Camping in Hassilabied

(We continue our story. This chapter happened in between xmas and New Year)

I feel quite fragile, so we decide to go to a camp ground to recover. As soon as we arrive, Frank falls into bed and sweats off the delayed shock of the near accident in a 24hour fever.

The family who run this campsite are extremely welcoming and attentive to one’s needs, always around, keeping the grounds clean and helping people. Freshly baked bread is delivered to your door if you choose and Berber tea is always available. It’s the perfect place to stop and let down your guard – except for the noise of quads and 4×4’s outside the camp-ground. The dunes are a giant playground for people, and there are many who obviously haven’t noticed that crashing through them on noisy vehicles destroys much of what is special about the desert. And the noise doesn’t stop when you switch off the engine. I guess, if you’ve been screaming up and down sand dunes all day, you don’t mind carrying on using maximum volume in all your other interactions.

Hassilabied, a sleepy little town on the edge of the dunes, suffers greatly from this – the noise is constant and a great cloud of dust hangs over the village most of the day and evening and children who want to play in the open space between house and dune are at risk of being run over by cars using the stony ground as a race track, not even on clearly demarcated roads.

It seems to me that this town, along with all the others around the desert, will each have to make their own choices (and possibly also regionally) about which type of tourism they want to promote, because 4x4s and the more quiet type who would like to experience the silence and the beauty of this place are incompatible. One option would be to restrict 4x4s to certain areas. Apparently there is a group of locals lobbying for this, but they feel they aren’t being heard. Fast money seems to speak louder, and quad-hire places and hotels are mushrooming. It is shortsighted of the tourism development agency to let this develop randomly. The loud people will drive away those who come looking for a more peaceful connection with nature.

We are told it’ll get worse for New Year’s eve, so after a second night, we escape back to our parking place by the dunes, 5km further north in the middle of nowhere.


We can recommend the campground for the very welcoming family who run it, for the lovely shady places they have and the whole way the camp-site is run. The family was also at pains to point out that it’s not always as loud outside as it was during our time there. Avoid Spanish holidays if you’re thinking of coming here!

Here’s a link to their web site



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