The Saharan outpost
They are two white camels, gigantic, that welcome the visitor to the entrance of the city…
Already, to the south of Guelmin at 125 km, it is an immense desert regatta that you have to cross to reach Tan-Tan. The crossing of the Oued Drâa really marks the end of the Anti Atlas, geographically symbolizing the arrival in the Sahara of the south-western Moroccan Sahara.
For the adventurers, a ford exists at 8 km from the cape to cross this oued of which Pliny the ancient one said in his “Natural History” that “the Flumen Darat” was filled with crocodiles.
After a laborious race of nearly 500 km across the north of the Moroccan Sahara, the Draa, finally in water, travels hard between the dunes to complete its course in the Atlantic.
A city, a port and beaches
We do not come to Tan-Tan for tourism and the lack of beauty of the city does not lend itself to the joys of photography … but rather to El Ouatia, Tan-Tan Beach for some.
It is located 25 km from the city on the road to Laayoune. There, it is a farandole of sharks erected on their fins that will welcome the traveller. The planned tourist program for southern Morocco plans to make this port a seaside resort.
Opened in 1982 after five years of work, the main sardinian port in the south, one of its activities is fish processing: canning, freezing, shipping and processing units provide jobs for nearly 4,000 people.
Often tourists prefer El Ouatia to Tan-Tan city as a stop on the southern route. Despite the services it offers, its hotel capacity is minimal while the arrival of fishing boats ensures a sought-after animation. On the nearby beaches encouraging relaxation, the oceanic rolls are a real invitation for surfers.
Let’s go to the South
On the south road, the long bitumen ribbon runs towards Tarfaya and Laayoune, marrying an Atlantic coast with wild landscapes. To Tarfaya high cliffs dominate the turbulent ocean. On the banks of these, fishing villages offer dried fish in exchange for food.
Neither hotel, nor shop, these villages are only summary camps that they live in for several weeks.
Based on its cultural past, Tan-Tan’s moussem is considered to be the most important nomadic encounter in this north-western part of the Moroccan Sahara. Based on the agropastoral rhythm of the Saharawi tribes, meetings traditionally took place around May.
It is especially since 1963 that this gathering has really taken the form of a moussem, a great fair synonymous with meetings, wedding celebrations, sales and purchases, family or tribal alliances, commercial and cultural exchanges.
Over the years, Tan-Tan has become an essential destination for the Sahrawi tribes. They can continue to express the rich nomadic culture that would tend to fade with sedentarization and urban mirage.
Following the regional tensions caused by the annexation of Western Sahara by the Cherifian kingdom in 1979, Tan-Tan’s moussem was banned for 25 years, resuming only in 2004. It is in 2008 that Unesco, sponsor of the moussem, will inscribe this great nomadic meeting place on the intangible cultural heritage of humanity, thus reinforcing Tan-Tan’s approach to promote and maintain these traditions dear to Saharan life.
The Venus of Tan-Tan
An archaeological curiosity
Like many places in the Moroccan Sahara, Tan-Tan is of interest to archaeologists. Indeed, it was in 1999 that a German researcher, Lutz Fiedler, discovered this enigmatic statuette on the northern bank of the Draa, not far from Tan-Tan. Containing traces of red ochre pigmentation, it is believed to date from the Acheuléen period, about 300,000 years ago.
Long of 6 cm, in quartzite rock, some interpret it as a human representation devoid of face. For its discoverer and other researchers, it may have been created by a natural geological process.
Addresses: it is in the El Hamra district, the city centre where most banks with cash dispensers, pharmacies…
Health: Centre de santé boulevard du 20 août. Hassan II Hospital on Boulevard of the same name.
The main post office is situated on Boulevard Hassan II next to the petrol station.
Souk: Sunday at Tan-Tan, Thursday at El Ouatia.
Namely that the Tan-Tan Moussem takes place in April or May depending on the year.
Tan Tan bus station:
Is located next to the market Aïn Arrahma on Boulevard Mohammed V.
There are several daily flights from Marrakech and Agadir and Inezgane with the Satas, CTM, Supratours and other companies with sometimes summary comfort.
In Marrakech with the CTM: 10am. 9pm. Bab Doukala Station or Ctm Station, Abou Bakr Seddiq Street.
Allow about 10 hours of travel for an average price of 180 Dh, or about 17 €.
Agadir: bus station: Dakhla district next to Hassan 1.
Two daily departures are made to/from Guelmim.
National connections only.
Selection of videos on Tan Tan and its surroundings
The Morocco that I love, present Tan Tan
2M national channel broadcast in Darija (Moroccan dialectal Arabic)
Arrival in Tan Tan by car through desert plateaus and presentation of the city on new buildings bordering the wide avenues of the center.
We learn, in particular, that the Tan Tan Tan moussem was classified in 2008 as an Intangible Heritage of Humanity by Unesco. Finally, direction El Ouatia and its long beach with cool ocean often welcome.
Trip from Marrakech to Tan Tan
Leaving from Marrakech, let’s take advantage of it to discover the Souss Massa nature reserve, visit the Zahouia of Sidi Ahmed Moussa, the village of Illigh, the gorges of Smogen and the village of Igmir.
Walk in the palm groves of Amtoudi and ascent of its renovated agadirs. Visit also the palm groves of Taghjijt and Tighmert, Guelmim, Tan Tan and Tan Tan Beach, Khenifiss nature reserve to spend the last days at the bivouac in the dunes near the reserve…
Tan Tan Moussem
A large overview of the site of this moussem which was reborn in 2004 after 25 years of absence. A very beautiful declaration of gratitude for this great Sahrawi event by the Director General of Unesco.
A rich artistic and cultural encounter for these nomadic populations. Fantasia, traditional music and dances, camels. Beautiful images of this showcase rallying around projects for a sustainable tourism development.