A big problem in Western Sahara is, not really surprising in the middle of the desert, the sand that is blown everywhere constantly. Along the mainroad from north to south you cross the part of the desert with a lot of rocks and not that much sand. But as soon as you leave this road and go further towards the coastline you'll enter the part with the famous "walking dunes".
These dunes constantly change position and shape because the wind blows them away all the time. Like this it can happen that a road that is completely clear gets covered by sand in a few hours. Big bulldozers come by every few hours to clear the roads again, or you'll never find them back again. Even at important connections like from Laayoune to the main port of the country this happens all the time, simply because there is no solution for this problem.
Another bad thing about this is that the sand gets everywhere. If you walk around in these sandy areas your nose, your ears, your hair and all other parts of your body get full with sand. And if you wear contact lenses the sand can be a pain in the ass as well! Wearing good sunglasses is very pleasant, leaving the windows of your car closed is a must.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Police, military, UN...
When you're visiting Wesern Sahara, be prepared to see lots, lots of Police- and Armyforces wherever you go. Since the country is in a state of occupation by Morocco, the Moroccan Police and Army are everywhere. In the centre of the capital Laayoune you'll see them everywhere and also in the surroundings of every city you cannot miss them.
For example, when going from just north of Laayoune towards to the coast, you first have to cross two checkpoints to get into the city, and to get to the coast from there you have to pass two other checkpoints. Everytime you have to answer the same questions: can I see you passport? What are you doing here? Where are you staying? How long are you staying? Where are you going? In the beginning this can be quiet an experience, but after the first doze of checkpoints it really gets annoying.
And as if all these forces are not enough already, you'll also see lots of UN-forces in the cities. The white jeeps hardly move; most of the times they are just parked in front of the luxurious hotels that are occupied by the UN. Officially these forces have been here since 1979 to take care of the peace-keeping.Related to:
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No man's land between the borders
When leaving Morocco going towards Mauritania, during the 6 kms of no man's land there is nothing false about the signs along the "piste". There really are mines around here, so don't wander around, don't get out for a pee etc...Once on the "piste" just remember KEEP TO THE LEFT and you'll be o.k. If you think you're on the wrong track, just wait in your car until somebody overtakes, then follow. Simple !!!
All the region after the wall separating western sahara from the western sahara free of army protection is full of land mines. if you're about to leave the asfalt think twice. after the border dont think and stay on the desert track.
Dont give rides to stragers!!
police in morocco advert that in western sahara you shouldnt give rides to local people in your car.
there are reports of many people getting robbed while giving rides to nice local people. you have to understand this is a very problematic region full of bandits.
year 2003 a french girl gave a ride to a moroccan guy which came with her to no mans land after moroccan police checkpoint and was stabbed to death.
if you're coming with private car give rides to tourist!!
watch for robbers
after passing police check point and you actually go out of morocco, towards the no man land between the moroccan securitty wall and mauritanian police checkpoint, you have to be careful with people trying to kill you, rob you or just to guide you in exchange of some money, which in the middle of the trajectory can go higher (the amount of money the guide askied you in the begining) and the guy can tell you, well now, you have to give me more money or ill call my friends and youll stay here alone...
40km from Dakhla.
This is the road sign after 40km from Dakhla. The road heds to Mauritania.
On the sign you have written (from top):
This area here is right after the police check point 40km after dakhla or 40km from Dakhla comming from Layoune.
This is a place often used for people to get a ride to Mauritania (like I also did). Not so long agoo, only in the year of 2002, a french girl gave a lift to a Moroccan citizen which killed her and left her body on the neutral area between the borders of Morocco (occupied Western Sahara) and Mauritania. He robbed her everything and killed her with a knife.
Just think twice about giving a ride to someone of course. By the contrary if the people that gave me a ride would think on that, I wouldnt be going for free until Nouadhibou. Either the way they were not alone and were two guys which is quite different from a girl travelling alone giving a ride to a strange guy in Western Sahara...
Death. Happens to us all. Luckily there are some things we can do to prevent it taking us prematurely.
If you want to prevent heat exhaustion and the more lethal heat stroke, it is imperative to drink at least SIX litres of water each day to prevent dehydration.
I was nearly claimed by the unforgiving desert because of this very real danger, so, gentle friends, heed this serious advice and enjoy the beautiful scenery safely.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Even if there is a potential...
Even if there is a potential risk because of the conflict with the Polisario Front, the area is quite safe for the travellers, at least around El Aaiún. But it is advisable to be informed about the situation. There is also a strong military presence and controls are frequent. It is also possible that some roads are closed.
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