A Holiday in Zagora

Zagora seems without prospect at first sight: a one-street, modern market town with a big collection of hotels and government buildings. As the region's main staging post for journeys to the outer reaches of the Sahara, it attracts far more tourist awareness than it deserves in itself - not to mention the hustlers trying to hook up with potential clients for camel treks.

Two things, however, redeem it. The first thing is Zagora's location: this is, without a doubt, the most dynamic stretch of the Draa. You only have to walk a mile or so out of the town to find yourself in the middle of the palms and oasis cultivation. The second thing is a distinct air of unreality. Directly behind the town rises the peculiar Hollywood-Sunset Mountain, and at the end of the main street is a mock-serious road sign to Timbuktu.

Another draw for Zagora is its fabulous festivals. The Draa's big event, the Moussem of Moulay Abdelkader Jilali, is celebrated here during the Mouloud and other national festivals, such as the Fete du Trone, are always entertaining.

Zagora is an easy place to get around in. Almost everything of importance is on the main street, Boulevard Mohammed V, or the lower Avenue Hassan II. Across the river to the southeast is the palmary and hamlet of Amazrou. This is a good alternative base with a fast-growing collection of cosmopolitan hotels and campsites.

Zagora and Amazrou have a good selection of hotels and some nicely located campsites. Travelers who are on tight budgets should also note that many mid-scale hotels will let you bed down on roof terraces or in nomad tents for very reasonable prices.

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 tea while shopping at their craft markets. Zagora is the perfect place to unwind and to forget about the hustle and bustle of the busy city life.



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