Western Sahara

Welcome to the vast and intriguing expanse of Western Sahara, a region marked by its unique geographical features and a landscape that tells a story of both beauty and complexity. Stretching across a considerable area, Western Sahara holds a distinctive place in North Africa.

Encompassing an expansive territory of approximately 266,000 square kilometers (103,000 square miles), Western Sahara is roughly the size of the United Kingdom. Its geography is characterized by a mix of desert landscapes, including the vast Sahara Desert to the east, and a lengthy coastline along the Atlantic Ocean to the west.

The diverse topography of Western Sahara includes flat plains, rocky plateaus, and the towering peaks of the Saharan mountains. Sand dunes, some of which reach impressive heights, create a captivating contrast against the arid backdrop.

Situated on the northwest corner of Africa, Western Sahara shares borders with Morocco to the north, Algeria to the northeast, and Mauritania to the east and south. The region’s strategic location and unique geographical characteristics contribute to its significance in both natural and geopolitical contexts.

Where is the Western Sahara located

Western Sahara is located in North Africa, with its borders touching several countries in the region. It shares its northern border with Morocco, while Algeria lies to the northeast, and Mauritania borders the eastern and southern sides. To the west, Western Sahara is washed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, adding a coastal dimension to its geographical makeup.

For travelers intending to visit Western Sahara, the primary means of transportation is typically by air. The Laâyoune–Hassan I Airport, located in the city of Laâyoune, serves as a key entry point. Flights from major international airports, including those in Europe and other parts of Africa, connect to Laâyoune, making air travel the most convenient option.

Overland travel is also possible, particularly from neighboring countries. Roads connect Western Sahara to Morocco, Algeria, and Mauritania, offering a scenic journey through the varied landscapes of North Africa. Keep in mind that border-crossing procedures and travel conditions may vary, so it’s advisable to check current travel information and any required documentation.

As you embark on a journey to Western Sahara, whether by air or road, be prepared to explore a land of diverse landscapes, from the Sahara Desert to the Atlantic coastline. The region’s unique geography and cultural richness await those who venture into this distinctive corner of Africa.

What are the best Attractions in the Western Sahara

The Western Sahara features a plethora of nature encounters and wilderness experiences.  Here are five of the more popular natural wonders within the larger natural wonder of the Sahara:

  1. Dakhla Bay: Nestled along the Atlantic coast, Dakhla Bay is a breathtaking nature attraction in Western Sahara. This expansive bay is renowned for its pristine beaches, where golden sands stretch for miles and the turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean create a serene backdrop. Travelers can indulge in water sports like kiteboarding and windsurfing, taking advantage of the bay’s ideal conditions and enjoying the beauty of the coastal landscape.
  2. Lac Rkiz: Lac Rkiz, or Rkiz Salt Flats, is a unique natural wonder in Western Sahara. Located southeast of Laâyoune, these vast salt flats offer a mesmerizing expanse of white, crystalline landscapes. The flats transform into a shimmering spectacle, especially during the early morning or late afternoon, creating a surreal and photogenic scene. Visitors can witness the interplay of sunlight on the salt crystals, providing a memorable and otherworldly experience.
  3. Tiris Zemmour Plateau: The Tiris Zemmour Plateau showcases the rugged beauty of Western Sahara’s interior. This vast plateau is characterized by rocky landscapes, ancient mountains, and expansive desert vistas. Travelers exploring this region will encounter dramatic canyons, hidden oasis, and the imposing Richat Structure—a geological formation often referred to as the “Eye of the Sahara.” The Tiris Zemmour Plateau offers an opportunity to witness the raw and untamed beauty of the Sahara Desert.
  4. Oued Chbika Canyon: Oued Chbika Canyon, located in the southern part of Western Sahara, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. This picturesque canyon is carved by the Oued Chbika River, surrounded by red-rock cliffs and lush vegetation. Visitors can explore the canyon on foot, marveling at its natural beauty and perhaps catching a glimpse of the diverse bird species that inhabit the area. The tranquil ambiance of Oued Chbika Canyon provides a peaceful escape into nature.
  5. Auserd Oasis: Auserd Oasis is an oasis of tranquility in the heart of Western Sahara. Situated near the town of Auserd, this green haven is a stark contrast to the surrounding desert landscapes. Palm trees sway in the breeze, providing shade, while a network of streams creates a serene atmosphere. Travelers can enjoy a peaceful stroll through the oasis, appreciating the harmony between nature and the human settlements that have thrived in this arid region for centuries.

These five nature attractions in Western Sahara offer a diverse range of landscapes, from coastal wonders and salt flats to rocky plateaus, canyons, and lush oases. Exploring these natural gems allows travelers to witness the unique beauty and biodiversity that define this captivating region.

What Wildlife can be found in the Western Sahara

The wildlife in Western Sahara is adapted to the arid and diverse landscapes of this North African region. While the desert environment can be harsh, several species have evolved to thrive in these conditions. Here are some of the notable wildlife found in Western Sahara:

  1. Dorcas Gazelle: The Dorcas Gazelle is a graceful and nimble antelope species well-adapted to desert life. These gazelles are often spotted in the arid plains of Western Sahara, showcasing their remarkable ability to survive in harsh conditions. With distinctive sandy-colored fur, they seamlessly blend into the desert landscape.
  2. Barbary Macaque: The Barbary Macaque, also known as the Barbary ape, is found in the rocky and mountainous areas of Western Sahara. Recognizable by their long tails and distinctive facial features, these monkeys are known for their social behavior and agility in navigating the rugged terrain.
  3. Desert Monitor Lizard: The Desert Monitor Lizard is a reptile commonly seen in the arid regions of Western Sahara. With a robust body and distinctive patterned scales, these lizards are well-suited to the desert environment. They play a crucial role in controlling insect populations and are often observed basking in the sun.
  4. Fennec Fox: The Fennec Fox, renowned for its large ears and petite size, is a charming inhabitant of Western Sahara’s desert landscapes. These nocturnal foxes are adapted to the harsh conditions, utilizing their keen senses to locate food and avoid predators in the cool desert nights.
  5. Addax Antelope: The Addax Antelope is a critically endangered species that can be found in Western Sahara’s desert regions. Recognized by its distinctive twisted horns and pale coat, the Addax has adapted to the arid conditions by efficiently conserving water. Conservation efforts are in place to protect and preserve this rare antelope.
  6. Desert Hedgehog: The Desert Hedgehog is a small and spiky mammal well-suited to the arid environment of Western Sahara. These nocturnal creatures forage for insects and plants in the cool of the night, relying on their spines for protection from predators.

While the wildlife in Western Sahara may not be as diverse as in more lush environments, the species that have adapted to this challenging desert landscape are uniquely fascinating. Observing these creatures in their natural habitats provides a glimpse into the resilience and resourcefulness of life in the arid regions of Western Sahara.


Travelers, venture into the captivating landscapes of Western Sahara for a unique and enriching experience. This North African region, known for its vast deserts, rocky plateaus, and coastal wonders, beckons with a blend of natural beauty and diverse wildlife.

Explore the pristine beaches of Dakhla Bay, where turquoise waters meet golden sands, offering a serene backdrop for water sports and relaxation. Discover the surreal beauty of the Rkiz Salt Flats, a mesmerizing expanse of crystalline landscapes that transforms under the play of sunlight.

Embark on a journey to the Tiris Zemmour Plateau, where ancient mountains and dramatic canyons showcase the untamed beauty of the Sahara Desert. Explore the hidden oasis of Oued Chbika Canyon, a picturesque retreat with red-rock cliffs and lush vegetation, providing a tranquil escape into nature.

Encounter wildlife uniquely adapted to the desert environment, from the graceful Dorcas Gazelle and Barbary Macaque to the charming Fennec Fox and critically endangered Addax Antelope. Marvel at the resilience of the Desert Monitor Lizard and the nocturnal foraging habits of the Desert Hedgehog.

Immerse yourself in the cultural richness of Western Sahara, where vibrant human settlements coexist with the rugged landscapes. From the Auserd Oasis to the mountainous terrains, each corner of this region tells a story of adaptation and survival.

Whether you seek the thrill of outdoor adventures, the serenity of coastal retreats, or the fascination of desert wildlife, Western Sahara invites you to explore its diverse landscapes and discover the unique charm that sets this region apart. Come and witness the untamed beauty and cultural heritage of Western Sahara, a destination that promises an unforgettable and off-the-beaten-path journey.