A consistent wind and empty beaches - it's a fervent kite surfer's dream. The most remote Moroccan beaches amaze not only with the local people's genuine surprise about kites, but also with truly fantastic weather conditions - constant wind for almost two weeks.
Getting to the newly discovered (in the website www.kiteforum.com) paradise, at the coast of Western Sahara (same Morocco) - Dakhla Attitude - turns out not to be an easy task at all. From the numerous sent e-mails, only one is answered and the only gathered information from a poor communication with a remote Moroccan corner is that there are still some vacancies for 35 euro per day per person, including meals. Luckily, a day before departure, a manager of the base promises to meet us at the Dakhla airport.
A Moroccan visa is required only for a stay of up to three months, but that does not make a route Riga - Milan - Casablanca any easier. We reach Milan with almost two hours delay and an exchange of tickets for a later flight does not come easy. Anyway, late in the evening - when the Casablanca airport appears into sight - the further flight to Dakhla is already missed. Air companies do not visit a small Moroccan military town more then couple times a week - so an unscheduled stop in the city, immortalize in the famous movie, is inevitable.
Tiny, 3 x 3 meter cabins, close to a mosque, each one proudly adorned with a dusty satellite dish - although it seems, there is no space for a TV set inside. A café's terrace - occupied only by men - leisurely sipping peppermint tea all day long. In some other place - a row about money bursts out in front of tourists' eyes. A sharp exchange of words and a culprit is thrown out of the café. A short moment of uneasiness, and guests return to their meal.
The streets of Casablanca are scattered with small shops. In some of them - unfrozen meat products are stored for several days or even weeks. Numerous houses spruced up with a picture of a dark-haired guy, a look-alike of the King of Rock'n'roll himself, in fact - most of them just indicate a barbershop.
A very simple Bellerive hotel - an exquisite Moroccan style would be a luxury here - for 600 dirhams provides a double-room with just the most essential, including an amazing view to the Atlantic Ocean - the easiest way to foresee wind conditions for kiting. A breakfast - fresh orange juice, white bread - consumed in enormous amount here - and jam. Then, out of the blue, turns up a local chap - proudly claiming to be a car rental agent - offering to arrange a taxi for us. After a lengthy bargaining, the fellow comes up with 700, instead of the initial 400 dirhams, as if asked by a vehicle's owner. And bargaining goes on...I got the hang of it so much that already back home, in Riga, I coughed myself persistently wrangling with a taxi driver.
Find of suitable place for kiting in this Moroccan city is not so easy and our water stunts, at a remote beach, cause a lively interest and gather the curious ones - both little kids, and elderly men.
38, Boulevard De La Corniche, Casablanca
Getting to Dakhla Attitude base is a nerve-racking experience as well. After almost two and a half hours' flight from Casablanca, a plane finally reaches a small and humble-looking airport; then - on the road from Dakhla - the police stops every single car for a check-up, in their efforts of catching poachers (for illegal octopus fishing). For the manager of the camp, picking up kiters at the airport is quite habitual. Nothing special seems chummy relationship with the police too - we are let by without stopping. It's very hard to avoid small crabs on our way through the dark desert. During high tide they are scattered not only along the beach but also on the roads, leading there.
A small army town, with little more than 30 thousand inhabitants, meets its guests with half-empty streets, tiny sand-color houses and peppermint, sold on every corner. A little shabby and darkish market place seems somewhat scary, and no one shows any enthusiasm about being photographed. It is difficult to form an opinion about prices in Dakhla as elsewhere in Morocco - asking more money from tourism is established practice, therefore bargain skills are quite helpful.
30 km outside the town, between the desert sand and the ocean lagoon, are hiding a little more then ten white and modest tents of the Dakhla Attitude base. A mattress on the floor, a thick blanket, a little table, some space for personal belongings...and mice! Brownish furry creatures, look-alikes of Walt Disney's Jerry, may get into fight for the best nibble of a melon in front of your very eyes. The newest tents are somewhat spared by the rodents while in the oldest ones - that are used only occasionally and are planned to be taken down - little roommates are an everyday occurrence. Anyway, sweets should be hidden or hanged someplace high and bags should be closed, as little creatures love to inspect them. Luckily enough, there are no snakes or other crawlers.
Well-suited to the harsh environment are also amenities - a row of small, yet, clean shower stalls - the favorite drowsing place for the three dogs, living at the base and hiding there from the desert's heat. Also - a miniature washbasin with even smaller mirror - the only one at the base. A hot water supply is smooth enough - difficulties occur only when too many guests have arrived, while electricity can be used only between 7 to 11 p.m. At night, especially handy are pullovers and warm socks, taken from home - as a drastic temperature fall is characteristic there, but vodka - consumed in daytime - already perspired. The air gets warmer only around seven in the morning.
Observing of a healthy daily routine here is not a problem at all. Meals are provided three times a day - in a big dining-hall. In the breakfast - traditional white bread with jam or honey. Also menus for lunch (at 1 p.m.) and dinner (at 8 p.m.) presents no surprises and, accordingly, no problems for stomach. Salads, soups, macaroni, fish and, of course, traditional Moroccan vegetable and meat stews - tajin. Especially delicious are fried onions with raisins, widely used in cookery. Also the late-comers are not left with rumbling stomachs - meals are kept for them warm as long as possible - in case they have stuck on the water a little while longer. From sweet snacks, only chocolate is available at the base.
Dakhla Attitude can honestly be called a kiting paradise - it offers a calm, mirror-like water surface - ideal for beginners, as well as wavy ocean - for adepts, some 4 km from the base. A kiting professional, met at the base, shares his enthusiasm - nine times he had been there, and only two days was without wind. Unlike crowded beaches of Portugal - no need to worry that wind may suddenly cease or there may be no more space on the water. At high tide, water comes up to very doorsteps of the tents but at low tide - on a small island, few kilometers away, gather hundreds of graceful flamingos and thousands of small crabs come ashore. Encouraged by local people, anyone can make sure that claws of those small rascals are no as dangerous as they look.
Stepping up higher in the rocks, sharp desert wind hits your face and sand pricks like tiny needles. Another time, a loud rumble shatters the air, with a mushroom of dust appearing in the distance. A slight panic about eventual nuclear war soon dissipates, as it becomes clear that just some locals were blowing up rocks...
Also the manager of the base demonstrates his professional skills. A notable achievement in Rashid's windsurfing career has been participation in the Olympic Games. For some time having lived in Hawaii, he still had preferred the lonely beaches of this small town.
Besides kiting and reading, in Dakhla there is nothing much to do. The closest tourist attraction is Essaouira. Just a night flight to Agadir, 300 km by taxi (there are no buses at night) - and around five in the morning in front of your eyes unfolds a small fishermen town. Waking up in a modest Riad Zahra hotel room feels somewhat surreal - a town rumpus and some building site noises seem pretty weird after ten days, spent in the desert. Narrow streets of the town assemble sellers and buyers. Unfortunately, there is no wind for kiting, and returning to Dakhla is inevitable.
The other option, in stead of waiting three hours for the flight, is the very special charm of Morocco - intercity busses. Three hour journey to Agadir is just a beginning. Quite a modern vehicle occupy just five passengers and two amusing drivers. With no hurry they stop at a small roadside shop and treat everybody with bananas. Reminded that we should hurry to catch a next buss, gentlemen just answer that it is the same company and the buss will wait. Still we barely manage...
In Agadir comforts are over. A bus to Dakhla is cram-full - people, parcels...and some cockroaches too. However hot it may be, people do not overdo with water consumption - during 20 hour journey there are only few stops. Moreover, toilets are very much like the ones in Soviet time Riga - a hole in the floor, no paper, just water.
Yet, the drivers seem to be highly regarded. At every buss stop people sincerely greet them, everybody trying to tuck in their parcels as the most important ones. Several times we are stopped by the police and requested to fill out certain forms, asking to indicate ones staying place and other essential details - just in case of getting lost in Morocco. However, these leaflets can be prepared in advance and held ready in case of need. Also some camels come into our sight, as well as black goats, having climbed the trees, and a football match, taking place in a small village - before six in the morning.
90, Quartier des Dunes, 44000 Essaouira
Phone: 00212 24 47 48 22
Fax: 00212 24 47 43 12
In some twists of the road, on our way from the base to Marrakesh, it seems that the buss will collapse, but all we can do - is just hope for the best. Around one in the morning the airport is still closed; just some policemen are guarding the opened door. Six hours till the fight are given to sleep - fixing something like sleeping-places from nearby found luggage trolleys. Tucked in their sleeping bags or some warmer clothes are drowsing other travelers - it is freezing cold in the desert at night.
We manage to check in our luggage up to Riga and - by a miracle - no flights in the route Marrakesh - Milam - Riga are delayed. Yet, having reached our destination, we realize that our luggage is still in Italy. Three more days - and it arrives too...
The journey is over. To somebody it might seem as a whole string of inconveniences - with lots of facts provided and no emotions. Still every single day was full of emotions. Three weeks in a new environment, with everything being so different - both the nature, and people and the life itself. Maybe for someone else this journey would have turned out completely different - but ours was wonderful - and we are looking forward for the coming ones!
- It is advisable to leave more time between flights, as missing a fight can delay arrival for several days.
- It is preferable to exchange money at the Moroccan airport.
- At Dakhla Attitude are available also kite surf training courses, as well as an inventory rental.
- Although the water temperature in the lagoon is around 25° C, short hidrocostumes are advisable.
- Proper internet communications at Dakhla Attitude are planed to be installed in the closest future (right now mobile calls often get interrupted and quality of connections is poor); an expansion of the camping territory is envisaged too.
- A taxi fare to the closest city (about 30 km) is about 15 Ls.
- Within the city (Casablanca, Marrakesh, Agadir, Dakhla, etc.) so called petit taxis are available, outside the city - only Mercedeses (not the newest ones, of course).
Posted in 2008.Share it:
Keywords: Morocco, kitesurfing, kiteboard
The food was very tasty (a little fruit or yoghurt with breakfast would make it even better!), and the kitchen staff very friendly and accommodating, the massage was wonderful! and the final bill payment easy once a couple of additional mojitos were removed. The office lady taking my payment was delightful also.
Of course the kiting was brilliant, especially in the afternoons... I really felt myself improving.
Unfortunately, this brilliant time became deeply marred when Fatima came banging at the shower door whilst I was showering after my final kite (in hindsight I wish I'd opened the door then and there to discover what the fuss was about).
She yelled that I had to leave immediately, saying that she had received a telephone call from the airline and that my flight had been changed from a 21.45 departure to 20.30. This of course was a complete LIE. The time was only 17.45. Being the only flight to Casablanca, she (along with all camp staff) were aware that the flight departs at 21.45 and that AirMoroc advise on their ticket to check-in just 20 minutes prior to departure. With the 30 minute drive to the airport, there was still copious amounts of time before the flight.
The other guests told me of Fatima's "outrage" at my "tardiness" during our goodbyes.
Another guest also on the same flight had asked what time the transfer left, told by Fatima it was 19.00 but the car came at 18.00. We were driven out of the camp at 18.45, I with a feeling of banishment - certainly now drained of that awesome sunset kiting feeling....
Our driver appeared anxious to depart also, yet remained courteous when delivering us to the airport at 19.15, more than 2 hours prior to our required check-in time. There had been no change at all to the departure time.
So, without so much as a vending machine at the airport, I had pizza and beer at the hotel across the road, wishing we were sharing the time with the other friends we'd made at the camp also, a last drink at Camp Attitude.