Western Sahara

The Coast Road

The route from Tan-Tan to Laayoune (sounds like Lie On) followed the coast south. There were no trees and very few bushes. The ochre earthed landscape was bleak and unremitting with little sign of life except the occasional camel herd. We did see several groups of earth movers and lorries working in the near distance – road building, we supposed. Tall radio masts were on every headland, lorries thundered up and down the road – but we didn’t see anyone walking along the road or working on the land.

Beaches strews with boulders

To our right side – and often way below us – was the Atlantic Ocean, deep coloured with strong white waves, emitting a fresh, salty smell. However, this was no seaside resort, despite the warm sunshine; just rugged coastline and beaches strewn with boulders, battered by strong waves. No families were enjoying the beach, no dog walkers, no kite flyers. We did, however see several solitary fishermen dotted along the higher headlands with their long rods reaching down to the water some 15 metres below.

For the first time in all our travels (except for a couple of speeding incidents) we were stopped by the police as we entered Western Sahara. We handed over our passports and vehicle documents. Our passports were taken away for checking and the officer took a photograph of our vehicle registration plate. Then, after a few minutes, we were allowed to proceed.