Mauritania is a mystery to most people. It’s not a major tourist destination and unless you’re already in the region, few people go out of their way to visit. It is, however, a very interesting country.
Tim and I went to Mauritania from Morocco. This was while he was still nursing his broken leg, so we flew into Nouakchott rather than attempting the land border. We had a few goals for our stay in Mauritania. One, we wanted to see shipwrecks. Two, I wanted to ride a camel into the Sahara Desert and visit nomads (Tim would have too, except you know, broken leg). And three, we wanted to see what the Sahara was like in a little less touristy fashion than what we expected to have found in Morocco.
We accomplished all of those things, and more.
Mauritania is not an easy country to get around. It wasn’t easy to just walk to get what you needed, and if you didn’t know where you were headed and how they worked, the shared taxis were somewhat challenging. Also, our lack of French or Arabic language skills made these things hard to learn. This meant we needed someone who knew their way around to help us when we needed to find things.
Another thing about getting around is that if you’re not willing, or able, to ride the Iron Ore Train, then you’re going to have to pass through Nouakchott in the south to get from one side of the country to the other. The main roads that are paved between Nouakchott and Nouadhibou, and Nouakchott, Atar and Chinguetti, are relatively good; but everything else is off-roading, sometimes in deep sand, following the tracks of other vehicles.
This country was also a bit more expensive than we expected. The cost comes from the fact that they don’t manufacture much of anything themselves, and so everything has to be imported. It’s still cheaper than most places in the West, but somewhat more expensive than Southeast Asia.
So check out our adventures in Mauritania. Some were exciting, some challenging and some unexpected. As we said, not an easy country, but an interesting one.