Parks of Sahara
Discover the parks of the Moroccan Sahara, ecosystem of the Great South
In parallel with tourism to the Atlantic Ocean, there is also growing ecotourism in the Saharan provinces.
Concerned to protect ecosystems that are often weakened by human activity, several nature reserves and national parks have been created in the great Moroccan south, both on the Atlantic shores and in the hinterland.
The Naïla lagoon and its superb park of Khnifiss, the province of Dakhla and its bay of the same name, the natural park of Safia then the Cap Blanc.
The lagoon of Naïla
Khnifiss Park is located between Tan-Tan and Tarfaya, 22 km from Sidi Akhfenir in the Naïla lagoon area. This one, formed in a sea inlet the longest of Morocco, sinks on 20 km in the interior of the desert lands of the Moroccan Sahara.
If the lagoon of Naïla, which forms the largest dune cordon, extends over 60 000 ha, the park covers an area of 185 000 ha. To protect this space, crossing the lagoon on foot is prohibited. It is therefore necessary to ask the gendarmerie for authorization to make a visit.
Between land and sea
The surroundings are beautiful. An impressive cliff of beautiful height borders the 100 m wide pass which gives access to the lagoon. On the other a striking environment in which the dunes mingle with the beaches.
The input of salt water generated by the tidal flow allows many ecosystems to develop.
A meeting place for animals
Exceptional ornithological niche, many migrators, pink flamingos, waders abound, cohabiting with a livestock of 5000 sheep that Sahrawi breeders come to graze on the salt meadows.
A privileged observation ground, one can sometimes see whales as well as sea turtles, but also, extremely rare, from the southern hemisphere, Cape gulls alongside sea gulls, their northern hemisphere counterparts.
Natural areas of Dakhla province
Benefiting from a rich and splendid coastal land where sea and desert meet, the marine and terrestrial ecosystems present have allowed Dakhla the creation of a National Park extending over 14 160 km², or 1/10 of the surface of the Province.
This creation is intended to guarantee sustainable ecotourism that respects the environment and plant and animal species.
Exceptional site for its biodiversity, the 400 km² of the bay of Dakhla offer various and numerous views. The constant heat of the water, among other things, maintains numerous ecosystems there allowing a quality oyster production.
There are 120 species of molluscs, some of which are endemic, and about forty varieties of fish that stay there permanently.
Fauna and Flora of the Sahara
Many marine mammals, especially bottlenose dolphins, come in large numbers to take refuge and roam in these protected waters. As for the avifauna, Dakhla Bay offers it a nourishing and hospitable land.
Many migrants and waterbirds make a healthy stopover here. The tip of Sarga, at the end of the peninsula, is an ideal place to observe many birds nesting there.
The “duna blanca” area provides abundant and varied marine meadows, allowing molluscs and fish to reproduce in complete tranquillity.
The Safia station
In 2008, a nature park was created 340 km south of Dakhla, in the province of Assouerd, at Safia, part of the rural commune of Bir Gandous, a short distance from the Mauritanian border.
This protected area has as its mission the reintroduction of original gazelles, ungulates and ostriches, often endangered, into their natural environment. Safia National Park accepts visitors accompanied by a guide.
Saharan species on the verge of extinction
Species exclusively Saharan, addax and dama mhorr gazelles had practically disappeared from these Moroccan desert landscapes.
Addax once lived in the sub-Saharan regions of Iriki, Tafilalet and erg Chebbi as well as in the Laayoune region.
Captured with red-necked ostriches in the Sous Massa nature reserve south of Agadir, they were flown to Dakhla to discover their new habitat.
Well adapted once in this environment which was theirs, their numbers increase regularly. While this vast programme aims, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, to revive the wild animal heritage of the Sahara, it is also keen to strengthen biodiversity in decline.
Cap Blanc (White Cape)
400 km south of Dakhla, Cap Blanc is located on the Aguer peninsula, bordering Mauritania. Its rocky edges are home to one of the few colonies of monk seals in the world with about 250 individuals that can be admired in their natural habitat.