Day 65… Dakar to Tan Tan- Meeting Harmattan in the Sahara

يوم جيد في اللغة العربية

My route over the last few days.

After meeting up with Dave again in Dakar, we decided to try some of the best fish around and get some pics of the most western point in Africa. We were ready to roll too Lac Rose, the finishing point of the famous Dakar rally. The traffic as always was hectic and it took us 3 hours to navigate the 40km to the side of the lake.

Last Day in Dakar
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Lac Rose is a rose-coloured lake. Yes no thought put into the name and it wasnt as spectacular as we hoped it would be. We checked into Chez Salim and pitch our tents for the night. They had free Wifi and a great pool so who’s complaining. The effects on tourism for the locals were evident. The stickers and graffiti on the walls from previous years when the Dakar was still held in Africa was sad. The hotel was empty except for some expats, the campsites and hotels we passed next to the old finishing line were deserted.

Lac Rose
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We checked into the bar and had the second last of our beers to date. We were entering Muslim Countries soon, so no beer. We had a pasta diner which Dave prepared and had a chat about the next day and St Louis the border town with Mauritania.

We got up early, made some coffee and hit the road. The road was ok. Not a great tar road but tar at least. I got some kids to throw some stones at me, which I was really pleased about!

En route to St Louis
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We were heading for the famous camp ground Zebrabar on the north-western part of Senegal. First things first, I got stuck inside the campground in some deep sand. Yes, inside the campground. We had some beers, ate Dave’s ration packs he got from the French army and called it a night as we had the border to content with in the morning aswell as a 100km gravel section.

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We rolled out of St Louis and headed for the Diemma border as the Rosso border is a overlanders nightmare. The formalities were not so great on the Senegalese side. The copper casually took my Passport and Carnet and said very nonchalant “10 euros please”. What he didn’t know was that I was sooooo over Senegal and its poor drivers and stone throwing little shits that I was in the perfect mood to discuss bribes. I replied with a bark “No No NO, for what? I dont pay you a single cent my friend”… He was quite startled by my outburst and simply said “ok no problem”. I then demanded he tell me what he wanted it for, to which I only got a “please go now sir”!

As we finished up and crossed the bridge to Mauritania we got into another fight with the “bridge guy”… Another amount which we refused to pay. He locked the boom and had a que of 10 people waiting to cross. After a Gendarmerie demanded our passports we rolled over and played dead and gave the poor sod his CFA4000.

So new country, new people and a new start! Border formalities were quick on the other side. We paid 10 Euros to get in after Dave cross examined the customs guy, but he did provide us with receipts and import permits. We were happy to be Mauritania. We didn’t know what to expect regarding, people, safety etc. We were planning on finding out!

We joined the 100km gravel section which was an absolute nightmare with corrugations as big as speed bumps. Sandy in sections and we couldn’t see much! This is where we met up with Harmattan. The lovely North Western that blows sand so hard that it sandblasts everything that it touches and insures that you get that holiday feeling when a wave tumbles you and spits you out on the beach with sand getting in everywhere.


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We battled through the day, the corrugations were so bad that it broke the support frame that holds the screen in place. I headed into Nouakchott to the local Yamaha dealer and asked if they could help me. They quickly got it welded back and sprayed it aswell. 25 Euros’ later and we headed to the Sahara Auberge. We were welcomed by friendly guys and I immediately started noticing that we left West Africa. The people talked a different language, their facial features changed and they were just cool man!

Sahara Auberge
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Repair Job
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We met up with Peter, a dutch guy travelling to West Africa. He took us to a nice Turkish Restaurant and we feasted the night away…

We headed out in the morning and bumped heads with Harmattan. It was to be a battle we weren’t quite prepared for. Mauritania is a lovely country with lots of camels and sand. We had entered the Sahara.

We were heading for the town Nouadhibou.
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The town is nothing spectacular, quite rundown and full of litter. We checked out a few placed to sleep and settled for the best of the worst. tomorrow we cross into Western Sahara or as we are supposed to call it Morocco Sahara.

Dinner in Nouadhibou
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We crossed the Mauritania side no problem and headed up the 5km no mans land gravel section towards to border of West…Morocco. I managed to get lost and found myself in the middle of nowhere. There were some guys chilling on a piece of land that no one governs (good place to break the law) and me trying to find my tracks back to the main road.

We entered the border post and were greeted by friendly police and gendarmerie. The smiles were great but it was smiles of ” O look, tourist! I wonder if they know its gonna take them 3 hours to cross? BAHAHAHA”. After a long wait for 1 stamp and a thorough inspection by customs we where of into Morocco and heading for Dakhla.

En route to Dakhla
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Dakhla is a kite boarders heaven with hundred’s of guys and girls flying there kites and riding the big flat sea on their boards. We checked into Pat’s Surf Camp on the beach and the best point break in town.

I had some worries of my own as my rear diff’s bearings are busy packing up. I wanted to change the oil and get my phone repaired as the on\off button stopped working. Dave said he is heading out and we will meet up later. I proceeded to get the phone repaired and to sort out some other errands. When I looked at the time it was 2:30pm and I still had 530km to go. As I started preparing myself for a late night on the bike Dave rolled in with a poor Arab being towed behind his bike on his chinese 125cc. Dave explained that as he left town in the morning he got a puncture so he placed the bike on the back of a pick up, got it repaired and left town again. As he got 40km out-of-town there was this poor guy out in the desert with no water and a broken chinese bike. So Dave turned around again and proceed to tow the poor guy back to town.

We then decided to ride as far as we could and shelter behind a dune from the Harmattan. But first late lunch!

Late Lunch
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We pulled of the road at about 8pm and proceeded to set up camp behind a small dune. We had some soup and ration packs and went to bed to brave the icy desert night. It was bloody cold and the wind was pumping away the whole night.

Bush Camp
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It was an early start as sleeping was to cold and we opted for the warm retreat of some coffee and oats.

Ride in today
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The days ride was tough with the Harmattan head butting us the whole 650km. We were however rewarded with some breath-taking scenery. We stopped 100km out-of-town and had some local tea and made it tonight just before 9pm.

Tea please
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I had an amazing time driving through the Sahara. Desert on one side and ocean the other. The people of Morocco are just fantastic. The prices for food and accommodation is dirt cheap but has been the best so far. The place is rich in culture and history with modern changes integrated with the utmost delicacy. In Layman’s terms, the guy in the robe, drinking tea and riding his donkey cart is probably sending a reminder from his Iphone to his wife informing her that he would prefer goats head for dinner.

I am taken away by North Africa. Its wonderful and exceeded my expectations, I am not even halfway through Morocco yet.

South of Tan Tan, Morocco

PS. Let me know if I am missing some thing that you would like me to look out for ie. Roads, Fuel stops etc.

7 responses to “Day 65… Dakar to Tan Tan- Meeting Harmattan in the Sahara

  1. Hi Ri!!! So lekker gelees aan die blog 1ste ding van-oggend…VaRs GeDrUk!! Love jou pittigheid so vroeg in die oggend. Maak koffie…lees, rook…maak WEER koffie lees…

    Mooi daggie en the Lord bless you!! Xxxxx
    Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom – let your email find you!

  2. So trots op jou my engel!! Jy sien en ervaar goed wat so min van ons ooit die kans voor kry. Ai ek mis jou net vreeslik!! Ek tel die 17 dae af tot ek in jou arms is!!! Whoohoo!! xxx

  3. Yes buddy, fotos lyk amazing! Jy lyk asof jy goed aangaan… Hoop jy geniet dit nog. Ons dink aan jou die kant Mnr… Safe travels! Q…

  4. Yes buddy, fotos lyk amazing. Jy lyk asof jy dit nog geniet. Ons dink aan jou die kant… Veilig ry Meester… En kyk na jouself… All the best!!!

  5. Hi Riaan, voorspoed deur Morocco (van Mohammed – nou genoem Simo). Jy sal ons nie onthou nie. Ek is Franci (van Ben) se broer en ek en my vriend Simo het vir julle op die Cat gaan kuier voor die groot departure uit Durban hawe. Ons volg jou blog gereeld met groot belangstelling. Simo aka Mohammed (Kharbouche) se familie is van Essaouira (nie seker van spelling). Sy oom is (was) die Governer van een van die streke (Tlat elhanshan – of so iets) daar. Hulle is veral bekend vir argan olie (goed vir hart, hare, vel ens). Stock op daarmee vir eie gebruik – lekker ook oor slaai. Fokken duur hier in S. A. ). Die familie Kharbouche het argan plase daar en slaghuise in Essaouira. Mohammed (Simo) is al meer as 15 jaar in Durban. Ons lees later voort.

  6. Terloops – vertel Simo my – daar word grappe vertel oor daardie spesifieke streek waar hulle met die argan boer. As jy ‘n vreemdeling daar is, ry so vinnig moontlik daar deur. En as jy noodgedwonge daar moet stilhou wees versigtig om nie vooroor te buig in die omgewing van die local manne daar nie. Lol.

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