Finding Zagora Morocco

I have been to Morocco many times, seen all the famous places but I can never resist to return to Zagora. Located in the Draa Valley in southeastern Morocco close to the border with Algeria, Zagora is my personal Moroccan dream. Considering that I’m a history fan, love ancient sites and museums, this is somewhat surprising, because Zagora has none of it.

It’s a smallish city which was only constructed in the 20th century and although there are some remains of the Almoravid Fortress on top of the Zagora Mountain there is nothing else for the history buff to get excited over.

The Desert Path

Having said that, there are two things which draw me to Zagora: the atmosphere and the trip to get there. Zagora is known as the Gateway to the Desert and that’s famously indicated by the sign, “52 days to Timbuctu.” On foot or camel back that is! You walk through town, cross under an archway and step right into the desert. Excursions on camel are available but I preferred to just walk out, all on my own and when the sun was setting. Then I was sitting on a sand dune, looking at the stars and enjoying a feeling of freedom that cannot be equaled anywhere else.

Back in town, once the heat of the day has subsided, the locals come out in force, stroll around, sit down in one of the many, tiny, open air restaurants and enjoy, like me, the best tagines I have found anywhere in Morocco.

As Zagora gets more and more known and tourists find their way there, several good hotels have opened their doors and you can stay in comfort.

Marrakesh to Zagora, Morocco

Best of all is the journey from Marrakesh to Zagora. As I have come often, I found a taxi driver in Marrakesh who would take me there. It’s a long drive, some 10-12 hours and he would politely ask if he could bring his wife as she has relatives in Zagora and this was her only chance visit. Great fun is always had on the trip. Leaving Marrakesh’s hustle and bustle behind, the road winds higher and higher into the Atlas mountains until you have to cross a pass which has snow nearly year around.

Then the descent into the Draa Valley, a slow flowing river bordered by lush green vegetation and thousands upon thousands of rose bushes. Deep valleys and canyons cut through and we make several stops at tiny road side shacks to have mint tea and sweets. We sit in rickety iron chairs right on top of a steep cliff and look at the river below. It’s an incredible landscape and the contrast between snow covered mountains and the hot sand dunes of the desert is magic. Writing about it makes me already want to go back. I hope you will too.

Written by…

inka125Inka is German and used to be an international attorney with offices in London and Spain. Retired two years ago because I wanted to be a traveler and writer and now live between Didim/Turkey and Miami with plenty of travel in between. Next destinations: Istanbul, New York and Petra/Jordan. Inka’s first novel has just been published and can be found here