keskiviikko 7. toukokuuta 2014

Vanhat reissut - tekstit tuotu aikaisemmasta matkablogista... osa 5 DAKHLA, MOROCCO 4-11.5.2012

As our little girl is almost one year, it was a time to make our first kitetrip as a family.  Destination: Dakhla, Morocco – here we come !!!
Choosing the destination... 
It was not easy to decide where to go – to Caribbean, Egypt, Mauritius or somewhere else…  So many places and so many things to consider - not only because of the small child but also to find good connections, good hotel and of course good wind & perfect kitespot. As we have a very good spot (Flag beach) here at home, we are quite demanding when choosing a place to go – has to be something better, of course… And for us it means good % of wind and flatwater – lagoon, if possible.. And of course beautiful, clear water…
All this exist in the Caribbean but this time we decided to forget it because of the long flight and big time difference. We know that small children adapt to everything but we didn´t want to take any risks as our girl has been always sleeping well and has a good rhythm with her daily routines. Mauritius would have been a good option - we went there couple of years ago and enjoyed a lot so we know that it´s a place to repeat, even with a child. Flight is long but the time difference is just couple of hours, so it´s not so bad. But we found out that the best located hotel, Indian Resort in Le Morne, was closed because of the renovation so it made our decision easier. Next time… But once they will open the hotel again, we will definitely go there again. It is such a good place for a family kite trip as the hotel is just on the kitespot with a Mistral center located in the hotel and there were also things to do for the children and non-kiters.
Egypt we didn´t see very clear - if will be good wind and where to go.. and also the connections were not so good and staying a night in Cairo was not very tempting idea..  We were in Ras Sudr  some years ago and it was good experience but is not very suitable to go with children as it´s very far away from Cairo and there is nothing else to do than kiteing. And anyway this time Ras Sudr was not even an option as the center there is closed temporarily because of the current situation in Egypt. This time we were considering El Gouna as there is a very good hotel (Mövenpick) directly on the kite spot but at the end the forecast of the wind didn´t convince us enough.
So, at the end we decided to go to Dakhla, Morocco. Many reasons for choosing it- probability of the wind was very high, direct flights from Gran Canaria, big flatwater lagoon, just one hour flight and no time difference etc.. Of course it´s in the middle of the desert so we were doubting if it´s a good place to go with a child but at the end we decided to go and see.. Luckily because we had a great holiday – everything went well and we had 6 days of great kiteing (first 4 days perfect wind and last 2 days more gusty but still ok).  Again, one place to repeat…


Where is Dakhla????
Dahkla is located in the most southern point of Morocco, in the Western Sahara. It is a small town in the middle of nowhere – just sand and sea around.. But it is one the best locations in the world for kitesurfing.  Dakhla has a 50km flat-water shallow sand basin lagoon and perfect wind conditions. The constant and strong northwesterly winds are caused by the natural thermals rising from the desert and meeting the cold temperatures from the Canary current in the Atlantic Ocean next to Morocco. Place is perfect for kitesurfing.  If you are staying in the camp next to lagoon,  you are basicly few steps from the spot.  What else can you wish for?? Well, the wind of course. 


Choosing the hotel... 
First you have to decide if you want to stay next to the kitespot or in the town of Dakhla? Both has pros and cons. Anyway, there are many options for everybody.
Hotel in the town:
+more quality option
+more space in the room
+close to the farmacies and hospital 
+closer to the wave spot
-30 min drive from the kitespot
Kitecamp:
+ next to the lagoon, just few steps away from the spot
+ Fullboard included (breakfast, lunch and dinner in the restaurant of the kitecenter)
+ more chill-out, other kiters around
-smaller rooms
-nothing to do if there is no wind
There are couple of better hotels in Dakhla:  SaharaRegency (www.sahararegency.com) and Bab al bahar (www.bab-al-bahar.com) in the center of the town and Calipau Sahara (www.dakhla-hotel-sahara.com), which is located little bit outside of the town, closer to the kitespot (but still 20min drive there)  In the hotels you can choose between the breakfast or halfboard but HB is better option as there are not many restaurants in the town and anyway after a long day of kiteing, is more comfortable to stay in the hotel, enjoy the dinner and then go to bed to take energies for the next day.
There are also some cheaper hotels in Dakhla like Palais Touareg, Al Massira, Tirs and Sahara Doumms but I really don´t know what is the quality of those places. 
Around the lagoon and kite spot there are three bigger camps (Rio Aguila, Ocean Vagabond and Dakhla attitude) and couple of smaller ones.  In the camps there are cottages and tents available and all the camps provide full board (breakfast, lunch and dinner). 

The newest one is Ocean Vagabond that was opened couple of years ago. They have also a big Mistral –center there so everything is very well organized. They have equipment rental, courses & classes available, excursions (downwind and wave) and of course rescue service and kite storage. The 10 euros rescue and storage payment is obligatory if you want to kite there. We went there every day as for us it was the best place to be with a baby – good restaurant to stay inside with a baby and the spot just few steps away.
http://www.oceanvagabond.com/dakhla-en.html

The cottages of the Ocean vagabond -camp

The biggest camp is definitely Dakhla attitude and it has been developing a lot lately. Renovated VIP-bungalows would be definitely the place to stay with a child as most of them has separate bedroom and living area. The lagoon is also wider in front of this camp so there is more space for kiting. But there are more kiters too, of course. This will probably the place to go next time...
http://www.dakhla-attitude.ma/index_en.php
This time we decided to stay in Bab-al-Bahar, which is a good quality hotel in the center of Dakhla. Maybe not 4* but not far away either. Rooms were very spacious and clean - it was nice to arrive in a clean and fresh hotel room after spending the whole day outside and kiteing. Hotel has about 34 rooms and most of them are facing to the sea but there was also rooms without any wiew - just windows to the corridor. We booked normal seaview room but finally we got a more spacious room with better view and fridge in the room. We had a HB so breakfast and dinner - breakfast was like a small buffet with bread, some cakes, cereals, yogurt, fruit, coffee/tea and juice. For the dinner there was mainly a menu (couple of options where you could choose) but during the weekend they had very nice buffets (morocco evening and sea food evening). Drinks are not included (1.5 litre of water was about 30 dirhams, coca-cola 25 dirhams, wine 40 dirhams etc). During the weekend they had also live music that was very loud and lasted until very late (friday night until 02.30 and saturday night until 24). Staff was very polite but not all of them speak english very well. The manager of the hotel was around almost all the time, taking care that things are going fine. 




In front of the hotel waiting for our transport on a first day. We had a small locker in the camp so we left there all the kite equipment for the whole time and didn´t need to take them back to the hotel every day. It was included in the service fee of 70 € / week that everybody has to pay when kiting there. It includes the locker, rescue boat and fresh water access for cleaning the equipment. 

Because we stayed in town, we had to drive every day 30 minutes per way to arrive to the spot... but we organized all the transfers with the hotel so there was always driver with 4x4 waiting for us. They charged 10 € / day / person of this service. We saw also few car rentals in the town (for example Imouzzan car in the Doumss hotel) but we didn´t check any prices. But it´s possible and there is a quite good paved road until the lagoon (just the last km was sandy but there was lot of normal cars driving there every day).
How to arrive to DAKHLA
There is a direct flight from Gran Canaria with Canary fly  - two times a week, mondays and fridays. The tickets can be booked through the webpage. Price of the flight is about 230-250 € / return ticket. Flight is operated with a very small plane (just 17 seats, one seat on each side of the aisle) so they accept only small carry-on-luggage of 5 kg / person (normal trolley is too big to take inside…).  You can also check-in one bag of 20kg for free.  For extra kilos they charge 2.5 € / kg. We had all together 2 bags (each 20kg) and a kitebag (30 kg). On the way to Dakhla we had to pay 50 € for that but luckily coming back, they didn´t charged anything.

     
 Flight from Gran Canaria to Dakhla takes 1h and 10 minutes. The airport of Dakhla is located directly in the middle of the town and from there is about 30 min drive to the lagoon and kitecamps. Both hotels and camps can organize a transfer from/to airport.
There are also flights from Casablanca and Agadir couple of times per week. Normally these flights arrive to Dakhla in the evening so on the way back you have obligatory overnight in Casablanca as the flight arrives there very late. 
Lagoon – kitesurfing spot…  wind…
The Spot
The spot is a 40km long and13 km wide lagoon, created by the peninsula of Dakhla which stretches into the Atlantic Ocean. All the camps and the kite spots are located on the north coast of that lagoon. Thanks to the side-shore winds from the north, the water is almost flat and thus offers perfect conditions for practicing and learning, as well as freestyle and racing. There are no rocks, reef or anything dangerous in the lagoon.
Depending on high and low tide there is an up to 300 meter long shallow water area right in front of the centers. During the low tide, the lagoon is much smaller but still kiteable. But the best moment is definitely with a high tide when the lagoon is huge. 
About 5 minutes drive from the town of Dakhla to the other side of the peninsula, you reach fantastic wave spot, perfect for wave riding and surfing.

Wind & Waves
The wind blows constantly throughout the whole year. The main wind direction is north-easterly, so the wind blows side-shore from the right. Thanks to this the water inside the lagoon is flat close to the beach and gets a little bit choppier the farther you are away from the shore. At the wave the wind blows slightly side-onshore, and is normally a few knots weaker than inside the lagoon.
Windiest months are from May until October but even in December & January, the lowest wind season, it is still 60 % reliable.




 
The Ocean vagabond center

There are five kitecamps around the lagoon but we decided to kite in the Ocean vagabond  as it was little bit closer than Dakhla attitude. It´s also a Mistral center, so very well organized. There are classes and courses available, equipment rental, excursions (downwind, waves) and a big restaurant with chill-out corner. From the center it is only a few steps to the water.  The terrace of the center is protected from the wind, so that families and partners who don´t sail can comfortably stay on the beach and watch the action on the water from there. Showers, WC’s and changing rooms can also be found in the center. If you are kiteing with your own equipment, you have to pay 10 € / day for the storage and rescue fee. They have a boat all the time in the water so if you need help, is always available.
There is a lunch available in the restaurant between 13.00-15.00 with charge of 15 €  (small buffet, including some salads and main course, which is mainly fish.. ). Outside of the lunch time there are also some snacks (crepes, sandwiches) available between 16.00-18.00.  The restaurant is very big so there is enough space to be protected from the sun and wind, if you staying with a small child.

Only thing that we were missing was a swimming pool or a beach to have a swim. The lagoon is not good for swimming as it´s quite shallow. 



                                          Kia having a siesta inside of the restaurant 

Other things to do.. 
There are really not many things to do for non-kiters as Dakhla is not a tourist town. But of course there are some things to see around. There are some excursions available like visit to the thermal sulfur spring, sightseeing Dakhla, camel trek in the dunes, sightseeing boat trip to Dragon island, sightseeing boat trip to the “white dune” and fishing boat trip. On the lagoon is possible to do wakeboarding, stand up paddle and kayaking.
Good to know…
internet: There is wifi available at the Ocean Vagabond and also in the hotel Bab al Bahar.
mobile phone: The network was very good both in the town and in the Ocean Vagabond.
supermarket: There is a small supermarket in Dakhla (supermarche Ait Oubaha) where you can buy food, cosmetics, hygiene & baby products ( diapers of Pampers, cereals of Nestle ) etc.
Farmacy: There are a lot of farmacies in Dakhla and also a new hospital.
Passport & visa: Eu citizens need to have a passport that is valid at least another 6 months at the date of entry. For all stays with touristic purpose up to 90 days there is no visa required.
Health regulations: No vaccinations are required but immunization against tetanus, diphtheria, polio and hepatitis A+B is recommended. To prevent problems with diarrhea be careful with food and hygiene. Tap water is not good for drinking but bottled water is sold everywhere.
Climate
Month
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Year
Average high °C (°F)
21
(70)
20
(68)
22
(72)
21
(70)
22
(72)
23
(73)
23
(73)
25
(77)
25
(77)
25
(77)
23
(73)
21
(70)
22
(72)
Daily mean °C (°F)
18
(64)
18
(64)
20
(68)
19
(66)
20
(68)
21
(70)
22
(72)
22
(72)
23
(73)
22
(72)
21
(70)
19
(66)
20
(68)
Average low °C (°F)
15
(59)
15
(59)
17
(63)
17
(63)
17
(63)
18
(64)
20
(68)
20
(68)
20
(68)
20
(68)
18
(64)
16
(61)
18
(64)

Currency/mode of payment:
Local currency is the Moroccan Dirham (DHM).  1 EUR = approx. 11 DHM.
Money can be exchanged at the hotels or at the bank. Credit & Maestro are accepted at most hotels and also at any ATM. 
Time differenceSummer - CET -2 hours and winter – CET -1 hours

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