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Sahara Travel Forum Topics specific to North Africa and the Sahara down to the 17th parallel (excludes Morocco)
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Desert Travels - Motorcycle Journeys in the Sahara and West Africa!

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Old 16 Jan 2005
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Rumours at Adventure Travel Show - True?

Been to Olympia (London) today, and heard a couple of things, both not good:

1. I asked a chap on the Maroc Tourism stand whether the tarmac was complete out the bottom of Western Sahara, to which he replied it was, BUT that the Dakhla convoys have just resumed! Apparently because the Polissario have got the hump having not being consulted about the Dakar rally.

2. Apparently even Tunisia may be introducing compulsory guides for expeditions to certain areas, due to haveing to rescue too many people, presumably package holidaymakers hiring 4x4's etc. Perhaps not too serious a loss though?

Not sure how accurate either of this info is, it's just what I picked up today...

Listened to Charley Boorman chatting about his "Long Way Round" - apparently Mr McGregor was too busy filming in LA to attend, but had said he would rather have been recounting his adventures to us than acting. I know they weren't excactly self-sufficient, but I have to say that (not having satellite) watching the all 7 episodes of the DVD on Christmas afternoon was the best Christmas viewing I've ever had! May be doing a "Long Way Down" next to Capetown.

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Old 16 Jan 2005
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I do not think there is any convoy from Dakhla to Mauri , you can go to this website http://www.plymouth-dakar.co.uk/
and click on "News From The Field" where you can find fresh infos on cars just crossing the border in this same hours ....Polisario is dead long time ago , asking for theire persmission to allow the rally Paris Dakar to cross Morocco is some kind of funny joke...
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Old 17 Jan 2005
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I was in Dubai recently and i was *told* that to drive on the sand dunes you MUST have a special Dunes Driving License which you can only get after a 2 week course. I believe it was true but would be happier if someone independently confirmed that. Could be starting a worrying trend.

Either way it wouldn't surprise me if they stopped independent travelers from going to the Tunisian desert as pissing off non-package tourists isn't as big a financial risk as losing the big spenders in the sand....

Basically the moral of the story is if you want to do anything independently that a nanny state would get it's nappy in a twist about DO IT NOW. There are a lot of examples where we've lost our freedom in the name of our safety.
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Old 17 Jan 2005
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IMO the calibre of desert travellers in Tunisia is not always the same as those who venture into the central Sahara - they dont necessarily prepare or take it that seriously, it being short range. The Grand Erg in southern Tunisia is small dunes, nasty, difficult terrain, to go there for a laugh in the wrong season is asking for trouble (I suspect the same may be true in the Emirates, etc).
Like in Morocco, I bet there are a lot more tourist rescues required than in central Sahara (where there's no one to rescue you anyway!). So I think the Tunes have a point. The question is, if it happens, will they be real guides who know the desert or just escorts to fit in with the regs. (NB. As far as I know, southern Tun has always been restricted anyway).

Chris S

(Dont all rush to Maurttania at once!)
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Old 17 Jan 2005
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over the past 6 weeks I've come down the western sahara route. the one bit of advice (other than fuel/water) is to take expert advice with a pinch of salt. Perfect roads to one person is another's nightmare.

Just get going and see what's there when you arrive. There was no finished road when I passed 2 weeks ago, and no convoy.

[This message has been edited by DougieB (edited 18 January 2005).]
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Old 17 Jan 2005
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Just completed the Plymouth Dakar

The roads are ok down to Maurittania. The road in Maurittania from nouakochott to nuadibou is to a degree complete but not all sealed in Tarmac, but one can drive on the road base. Its a little like driving over corrugations though in some places. We chose to do the lot off road through the desert and along the beach with a guide. Guide cost 250 euros between 6 cars. You can get waypoints off the web for the route and they will suffice. The desert is not difficult terrain. I did the route in a 2CV and we also took a 1971 Bedford ice cream van which had no problems.

In Senegal at Diama they requires 60 euros per car for an escort through the country plus 10 euros to look at your passport. Senegals a pain with the officials.

Hope that helps
Ashley Scott
Ashley (dot) scott at EDAW (dot) com
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Old 17 Jan 2005
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Looks like the Maroc Tourism guy had his facts wrong then - thankfully!

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