Ouarzazate is 255 miles (408 km) south of Casablanca, on the other side of the Atlas Mountains. It is on the edge of the desert and at 3,810 ft (1,160 m) altitude. That’s why it gets cold at night at this time of year. Most people speak Berber.

It has two big claims to fame – first as a big film making centre. The likes of Lawrence of Arabia and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen were filmed here at Atlas Studios. Secondly, a massive (€4bn) solar power project opened here this year.

The town isn’t such an attraction in its own right, but is a good base for exploring the valleys, oases and mountains close by. Certainly it’s a million miles from Scotland at any time, but especially at this time of year.

I’m staying in a riad – and it’s lovely. They gave me a superb breakfast with lots of stuff I’d never have in Scotland – olives, sheep’s cheese, date jam, local pancakes…

Le Petit Riad

The owner prides herself on her Berber cuisine, and so – very unusually for me – I took a half board option. Smart move – dinner was wonderful.

It was cold first thing this morning (1⁰c) and it was only starting to warm up about 11am.


It was easily warm enough to eat outside by the time lunchtime came along – but only in the sun. Ideal for walking about to explore.

Lunch, Habous

I was trying to balance the day between rest and activity, after two busy days on Thursday and Friday. I took a long walk around town – and got my lunch in the main square – stopping to visit the Kasbah Taourirt (a kasbah is a castle).

Kasbah Tarouirt

Originally built in the 19th century, the Kasbah was owned by the el Glaoui clan They controlled the southern caravan route to West Africa and their power made the clan one of the country’s most influential families.

Kasbah Interior

ⓒ iain taylor, 2017

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