Far out in the Sahara Desert, beyond Atar, deep in Mauritania, rise the monoliths Ben Amera and Aisha. They are not easy to get to. This is our Sahara Desert off-road adventure to go see them.
From Atar, you drive out and cross the infamous Iron Ore Railway track near Choum, to get to Ben Amera and Aisha. When we went, there was a military checkpoint near the train track, and nothing else. I mean – nothing.
Pro Traveler Tip: Take everything you’ll need, and then some…extra water, extra food, etc. just in case you get stuck in the sand and have to wait for help. Oh, and hire a driver that knows what he’s doing, and where he’s going.
Some experts speculate that with the part buried under the sand, Ben Amera might be larger than Uluru in Australia. It’s debated, and disputed, but it’s a possibility. They need to get the lidar out there to do some serious measuring.
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The carvings by the artists on the boulders around Aisha are pretty cool. It was a big consortium that got together and made art over a few weeks. It would have been great if they were a bit more three-dimensional, but working in stone is slow and they weren’t there that long.
The carvings are all in one area, but not all obvious. It’s fun to climb around and discover the next hidden artistic treasure. It’s not too physically challenging, and there’s only minor rock scrambling. Most of the search involves stepping over and around, and looking carefully.
This is an easy to arrange day trip, or with proper planning you can camp overnight. Just be sure to bring everything you will need. There are zero resources at either Ben Amera or Aisha. Also, plan on it being windy. It wasn’t unbearable, but my hat flew off at one point and the guys probably want to make sure they’re peeing in an appropriate direction. Remember, no facilities.
On our trip we were fortunate enough that our driver made tea for us when we stopped to let the truck’s engine rest. It was real nomad-style tea. He just had a truck instead of camels. He was an excellent guide and driver. We never once felt like we might get stuck, though there are tales of it happening, even to experienced drivers. The sand can be unpredictable sometimes.
Check out our full article on Atar and our Ben Amera adventure.
In fact, have a look at the entire Mauritania Series:
Part 3 – Camel Trekking in the Sahara Desert
And the Mauritania Page has these articles PLUS a few extra cool videos.