Camel love in the Western Sahara along the Morocco-Mauritania borders
CAIRO – 24 July 2017: Leaving Tan Tan, we had to cross Western Sahara, an empty area of 1,190 km (739 miles), as far as the border with Mauritania. In 1975, when Western Sahara stopped being a Spanish colony anymore, both Morocco and Mauritania rushed to grab the territory. Mauritania soon left the game, while Morocco sent thousands of troops in the area, which until now is being held under occupation.
The locals, of course, desired their autonomy, so a war was declared. In 1991 United Nations intermediated and reached an agreement for truce, under the condition of a referendum to be held, in order for the citizens of Western Sahara to choose whether this area would be independent or part of Morocco. The referendum, however, is still to be held and Morocco, having established innumerous troops in the area, has the upper hand.
For three days we were riding by the Atlantic Ocean. The desert scenery was unattractive most of the time, a dull plain of soil, stones, some bushes and sand in some parts. That’s what the indigenous people call ”hammada”. Where the desert meets the ocean, however, the scenery is majestic! The huge waves of the Atlantic Ocean are bursting furiously onto the steep cliffs of the Sahara. The ocean breeze made the temperature fall just enough to make us put on the inner layer of our REV’IT! motorcycle jackets. That’s why we chose to enter the African land in this time of year… The weather is ideal!
Where the Western Sahara meets the ocean
In Tarfaya, the Scottish merchant Donald Mackenzie established a settlement in 19th century, which later became famous thanks to the writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. When the French pilot was transporting the mail from France to Senegal, Tarfaya was one of the stops for his small Bréguet 14. In 1927 he was appointed headmaster of the station in Tarfaya and spent two years there. It was then when he got inspired for his famous story of “The Little Prince”.
Casa Mar is the building constructed by the Scottish merchant Donald Mackenzie, who established the settlement of Tarfaya in 19th century
That day Christina rode the maximum number of kilometers she had ever ridden in a day: 536 (333 miles)! It was New Year’s Eve according to the Islamic calendar. Mohammed hosted us in Boujdour and in the evening he took us to the main square. The entire city was gathered there and there was live, Berber music and dancing on a huge stage with video walls all around.
The next day there was a marathon held in the city. I went over a cafe, as I had to find an internet connection for a while. Christina stayed to watch over the motorcycles and all our stuff. I brought her a cup of coffee, put my cell phone on its stand on my motorcycle and prepared to hit the road. As long as it took me to take the cup back to the cafe and return to the motorcycle, it was enough for a kid to snatch my cell phone. Christina was standing just right there but she didn’t see a thing!
Because of the marathon, the entire military and police force of the city was on the road, standing by. I immediately reported the incident to some officers standing there and they started asking some kids who saw the entire scene. Mobilization was fast and in just five minutes a man, probably of the secret services, brought me my cell phone, followed by a bunch of kids, possibly the ones who passed him the information.
However, I didn’t find the thief, neither did I want to, as I know that his punishment here could be severe. It was a happy end after all… Everybody is envying this useful gift that Achilleas and Chrysa from Larissa, Greece offered me. But it seems it’s not meant to leave me (yet…)!
We continued our long trip to the south. No need to tell that we didn’t encounter any tourists there. The few foreigners who cross Western Sahara are travellers who either make an African tour or intend to visit a big part of the continent. We saw camper vans, monstrous 4WD trucks and cars, motorcycles and even bicycles!
This is our favorite breakfast: bread with honey, banana slices and raisins
After 45 amazing days and 6,037 memorable kilometers (3,751 memorable miles!) in Morocco and Western Sahara, we crossed the border without any trouble and entered in the second African country we will be visiting, Mauritania!
Here you can watch the last video from our adventure in Morocco and Western Sahara:
The Master Musicians of Jajouka – El Medahey (Berber folk music)
The Master Musicians of Jajouka – The Middle Of The Night (Berber folk music)
Atlas Amazigh music
The article was originally published on Mad Nomad blog.