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It will take another two years for the National 1 to reach Laâyoune


The titanic work to complete the Nationale 1 expressway linking Tiznit to Laâyoune, capital of the southern Saharan provinces, is progressing well (our photo, taken near Tan-Tan). But, according to our estimates, based on a recent journey, it will probably be around two years before this strategic road wanted by King Mohammed VI can be considered completed.

Back in 2020, we reported that this four-lane road was being built at 100 kilometres per hour. The Minister for Transport at the time, Abdelkader Amara, spoke of completion by the end of 2021. Too optimistic! Where are we today? Although the major complex civil engineering works have been completed, they are not yet open to traffic. This is the case, for example, at the mouth of the oued Chbika, a heavenly site where vehicles still have to use the old bridge (our photo).

The least advanced section is the 90 km stretch between El Ouatia, after Tan-Tan, and Akhfennir. Some sections are only just beginning to be upgraded to four lanes. Much further on, between Laâyoune and Dakhla, covering just over 500 km, the road has only two lanes, and that's the end of it. But that's not a problem : the road is easy to drive on, especially as traffic is light. At the end of the route, you enter a kite-surfing paradise (our photo). This sporting Eden lies on a wide bay, at the very beginning of the long peninsula that ends in the city of Dakhla.

From Agadir to Dakhla, the route is 1,175 km long. There's plenty for motoring enthusiasts to do, with two or three overnight stops. The large town of Laâyoune is now flanked at each of its entrances by an impressive 21-metre-high modern gate representing the typical Saharan tent (our photo). In this city, we recommend the Parador hotel, which is much better than its Google Maps ranking, which is too often mistrusted.

The western exit from Laâyoune is spectacular. The road winds its way between voluminous sand hills (our video), a phenomenon that is repeated further east at the extraordinary Naïla lagoon, part of the Khenifiss National Park. And there's no escaping the unforgettable fishing boat trip that we describe in our page entitled Grand Sud: mer sublime. For a stopover in this region: the Courbine d'argent, at Akhfennir.

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