Western Sahara

Hi all,

Following on from recent Western Sahara trip reports and mammal watching ventures it seems pertinent to warn of the dangers of land mines in the area which have been omitted from recent reports. The whole of Western Sahara is mined (it’s the most heavily mined country in the world) and the densities are highest around the berms (sand walls). Whilst most folk consider this to be the huge berm in the east there are old berms all over the mammal watching areas including along the Aousserd Road (nr km150 to Aousserd for instance), Negjir, and multiple berms along the Bir Anzirane road. The mines are both anti-personnel and anti-tank and are still active. Areas such as the Leglat massif are mined around the base of the massif and the valley entrance, as are the base of the Adrar Soutouf massifs. There are also mined areas around Dakhla Bay including close to the White Dune and all around Imlili. There are of course plenty of areas that aren’t mined such as Dereman massif NW of Oued Jenna, and Oued Jenna itself. Driving off-road is not recommended unless you follow very well used tracks and even then there is some movement of landmines during heavy rains and sand storms. The last trip report also mentioned a road between Bir Anzirane and Aousserd however this is a 4×4  track which links Bir Anzirane and Gleibat el Foula and then onwards to Aousserd.

The area is possible to do independently but if you are keen to head off-road and explore the more mountainous areas I would thoroughly recommend one of the local ground agents who know the area.

Access along the roads has become much easier in recent years and food and fuel in Aousserd make mammal watching for an extended period a possibility, after all its probably the best place in the world to see Sand Cat, but its only going to take one ‘tourist’ incident to shut the area down again so I’d urge any mammal watchers to enjoy the area with some degree of caution and sense.

Happy mammaling!

2 Comments
  1. Profile photo of Jon Hall
    Jon Hall 1 month ago

    Yikes! Thanks Dan. I haven’t been to the Western Sahara but am very glad I now know this for when I eventually get there. I noticed that Richard Webb mentioned the mines in his last report so very useful to get this additional information. cheers

  2. Richard Webb 1 month ago

    Dan is right to re-emphasise the position regarding mines in Western Sahara and I should have done so although my 2012 report referred to in my latest report did state Note – this road was heavily mined during the war in Western Sahara and with the exception of Gleb Jdiane and Oued Jenna we would recommend that you DO NOT leave the road.

    Consequently I would totally agree with Dan about off road driving other than on well used tracks such as those at Oued Jenna and Gleib Jediane but you really don’t need to drive or walk off road elsewhere. Everything is readily seen well from the good road if you are prepared to put the effort in. We have had good views of all the key mammals from the main road on all three trips and all the key birds except for African Desert Warbler can usually be seen at Oued Jenna.

    There are signs warning about the berms that he mentions around km 150 on the Aoussard road but I did notice birders walking off road in this area probably due to the presence of camels and their herders there.

    Richard

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