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It’s all about location – and Dakhla is a great kitesurfing one…

Dakhla – Western Sahara, renowned for its landmine laced deserts and last written about in this blog when Craig Hansen, Geoff Wilson and Garth Freeman, team member of Peter Lynns’ Mad Way South expedition, set out to break the record for the longest kite buggy journey ever. Successfully…

However, we return to the Western Sahara because it is an incredibly good kitesurfing spot and deserves more recognition.

Dakhla is perched on the tip of a long promontory enclosing a vast tidal saltwater lagoon. The constant and strong northwesterly winds are caused by the natural thermals rising from the desert and meeting the cold temperatures rising from the Canary current in the Atlantic Ocean. They whip across the desert and then blow long and hard across the lagoon. It never seems to stop. For kitesurfers, these are the conditions of which dreams are made. The almost constant winds and minimal swell make it an ideal spot for beginners and pros alike, although the pros will also  be tempted by a big wave spot further down the coast.

Kitesurfing and windsurfing at the lagoon at Dakhla, Western Sahara

Lagoon at Dakhla

Situated just above the Tropic of Cancer, Dakhla is already recognised as a world-class kiting joint. Both the 2009 Dakhla Kiteboard World Cup and  the  2010 World Kitesurfing Championships were held here. Dakhla has a 50-km flat-water shallow sand-basin lagoon, with perfect wind conditions so of course it is a natural selection for world class events. Of course, being a desert, it is sunny and warm all year with probably the best wind in winter, although it can get chilly at night.

Obviously – if it’s good for kitesurfers it goes without saying that it’s good for windsurfers too.

Dakhla was first put on the kitesurfing map about 12 years ago by some itinerant windsurfers and was quickly taken up by avid kitesurfers. Way back then, kitesurfing was still a relatively new craze, and a small camp developed on the edge of the lagoon about half an hour from Dakhla itself, accessed by 4×4. It’s appeal has grown ever since…

I am afraid that it is not the easiest place to get to though. In 1957, after Morocco’s independence from France, they and Mauritania seized the Western Sahara from the Spanish and in the 1970’s a guerrilla war broke out as the Polisario Front, founded to represent the nomadic Saharawi, fought the Moroccans for autonomy. Even now, almost 20 years after the UN-brokered ceasefire in 1991, there are only a handful of flights into Dakhla’s airport and from London it is a 12-hour journey! However, for someone learning to kitesurf and relishing the thought of uncrowded waters in which to learn, Dakhla aught to be considered. Just get an international flight to Casablanca and then an Air Morocco flight to Dakhla. From there you are only a half hour away from one of the best kitesurfing spots in the world…

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