Eco-friendly travel guide to Western Sahara advises how to be a responsible tourist. Learn how to travel in a sustainable way and how to respect the local people and culture. Make your trip green by supporting locally owned hotels, organic restaurants and other businesses. Read more on how to protect the environment by making conscientious choices and how to travel green in Western Sahara, Africa.
- Air quality: 4 / 5
- Bus connections: 3.5/ 5
- Train connections: 1 / 5
- Hitchhiking: 4 / 5
- National parks: 4 / 5
- Outdoor activities: 2.5 / 5
- Locals' English level: 3 / 5
- Safety: 4 / 5
- Accommodation: US$20 - $100
- Budget per day: US$10 - $150
- 1 Responsible Travel
- 2 Air Quality and Pollution
- 3 Respect the Culture
- 4 Top 10 Places to Visit
- 5 Explore
- 6 Eat
- 7 Drink
- 8 Activities
- 9 Accommodation
- 10 Regions
- 11 Cities
- 12 Getting There and Moving Around
- 13 Sustainable Shopping
- 14 Recycling
- 15 Work and Study Abroad
- 16 See Also
Africa has different places to explore, and one that piques curiosity is Western Sahara, located in the northern region of Africa. We cannot classify this place under any country as it is seen as a non-self-governing territory.
Morocco and the Polisario Front drag sovereignty over this area, but it is still unresolved.
Traveling to Western Sahara is an excellent holiday choice as you learn more about a new environment. However, you must be a responsible traveler to enjoy your stay.
It is essential to remember that it is a hot region, so you should have water bottles handy. Also, you must be courteous to get along with others and enjoy your stay.
Air Quality and Pollution
Although Western Sahara makes an excellent choice for a holiday destination, there are some downsides to it. One of them is its air quality.
The air quality in this area is low because of various activities that lead to air pollution., leaving people with general risk and making the environment sometimes not conducive.
If you are a foreigner with asthma or breathing issues traveling to this place, it is essential to take your inhaler, antibiotic, oral steroid, or other prescribed medicine. Wearing a face mask to walk around is also not out of place.
We hope that the air quality in this region improves with time to make the environment more appealing.
Respect the Culture
One has to follow what applies in their holiday destination to have an enjoyable stay. If you do not show respect to the locals, you will receive a hostile environment.
It is essential to know that some of the rules that apply to Moroccans also apply in Western Sahara. Thus, we can say that it is disrespectful to engage in any form of public display of affection when you are in this place.
You should also not point your fingers at anyone or make similar gestures. Instead, call a person with your mouth.
It is easy to assume that the locals are uptight at first sight. However, they will come around with time.
Top 10 Places to Visit
When visiting Western Sahara, you will realize that it is not like other places. Thus, we cannot highlight exact places for you to see.
Due to the dispute with Morocco claiming some places, we cannot say that there are many infrastructures in Western Sahara. It is safe to say that this is a developing area.
Instead, you can visit its towns. You can get a whole experience of Western Sahara if you can see its cities. You get to socialize with the locals as well.
Best towns to visit in Western Sahara are:
• Cape Bojador
• Bir Gandus
• Bou Craa
• Guelta Zemmur
Typically, a person would not want to visit a new area if there are no things or places to explore. Thus, one cannot see Western Sahara at the top of the list when it concerns holiday destinations.
However, allow us to tell you that visiting this place is an experience you will never forget. Although there might be no many places to visit, you will learn something new and have a profound experience.
If you are visiting Western Sahara, it is best not to have high expectations. Instead, go to this place with an open mind. It is the only way to have an enjoyable stay.
It is normal to have city parks on your list of places to explore in a new area. However, are there city parks in the place you are visiting?
Unfortunately for those visiting Western Sahara, there are no city parks in this area. Thus, you have to make do with other available options when it concerns exploring the area.
It will be best if you do not think that you would not have a swell experience because there are no city parks. After all, it is not everywhere in the world that has a city park.
It is also important to note that Western Sahara is not a big area.
One might begin to wonder if there is a national park in Western Sahara. We know that many foreigners lose hopes about seeing a national park in this area since it doesn’t have city parks.
Fortunately, you can see a national park in Western Sahara. Thus, it should not dampen your mood.
The national park in Western Sahara is:
• Dakhla National Park: You get to have a full view of the Sahara at this place. You can also see an ocean and get a boat ride. It is best to take a camera when visiting this place as you would see many appealing sights to snap. We know that you will be happy to visit this place.
We hope that you do not expect to see a beach when visiting Western Sahara. After all, it is a Sahara.
Instead, it would help if you were on the lookout for dunes as it is more realistic. When visiting Western Sahara, you should get ready to let your feet enjoy the sands in the area.
Suppose you had expectations to see or visit a beach, allow us to tell you that such thoughts are unrealistic. There is no beach in Western Sahara, and we doubt there would be any in coming years.
You can get a beach when you visit other places, but not in Western Sahara.
It is usual for a person to expect to see landmarks when visiting a new place. After all, it serves as a guide for movement.
When there are landmarks in an area, you are sure that you would not get missing as you would engrave these landmarks to memory. It is why a landmark should be a tall building or something that gets attention.
You can be sure to see landmarks in Western Sahara. Understandably, foreigners need landmarks, and the people understand these needs. It is why they use landmarks to describe places during communication.
Some of these landmarks are:
• Cueva del Diablo • Sluguilla Lawash • Lejuad
Having a museum in a place helps those who are curious to know the history of the area. We agree that a museum presents more than history, and you can have a swell experience exploring a museum.
However, there are no museums in Western Sahara. You can see museums in other places in North Africa dedicated to the history or tales of Western Sahara, but there are no museums in the area. Some people say that it is weird, and we agree.
We hope that a museum is erected in Western Sahara soon to visit and gain more knowledge when they are in the area.
People might say many things about Western Sahara, like it is not big or does not have many places to explore. However, they cannot slander the traditional local meals in this area as there are many varieties.
It is essential to know that there are different types of proteins to enjoy in this place. We know that many people have not tasted camel meat before. It is called Tajín in Western Sahara and one of its traditional local dishes.
You can also enjoy the local stew called Meifrisa. It comes with different types of proteins, and you can also eat it with many things, including unleavened bread.
There is no need to wonder where you can enjoy the local cuisines in Western Sahara as you can easily walk into any of the traditional local restaurants.
It will also not be hard to locate them as they are usually in glaring spots to ensure patronage. You can be sure that these people have expertise in preparing the meals as they want people to buy, eat, enjoy, and request more.
It comes in handy when you visit these restaurants as you get an array of local meals. Some foreigners’ tasks themselves to enjoy all the local meals of a place before leaving.
A vegan should also not feel left out when in Western Sahara as you can also enjoy some of their local meals.
It is essential to know that the area grows fruits and vegetables, and these are usually infused into some of their local meals. If you are a vegetarian, you can see some local meal varieties prepared for your taste and preference.
Although the vegan restaurants in this area are not many, we are sure that you will see one or two cater to your needs. You can also get a regular restaurant that has vegan options. Thus, no one is left out.
Asides from regular heavy meals, a person might also crave light meals. It is easier to call such meals street foods as you can get them on the roadside.
You are sure to get some street foods in Western Sahara. It could be that you are used to eating some of them, while others may be new to you. It is also essential to note that some of these street foods are common to Moroccans.
A type of street food that is common in this area is doughnuts. You can also call it sfenj. You can also get Tayb O’hari. We doubt you will see it in other places except for this region. However, we are sure that you will enjoy it.
There are usually arguments concerning the drinks you can find in Western Sahara. Since Islam is the religion in this area, many people argue that it is impossible to get alcoholic beverages.
However, one can get both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages when visiting Western Sahara.
One should not hear that you were in this area without tasting their local tea. It has a distinct taste that leaves you craving for more. It might be bitter at first, but you will later fall in love with it.
You can also get camel and goat milk as drinks when in Western Sahara. These beverages are popular amongst the locals, and you should taste them.
There are concerns about drinking tap water in Western Sahara. The first concern is water shortage. It is not in every city in this place that you can get tap water.
Also, it is best to avoid drinking tap water even when you get it in some places. The reason is that it can be contaminated. Thus, we usually advise foreigners to buy bottled water when they are in this area.
Drinking bottled water is a safe option, and you are sure that you are not compromising your health. It is also best to stock up adequately on bottled water in case the stores run out of them.
‘What are some of the activities we can do in this place?’
This is a common question to expect from foreigners visiting an area for the first time. We are not shocked by such questions because they desire doing things to keep them active and eliminate boredom.
Some people say that fishing and kayaking are activities one can do in a new area. It is not out of place to consider such activities, but they are only feasible in places with water bodies.
Since there are no many waterbodies in Western Sahara, we cannot say that such activities will always work. After all, there are no beaches in this area. However, fishing is possible in some of the small water bodies you will see. The locals will be your best guide.
Yoga is also another viable option when it concerns activities people can do in a new area. We cannot say that it is an everyday activity everywhere, but it is gaining popularity.
You will see that there are many yoga retreats in Western Sahara. Thus, you are sure of not being bored if you go on one. It could be that you are not a yoga professional as it is not popular in your home city. By going on yoga retreats in Western Sahara, you learn about yoga and be a pro in no time.
You get to associate with others and help your health as yoga is good for your health.
One common need identified with foreigners is looking for where to stay when in a new place. Sadly, many tourists wait until they get to a new city before checking for its available accommodation option.
Ideally, you should know this information before arriving at your destination city. Suppose you have specific amenities you desire in an accommodation setting. It would help if you start checking before you leave your home city to make a choice.
Asides from deciding, knowing this before ahead also help you to plan your accommodation budget as you do not want any situation that puts you in a fix or leaves you in a tight corner.
Green hotels are places that have facilities and amenities that do not destroy the environment. We see that it is a favorite of some people, especially those conscious about the environment.
We get questions from those visiting Western Sahara, asking if this accommodation option is available.
You can get a green hotel in Western Sahara, but its numbers are not much. It is safe to say that green hotels in this area are few.
It is why we advise that you contact the hotel early to make your reservations as others may also desire this accommodation option.
A green hotel in Western Sahara is:
• Hôtel Calipau Sahara
Hostels and Guest Houses
When it concerns this accommodation option, you can get more of it within Western Sahara. Some people say that these are cheaper accommodation options.
The amenities at these places differ from what you might get at regular hotels. Sometimes, people in different rooms might share facilities like the kitchen or restroom. This is how these places are built and managed, but the goal is not to inconvenience its customers.
For places like a hostel, you might get to share a room with others. It helps if you are traveling in a group. If you are a solo traveler, you get to bond with others and make new friends.
Some hotels and guesthouses in Western Sahara are:
• Wow Appart Hotel
• Hostel Imlili
• Kite House Dakhla
One can also stay in apartments when visiting Western Sahara. Some people say that there is no area that does not have apartments as a part of its accommodation options. We cannot precisely agree with this notion for now. However, you can get an apartment to stay in when you are in Western Sahara.
These places are well-managed, assuring you of your comfort and meeting your needs when you are in this area. People say that they always get the value for whatever money they spend on staying in an apartment.
We can assure you that you would not have any complaints when you stay in Western Sahara apartments.
Did you know that there is a place to stay in Western Sahara without spending money on accommodation?
You can do this through Couchsurfing! The Couchsurfing website connects tourists with the locals in an area who is willing to play host.
Once you get on the website, you input your location, and you see available host options. It comes in handy for those who do not mind staying with strangers.
The locals might seem like strangers at first, but you will grow a bond with them by the time your holiday is over. A tourist should not have any worries about staying with a foreigner when in Western Sahara.
Another way to enjoy Western Sahara is by going camping. If you do not plan to stay long in this area, you can also use camping as an accommodation option.
When you go camping, you get to explore and experience your environment. Sometimes, you might need to set up a camping tent at conducive locations. Other times, you might stay at available campsites.
When visiting Western Sahara, you get to choose your preference. We can assure you that you will have an enjoyable experience when it concerns camping in this region as there are many activities a person can do.
When bonding with the locals during this trip, you will also learn more about the people, territory, and culture.
Getting There and Moving Around
It is usually hectic traveling to a new place, especially when you do not know how to get there. It is why you should always ask questions not to miss your way.
As a tourist, we know that you would want a hassle-free journey. This will not happen if you plan on using the wrong means of transport. Ignorance can be dangerous in this case. It is why you need all the knowledge you can get.
As we go further, we shall be highlighting the various ways of getting into Western Sahara for those traveling to this region. Our goal is to ensure that you do not encounter stress when traveling.
A person should also know how to move around when they get to a new place. After all, you do not want to stick out like a sore thumb.
We expect that you are not shy to ask questions when you are in a new place, especially since you do not plan to remain in one position throughout your stay.
Moving around is inevitable when you are in a new place, so you need to know how they do it in this area.
We will also be helping those traveling to Western Sahara to highlight the various ways of moving around like a local.
Some people do not realize that their legs can be a means of moving around when in a new place. It comes in handy when you are covering short distances. It is also helpful when you are trying to learn how to navigate the area.
We advise that you have a water bottle when moving around in Western Sahara as you are prone to get thirsty due to the weather condition.
All you need when walking around is a wave on your face to radiate a friendly aura. We would say that it is safe to walk around in Western Sahara. However, it would be best if you are on high alert and protective of the things on you.
If you have a bicycle, you can also decide to cycle to move around in Western Sahara. One might begin to wonder where to get a bike. Not to worry, there are many bicycle rental stores in the area.
You will realize that cycling is for both locals and foreigners when you are in this region. Thus, it would help if you do not hesitate to rent a bicycle.
It would be helpful to have a facemask when cycling around in Western Sahara due to the dust. A water bottle will also come in handy.
Allow us to tell you that cycling in this area is enjoyable, especially if you try racing the locals.
Although it is not always a common sight, you can also use a scooter to move around when you are in Western Sahara.
Using a scooter may seem like using a bicycle, but they differ. It would be best if you had more expertise when it concerns riding a scooter. However, you can also rent from any of the rental stores.
Before moving around with a scooter, ensure that you have studied the area’s driving pattern to avoid having accidents. It will also come in handy if you have your shin guard and helmet.
We always advise that newbies do not ride a scooter as it is more complicated.
One of the first options that come to mind when traveling is to use air. This is because it is the fastest means of transportation. Thus, we get questions from people asking if they can use air to Western Sahara.
You can use air to a place if it has an international airport. There is one international airport in Western Sahara, and it is in El Aaiun, the capital. Thus, you are sure that you can use air to this place.
What matters is that you get a flight from your present location. You need to check if there is a flight from your home city to Western Sahara or go to the closest place where you can get a flight to this place. Those traveling from Morocco or Spain have it more accessible.
Although it is not a popular means of moving around, you can also fly domestically within Western Sahara. It means you are using air to go between cities. This comes in handy when you want to visit places in other towns or have an appointment.
It is essential to note that moving around with air is expensive. Thus, you should have a high transport budget if this is your desired means of moving around.
You are sure to get to your destination quicker, but it is at the expense of your pocket. If you do not have such a high budget, you should stick to other means of moving around.
Some people love to travel by road for one reason or another. It is why we have the bus option when it concerns traveling to a new place.
Ideally, you should be within close range of your destination if you plan to use a bus to the area. You cannot stay in Australia and expect to get a direct bus from there that takes you to Western Sahara.
The only feasible means of using a bus to Western Sahara is coming in from Morocco. If you love using buses, you should be in Morocco before considering this option as it is the only way out.
When it concerns using a bus, it is not out of place to think that you can use a bus to move around when in Western Sahara. Not only can one use a bus to move around within a town, but you can also use busses to commute between cities in this area.
Compared to using air, this is a cheap option, and people are always rushing for it. You might not be used to the system first, but having a local as a guide will come in handy. It is important that you are never shy to ask for instructions on how to use the bus services.
Another option that comes to play when thinking about getting into Western Sahara is to use a train. This is dependent on if there is a railway that connects your present location and Western Sahara. In most cases, the answer is negative as we do not know any international location with a connecting railway with Western Sahara.
One might begin to wonder why you are considering using a train to Western Sahara as trains are slow and it will be a long journey.
If you had thoughts of using a train, we are telling you that it is impossible. Thus, it would be best if you use other means of getting into the area.
People also ask if there is a railway within Western Sahara to provide trains that one can use to move around in the region. You can see a line when you are in Western Sahara, but there are no trains to take people around.
The line gives us hopes that there will soon be active train services within the region. When the train service becomes active, you do not need to only depend on using a bus to move between cities.
When using a train to move around, you see and appreciate nature due to its slowness. We anticipate when the train service in Western Sahara will become active.
The hitchhiking concept is popular in Western Sahara, so we can say that it is an easy way of moving around.
For those who might be lost, hitchhiking is a way of getting free transportation. All you need to do is to flag down vehicles and ask for a free ride. Most times, the drivers will agree, especially if you are a foreigner. However, it depends on the area.
When you are in Western Sahara, it is easier to hitchhike in areas with heavy traffic. This way, the drivers are not at top speed, and you can negotiate with them. Thus, hitchhiking is a feasible idea in Western Sahara.
Another way people get into Western Sahara is with ferries. We can argue that there are no many water bodies in this area, but ferries use the available options.
There are strategic points that you can get a ferry to Western Sahara. Typically, you can get a boat or ferry to Western Sahara from canaries. If this is your preferred option, you now know what to do.
It cannot be said that there are no diverse ways of getting into Western Sahara as you have many options. All you need to do is to pick your favorite choice.
When a tourist gets advice from people, they are encouraged to engage in sustainable shopping. Many people do not understand what this term means.
Sustainable shopping is a way of buying things from the local vendors in the area. This way, you are boosting both their sales and economy.
It is best not to doubt what these people are selling as we are sure that you will love their product. If you aim to be a responsible tourist, engaging in sustainable shopping is the right thing.
‘How do I go about engaging in sustainable shopping?’
You can start by going to the local food markets. When you taste the local meals in Western Sahara, you will agree that they are enjoyable.
Thus, don’t you want to know the ingredients used in the preparation process? The only way to know such is if you visit and buy things from the local markets.
Sometimes, you may not know the name of the meals but can only describe. The local vendors will come to your rescue and give you the right ingredients.
You can also engage in sustainable shopping by buying things from a second-hand store. For some people, this is an unimaginable horror. They feel that they cannot purchase used stuff as it will not be of high quality.
However, it would be best if you looked at it from another angle. Things in a second-hand are items that an individual does not need anymore. It is constantly checked and sorted before a vendor puts it up for sale.
These items are usually cheaper since it is second-hand. There is always something you desire at a second-hand store.
Another way a person can engage in sustainable shopping is through eco-fashion. Here, you get to buy clothes from local vendors. These clothes are usually made from recyclable materials.
However, the eco-fashion culture is not yet widespread in Western Sahara. This is not to say that you might not find some eco-fashion clothing items. However, it would help if you do not always put your mind to it as it is not common.
There is hope that seeing an eco-fashion item will be as common as getting regular clothes with time. For now, keep in mind that it is a form of sustainable shopping.
People talk about recycling almost everywhere globally, and different regions are trying to up their recycling game. Western Sahara is not an exception.
We can say that recycling happens in this area, and they are doing good at it. However, there is still room for more improvement.
As a foreigner visiting Western Sahara, you should also key into the recycling initiative. It can be by following all recycling rules.
You can also contribute by offering your assistance if you can help when it concerns recycling. Always ensure that you are compliant.
Every place needs appropriate waste management, and Western Sahara is not an exception. The rate of effective waste management in this place is below average.
It is not correct to say that waste management does not occur or that there are no organizations in charge of waste management. However, they need to do more and increase their effort to raise the bar higher.
An environment becomes more appealing to visit when there is an appropriate waste management system. There are hopes that waste management in this place will become better with time.
Work and Study Abroad
It is best to say that there are no many educational institutions in Western Sahara. It is only one in the area.
We do not see a high inflow of people who desire to school at this place. However, when we interact with some intending people, they ask if it is possible to work while studying in Western Sahara.
The area does not have any laws that restrict people from working while studying. Thus, we can say that it is possible to work while studying in Western Sahara. But it is best to strike a balance and ensure it does not interfere with your studies.
Some people also ask about doing an exchange program in Western Sahara. Since there is only one educational institution, we do not always see this happening.
The school in Western Sahara does not do exchange programs with many schools worldwide. If you are interested in such an offer, your present school has to interact with the educational institution in Western Sahara.
If you become an international student in this place, we can assure you that it will not be any different from other schools. Although it might be a new environment, you will have fun.
Some people think that getting a job through the au pair system is only for older people. This is because most of the jobs are domesticated, like being a nanny. However, getting an au pair job is open to everyone.
Suppose you have a flair for kids. You can get a job that lets you be around kids through the au pair system.
The au pair system works in different places worldwide, and Western Sahara is not an exception.
The au pair website awaits you to check it out!
Being a volunteer in Western Sahara does not entail much. However, you must be carrying out your duties effectively.
As a volunteer in this place, you must abide by all its rules and regulations.
The people around you should also be able to feel the impact of your volunteering job. It is helpful to have a goal to ensure that you create a positive change in your sector.