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Come Experience a Fabulous Day Trip to Ouarzazate and Ait Benhaddou During Your Marrakesh Stay

Only in Morocco's enchanting city of Marrakesh can you experience all that the city has to offer as well as the best of both the Sahara Desert and the mighty Atlas Mountains all during the same brilliant vacation. Though it may be difficult to pull yourself away from the sights and sounds of the city, you owe it to yourself to set aside time for a day trip to wonderful Ouarzazate and Ait Benhaddou before your vacation reaches its end. Read on to learn more about these amazing areas near Marrakesh.

About Ouarzazate

Ouarzazate, MoroccoKnown as the door of the dessert, Ouarzazate sits at nearly 4,000 feet just south of the Atlas Mountains, and it serves as an important gathering place for those heading out on various tours across the Draa River Valley and off into the Sahara Desert. The city is filled with exceptional kasbahs that were built by the Berber-speaking residents, and you'll definitely want to visit the impressive Taourirt Kabash, which is a truly massive citadel that boasts nearly 300 rooms within its walls. You may also like to enjoy the Sunday souk experience, which gives you the opportunity to purchase the famous handmade Ouazguita carpets that feature amazing geometric designs of red and orange on the darkest black background as well as pottery, silver jewelry, handmade clothing, spices and wonderful crafts.

About Ait Benhaddou

Just west of Ouarzazate is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ait Benhaddou. If you're interested in history or architecture, then this is a must-visit location. Within its walls, this fortified village houses around six kasbahs and various other ancient dwellings that showcase the Moroccan earthen-clay architecture. Plan to take your time exploring the wonderful maze of winding streets that ultimately take you to the top of the wall for stunning views of the surrounding valley. If you're a fan of the HBO hit show, “Game of Thrones,” then you're also going to be excited to recognize Ait Benhaddou as one of its major filming sites.

Movie Mecca

Both of these areas have been widely used in the filming of popular television shows and major motion pictures, and Ouarzazate has been used as a backdrop in so many movies that it's also often referred to as Ouallywood. It's not unusual for top-ranking actors, producers and directors to be found exploring the streets of the city and enjoying the local cafes. Just a few famous faces who couldn't get enough of Ouarzazate include Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott, Orson Wells, Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt. The city is home to two major film production studios, a museum of cinema and a film school, and guided tours are available at these locations.

  • CLA Studios: Come discover dramatic recreations of Mecca, Jerusalem and an authentic kasbah along with amazing sets and props that have been used in many popular movies.
  • Atlas Studios: Your guide will give you all of the secrets of what went on behind the scenes of your favorite movies as you explore many sets from the incredible films made at this studio.
  • Museum of Cinema: Conveniently located next to the Taourirt Kasbah, this museum boasts a wonderful collection of early cinematic equipment, props and old sets.

Local Movies

These are just a few of the blockbuster hits that have been filmed in this area.

  • The Hills Have Eyes
  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • Gladiator
  • The Mummy
  • The Living Daylights
  • Hanna
  • Jesus of Nazareth
  • Kingdom of Heaven
  • The Jewel of the Nile

Extraordinary Tours

In addition to exploring on your own, you can also be assured of a thorough discovery of Ouarzazate and Ait Benhaddou with a tour through one of the area's many trusted companies. Morocco Inspiring Tours is just one of the companies that offers small-group, full-day tours to both locations that begin with a journey across the high Atlas Mountains via mini van and includes travel across the Tizi n'Tichka mountain pass at nearly 7,500 feet, which makes it the highest in Africa. Landscapes change dramatically as you travel, and you'll see old Berber villages nestled on the mountainside and traditional buildings that boast elaborate turrets and peach-colored walls.

You'll also visit the Ouarzazate Cinema Museum, the Taourirt Kasbah and many of the area's historical sites. Generally, breakfast and drinks are included along with entry fees to each attraction, and other tour companies also offer such extras as a camel ride, a sand dune experience, overnight desert camping or a dune buggy ride along with this similar package. A great many tours are available with Ouarzazate as a starting point, and those lodging with us here at Exceptional Stays may count on our dedicated concierge team to reserve your preferred tour for the perfect day trip experience.