Africa

From the movie sets to the oasis near Ouarzazate

The city of Ouarzazate itself isn’t much to write home about, but the area has a few sights that make for a great half day trip. I found it to be a nice place to spend some time before heading to the Dades Valley.

Being the cinema freak that I am, we of course stopped in the Atlas Movie Studios for a guided tour before making the bumpy ride to see the Fint Oasis.  Both amazing and diverse stops!

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After our last view on the ksar of Ait Benhaddou, we drove our car in the direction of Ouarzazate. In the Trotter travel guide of Morocco we had read about the movies being filmed in Ait Benhaddou, but also about the existence of a movie studio right outside the city limits of Ouarzazate. I don’t need to tell you about how excited I was about visiting that.

There are two studios in the area, but we chose to visit Atlas Studios as that one apparently has the biggest sets. Upon arrival at the studios it was already quite clear that this wasn’t a studio with the Hollywood grandeur even though many big movies had been filmed there. Gladiator, Cleopatra, Game of Thrones and Lawrence of Arabia are only a few of those. You can only visit the studios by guided tour, which costs 50 dirham (= +/- 5euro). Another difference from the big Hollywood studios in California.

The site upon which the sets are built isn’t that big and some sets are obviously a bit dated, but it’s still pretty cool to see. It’s very obvious that this tour isn’t really focusing on the hordes of tourists. The guide wasn’t that informed and honestly didn’t add all that much to the tour apart from saying which movies were filmed on that particular set. There is quite a bit of room for improvement but for that entrance fee I certainly won’t complain about anything. I got to see the sets and it was pretty great!

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Our next destination was the Fint Oasis, an oasis about twelve kilometers south from Ouarzazate. Between the lush palm trees, four traditional villages can be found which are until now not that much infected by mass tourism.

We had read online that the road to the oasis is unpaved and quite bumpy but doable even with a small car. So we decided to test our Fiat Punto. It survived, but I think I held my breath the entire half an hour drive. It is indeed doable with a small car but it’s quite risky and a 4×4 would have definitely been a better option. We were also fortunate that the days before had been dry because if there has been too much rain, the road could get blocked by the rivers. And crossing those would have been impossible with our car. Especially since we wouldn’t have been able to see rocks and bumps on and in the road.

All trouble aside, the view is definitely worth it. We were also the only tourists present which always makes the experience that much more unique. There were some children from the village wandering the place asking for sweets and money, but they aren’t obnoxious at all. We didn’t spend all that long in the oasis because we didn’t feel very comfortable about where we had parked our car. Of course by the time we made it back to the car, there was already someone asking money for “watching our car”. He wasn’t anywhere to be seen when we parked, but we just gave him some coins to avoid any discussions.

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And then it was time to drive to the Dades Valley for more beautiful nature. To be continued!

♥♥♥

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