random info on summer 2012 Mauritania trip
Replies: 21 - Last Post: Feb 16, 2013 6:34 PM Last Post By: redsalmon
Aug 23, 2012 2:31 PM
random info on summer 2012 Mauritania tripI've just spent a week in Mauritania, and thought I'd throw out some random info about the trip. I found these sort of posts really helpful in my own trip planning, even if they are just anecdotes. Note these aren't meant to be comprehensive or eternally valid. In no particular order:
1. Security. I was in Nouakchott, Atar, Chinguetti, some oases near Chinguetti, Choum, and Nouadibouh. Apparently there's a small trickle of tourists all the time, and the unrest in northern Mali hasn't really had an impact here. I felt safe all the time. Many locals assured me that it would be hard for bad guys to make it across the desert, and that the Mauritanian army had a strong eastern border presence. I didn't get the sense that these opinions were based on knowledge of up to date current events, but it was clear that whenever a stranger shows up in Chinguetti, everyone in the town finds out about it. So I'm confident that as of yesterday, there's no al-Qaida sleeper cell in Chinguetti. And, yes, all the police checkpoints are reassuring. I have noticed no other tourists during my time in Mauritania, sadly.
2. Ramadan. Traveling during Ramadan was neat, and I didn't get the impression that things were running any differently. Same waiting for taxis to fill before leaving. Same stopping the bus to pray. Even on the last day, a holiday, I took a 5 hour bus ride no problem. There were always spots to grab some bread. I guess I've been surviving mostly on bread and fake nutella for the last three weeks, but that's okay.
3. Summer. Sure, it was hot in the desert, but dry heat and nothing a mid-day siesta couldn't remedy. It was wonderfully relaxing, actually. And seeing all the dates being harvested and shipped was neat. The humidity near the coast was a little unpleasant.
4. Visa. Got it in Dakar easily. Showed up at 11am to fill out the form, picked it up at 4:30 same day. (I'm a US citizen.)
5. Overland route. I went north from Conakry, to Dakar, to Nouakchott, Atar, Choum, Noadibouh... and tomorrow I'm heading up to Dakhla and Casablanca. Very straightforward public transportation all along. One AC bus from Nouak to Atar. Only two flats and two engine overheats.
6. Train from Choum to Nouadibouh. fun. Was supposed to arrive in Choum at 6pm, but didn't arrive until 11pm. Got to Nouadibouh at 11:30am next morning. There were two nice looking cars, and then the one I went in (UM1000=US3). Not sure if there was a way to reserve in the nice cars, but they wouldn't let me in. The commander of the train station drove me and a few folks to the spot where the passenger cars end up, then I bought the ticket from a man there. Not the best night of my life... everyone just sort of sprawls out in one big sweaty, dirty, sticky slumber party in stagnant hot air on the floor of the car and a few benches. Yes, there are big jerks throughout the night. I didn't ride with the iron ore, because I was recovering from a head cold and consider the lungs one of the most important body parts. If riding on top of iron ore is hardcore, then what I went through inside was pretty B.A. too.
7. Camel trip. in Chinguetti, arranged by Cheikh at Auberge La Rose des Sables. UM8000 for one day. really neat.
Feel free to contact me if you have any other questions. I really enjoyed this country.
Aug 25, 2012 2:07 AM
Sep 15, 2012 7:30 AM
Oct 6, 2012 4:07 AM
3I travelled through Mauritania during a week in January 2011 and must say that it was one of the best countries I have visited.
I entered the landway from West Sahara and came to Nouadhibou as the first city.
If you are going to exchange money in Mauritania then check the official change rate on internet first.
The national banks usually gives you a very low rate, especially the one directly at the border.
I changed with a black market dealer by the taxi stop in Nouadhibou and earned a lot on it.
Then I went with the train over night, in the coal wagon, to Choum and from there to Atar.
Atar to Chinguetti which is beautiful and then by bus down to Noakchott and over to Rosso and Senegal.
I wrote some stories about what I encountered and also did a video diary that you can find here http://clabbetravels.com/category/mauritania/
Oct 6, 2012 4:19 AM
Oct 19, 2012 12:52 AM
Oct 19, 2012 3:09 PM
6Thanks for the report, very helpful and I'm pleased to hear you had such a positive time in Mauritania. I'm pretty sure the answer is "Yes" based on what I've read, but just to ask it again and get an updated opinion: traveling independently backpacking on public transport south overland from Morocco down to Senegal through Western Sahara and Mauritania should be perfectly doable and safe and straight forward at the moment, yes?
Seems like it, but there's nothing like getting up to date first hand info.
If you were really going fast and just went straight through without making an detours or lingering (not that I would do that...) how long would it take to get from the Morocco/W. Sahara border to Dakar on public transport do you think?
Oct 19, 2012 3:55 PM
7Ok... I went this road that you are asking about.
To begin with, there is no public transport from West Sahara border.
Between West Sahara and Mauritania border is a 3km nomansland.
You are not allowed to walk across so you must fix a ride somehow.
Buses depart from Ad-Dakhla to the border though and they take some 3-4hours.
But there are no buses from Mauritania side to Noadhibou for example.
Best is to arrange a taxi that will take you from Ad-Dahkla to Noadhibou or to Noaukchott.
so the math is like following
Mauritania border to Noadhibou 2 hours
Noadhibou to Noaukchott 4-5 hours
Nouakchott to Rosso (border) 3hours
Border crossing 1-4 hours
Rosso to St Louis 2 hours
St Louis to Dakar 3-4 hours
It is not simply possible to do in 1 day, unless you manage to have such luck that you find rides all the way and manage to reach the Rosso border when its open and get across without any hassle and then manage to get into Rosso on Senegal side without bribeing.
The roads between Rosso to St Louis is in very bad shape and take long time in a sept taxi.
Also remember that the taxis dont leave until they are full.
In Africa you can not rush to cover distances..
Oct 19, 2012 7:44 PM
8Great, thanks a lot for that, very helpful indeed. Don't worry, I have no intention of trying to get through so fast; I'm planning a longer trip in West Africa and am working through the logistics and options of getting there. I might fly in, but I would also like to go or return overland. My preference would be to go through Mali and Algeria but at the moment that's not an option. I've spent a lot of time in Ethiopia and am sick of the place to be honest (the people mostly) so son't want to go that way. West coast is the only real option for me, and besides that I'm interested in Mauritania and have never been to Morocco, so that route is looking attractive.
I'm also hoping Libya settles down in the next year or so, as I'd like to do a north Africa Egypt-Libya-Algeria-Tunisia-Morocco leg.
Too many places to see...
Thanks again for the info on Mauritania. BTW, did you hitch hike there at all? Is it a reasonable option?
Oct 19, 2012 7:49 PM
Nov 7, 2012 1:44 AM
Nov 7, 2012 1:49 AM
Nov 7, 2012 2:29 AM
Nov 7, 2012 2:35 PM
It was great to find this thread. We are three medical students about to embark on an expedition to Sierra Leone to conduct some research on HIV and vision.
We are planning on driving down from the UK to Sierra Leone, and it is quite essential that we drive through Mauritania. We can see that the FCO advise all not to travel through Mauritania. Can anyone give us advice on whether it would be safe to drive through? If so, is there a certain route that might be particularly safe/unsafe?
We would also love any advice what so ever on this expedition...
Nov 11, 2012 10:02 AM
14Not really sure what to answer here.
When I went 2 years ago it was also not advised by ant national goverment to go.
But I went anyway and had an amazing trip in the beuatiful country.
I travelled on local transportation like train, bus, 4x4, pickup, taxi and others without any problems.
There are several police controls along every road that keep track on you due to problems with Al-Qaida affiliate groups.
If you disappear between 2 police check points they know where to start looking.
The road between the border to Nouadhibou and from Nouadhibou to Noakchott is in good condition and newly asphalted. The road from Noakchott to Rosso is in a worse shape but tared.
(3 star Hotel)
From US$73.19 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$80.66 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$230.05 per night