Making friends in Sahara

Making friends in Sahara

Big cities Casablanca, Marrakesh, Agadir have stayed far behind as we have acrossed the border of Western Sahara. Officially this amazing land still belongs to Morocco – so there was no real border. Just another annoying check-point where we were asked for Fische and gifts.

Western Sahara is located in Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Mauritania and Morocco. It also borders Algeria to the northeast.

The land is some of the most arid and inhospitable on the planet. The land along the coast is low flat desert and rises, especially in the north, to small mountains reaching up to 600 metres (2,000 ft) on the eastern side.

While the area can experience flash flooding in the spring, there are no permanent streams. At times a cool off-shore current can produce fog and heavy dew. The interior experiences extreme summer heat with averages highs reaching as high as 43–45 °C (109–113 °F) in July and in August ; during “winter”, days are still hot to very hot with averages highs from 25 to 30 °C (77 to 86 °F) but in the northern part of the territory, the thermometer may drop below 0 °C (32 °F) at night and it can be freezing outside in December and in January although it’s an exceedingly rare event

While looking out from the car windows we dont see the any trees, any big plants nor any buildings. Just sand sand sand…. and some rock and some tiny tiny desert plants. Thats Sahara….

We have not seen any filling stations either but we are not worried yet cos we still have 2 full 20 litre petrol gallons in the trunk. Yet, when we see a petrol station on the road side at the *Lamsid area then we want to use the chance to top up. When we drive in we see one Russian car Lada Niva driving out and continueing its journey in same direction as we were planning to.

“No petrol! No petrol!” Station worker is waving his hands. “Here only diesel!”

“Ok, but any idea where we could get petrol?”

“Petrol, next station. Its close to big city. Petrol in big city cos of motobikes. Here in desert only diesel”

“Ok, but how far is the next station?”

“Oh, not far – just half a day driving!”

“HALF A DAY DRIVING?!!!”

We start driving and soon we pass same Lada Niva car we had seen earlier. It had a Spanish plates.

“Mhmmmm Spanish guys here with old Russian car…. interesting….” my ex was wondering. “But this old car drinks a-lot”

And so it happened that we got worried about the fellow adventurers. That much we knew about the car they were driving with that it was also using petrol which means they also got nothing from the filling station.

“If they dont have spare gallons then they wont be able to drive half a day to the next filling station.” We decided to stop and wait for them.

When they reached we gave them sign to stop and introduced our plan to drive together and share the petrol if needed. They happily accepted the offer as they had also started to worry about their ability to reach to the next filling station. Slower car defined the speed and this day we did not reach to the city.  It was getting dark and when we saw from distance next check point. That meant the city was close. As the police check-points in desert were quite a headache we decided to stop and set up thr camp for night. Not that we were completely able to avoid the checkpoint but we were more comfortable to postpone the trouble to the morning.

Making friends in Sahara was easy. We set up the camp. Cooked over bonfire, listened music from ipods drank some Spanish wine and learned about each other.

Our new friends were on the way to Mali where they planned to donate their car for charity and spend 3 months volunteering.

Next day we found the filling-station and topped up the gas. But as we had made greate friends with the Spanish travel-trio we drove together 2 more days.

We eventually split up in Mauritania as our new friends were aheading to check up the National Park there but we were too much in hurry and kept speeding towards Ghana.

Near Dakhla in Western Sahara while driving with Spanish group we also visited a “restaurant” in one fishing village. Yes fishing village – Western Sahara – although a desert, is actually situated by the sea.

Before crossing a border to Mauritania we also meat a group of British bikers – a “Kudu Expeditions” who were on their London-Dakar trip with their motorbikes. They were more experienced desert drivers and they gave us two suggestions.

1) Follow them in the border area of Mauritania in order to avoid LANDMINES!

2) To visit Big Millys Backyard once in Ghana.

The first suggestion we could not manage to follow – they were too fast.

The second suggestion we were able to follow after about 6 months in Ghana. Indeed a great place!

*Lamsid – small city in Western Sahara




2 Comments

  1. It sounds like an interesting experience with a lot of adrenaline. I am really curious about the desert fishing village, it must be an unique view. Also, what about the landmines? Are they a real danger for the drivers and people who cross that path? I mean, are they on the driving way?

    1. mm
      Author

      Indeed the villages in Sahara are unique! The landmines between borders of Western Sahara and Mauritania are real dangers to cars but not to those who walk. They react onlu of the weight of the car. And I could say they are on driving way, cos there is no real driving between those two borders. There is few kilometers of nomans land ehere is no road – just tracks in sand going everywhere and no signboards. So it would be quite easy to drive on one by mistake – I saw lot of burned cars around as evidence

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