Tan Tan, Morocco

The sleepy fishing port of El Ouatia, nicknamed Tan-Tan Plage (Beach), sits along the Atlantic coast of southwestern Morocco, with miles of golden dune beaches to explore. The real star of the Sahara, however, is the desert town of the same name, located about 15 miles inland. Tan Tan (also spelled Tan-Tan or Tantan) evolved from a camel market for the local Regeibat and Tekna nomads into a world-renowned celebration of Sahrawi tribal culture and a living testimony to its oral and artistic traditions. Each May, the moussem of Tan-Tan brings together more than 30 nomadic tribes and traders — some from as far away as Senegal and Saudi Arabia — in a massive tent city to share in dancing, poetry-singing, and competitions such as camel milking and horse racing. The annual inter-tribal festival, which began in the early 1960s, was suspended in 1979 due to tensions in the region. Revived in 2004, the the Tan-Tan moussem has been recognized by UNESCO as part of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.