Western Sahara Overview
A heavily disputed independent country since the 1960s, Western Sahara is a small area between Mauritania and Morocco, wedged in between the Sahara Desert and the Atlantic Ocean. Both Morocco and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic—otherwise known simply as SADR—are continually arguing over who should be allowed to control what, and currently Morocco controls more territory than SADR. It is mostly a desert country, with rocky coastlines that are not known for being friendly to beach-lovers, and the land mines in the area known as “the berm” contains the highest level of concentration in the world, and is generally avoided by tourists.
There is little to see or do in Western Sahara outside of desert and nomad-related interests. Wildlife and natural formations such as forests and mountains are distinctly lacking from the area, and the region is generally considered to be one of the most inhospitable places on the planet, which makes it the perfect place for the adventure who enjoys getting onto the middle of nowhere and simply losing themselves on an extreme vacation. And despite the fact that the majority of the country is a vast landscape of sand, the coastal regions boast some of the richest fishing waters off of Africa, offering a unique look at a nautical way of life that coincides with the nomadic Bedouin culture.
Since most of the country is controlled by Morocco, the same rules apply in terms of visas. One thing is for certain: Western Sahara is not the place for the uninitiated or the unwary. Due to the presence of so many landmines, it is absolutely imperative that you travel with a guide. The desert is well worth exploring, as you can get up close and personal with the nomad communities, but keep in mind that there isn’t a lot to see or do here outside of exploring the culture and the desert.