The southern city of Ouarzazate (pronounced Wazza-zat) is the perfect jumping-off place to explore the desert region by camel, mule, quad-bike or on foot. The city itself comprises the ancient kasbah as well as a French-built garrison town dating from the 1920s. There are plenty of restaurants and supermarkets for stocking up for a desert trip. It’s also a good base for visiting the Dadès Gorge, Todra Gorge, the Valley of the Roses and surrounding kasbah villages.
Just outside the town is a large dam on the Draa river and a wide expanse of wetlands that forms a Ramsar-protected area, ie a wetland of international importance. Birdwatching is recommended: spotted recently were Grey Heron, Ruddy Shelduck, Kentish Plover, Marbled Teal and even Osprey. White Storks nest on the ruined kasbahs and on every minaret.
Just 3km from the centre of Ouarzazate, Dar Daȉf is an old kasbah house where the feel of a desert caravanserai is recreated. Full of nooks and crannies richly decorated with colourful carpets and artefacts, the guesthouse is very comfortable and welcoming. Owners Jean-Pierre Datcharry and his wife Zineb are passionate about the desert and in fact Zineb was the first female desert guide accredited almost 25 years ago.
- 4 rooms, 5 junior suites and 2 suites for 2-5 people, all with bathroom en suite, air-conditioning/heating, safe and hairdryer
- member of La Clef Verte, ensuring eco-friendly sustainable practice
- facilities for the handicapped
- swimming pool, hammam with treatments available
- peaceful courtyard with fountain, roof terraces with excellent views over the lake and wetlands, the ruined Kasbah des Cigognes and the High Atlas mountains
- superb cuisine using local produce (vegetarian on request)
- Wifi, computer available
- Shuttle into town
- Desert and mountain trips arranged, from a half-day to several days. Special facilities for the handicapped.
COST: Double rooms from 83 Euros per night, including breakfast. Reductions out of season; surcharge of 20% over Christmas and New Year. Dinner obligatory, 20 Euros.