We travel in Mauritania two week, we went to Nouadhibou, Nouakchott, Atar, Chinquetti and Terjit in Mauritania.
First of all, we had a problem to cross the border. We arrived at the border around noon and we left almost 8:30 pm. The border was so busy as there was a German rally crossing as well and the visa office had a problem with their Internet. We waited a lot for that and than fight with fixer. (click more detail and border crossing details)
Before start to read all details of Mauritania you can watch a short movie where we could make video about the journey;
The bad thing was we needed to ride in the dark, we never want to ride in the dark in Africa and we needed in Mauritania, a new country where a lot of people talking about that it’s not safe. When we left the border we had about 50 km to ride to Nouadhibou, there are a lot of police-military checkpoints and hard to see them in the dark, they don’t have any lights at the road so I needed to stop pretty fast sometimes. Other thing, we were thinking They were really police or somebody trying to stop us. In Mauritania you need a ‘fiche’ (this is a paper with all your passport details and where you coming from, motorcycle plates etc.) we didn’t had it yet so each stop took us a while wait. We arrived there around 10 pm, opened our tent and had a good night sleep, well deserved! The bad thing is, this was her birthday, well she had better ones I can imagine on the other hand we will always remember this one. Hopefully, next year we will make it a nice day. 🙂
The next day we met 2 other motorcyclists who stayed at the same place, a Italian guy who was on a 3 week holiday enjoying riding in the dessert of Mauritania and James who came from England. We traveled with him a little in Mauritania also, we met a lot of countries again with James.
We wanted to go to Atar from Nouadhibou, there is dessert road next to the train rail. A total from approx. 500 km, and no road you need flow train rail. After serach and told some people who did before, we understood that no option to do that for us. Our motorcycles were fully packed. No petrol station and we need to carry extra petrol also food and water. 🙁 The train is still working which is calling ‘’Iron Ore’’ and one of the longest trains in the world.
We started search for how we put the motorcycle on the Iron Ore train and how much the price. The train leaves every afternoon from Nouadhibou to Fderik. ‘‘Iron Ore’’ carries iron so it is a cargo train. If you want to travel with the train you can just jump in. It is free. And the train is empty when go to Fderik so you cant black from iron. And They tols us if you can put your motorcycle to wagon It is also free but no way to do that. They have a platform which you can carry your motorcycle on it. And the platform price is 500 Euros. The price was high for us therefore we skipped it. If you have more people with you, share the price. We didn’t do that but we learned for other rider, who took the train; he shared the price and paid 50 Euros. But he said that the road was terrible from Fderik to main road for Atar. Actually, They have one stop before Fderik, which is called Choum. But Iron Ore doesn’t stop there. Just gets slow down for local people get of.
If you don’t want to ride on the desert and cant put your motorcycle to the train You have only one option to go Atar, ride from main road. So, we needed to ride all the way to Nouakchott and then up to Atar, which is 900 km!
As the fuel is not a thing they sell a lot in Mauritania. Super gasoline is in the block market. They use diesel for their car and almost no motorcycle in Mauritania. Our tank is 7.7 liters, approx. 230 km. We filled up our rotopax, 11 liters. We took extra 8 liters of water bottles to make it to the next petrol station.
The first day went ok, We ride around 300 km after that we found a nice spot for camping next to the road. We were planning go to a national park and camp there. The road, which we choose, was so sand. After James fell down She didn’t want to keep continue.
Next day we passed through Nouakchott. We found a petrol station, We filled up all bottles and the rotopax to make it for the last 450 km to Atar. We went wild camp again somewhere in the middle of nowhere!
Next day, halfway the road there was a city we hoped we can get some fuel for our motorcycles. Unfortunately there was no fuel 🙁 We decided to ride a bit slower to save some petrol so we hopefully we can make towards Atar. We didn’t! My motorcycle was empty about 20 km before Atar, luckily James was with us and he still had fuel.
He went to Atar to fill up a 5 liter bottle and would return to us with that so we can make it as well, darkness started to fall when he came back. So we went in a rush towards the camping, arrived there all 3 totally broken and extremely tired! But we made it. To see the next day it was a lovely place Bab Sahara, a Dutch guy called Justus owns this amazing place. Unfortunately there are not a lot of people coming anymore as the government says Mauritania is not safe to travel.
Atar, itself is nothing really special. We went there because we wanted to see Chingetti and than Terjit. After get rest 2 days in Atar we went to Chingetti which is a beautiful small town at the border of the dessert, the ride is 80 km over a dirt road which is not too bad but so much bumpy.
And last 10-15 km, is a little sandy road, depend on the wind. If the wind is so strong a lot of sand comes to the road.
We passed through some nice mountains and the ride was fun to do, we stayed 2 days in Chingetti walked around in the dessert took some really nice photo’s. This was a lovely place to see, this is where the dessert starts and you can see oases. Also, they have old library to visit and old town center, which is in UNESCO list.
After stayed 2 days in Chinquetti we went to a big Oasis called Terjit, this was 30 km south of Atar on the way to Nouakchott, the place was really cool to see. Just what we expected from a oasis. In the beginning the road and landscape was really nice. When we turn to Terjit we ride in the sand and couldn’t go to inside to oasis with motorcycle because too much sandy. So, we stayed in the village and walked to the oasis.
Now it was time to ride all the way back to Nouakchott, we did this in 1 day it was a long ride of 440 km but we made it! This time we took a extra 25 liters petrol with us. And we survived the crazy traffic. We met James again here as well, who applied for a Mali visa, we said 2 things before we left Europe. We are passing Mauritania as fast as possible and we are not going in Mali. So the first one failed and second one also failed. we got our Mali visa here as well. This is a cheap visa so we wouldn’t loose a lot if we don’t go. They said that we could get Nigeria visa easily in Mali. If we can’t get anywhere we can enter Mali, we have visa. 🙂
We leaved Nouakchott and stayed one night closed to the border of Senegal. Next they it was horrible border crossing! (click for the border crossing info)
For our experiences you don’t have to be scared of Mauritania, you can safely travel in the west part and go to Chinquetti, at that moment.
(Click a photo for slide show)