Mauritania Desert Adventure
The westernmost country of the Sahara Desert, Mauritania is synonymous with the idea of remote, with vast areas that have barely been explored, except by blue robed nomads and their camels. This unique expedition takes you to its wildest and least known regions.
We start by exploring Banc D’Arguin National Park, home to huge numbers of migratory birds making the journey between Europe and Africa. From here we turn inland and cross a remote part of the desert on our way to the historic cities of Chinguetti and Ouadane, once important on the old trading routes between the Sahara and Morocco, and now gracefully crumbling into the sands. From here we venture into the unknown. At Trig Chauail we see rock art dating back six thousand years, when large wildlife roamed a greener Sahara, and then traverse the sand sea of Erg Ouarane, hundreds of kilometres of dunes that stretch as far as one can sea. The going here will be tough at times but the rewards immense – few travellers have ever crossed this vast natural barrier, and human traces are sparse.
Exiting the dunes, we come to the mountains of Aoukar, with remains of prehistoric villages, then drive to Oulata, with its traditional painted houses. Our next stop is Aoudaghost, an outpost of the ancient empire of Ghana, the oldest known kingdom in sub Saharan Africa; along the way we stop to meet nomads in their goat hair tents, and hope to see some of the camel caravans that still tread these routes.
On our way back to the capital we stop at Kiffa to see traditional bead production, and meet the local inhabitants, then spend two days driving through remote towns to the coast, and Nouakchott.
This is a trip for the real desert enthusiast, following a little known route and stopping in places that rarely see visitors. Camping under the Saharan skies and crossing difficult terrain for much of the trip, creature comforts are few and far between but this is more than compensated for by the joy of exploring such an untouched land……