The amazing journey through the High Atlas mountains will take you from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech to a tranquil Berber setting on the outskirts of Ouazarzate. Dar Rita is my ‘home from home’ for the next few days.
How to get to Dar Rita, Ouarzazate
Dar Rita is remarkably easy to find. You can arrive by private hire or by bus. However, I highly recommend a private car for the Tichka pass.
On the approach to Ouarzazate (from Marrakech), turn right at the Tichka Renault garage and turn down by the Mosque. Head down rue de la Mosque until you come to a door with number 10 and turn left down that road. Keep going until you come to a small square with a water fountain in the middle. You will see a house with purple around the windows and lots of greenery outside. Turn right at the ‘purple window’ house and keep going round until you come to Dar Rita. The likelihood is that you will be met by the fabulous, one and only Youness! (More about Youness later!)
This area is a quiet Berber suburb, and will introduce you to the real Berber way of life. Most people here will speak Berber rather than Arabic, which you may not be used to if you spent time in Marrakech.
The area of Tassoumaat is safe and enchanting. It is a refreshing relief from the pushy salesmen and fake guides of Marrakech. You won’t get lost as easily here, and you won’t get the hassle. If anyone wants to speak to you here, it’s a simple ‘Bonjour’.
Arriving at Dar Rita
When you arrive at Dar Rita, you will be greeted by a fantastic plate of Moroccan Patisseries along with a mint tea or freshly squeezed orange juice – yum, yum! Youness will probably give you a few high fives and tell you ‘you’re welcome!’ in many languages until he gets the right one!
If you feel a little sick or queesy after the Tichka Pass (which is quite normal unfortunately!), just let them know that you want to take you patisseries and orange to your room, and that won’t be a problem.
Rooms at Dar Rita, Ouarzazate
Dar Rita is owned and run by Joao Leitao of Nomad Revelations, and his sister Rita. I have to say that they have done a phenomenal job on the decor. This place is authentically Moroccan through and through, to the finest detail of every piece of pottery and every single single piece of fabric. As soon as you walk into the homely Dar Rita, you know that you have stepped into the heart of the real Morocco.
There are single, double, twin and triple rooms available, so if you are sharing with other travellers to keep the cost down, this is no problem. You can also book out the whole house as a big group if you wish! Room prices vary between 40€ and 70€ per night (including breakfast), depending on the room size and type. All of the rooms are really beautiful. If you struggle with steep stairs that’s no problem, just ask for a downstairs room.
The rooms at Dar Rita are sumptuous and scream out Moroccan luxury. The terracotta walls are freshly plastered and the lamps look like they have just come out of Aladdin’s cave! This may sound bizarre, but please touch the walls! Authentic Moroccan clay that don’t even need painting. Mmmmmmmmm nice!
Bathrooms are also authentically Moroccan with excellent facilities. Remember to put the toilet paper in the bin, not down the toilet – the Ouarzazate sewage systems are not built for this. Most Moroccans wash not wipe!!!
You are even provided with a pair of Moroccan slippers to wear inside the house, which are traditional for Berber people to protect the beautiful Moroccan carpets!
One of my favourite bits about sleeping in the large room upstairs at Dar Rita was the fact that I could say goodnight to the goats every evening before bed. ‘Goodnight goats!’ and they would reply ‘Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh!’
Breakfast at Dar Rita
Breakfast is included in the room price and OMG it’s amazing! You usually get crepes, bread, soft cheese, cereals and eggs. The breakfast was so large, I couldn’t eat all of it, so Youness let me take some of the eggs to my room for lunch that day!
We also managed to get fresh cows milk for our cereals, as you can see!!!
Gotta love Youness
I said I would talk a little bit more about Youness – he has got to be the funniest person I have ever met! There were Arabic salt and pepper pots on the table. He pointed to them on the first night and said ‘You and me!’ Everything is funny to Youness, even the fact that we are going to visit Ait BenHaddou!
The next night, we ordered the three course meal. You get salad, bread, soup, tagine and fruit salad all for just €15 or 150Dh. Anyway, we were joking because Youness was getting ‘dessert’ and ‘desert’ mixed up. When he bought out the fruit salad for dessert, I pretended I wanted to send it back. When he asked ‘No?!?!?’ I said ‘Because I asked for desert, not dessert! Where is the sand?!?!’ I knew he was going to get me back for that one!
So the next evening we were on our way to dinner, and all was quiet downstairs. We left to go to Chez Dimitri for dinner, but I couldn’t quite open the door. I thought it was empty down stairs, when Youness jumped out at me! Raaaaaahr! I jumped out of my skin and we were laughing so much. Of course, that deserved a high five! We will probably miss Youness most of all, because he has really made our stay here absolutely amazing.
Dar Rita Environmental Policy
Dar Rita has an environmental policy, so it is great for tourists who are (like me) eco-conscious. They recycle, use solar panels to heat water and encourage travellers to save energy. They also use local guides.
Things to do in Ouarzazate
Other than a Mosque and a Museum, there is not really that much to do actually in Ouarzazate itself, other than seeing the Mosque architecture, but it is what’s around Ouarzazate that you will want to see.
Ouarzazate is home to several film studios including the Atlas Studios (Gladiator) and has Ait Benhaddou nearby (The Mummy, Game of Thrones). Joao, Rita and Youness will direct you to some great Kasbahs, gorges and wadis.
Tips for staying in Ouarzazate
- Stay in April-May or September-October for the best weather. July and August are just too hot and you are likely to get sunstroke.
- Don’t flush toilet paper down their loos – the drainage system can’t take it – use the rubbish bin provided.
- Use lot of insect repellant – you are on the border of the Sahara desert!
- Use a high Factor Sun Cream.
- Stay at Dar Rita!
- You must visit Ait Benhaddou – film set for the Mummy and Game of Thrones (Yunkai)
•This is a sponsored post. Thank you so much to Joao Leitao of Nomad Revelations for the wonderful opportunity to stay at Dar Rita in Ouarzazate.