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The month of dune
Phil Clisby recalls a hair-raising escapade through the Western Sahara into Mauritania in 1992
We’d been in the desert for five days, with no idea how long we would be here for. We – that’s our old Bedford truck, another English overland vehicle, a Polish 4WD and a couple of Land Rovers – were camped up about 20km outside the small town of Dakhla in the Western Sahara.
To the left of our camp (or right if you were facing in the other direction), there was a sea inlet; and if you followed the shoreline around, there were a couple of beached shipwrecks and the occasional fisherman. I had no idea where these guys lived, though, because to the right, ahead and behind there was nothing but sand, sand and more sand.
We were waiting for permission from the Moroccan Ministry of Interior to proceed to the Mauritanian border. The Western Sahara was a hot political potato at this time. A sparsely populated area of desert, between Morocco and Mauritania, it was annexed by the Moroccans in 1975, and had since been the subject of a long-running territorial dispute with the indigenous people.
As we waited, despite the war being officially over, we heard of sporadic gun battles still going on, and the area through which we hoped to travel was apparently littered with land mines.
The road itself was allegedly safe, but we would have to travel in convoy with the Moroccans providing us with an armed escort as far as the border. This all filled me with a sense of foreboding.
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Highlights for our next edition of Travel Africa magazine include:
Leopards: a stunning portfolio of photographs of these elusive cats
Giving back to the wildlife and the community when you travel to Botswana
Tony Park meets members of the Himba tribe while on a canoe adventure
South Africa’s Madikwe, Waterberg and Lapalala region
Mike Unwin takes his family on a road trip in Zimbabwe
High tea (and coffee) in Malawi
Ethiopia’s Danakil Depression, the hottest place on Earth
Zambia’s Kafue National Park… plus so much more
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