This Mercator special week (7 days on site!) brings you along the dramatic coast of Dakhla, through a variety of stunning desert landscapes and across an area particularly rich in fauna and flora. You will test your driving skills on the largest amount of different terrains, fall asleep under a starry sky, look for secretive animals and enjoy a selection of delicious local food. The programme consists of one day along the Dakhla peninsula, five days with substantial desert driving and one free day to let you experience other sides of Dakhla or just relax on the beach. You will also sleep one night into the dunes and one at a field base in the heart of the Dakhla region. To join this programme, you need to be in Dakhla one day in advance. You can choose to fly to Dakhla and rent a car in town, or arrive by car (your own, or rented in the north of Morocco). Although we are not a travel agency and can not include these services in our package, we will be happy to advise on car rental and on booking your flight and hotel in Dakhla.
Discover the Programme
Day 1 - White Dune, Oyster farm, first contact with sand. One of Dakhla's "must-see", this is a single white dune surrounded by the ocean at high tide, flamingos often at sight. You'll get a first impression of the area's stunning colours and views. We will then head back along the peninsula to reach the Oyster farm. A long-established cooperative, it has become one of the best fish restaurant of the region. Pick your favourite among fresh oysters, baked fish with vegetables, octopus, sepia, squids or razors shells tajine, grilled lobster (notes: depending on the season and on the catch of the day, some items might not be available; lunch at the Oyster farm is to be paid separately by each participant). After lunch, we will head north again to have a first sand approach on the Atlantic coast. Return to Dakhla in the afternoon. Participants will be free for dinner and for the evening. Total km: about 100.
Day 2 + 3 - Planes, mountains, sand and "savannah". This leg of itinerary reaches the easternmost area of the Dakhla region, offering an incredible mix of landscapes and terrain to test your off-roading skills. We will leave around 10:00 am on Day 2 and take a long stretch of tarmac. We will first head south along the Atlantic coast and then east, cutting through changing desert landscapes. Just before Aousserd, our final destination, we will leave the tarmac to cross a savannah-like environment and get into a rocky area with beautiful black rocky outcrops (low mountains). We will have a short tour and reach a sheltered crack into the outcrops, where water pools form during the winter season. We will have lunch there and, after some rest and hiking, will start our way for a short stop in Oued Jenna – this area it is internationally recognized as one the best birding spots in the region and we might see eagles, other raptors and a variety of other typical desert animals. Finally, we will move to our Aousserd base, where we will rest and have dinner. Aousserd is a tiny traditional village at the end of the road that runs eastwards from the Dakhla peninsula. Here we have access to a basic but functional house turned field-base. It features two saloons and three sleeping rooms, running water (note: not heated), a proper bathroom, kitchen, large roof terrace for star watching, traditional furniture with carpets and matrasses on carpets (as beds), electricity from 6 pm to 2 am. Day 3 will start with a good breakfast. We will then leave our base and move back towards Oued Jenna. After crossing the Oued, we will head north on an easy track that will bring us on a nice plateau with wells and hopefully herders with their animals. Some smooth drive will lead us to cross another Oued - here the sand mixes with low bushes making some passages possibly challenging. The actual location for lunch will be chosed based on conditions. The panorama will begin to change approaching mountains and we will climb on top of one of those. A breathtaking view over the valley is expected. We will finally head back towards Dakhla – depending on timing we will decide which track to follow to minimize the drive on tarmac and enjoy as much as we can the continuous changes of landscape. Participants will be free for dinner and for the evening. Total km for Day 2 + 3: about 500-530.
Day 4 - Free day. A day to relax, take to watersports, sail, visit the citiy of Dakhla etc. You will be autonomous, however we are at your disposal for any suggestions, indication on what to do, where, how etc …
Day 5 + 6 - Into the dunes, canyons and wells. This second 2d/1n leg of the itinerary will take you into the dunes, not without some exciting driving on different terrains. Departure on Day 5 will be around 10:00 in the morning, after breakfast and having re-fuelled the cars. A 50 km drive on tarmac will bring us to a track heading north and running parallel to the coastal road towards Layounne. We will drive through a stony area until reaching wells surrounded by colourful cliffs and will have lunch, possibly meeting herders. After lunch we will keep driving est and then north/north est, through cliffs and canyons and towards the dunes. We will end our day setting up the camp in the dunes, having dinner and enjoying the night in the desert. If willing, spotlighting on foot to look for small animals in the immediate surrounding is also possible (headlights provided). On Day 6 we will have breakfast, pack the camp, keep driving a bit into the dunes and then move on smooth terrain until close to tarmac. We’ll have lunch under acacia trees and take a pause. In the afternoon we will take the road and drive back to Dakhla. Time permitting, we may have a stop at La Source for a special thermal shower. Participants will be free for dinner and for the evening. Total km for Day 5 + 6: about 380.
Day 7 - Sebkha of Imlili. You can't leave Dakhla without being here! This is a classic one-day trip with a good mix of desert and coast. We'll leave in the morning around 9.30-10.00 and drive on tarmac for about one hour and a half, taking short breaks for pics of the bay and of the desert around it. We'll then move off road to reach a small Sebkha (depression with salted floor) characterised by permanent pools of salt water with fish. Pools are small, but unique and beautifully colored. The sebkha is surrounded by bushes and plants, close to three wells and a regular venue for wild animals and herders. We will have lunch there and Saharawi tea. Depending on the timing and on weather conditions, we might eventually spend some time on the coast or head back directly to Dakhla. Participants will be free for dinner and for the evening. Total km for Day 7: about 300.
Day 8 - Flaying back home. If you rented a car in Dakhla and arrived by plane, you may decide to fly back home today. In this case, make sure you already redelivered the car - the majority of flights are very early in the morning!
What to expect
- You will be driving about 1300 km on the tarmac and in the desert around Dakhla, across a range of different terrains.
- You will spend two nights camping in the desert and at a field base.
- You will receive logistic support during Days 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7.
- Meals, Saharwi tea and water at meals when out in the desert/at field base are included.
- Tents, matrasses, sleeping bags, linens, pillows and towels for camping/at field base are included.
What not to expect
- This offer does not include services proper of a travel agency, such as but not limited to: car rental, hotel booking, purchase of flights. While we are at your disposal for advice, you will have to book/purchase these services on your own. Please ask us for any special accommodation deal we may have negotiated for Mercator guests!
- Fuel, car service and any other cost related to the car you will be driving will be under your own responsibility.
- Meals at the Oyster farm, in Dakhla or not consumed in the desert or at the field base are not included.
min. 4 people
max. 6 people
- Once confirmed by us, 335 € / person is to be paid as non-refundable deposit within 20 days.
- Balance of 145 € / person is to be paid latest 30 days before beginning of activities.
- Read Terms and Conditions carefully.