West Africa Cruise with Gary Arndt: Conclusion

Gary Arndt June 6, 2014 1

Join Wanderer-in-Residence, Gary Arndt as he travels up the coast of West Africa on G Adventures’ very own MS Expedition. We’ll be sharing a collection of his posts each week. Tune in to find out what this adventure of a lifetime is like first hand from Gary.


Day 28, Dakhla, Western Sahara

Kite surfers in Dakhla.

Kite surfers in Dakhla.

Our first stops were not quite what you would expect…an ostrich ranch and an oyster farm. The oyster farm was located on the coast. The oysters were grown in pens right off the shore. Many of the passengers purchased oysters and enjoyed them!

After these stops, we took off for the desert in 4×4 vehicles for a Moroccan lunch in the desert under a giant tent. On the way there we passed the largest collection of kite surfers I’ve ever seen. It turns out that Dakhla is one of the best spots in the world to kite surf! Who knew?

The lunch location was situated in the desert along the coast in an area with a very shallow tidal basin. There were several courses mostly of meat. During the meal there were also live Moroccan music as well as women who were singing and playing percussion on a metal pan with small cups.

Day 29-30, At Sea, Off the Coast of Morocco / Punta del Rosario, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

Castillo del Cotillo.

Castillo del Cotillo.

I’ve decided to merge these two days because our visit to Fuerteventura was the shortest of all our ports of call. We had limited time on the island because the ship had to get to Agadir, Morocco the next day at a set time.

The first stop on our short visit to Fuerteventura was Corralejo National Park on the north end of the island. It is most notable for its large sand dunes and from here you can easily see the island of Lanzarote.

From the dunes we headed to the nearby town of Corralejo. It is a lovely little resort town, but after a month on a ship, and having spent most of our time on shore in developing countries, it was refreshing to be able to sit down at a cafe and have something to drink and walk around on our own.

The actual Castillo del Cotillo from which the village is named is actually pretty tiny, and not really a castle at all. More just a fortified lookout tower. There is an historic lighthouse as well, which overlooks the very rugged coastline of the western side of the islands.

Day 31, Agadir to Marrakech, Morocco

The last stop of the journey. Morocco.

The last stop of the journey. Morocco.

Our arrival in Morocco marks the last day of our trip.

Most of the countries we visited on this tour had very low numbers of tourists. Morocco was one of the exceptions. Because of that, I assumed that going through customs and immigration for Morocco would be the easiest of the entire trip, especially considering we did it just 2 days earlier when we landed in Dakhla. I was mistaken. Agadir turned out to be the longest of all the immigration checks we had. It took over 2 hours for the immigration to make sure all the boxes were checked and all the ‘i’s’ were dotted.

After a 3 hour drive through the Moroccan countryside, on a road which was the best we had seen in the last month of Africa, we finally arrived at our hotel and our last stop of the tour. There were only two things on the schedule for the rest of the day: take a tour of markets and have our farewell dinner.

I chose to skip the tour of the markets. Having spent a month on the ship with a satellite internet connection, I really needed to catch up on email and work. Also, unlike most of the other passengers, I was planning to stay in Marrakech for 3 more nights, so I had time to go explore it on my own. The restaurant we went to was far nicer than it seemed from the outside. It was a classical Moroccan restaurant with beautiful fixtures and it seems was built to handle large groups.

As the meal ended, everyone gradually began moving to other tables to start to say their goodbyes to everyone. Over the course of a month on a small ship, you get to know everyone at least a little bit, and others a great deal. After the meal we all got back on buses, arrived back at the hotel, and just like that the trip was over.

Conclusion

My time in West Africa was unlike anything I experienced during my previous 7 years of non-stop travel around the world. I saw some of the most oppressive poverty I’ve ever seen alongside some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met in the world. The 30 days aboard the Expedition were perhaps the most jam packed 30 days of travel I’ve ever experienced.

Most importantly, I learned about Africa first hand. I learned that Africa isn’t a monolithic place, but rather an enormous land of massive diversity. I felt the difference between the desert, the rainforest and the sahel. I also made friends on board the ship which will last me a lifetime.

This was my first trip to West Africa, but it will not be my last.

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