Exploring Laayoune, Morocco

laayoune moroccoLaayoune is the largest town in Western Sahara, the desert region south of Morocco’s Anti Atlas Mountains. Occupied by Spain until 1974, Western Sahara remains in legal limbo as a disputed territory. After the “Green March” of November 1975—when 350,000 Moroccans marched across the border into the Sahara—a conflict broke out between the Moroccans and the Polisario Front, a group that demanded independence for its native Sahrawi people. Talks have been underway between Morocco and Polisario since a UN-sponsored cease fire in 1991.

The town tends to serve as a stopover point for travelers going between Mauritania and southern Morocco or for those on the way to try kite surfing at Dakhla’s desert lagoon.  From Marrakech, it’s a 16-hour plus bus ride to Laayoune. Although you’ll be driving through desert, don’t expect spectacular scenery like you’ll find at Erg Chebbi; this part of the Sahara is all hamada—flat, rocky desert. (more…)