Category Archives: Western Sahara

Some desert pistes in the Western Sahara

I met up with Manfred and Gaby, a German couple from Munich, on a campsite some 30 km. from Laayoune. I had first met them in Agdz during my two-month shakedown trip in Morocco. They have travelled extensively and are experienced desert rats. Since they had plans to return this January and do some pistes out of Gandini’s guide in the Western Sahara, we would try to match our plans so that we could do a part of it together.

The campsite, Le Camp Bedouin, run by Luc and Hafida, is very quiet and is set in a beautiful desert surroundings. It has no drinking water and only salted water for the shower (warmish after a sunny day). To compensate for that they have a bath with the most spectacular view I’ve ever seen. Pity it was too cold…

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Bath with a view

We had a lovely dinner together in the Bedouin tent restaurant. I had a tajine chameau (or rather dromedaire). I had one three years ago when I was cycling here, in Guelmim, and it was tough, sinewy and tasteless meat. So I gave the camel a second chance, and it was fantastic!

With Manfred and Gaby in their fully equipped Land cruiser alongside my old Landy it felt safe and comfortable to drive some beautiful desert pistes. Nothing beats a bushcamp in the desert. Especially when there’s no wind and a clear sky. The silence in combination with all the stars is dreamlike. We found some amazing spots to make camp, thanks to Manfred navigational skills.

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bushcamp under acacia trees

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bushcamp in the dunes

On the third day we said goodbye. They travelled further south on Gandini’s RPD1 (the old Paris Dakar route), and I took a different piste of around 90 km. to Boujdour on the coast, where I am now. Following the sealed road to Dakhla tomorrow, and Mauritania the day after.

Thimba will be glad we’re out of the desert. Although she liked to play and run in the sand, the driving must have been unpleasant. The bumpier the piste the harder she breathed! She’s becoming a very tough and experienced traveling dog!

 

Entering the Sahara fully geared.

After the minor hiccup with the gearbox – which had me grounded in Mohammedia for three weeks and cost me a fortune – I’m happy to say that I am now fully geared for the Western Sahara. I made camp at Tantan plage, some 15 km west of town, admiring the sun set over the Atlantic. Who’s bored, eh?

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Lone Landy ready for the Western Sahara

When I collected the Landy from the garage and drove it back to Mohammedia, I heard all sorts of scary noises from underneath the car. I had the feeling I’d lose the box before reaching the campsite! Slept very badly, having nightmares of Landy’s falling apart. I went back to the garage next morning, as agreed, and all the nasty noises were gone. And after a final test run and a final-final check under the car I could not but hope for the best and hit the road.

The garage of Ahmed Rajali have really done a good job, worked extra hours, sometimes with three mechanics working at the car, and charged me 2.300 drh (just over 200 euros) for the job itself. Thanks, Ahmed and your mechanics, you’re a great team!

I’m enjoying my chance encounters;  that’s what travelling is all about. Here’s a selection of the last couple of days:

Trying to get a taxi to take me from Casablanca to Mohammedia. Waiting and waiting, no taxi. Clouds are gathering, and it starts to pour. A Renault Kangoo stops. It’s Sami, who works at the port in Casa and lives in Mohammedia. He will gladly take me to the campsite (25 km), just for a chat. What a guy!

A French couple next to me at Aglou Plage campsite. I just love their van. No frizzles, just the necessities to be on the road. They are musicians with a great knowledge of Moroccan and African music. When I leave in the morning, Christian gives me a CD that he produced with recordings of himself and several African artists. To listen to on my long journey. And I will, and I have, with pleasure!

Descending a mountain just outside Tantan, I am stopped at a police checkpoint. It seems I overtook a van while driving down and that’s a first class offence: 700 drh (= 60 euro). The fact that the van was almost standing still makes a meagre impression on the gendarme. I rest my case and walk up to his mate in the car, who starts filling in a form and again explains to me how dangerous my behaviour was. He asks for the 700 drh, and I hand over the four bills. “First time Morocco?”, he asks. I tell him it’s my fourth time in his lovely country and that I’m enjoying it very much!. He stops writing. “Last warning”, he says, and hands me back my papers and the money. “Vous avez gagnez 700 drh”, he smiles. I shake his hands and thank him for his kindness. Good Moroccan cop!