco but had never yet been to the desert of Chigaga about 45 kms definitely 4x4 road from the end of the tar seal at M'hamid.
    The drive from Zagora down to Mhamid takes between an hour and an hour and a half - there are lots of sections where you can get speeds up to 100 km per hour (or just quietly higher!!) but theres a lot of sections of narrow road and blind corners requiring care and slower speeds.
    With the stopping to see Tinfou and slowing down for photos of villages and countryside and photo stops such as from the Jebel Bani and Beni Selmane look outs and the police check road block it takes longer than one would think for the distance of only 96 kms.

    The kasbah and village of Oualad Driss is also worth a stop for a few photos.
    And then you start to see sand as you approach the town of M'hamid.

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    village and ksar of Tamegroute

    by angiebabe Updated May 20, 2007

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    approaching the Tamegroute ksar
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    22 km south of Zagora is the ksar of Tamegroute which was once the seat of the brotherhood of the Naciriyin who came from Iraq and settled in the ksar in the 17th century and were renowned for keeping the peace amongst the Draa Berber tribes.

    I had an excellent tour of this place 3 years ago with a guy who offered to guide us around for 20 dirham and this time stopped only to buy some lovely green Tamegroute pottery on my way to Chigaga.
    Id recommend allocating an hour for this interesting place with its Koranic library which has manuscripts as old as the 12th and 13 th century - inlaid with gold and made with gazelle hide! and a good tour of the ksar to see how people live there, so many in seemingly a small place, together as a community. Also theres the famous green pottery of Tamegroute and very interesting to learn about the kilns and the traditional methods the locals prefer to continue with to heat their kilns to 1000 degrees in their pottery making.

    Theres also a modern kiln as a joint enterprise by donation from a company in Japan to support the local cooperatives.

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    Amezrou Kasbah des Juifs

    by angiebabe Written May 20, 2007

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    The old kasbah at Amezrou 2-3 km south of Zagora, on the road to Tamegroute and M'hamid, is a huge rambling part ruined kasbah with a 17th century mellah ie formerly lived in by jewish silversmiths making jewellery before leaving for Israel in the 1940s.

    There are still 3 remaining workshops here run by muslims who are able to show the traditional methods they still practice. Mostly fibulas are made ie the tiangular silver brooches that berber wear - one below the right shoulder if they are not married and two, one on each side, if they are married or divorced.

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    Spectacular Jebel Zagora

    by angiebabe Updated May 20, 2007

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    Jebel Zagora
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    at the southern end of Zagora on the other side of the river is the you must have seen it already hill or mountain of Zagora.

    From it you can have spectacular views over the valley with its palmeraie for miles, jazzed up snazzy kasbah hotels such as the Asmaa before you and if like me when i was up there a beautiful view with a rainbow over the whole lot.
    Half way up the jebel are the remains of the Almoravid fortress from the 11th century which can be explored. The modern day fortress at the top belongs to the army and is offlimits.

    Its recommended to head off up there early in the morning before it gets hot but also while the sun is still rising for its most attractive lighting. The views are pretty spectacular from well below the top. The lonely planet has written that you can drive up but i couldnt find any driveable access road. Now though that there a hotel being built on the far side that should make the incline more accessible.
    Otherwise take the road to the left past Hotel Asmaa which goes towards and past Camping la Montagne and take the piste road to the right.

    and then walk back through the palmeraie.

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    the famed '52 days by camel to Timbuktu' sign

    by angiebabe Written May 20, 2007

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    52 days by camel
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    This sign has moved from its perch several times, the latest - from in front of the huge Prefecture or Administraition building to the other side of the road - apparently as they are building a new road from Zagora to Foum Zguid.

    From the days of trans-saharan travel when camel caravans travelled between Timbuktu and the ancient city of Sijillmassa - (Rissani) - Zagora with its oasis and plentiful supply of the staple food of dates - has been an important stopping centre. Hence the 52 days by camel in the direction of Timbuktu!

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    Overnight in a tent.

    by mrotsmit Updated May 6, 2007

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    Shesh - not an option!

    I'm not afraid to admit it; I hate-hate-hate camping - dirt, bugs, hard ground... ehh.
    That being said, this is a must-do thing. Not so much cos it's an amazing experience (it is), but because you don't have any choice - it's part of the "riding the camels" thing.
    Our guides were real cool & well organized. The tents are already out there, set up with cushions & blankets all around. They made us dinner (very nice) and we sat around talking, they tried to sing some traditional songs but couldn't remember how they went - I taught 'em the back-up parts and did "Walk On The Wild Side" (told 'em it was a traditional song where I come from), they loved it (good thing they didn't know what it was about).
    Didn't actually sleep, although, if you don't hate camping you'll probably find it quite comfortable. Breathed in a fair amount of sand - found out (at breakfast) that the faster you eat, the less sand you'll digest. Speaking of sand, that scarf you wear over your face/head; it's called a "shesh" and it's not an option! You can get a cheap one in town for about 30 dihram & they'll teach you how to make a turban (good for souvenir).
    We only went overnight, apparently you can go for as long as you want - weeks, months (?) you might never come back.

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    Of course, this is why you're here...

    by mrotsmit Updated May 6, 2007

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    Camel thoughts;
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    OK kids, you didn't make that 9 hour trek from Marrakech on the vomit-bus and crammed into the back of a grande taxi listening to the same annoying 2 songs over and over.... for nothing. You did this so that you could say; "I rode a camel into the Sahara desert!!!" when you got back home.
    Zagora isn't the only place you can do this but it's the closest one we could find.
    Turns out, (as it appeared to me) real people don't usually "ride" camels, they walk them. Only us touristas do this thing. I kept hearing how horribly uncomfortable it was to ride a camel, I found it to be no problem at all, in fact, much better than riding a horse into a Costa Rican volcano (g*damn english saddles!).
    Any-wayyyy, our 2 guides were great, they walked us a couple hours out into the desert till we arrived at the toureg tents amongst the (small) sand dunes, where we disembarked.

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    Climbing up the rocks

    by mrotsmit Written May 6, 2007

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    What? You gotta problem with rocks???

    Right behind the hotel is a minature mountain, just follow the "trial"... well, just keep going up until you get to the top. Great views of the Draa and Zagora with the desert all around. Takes less than an hour total.

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    Arrive in Zagora

    by mrotsmit Written May 5, 2007

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    I think the door is kind of

    You'll arrive in Zagora on the main street, it's really the only street (for tourists) and it's straight so no chance of getting lost. A fairly pleasant walk but not exciting and you still have the shop guys trying to sell you stuff. There's some cafe, internet, restaurant and hotels. We saw a small group protesting something at the government buildings at the end of the street.

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