Mobility Portal, Spain
Date: May 6, 2024
Ailén Pedrotti
By Ailén Pedrotti

“Children’s desert”: A tale of solidarity and eMobility through the dunes of Morocco

For 20 years now, Hyundai has been making history with a journey of solidarity through the Moroccan desert. For the second consecutive year, the IONIQ 5 leads the caravan that traveled over 3,500 kilometers, a journey recounted exclusively today by one of its protagonists for Mobility Portal Group.
Hyundai-Mobility Portal España

Santiago de la Rocha, Press Senior Manager of the company, explains how “Children’s Desert” is a journey that “teaches you to see life in a different way.”

But why?

From his perspective, it’s an enriching experience where families get to know the landscapes and culture of Morocco, a country that “hooks” you and is almost like a “drug.”

“You go for the first time and you’re already planning the next one,” says the organizer.

In this Easter getaway, solidarity acts as a flagship, but there is also a clear commitment to electromobility.

And this is thanks to the Hyundai IONIQ 5.

This 100 per cent electric car has, for the second consecutive year, led the caravan that travels over 3,500 kilometers through Spain and Morocco.

In this 2024 edition, the Children’s Desert celebrated its twentieth anniversary and had the presence of 132 people aboard about 39 vehicles.

The objectives and the itinerary were “almost” fulfilled to the letter, but there was a reality that from day one the weather “has not made things easy.”

The Children’s Desert celebrated its twentieth anniversary and had the presence of 132 people aboard about 39 vehicles.

A glance at the Children’s Desert timeline

The journey began on March 22 in Madrid.

The plan indicated that the crossing to Morocco would be through the port of Algeciras to Tarifa, but due to the bad weather, a slight change was made, and the landing in the country was through Tanger Med.

The storm in the Strait of Gibraltar, both on the way there and back, or the strong sandstorms, where you could hardly see the nose of the car, have complicated the caravan’s progress.

The location of the campsite changed three times because the wind kept blowing away the tents.

And thanks to the good work of the Xaluca hotel chain, everything remained just an anecdote.

The objectives were “almost” fulfilled to the letter, but there was a reality that from day one the weather “has not made things easy.”

Unlike other years, the descent into the desert was made on the second day, Saturday the 23rd.

The aim was to take advantage of the fact that “travelers had enough energy and adrenaline in their bodies” to embark on the challenges that the Moroccan dunes presented, and this was a complete success in planning.

The route began and ended in Tangier, the embarkation and disembarkation point for the Hyundai team.

Nearly 2,000 km were covered, passing through mountainous areas (where snow could even be seen), the narrow roads of the north (very green on this occasion), and the sandy tracks of the south, a little more challenging than usual.

“The sandstorms made transit through the sandy tracks difficult, as they formed small dunes that made it more complex for the vehicles to pass, but despite everything, there were no problems in reaching the town of Ouzina by track,” Rocha recounts.

The small town known as the “ancient gateway to the desert” for the caravans heading south to the cities of Central Africa, on the other side of the Sahara, has been one of the great protagonists of the 2024 edition of the Children’s Desert.

There, 20 years after the arrival of the Hyundai Terracans that led the expedition in 2005, children and adults collaborated in setting up one of the two libraries that Children’s Desert has launched this year.

But we will mention this milestone a little later…

The IONIQ 5 and the center of attention

Focusing especially on the performance of the vehicles, Santiago de la Rocha cannot fail to mention the eMobility protagonist of the expedition.

“As an anecdote of this journey, the inhabitants of Ouzina were very attentive to the vehicle leading the caravan: the Hyundai IONIQ 5,” he mentions.

According to the company, never before had a 100 per cent electric car reached that remote place in the desert.

So its arrival was an event that attracted a lot of attention and was the subject of all kinds of questions.

An important fact is that the Hyundai Ioniq 5 has successfully led the Children’s Desert caravan again, which featured representation of the entire 4×4 range of the brand.

And that’s not all.

The debut in the desert of the New KONA, Car of the Year in Spain 2024, was noteworthy, with several units participating, along with the rest of the Hyundai 4×4 vehicles, the Staria, the Tucson, and the Santa Fe, which moved “like fish in water on the roads and tracks of southern Morocco.”

“It is important to mention that none of the cars undergo major modifications, only protective plates are placed underneath to protect the engines, and the tires are changed,” says the executive in dialogue with this medium.

The tires have been from the Hankook Dynapro HP2 brand for several editions now.

They are specially designed for SUVs and fit perfectly with the needs of the trip in this regard.

The prominence of solidarity

Setting aside the cars and the prominence of electromobility in this edition, the human aspect is what really stands out when talking about Hyundai’s Children’s Desert.

The emotion is evident in the account of each of its protagonists, and the emotions generated are palpable.

The journey has a series of specific missions to build within Morocco its “own desert of solidarity,” integrated with each of the grains of sand of its participants.

This year, the participation of the opticians from the ALAIN AFFLELOU Foundation was reiterated.

For four days, six professionals from this team reviewed the eyesight of 370 residents in Tisserdimine, Begga, Merzane, and Labrouj.

The inhabitants of these small villages live daily with high sun exposure and, therefore, suffer from visual problems throughout their lives.

As a result of these reviews, 348 prescription glasses and 116 sunglasses will be distributed.

It is incredible to see how with this contribution, you can change a person’s life. We are so used to living in Spain that we do not really grasp the significance of these things,” says Santiago de la Rocha.

Likewise, the highlight of this year was the opening of two libraries donated by the Hyundai Dealership Network.

One was set up in the small village of Tisserdimine, while the second was in Ouzina.

This is a vital point in the history of the trip as Ouzina was the first town where Children’s Desert delivered school supplies 20 years ago.

In Ouzina, there was also a delivery of Road Safety Education material provided by Cifal Madrid RACE, as one of the access roads to the town has recently been turned into a road.

And in this sense, he clarifies:

“There is a reality that all the aid and projects we carry out at Hyundai are very focused on education. We are convinced that it is the basis for the development of peoples and society.”

All the material delivered by “Children’s Desert” has once again been transported by Bujarkay’s truck, which is now an inseparable part of the journey’s caravan.

A good part of this solidarity material was delivered to the association of disabled people in Erfoud, with which the Children’s Desert Association has been collaborating for several years.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that all the material distributed by Children’s Desert is purchased in Morocco.

End of a new edition and eagerness for the next one

Morocco is a country that hooks you, it’s like a drug. You go the first time, and it’s truly fascinating from a cultural point of view, the landscapes leave you amazed,” says the organizer.

Driving through the dunes and the same routes that the Dakar Rally used to traverse years ago is another pleasure that is always mentioned.

The interaction with local people, passing through villages, food, and the experiences generated throughout the Children’s Desert experience are beyond words.

Everything conveyed by its protagonists comes through emotions.

Now, the schedule is clear.

In 2025, Hyundai will again add kilometers in the Moroccan desert alongside those who are ready to live this adventure.

There is still no list of confirmed participating families, but it is clear that the protagonists will be two: solidarity hand in hand with electromobility.

“The bet is made, and we cannot take a step back. We will again make the journey led by an electric vehicle, but we must define a new challenge to break,” confirms Santiago de la Rocha in dialogue with Mobility Portal España.

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