The Start of the Desert

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Mines in the Desert

From the high Atlas Mountains, we came down to the beach and then into more of a desert area.  Much like Central Oregon, this wasn’t a sand dune desert but a more rocky, gravelly one.  This is where we entered Western Sahara, which is about 800 km of what was once disputed territory between Morocco and Mauritania.  Both sides used to mine it…land mines! So we pretty much had a transit stage from outside of Dahla to our first camp at Bou Lanour in Mauritania. It was suggested we didn’t venture too far from the road, as not all of the mines have been cleared.



No Mans Land

Morocco has since poured a lot of money into Western Sahara and is encouraging Moroccans to re-locate with tax incentives. So it is now fully claimed by Morocco.  And diesel is the cheapest we saw anywhere!  There is however still a few kms that are still in dispute and are generally seen as pretty lawless, with the UN still having an observatory presence.  This is known as no man’s land after you cross the Morocco border. We were warned that there are no laws and no one to help you should anything happen to you in those 2-3 km.  In fact, you’ll see from the photos its just barren land with tracks heading off everywhere and junked cars.  It is not a place that gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling. It was really good the race had organized the entry proceedings into Mauritania to be done at our first camp. Yes! they set up a tent with their computers and processed us all right there in the desert.


The dunes also started in Western Sahara, so on one side of the road, you had the cliffs to the ocean and on the other these great moving sand dunes.   It was absolutely amazing as you can see….