Suuq Djemal is a very lively and interesting area in Laayoune, for two reasons. The first reason is its peculiar architecture - some constructions have eggshell-domed roofs; apparently they are designed this way to keep the houses a bit cool in summer.Everything that can be useful is sold in Suuq Djemal, which is also called the chicken market. The...more
Place de la resistance is another beautiful square in Laayoune. It's very much different from place Mechouar, where everything is empty and quiet. This place is busy and right in the centre of town - but in the middle there's a area with some pleasant open air cafes and restaurants where you can sit down and have a drink or a snack.Everything you...more
The artisan centre in Laayoune town is two places, not one - and both are located on the opposite sides of the mosque. On one side you can see the artisans at work in they workshops; as they don't see many tourists, they will likely be happy to answer any question you may have. Go there late in the morning as these workshops don't seem to be...more
The "new" mosque is also known as the Firday mosque - but it is still unclear to me as why it is called new... I have seen other mosques in town, and - while this was significantly larger and more beautiful than the others - it did not look one day younger than the others.The location is excellent - right by the town's entrance and near mechouar...more
If you (most likely) are coming from the airport, or from any point north, the first sight you'll catch of Laayoune is its three-arched entrance gate - a modern gate, like Laayoune itself. Actually, no - if getting to Laayoune by daylight, the first sight you'll catch will be that of the police checkpoint just before entering town. We arrived and...more
Place Mechouar is possibly the nicest place in Laayoune - it's one of the two large squares I have seen, but this is not in the central part of the city but rather towards the outskirts - it's a beautiful and peaceful square and it's made up of 4 towers and the papace of Justice (not in the photo). All around it there are several benches where you...more
A small hole in the wall and not the best pizza in the world, but for sure the friendliest pizza place... The owner (and chef) was obviously excited about having two italian customers eat his pizzas... I thought I could not disappoint him by telling him only one of us was Italian. He told us he learned to make pizzas by watching movies... We had a...more
A small hole in the wall restaurant kinda place, which had these glorious roasted chickens cooking - and the most inviting smell. It was an easy decision to take, we would have chicken for dinner. It was a bad decision, too... The chicken was really tasteless... I would really not recommend it. We discovered only later that the delicious smell did...more
Unexpected delicious food, in this 2 star hotel/restaurant in Laayoune Plage. The restaurant is simply and very clean - and it is supposed to be the best restaurant in the area, and it's often full of people. The owners are two Spanish people, Jose and Fina - and their fish ad seafood is often grilled or else cooked in real Spanish style. The...more
Unless you are heading into mauritania, maybe it's worth considering flying into western sahara... sometimes, if you book well in advance, royal air maroc has affordable tickets, there. I think we paid about 80 euros for our return trip from casablanca.However, we found that the airline is not really to be trusted too much - so do yourself a favour...more
Getting out of Laayoune town for a bit of sightseeing did not prove very difficult, but for sure it was expensive. because of the lack of tourists, there's no competition - so only one hotel (the Parador) offers taylor-made day tours, which means that you get a (pink) 4x4 and a driver - not very helpful or friendly, in our case. We paid around 120...more
There are two things that are defnitely not missing in laayoune... the first is pharmacies (there are dozens of them) the second - and most important - is patisseries... hudreds. Definitely people living there have a sweet tooth.There's plenty of cakes and sweets to be bought, and all look delicious. Hard to buy only a few pieces of them, we...more
You may forget that you are in the middle of the desert, while in Laayoune town, but if you take a short stroll outside town, you will be remembered soon... occasionally you may see men walking their camels by the side of the road. I really don't know where this man was walking his camel - and I'm not even sure I want to know. Just remember that...more
Laayoune, as well as all the entire Western Sahara territory, is a bit politically sensitive (not only because of the polisario), so a little bit of caution won't hurt. I would say that it's very safe to visit Laayoune; there are plenty of UN peacekeeping soldiers all over townto guarantee your safety, but maybe it's better not to talk politics too much. Better not talk about it at all.
The other problem are mines , or better minefields. Whgile you are in town, there's really no risk, wheareas if you intend to leave it (and leave paved roads as well) it's important to know that mines and minefilds do exist... most - but not all - are marked (they are surrounded by barbed wire). It's better to leave the beaten path only with a local that you are sure that knows the area well.
Laayoune tends to be fairly windy, so even in winter, although it's not really cold, you may need a windbreaker of some sort.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Don't bring too many medicines - there's pharmacies all over Laayoune and are really well stocked-up. They are also significantly cheaper than at home, so consider buying some off-the-wall medicines, there. Yes, the sames that you'd buy at home. Occasionally (see photo) the same pharmacy sells "veterinary" medicines, too.
Miscellaneous: alcohol, if you are into drinking... in Laayoune town it's really hard to come by, except for a selection of whiskys and cognacs in the 4 stars hotels. The nearest place to buy some is in Laayoune Plage, some 25 or 30 kilometres away.
About 15 kilometres from laayoune, along the Smara road, and before the road starts climbing up towards Ad Cheira, there is a small oasis that can be visited, it's the Oasis L'Messeied. There are some traditional tents where tea will be served.If you are interested it is also possible to stay overnight at the oasis in tents equipped with camp...more
The Flaming lake is not called Flamingo lake at all - it is not called in any way... somehow people forgot to give this beautiful spot a name - and yet it's such a beautiful sight to behold. Sometimes it's a lake, sometimes it's a couple of small lakes - the most striking blue water among sand dunes - and some very green vegetation around it.I call...more
All around Laayoune... there's the mighty Sahara desert... endless views of sand dunes interspersed with some low bushes and rocky parts. Anywhere is a great place to vist - and it there for a while, looking at nothing (well, sand, actually), in silence and think about how small we are.Unless it's enough for you to see the desert by the side of the...more
Laayoune is the administrative capital of Western Sahara - it's only about 25 years young and it's quite a pleasant place to be. It has about 200'000 inhabitants, hundreds UN peacekeeping soldiers and no local postcard to buy. There are no real tourists in laayoune, only a handful of people driving by every day, heading to Mauritania. This means that everywhere we went, people knew we were the couple from Italy/Switzerland.
There are no real highlights or landmarks to see, but it's pleasant to stroll about... local people, especially Saharawit, are very hospitalble and friendly - chances that someone will invite you to their home, like it happened to us, is very high.
Fondest memory: My fondest memory is the wonderful people we met - they took us to their homes, made us tea Saharawit style (you really have to see it - it's a form of art) and cooked camel feet for us as a treat... make sure you have good teeth, there's a lot of chewing involved, in eating them. Oh, and when it was time to leave, they gave each of us a traditional dress as a souvenir, and some necklaces.
I also liked our little excursion in the "desert" - which starts just outside town. There are sand dunes everywhere and, occasionally, a little lake or river.