Kings of the Desert

Maybe opening shot - Kings of the Desert

There are few kiting destinations that are as truly ‘different’ as Dakhla… It’s in the desert so it feel pretty desolate. From a cultural and culinary perspective you feel like you’re definitely in north Africa. Overall it is a great place to feel like you’re not just on a kite trip but that you’re seeing a bit of the world too… Jalou Langeree and Roderick Pijls had a bit of time to kill before the beginning of the GKA event in Dakhla so they took the opportunity to head off the beaten track (avoiding the camels, obviously).

Winter is over and that means the competition season is in full force. The second stop of the GKA is being held in Dakhla and, as preparation, Roderick and I like to arrive at least a week before the event starts. We’ve been to Dakhla previously but after three months with wind from the left in Cape Town we felt like we had some work to do, as there are only right-handers in Morocco. Looking at the forecast, it seemed like we’d made a good call…

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Dakhla has grown into a kiteboard Mecca over the past few years. Many pro freestyle riders like to visit the lagoon and ride the famous speed spot at Dakhla Attitude. The spot offers perfect flat waters and daily winds between 15 to 30 knots. You will find multiple camps around the lagoon from top luxury camps to simple tent options. And as it’s so remote, all you’ll have to think about is kiting. It’s great for pros but also really great for beginners who need to put the hours in in the water…

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So for freestyle the lagoon is a truly legendary spot… But what about for waves?

Well, a 30 minute drive from the lagoon, and a ten minute drive from the airport, will take you to the wave spot of Oum Lamboiur, which is the venue for the GKA World Tour. This year it was our first time staying at Westpoint and we were both blown away by the location of the cabins. Open your curtains in the morning and you are only four steps away from a perfect right-hander wave! When the wind kicks in you take a five minute walk to the beach, rig up and kite 20m from your cabin.

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As we arrived early we thought it would be cool to explore some of the undiscovered coastline.

The guys at Westpoint were kind enough to take us on a little overnight desert safari. With some proper conditions on the radar, we were stoked to have the opportunity. We left early morning and headed south, the car was topped with tents, food and, of course, kitesurfing gear.
The main highway leads us straight through no-man’s land. The sandy Sahara with absolutely nothing on the horizon was our view. Suddenly we had to pull the brakes for unexpected camels crossing the road!

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Our first stop was at a little fishermen’s town called Chica. You could smell the rotten fish when we jumped out of the car! The view was stunning, hundreds of little fishing boats were spread out over the beach. A couple of good breaks on both sides of the bay got us excited for our first session. We were about to rig up – Roderick on his 9m Swell and me on my 7m Pivot – when the police showed up. They took forever to give us the permission as they had to ask their boss for permission too. We were too inpatient and decided to continue our journey.

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Another twenty minutes’ drive brought us to an unknown spot. We left the highway straight into the desert, a bumpy and dusty road brought us to our second kite location. This time without any trouble from the police or the military. We rigged up and removed the desert dust from our boards. The waves were a little bumpy, but there were some solid overhead-size waves. The conditions weren’t the best but we absolutely didn’t mind as it was such a unique experience. Having a session with the two of us at a new and unknown spot. As we did not get a taste of the good ‘Moroccan’ conditions, it kept us eager for the next session.

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The day flew by and the sun was about to set, so we had to think about a camping place. We found a perfect place, sheltered from the wind, to set up our tents and cook a traditional tagine. The men were in charge of preparing dinner while the ladies enjoyed the sunset.
After the Tagine had cooked for over an hour, we had a good dinner and a good laugh around the bonfire. Looking at the stars while being together with your loved one and sitting in front of a bonfire brought smiles to our faces and we felt like kings in the desert. We fell asleep with the beautiful sound of the ocean and the wind circling around our tents.

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As the sun rose on the horizon, we started waking up slowly, and with a magnificent view… a sunrise in the desert is something worth seeing. How beautiful the sunrise was, but how shocked we were by the trash on the beach. We noticed the ridiculous amount of trash covering the beach as far as our eyes could see, it made us feel sad and with only the six of us cleaning it would still not be enough. As we travel the world from north to south and left to right we see many beaches covered by plastic and trash. Unfortunately, many people do not realize that if you throw something on the street, there’s an 80% chance it will end up in the ocean. We do see the results of that and that’s something that’s hard to accept if we get back home and see someone throwing single-use plastic on the street.

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Our journey continued, we set course in a northerly direction heading for a more well-known spot called ‘Lasarga'. Which is, in our opinion, comparable with Pacasmayo in Peru, but a right-hander.
When we got there we could already see waves peeling from the outside, wind was blowing in a side off direction. A little scream of excitement escaped from our mouths. We rigged up as fast as possible and we enjoyed the 500m long wave over and over again for more then two and a half hours. Our fuel was running out after hours on the water and so did the waves… This session made us realize that Morocco is an insanely good and undiscovered place, not least for wave riding.

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After our session and a post-session beer, we laughed at each other and – without needing to say anything – we knew that we’d be back…

Westpoint, Dakhla:

This article originally appeared in TheKiteMag #26. To subscribe, go here.

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