Tarfaya, by road from Western Sahara
From Tan Tan the asphalt unrolls its ribbon over 200 km to reach Tarfaya. The road follows the coastline as closely as possible, along beaches bordered by cliffs that are sometimes impressive.
Along the way, many fishing villages dominate this impetuous ocean. Without a hotel or store, these fish balance fishermen trade fish for supplies because they occupy these summary camps for several weeks.
Halfway through, Sidi Akhfenir is a small typical Moroccan Sahara village. Its beach and the breaking rollers motivate surfers who come to practice their favourite pastimes. The road extends and few villages, even fewer houses.
Past Sidi Akhfenir, the lagoon of Naïla reveals its wild and preserved beauty. This enchanting site is a real paradise for pink flamingos, waders and numerous migratory birds. It would be the largest lagoon area of the Moroccan Atlantic coast.
Getting to Tarfaya
When the lagoon is crossed, nature changes its face. Before reaching Cape Juby and Tarfaya, the regs give way to old dry salt lakes, the sebkhas, pleasantly surrounded by dunes.
Tarfaya is often subjected to sometimes violent winds and is frequently silted up. Means are employed to fight against this natural nuisance.
Minuscule, the city does not present great interest. It remains little visited by tourists who generally find only a few services and rare accommodations.
From the beach, in addition to the remains of the Casa El Mar built by the English, the Canary Islands, a hundred kilometres away, sometimes emerge in the ocean mist.
History of Tarfaya
The English built a trading post there in 1882. The Saharawi tribes who claimed it, seized it in 1885 thanks to the intervention of Sultan Hassan 1st.
In 1916, following a Franco-Spanish agreement, Cape Juby was attached to the Spanish Sahara until 1958 and Ifni’s war, when it returned to the fold of the young Cherifian kingdom.
It was from Tarfaya that nearly 350,000 Moroccans began the famous Green March, launched by King Hassan II on 6 November 1975 with the aim of annexing this territory then occupied by Spain.
Stopover for airmail
Tarfaya was designated as a regional stopover for the airmail.
The place welcomed Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, aviator and writer, who took up his duties from 1927 to 1928 as port manager.
During these years of almost solitude, the pilot writer wrote the famous “Courrier du sud”. He welcomed and helped out the line pilots and negotiated in 1927 the release of pilots held by rebel Saharawi tribes.
The Antoine de Saint-Exupéry museum dedicated to airmail was founded in 2004 within the Maison de l’initiative. It proposes a series of images and documents which testify to the adventure of the airmail on the very first airline Toulouse – Saint Louis of Senegal.
In the south, other sebkhas
They are more or less salty lakes formed by the combined effect of rain and rapid runoff in almost desert areas. These can lead to the formation of water bodies in continental lows.
Leaving Tarfaya, the road departs from the Atlantic beaches, still crossing ergs in which sebkhas, these kinds of large flat depressions, predominate. They offer breathtaking mineral landscapes. The largest is Tah, 30 km south of Tarfaya, where its rock sculptures are magnificent.
Another 100 kilometres of bitumen commonly silted up by the winds, sometimes cluttered with trucks, then it is the arrival in Laâyoune, the great administrative and economic center of the Saharan Provinces.
The largest wind farm in Africa, would be in Tarfaya
The largest wind farm in Africa, whose installation had started in early 2013, was commissioned in early December 2014 in Tarfaya.
Implemented by the Moroccan company Nareva Holding, in partnership with GDF Suez, the park covers 8,900 ha for an investment of around 5 billion dirhams (450 million €).
With a capacity of 301 megawatts (MW), the Tarfaya wind farm should supply 1.5 million homes with electricity, thus avoiding the emission of 900,000 tons of CO² per year.