Ad Dakhla (Dakhla, Dajla) is a city in southern Western Sahara.
- 1 Dakhla Airport (VIL IATA). With almost daily flights from Casablanca with Royal Air Maroc, once a week to Agadir and Paris Orly as well. There is a regular flight to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria with CanaryFly, though only seasonal.
There are a few buses daily from as far away as Casablanca and Marrakech. Buses are run by CTM, Supratours and Satas. There are no regional operators.
Supratours and CTM buses run to and from Agadir (~20 hr, ~350 dirham). Supratours has two buses per day, while CTM has one. From Laayoune, costs are 230 dirham per person (2023). Be prepared for up to eight checkpoints along the way and, if a Westerner, to be checked thoroughly.
National Route 1, running the length, of the country passes by Dakhla It is also the only major road in the vicinity. Distance from the nearest major city in the north, El Aaiun is 535 km. This road is in good condition but expect long distances between gas stations.
To the south of Dakhla is 440 km of almost uninhabited territory, except for a few tiny fishing villages, until the Mauritanian border and Nouadhibou. Travelling this stretch by car is perfectly possible but requires some planning and careful preparations. There are only two gas stations along the entire route and breakdown could include hours of wait in scoring temperatures.
The city centre is small enough to navigate on foot. Should you want to head further out, petits taxis abound and are metered.
- Take a road trip to Aoussard: UN base, followed by mine field, followed by Moroccan army base. Take water with you and fill up with gas: it's a 3-hr drive (if you obey speed limits) and it gets hotter with each kilometre.
- Take a break at the laguna and watch kite-surfers. They even have a special road sign that says "watch out for kite surfers that sometimes crash on the road".
- Drive to the historic lighthouse west of Ad-Dakhla: albeit as of January 2014 climbing it was no longer permitted, the building continues to be one of the most recognisable landmarks of Western Sahara due to the black-and-white ring pattern.
- 1 Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church (Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Carmen). Roman Catholic church built by the Spanish colonial administration during the 1950s.
There are windsurfing and quad driving opportunities north of Dakhla. Inquire locally. A kite shop next to the Supratours office at the waterfront is helpful with all the necessary info. You can wind and kitesurf on both the western (ocean) and eastern (lagoon) side of the peninsula.
Many patisseries offer cheap pastry. The restaurant at Sahara Regency hotel has decent European food, though the choice is limited and it is not always fresh. There are also numerous eateries in town.
There are plenty of budget hotels clustered around the city centre. Due to military presence, most only have twin rooms and you will pay almost the same price if you are alone. Twin rooms usually cost 150 dirham (2023). Prices, as always, are negotiable.
There are a few campsites by the road to the north of Dakhla. Camping Moussafir is a popular spot with overlanders, and is located just south of the first checkpoint out of town.
- 1 Hotel Dakhla Attitude, Pointe du Dragon, ☏ , email@example.com. Offers nautical activities, seafood tasting and desert excursions. The hotel is sheltered from the wind by the mountains. Has three camps gathering seven types of accommodation. The hotel's sport center WindfishPro offers all kind of sport activities and kitesurf and windsurf lessons and material rental.
- 2 Hotel Ocean Vagabond, PK 27 route d'El Argoub, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. In the style of a beach cabin, with its deckchairs, parasols, musical atmosphere and catering service with good food. Also offers kitesurfing and surfing lessons to beginners and experienced surfers alike, as well as equipment hire, with windsurfing.
- Hotel Riad. in the centre (pedestrian zone) has rooms from 30 dirham per person. The facilities are shared and a bit disgusting. There are similar places nearby, including Hotel Sahara.
- 3 Hotel Sahara Regency. A high-end option in town offering all the modern amenities a desert traveller could long for, including free WiFi and a restaurant serving up wines and spirits.
- 4 Hotel Calipau Sahara. Upscale hotel just at the outer rims of Dakhla. Located at a private bay, has sea-water pools. Good breakfast, extensive dinner menu and serves alcohol. Prices are steep, about 5 times what one pays at supermarkets. Amazing walk-in showers with hot water on demand. Haggling recommended, one can cut the price for a room by about 50%. The posted date for rooms starts at €180.
Ticket for any bus heading north can be bought at the corresponding agency, they all have offices around the town centre (Satas is a bit further south).
Supratours runs a bus south to the Mauritania border. The bus leaves from the waterfront office at 08:00 and costs 160 dirham, arriving at the frontier at 13:00. It returns to Dakhla at 15:00, arriving Dakhla at 20:30.
Finding a lift is usually not a problem. You can try to get a lift from overlanders (ask around at Camping Moussafir) or catch a ride with the Mauritanian traders, who gather on a lot opposite from the first police checkpoint north of Dakhla (take a petit taxi to get there for about 15-20 dirham, or walk the 7 km). The going rate is 250 dirham for a car (a minivan) or 350 dirham for a Mercedes. The cars leave in the morning.
You can also organize your ride to Nouadhibou (350-400 dirham, ~10 hours including border crossing) or Nouakchott (600 dirham, min. 12 hr) at Hotel Sahara in the centre. Ask for Tawfiq. The cars leave around 07:00.
Be prepared to spend several hours on both sides of the border.