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Western Sahara

Main attractions

Devil's Mountain, Western Sahara
Devil's Mountain / Nick Brooks, CC BY 2.0

The barren Western Sahara with its unclear political status is not a tourist hotspot, and also not too rich with natural and man made heritage.

Like in other countries of Sahara, most impressive landmarks here are sites of prehistoric rock art.

Natural landmarks

  • Cabo Blanco seal colony - Cabo Blanco peninsula. The only colony of monk seals in the world. Here in caves lives a group of extremely rare Mediterranean monk seals (Monachus monachus), here could be living some 200 seals.
  • Devil's Mountain - southern part. Giant natural monolith - rounded, very unusual mountain with smooth surface, rising hundreds of meters above the desert. Prehistoric rock art (4 000 - 1 000 BC), sacred and even mystical place to Sahrawi people.
  • Oum Dbaa dry cascade - northern part. Seasonal waterfall with interesting tufa formation. Formed by spring water which contains lime and salt.

Man made landmarks

Prehistoric rock art

  • Bou Dheir - very diverse prehistoric paintings in numerous rock shelters, often in a very good state of preservation. Many drawings are very large, paintings show wild animals, humans. On the plateau above the shelters is found also large crescent-shaped structure - stone setting.
  • Cueva del Diablo - prehistoric shelter - cave with some of the most impressive engraved images in this part of the world.
  • Erqueiz rock art - northern part. Site with rich collection of prehistoric rock art - paintings of wild animals and cattle, also humans. Endangered by looting. Here are found also megalithic stelae - upright stones.
  • Irghayra rock art - site with rich collection of prehistoric rock art - paintings of wild animals and cattle, also humans.
  • Lejuad - Tiris (south). Impressive granitic monoliths with rich collections of neolithic rock art, funerary monuments and settlements.
  • Rekeiz Lemgasem - valuable rock art site, megaliths. More than 80 prehistoric rock-shelters with paintings in them have been found here. Impressive megaliths and funerary monuments.
  • Sluguilla Lawash - very rich rock art site along the wadi Laauach el Tel·li, with Tazina style engravings. Most drawings show wild animals - giraffes, rhinoceros, elephants. Site contains numurous prehistoric tumulus in conical form. Often legs of animals in drawings are unnaturally elongated.
El Aaiún Cathedral, Western Sahara
El Aaiún Cathedral in 2011 / Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, CC BY-SA 3.0

Other man made landmarks

  • Bou Kraa conveyor belt - approximately 100 km long conveyor belt from Bou Kraa phosphate mines through desert to El Marsa port. The longest conveyor belt in the world, partly destroyed in warfare.
  • El Aaiún Cathedral - El Aaiún. Spanish built Christian cathedral in Art Deco style.
  • Moroccan Wall - approximately 2,700 km long fortification wall, partly in the territory of Morocco. Divides Moroccan controlled areas and Polisario controlled territories. Mostly two - three meters tall wall with minefield around it. Built by Moroccoans in 1981 - 1987.
  • Tifariti stelae - unique group of prehistoric stelae. Here are located some 65 rock stelae, up to 1.5 m high. Stelae are aligned in enclosures or lineaments.

List of described attractions

Western Sahara is a non-self-governing territory.

ArrowCabo Blanco seal colonyAnimal colonies

Map of Western Sahara

Featured: Cabo Blanco seal colony

Cabo Blanco seals in 1945, Western Sahara
Cabo Blanco seals in 1945 / Eugenio Morales Agacino's Photographic Archive, CC BY-SA 3.0 Spain

The only true colony of monk seals in the world is Cabo Blanco seal colony living in the westernmost point of African continent. Here live some 200 Mediterranean monk seals (Monachus monachus).

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