Morocco Tours by Erlebnis Tours Maroc






  
     
     
     
     
     
  
  







     

Zagora

Introduction

Zagora is a town in the Draa valley in southeastern Morocco, situated south of the Anti Atlas Mountains. It is flanked by the mountain (Jebel) Zagora from which the town got its name. Originally it was called 'Tazagourt' the singular of plural 'Tizigirt', Berber for 'twinpeaks', referring to the form of the mountain. In old European maps the mountain Zagora is already indicated but the town itself was only built in the 20th century. On the top of the Zagora mountain the remains of an Almoravid fortress can still be seen, but the exact location of the former Almoravid mosque is still a matter of dispute.

Today Zagora is mainly a market town of a region of small-scale farming and lifestock raising. Tourism is of some importance, the town housing around 10 hotels and 4 camping grounds. It has in recent years been promoted to a regional administrative centre, resulting in a fast growth in population (37,000 - 2005 estimate). This may lead to twice the number of inhabitants in few years.

Zagora is another of the cities in South Morocco that claims to be "the hottest place in Morocco". Zagora is not terribly different from any other place out here, despite being the largest city inside a radius of 150 km. Zagora is connected to other towns mainly by one northern-bound road only, which is in good condition, but has mountain passes of up 1,660m in height. Ouarzazate, the first real town, is 165km northwest, Marrakech 365km northwest and Agadir 550km west.

Things to See & Do

At first sight, Zagora is a dusty, single street town. However, its location and festivals save it from being just another dust-filled desert town. In many ways Zagora is the end of the line. If you follow the road from Ouarzazate through the gorgeous Draa Valley until the road ends, this is where you wind up. Zagora also used to be the beginning of another line. It is not far from this town that the famous sign " Timbouctou: 52 days" can be found. If the border were open, and you travelled by camel, this may be true as it was a caravan route in the past. In and around Zagora you will be able to experience a few genuine kasbahs - small fortresses for large families or small villages.

  

Surrounding the town are the endless palm groves of the Draa Valley, framed by the Jebel Rhart and the peaks of the Jebel Sarhro to the North and the Jebel Bani to the south. In between the greenery of the palm groves lay the Ksour, or fortified villages, whose pink colour and texture reflect the colour of the stone from which they built. The age of this type of settlement is reflected in the name, which is an Arabic version of the word 'Caesar'. The palm groves of the Draa valley form an abundant canopy of green waving palm leaves that shelters the valley floor from the scorching sun, making this one of the most important date-producing regions in the world. Under this canopy, other produce, such as barley and vegetables, is grown.

  

Zagora has some excellent places for trekking and camels can be hired on almost every corner. The people of Zagora are very helpful and welcoming, and will often invite you for mint tea while shopping at their craft markets. There is a Wednesday souk; make sure to try the different types of dates - this place is known for their delicious and diverse dates. This Bazaar in Zagora has a good collection of meteorites which have been found in the Sahara. This is a place where you might even see real Tuaregs, and not just normal Moroccan posing as "blue men".

  

Not to be Missed

During the Mouloud in April, Zagora hosts the annual religious festival (moussem) of the Sufi Saint Moulay Abdelkader Jilali, which is of great importance to the entire Draa Valley.

About 20 km south of Zagora you will come across Tamegroute, a settlement that originally developed as a Koranic centre of learning. Here, among the ancient theological colleges, where followers of the strict Naciri brotherhood read from centuries-old original copies, there are also villagers, potters and market traders at work. The potters cook plates, jugs and jars in outdoor archaic kilns and curiously they are all green and brown. Green is obtained with magnesium and copper, and brown with antimony and copper.

Just south of Tamegroute are the beautiful golden sand dunes of Tinfou, whose colour changes along with the light. Sunrise and sunset are favoured times to climb the dunes and contemplate the surroundings.

  

Enquiries & Booking

To enquire about or to book a personalised private tour to include Zagora and the Sahara Desert, please call us on +44(0)7713 615829 or send an email to enquiries@erlebnis-tours-maroc.com to discuss your itinerary and prices.
 

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