"Western Sahara: a real country if you ask me" Top 5 Page for this destination Western Sahara by Pieter11

Western Sahara Travel Guide: 211 reviews and 612 photos

Western Sahara: a difficult case

In the northwest of the African continent you will find the often discussed territory Western Sahara. The territory is bordered by Morocco in the north, Algeria in the northeast, Mauretania in the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean in the west.

For a long time Western Sahara was a place for nomads and tradesmen, since the area was/is an important route for goods coming from Western Africa towards Europe and vice versa. In this period the area was under continous Arabic control.

In 1884, after the Berlin Conference, the Spanish took over the control. Until 1979 the territory was named Spanish Sahara. The Spanish were the first ones to built real, steady settlements in the area. El Aiyun (today Laayoune) became the capital and main port in the area and other villages were built to keep control over the area and to make its natural resources easily accessible.

After 1979, when the Spanish left, Morocco immediately took over the control in the area. Although the UN have always been present since this time, and never agreed on the Moroccan occupation, the Moroccan army and police clearly have control here. Plans of letting a referendum decide about a possible independance have been prosponed several times already and King Mohammed IV of Morocco clearly gives his opinion about Western Sahara saying "We shall not give up one inch of our beloved Sahara, not a grain of its sand".

For the next couple of years Western Sahara will probably stay the difficult case on the world map it has been for such a long time already. To me, it is a real country.

Travelling in Western Sahara

Western Sahara doesn't see a lot of tourists. The only ones you see here a lot are people that are on a Trans-Africa trip using a 4x4. Sometimes they stop here, but most of the times they are just on their way towards Mauretania.

If you are checked at one of the many Police Checkpoints in the country, they react surprised if you tell them that you are just a tourist staying in Western Sahara. Understandable on one hand, but strange if you know what a great area it is.

The country has a lot to offer for tourists: beaches, the strange but interesting city of Laayoune, sanddunes all along the coastline, old Spanish remainings both inside and in the area of Laayoune and a fantastic, impressive desert landscape everywhere you come.

On this page I'll try to show a good image of this forgotten country: not even an official country but absolutely worth a visit!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Unspoiled, hardly visited and therefore very surprising
  • Cons:A lot of police and military everywhere, public transportation is difficult
  • In a nutshell:Western Sahara: too interesting to be forgotten
  • Last visit to Western Sahara: Apr 2008
  • Intro Updated Aug 4, 2008
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Reviews (33)

Comments (9)

  • Wafro's Profile Photo
    Sep 17, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    The last colony in Africa as they call it, love to read about it.

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Feb 1, 2010 at 8:07 AM

    Hello, Pieter!@ Thanks for your story about that remote place...

  • hindu1936's Profile Photo
    Apr 20, 2009 at 11:06 PM

    What wonderful information about a country I had only planned on racing through as fast as the scooter would carry me. You just changed that into a sightseeing trip. thanks much

  • yumyum's Profile Photo
    Apr 17, 2009 at 9:04 AM

    What a fantastic page, Pieter! Excellent tip writing :)

  • marielexoteria's Profile Photo
    Mar 31, 2009 at 4:28 AM

    Very dumb question: what language do they speak there?

  • iris2002's Profile Photo
    Mar 23, 2009 at 2:44 PM

    OH I was soo close to see the Sahara, but didn't manage to hop over to WS as the whole group (apart from me) had - ahem, immpodiumplus urges... -well it's on my to do list still - great pages... !

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Mar 19, 2009 at 2:12 PM

    An interesting page about a place I had never thought of visiting, despite my love of deserts! I loved the Dchira-valley scenery and was fascinated by Tarfaya, the exporting of sand and the beach resort waiting to happen ...

  • jumpingnorman's Profile Photo
    Jan 26, 2009 at 7:13 AM

    I was wondering where people stay when in the Sahara, and I am glad it's not a hut in the desert - hehehe...nice tips on the Sahara! You have travelled so much at your age! Norman :)

  • brewjohnson's Profile Photo
    Sep 2, 2008 at 2:39 PM

    Great Western Sahara info. Thanks!


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