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Honeymoon in Western Sahara

Western Sahara promises harsh conditions and formal obstacles, but on the positive side, it is a mecca for kitesurfers.

Western Sahara is an area in North Africa bordering the Atlantic Ocean, between Mauritania and Morocco. Its governance is disputed between Morocco and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), but the majority of it is occupied by Morocco. You will often see it described as "Morocco" on tourist websites.

While there is a large coastline, much of it is rocky and not fit for beaches or travel. Large-scale fishing and ports are at Ad Dakhla. Much of the territory is arid desert. The area near the sand wall created by the Moroccan military (also known as "the berm") is surrounded by land mines and should be avoided. Administratively, the territory was divided by Spain into two regions: the northern strip, known as Saguia el-Hamra, and the southern two-thirds, named Río de Oro.

Kitesurfing in Western Sahara

Dakhla is a small town around 1000km south of Essaouira, located on a 48km long and 4km wide peninsula which stretches into the Atlantic Ocean, creating a huge lagoon. The location of the brand new Club Mistral and Skyriders center is on the north-eastern coast of that peninsula.

The huge sandy lagoon provides fantastic conditions with constant winds throughout the whole year, flat water and more than enough space.

Beginners, professionals and everybody else will find kitesurfing at its best here. As an added bonus the other side of the peninsula offers perfect wave conditions which can be reached within no time by car.

Apart from kitesurfing there are many other activities which will make your stay an active and diverse one – at Club Mistral and Skyriders Dakhla you can be sure to have a fantastic holiday in an untouched environment far away from mass tourism.

Dakhla is a diamond in the rough, a new born kitesurfing mecca which you won´t find a second time in the whole wide world.

Climate

Western Sahara is a hot, dry desert; consequently, rain is rare, but flash floods occur. Cold offshore air currents produce fog and heavy dew. Due to the inability of sand to absorb heat, harsh cold nights are common.

Landscapes

Mostly low, flat desert, with large areas of rocky or sandy surfaces rising to small mountains in south and northeast. Low-lying sand dunes cover the territory.

If you are travelling overland, you will find no border formalities between Morocco and Western Sahara. Your passport may be asked for at the many checkpoints on the road south, but will not be stamped and thus technically you are still in Morocco.

Language

The Sahrawis of Western Sahara speak the Hassaniya dialect of Arabic. The literacy level is likely lower than that of Morocco, which is 50%, so expect to speak rather than write. Some old signs are still written in Spanish. The Sahrawi population living in the refugee camps located in Algeria are over 90% literate, and some of the older Sahrawi generation still speak Spanish. As a consequence of Moroccan occupation, French can be used with a small business class.

Money and costs

The Moroccan dirham is the official currency of the Moroccan-controlled portion, although the SADR has also minted its own pesetas.

Prices are lower than in Morocco, in part due to Moroccan government's subsidization policy.

History

Morocco occupied and annexed the northern two-thirds of Western Sahara (formerly Spanish Sahara) in 1976, and much of the southern portion of the territory in 1979, following Mauritania's withdrawal. A guerrilla war with the liberation movement Polisario Front contesting Rabat's sovereignty ended in a 1991 cease-fire; a referendum on final status has been repeatedly postponed. The Polisario declared the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in 1976, but the country has only been recognized by around 28 states and has actual control over only a largely uninhabited eastern slice of territory.

People

Western Sahara's inhabitants, known as Sahrawis, are of Arab and Berber ethnicity and speak the Hassaniya dialect of Arabic.

Economy

Western Sahara depends on pastoral nomadism, fishing, and phosphate mining as the principal sources of income for the population. The territory lacks sufficient rainfall for sustainable agricultural production, and most of the food for the urban population must be imported. Virtually all trade and other economic activities are controlled by the Moroccan government. Moroccan energy interests in 2001 signed contracts to explore for oil off the coast of Western Sahara, a move that has angered Polisario and international observers. Incomes and standards of living in Western Sahara are substantially below the Moroccan level.

Source: Wikitravelpedia.com

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