Western Sahara and Mauritania

Trip Start Nov 14, 2010
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Trip End Aug 18, 2011


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Flag of Mauritania  , Dakhlet Nouadhibou,
Saturday, December 11, 2010

As we headed south towards our next country the days were best defined by long drive days
and bush camping but with stops for lunch at beautiful unspoilt spots in the desert, often
close to the sea with a nice breeze which was refreshing as the mercury began to rise as we
 continued South, passing the Tropic of Cancer.

On the first day we stopped by A large feature of the landscape, being a bloe hole in the ground
formed by the erosion of the surrounding clifs by the sea over the years and lunch overlooking the
rugged coast.

Days tended to merge into one as we really got into the mode and pace of life of trans
african travel.

One of the highlilghts from the next days travel being the sight of camels crossing the road
- conveniently just behind the crossing sign - very thoughtful of them, and going to show we
really were in desert country now.

Other than a stop at the town of Younde (largely it seemed being populated by the military)***
the disputed territory  of W Sahara is sparcely populated and as the name suggests is an arid,
harsh and dry environment.

As it was our turn for cookgroup we took the oportunity of the stop in town to buy supplies
for dinner. Choice was very limited however there only being one vegetable shop but we made
the most of it and ended up making jacket potatoes with sides for dinner it seemed to go down
well.

After a further bush camp - located at a beautiful spot at the foot of a large sand dune, we were
 within striking distance of the border with Mauritania and next morning we headed that way.
Previously we discovered that our planned flight over the troubled area in the noth of the country
was cancelled and therefore we were to drive from Nouadhibou to the capital Nouakchott. Our
insurers agreed to cover us for the journey and apart from not being able to update the blog
(hence the delay in updating this entry) the journey had been going smoothly so far.

The border crossing itself was painfully slow, taking around 6 hours all in all with lots
of waiting around and moving about from desk to desk whilst the various checks were done.
This is something I'll have to get used to; I think next time Ill be more prepared and maybe
take a book out with me!

In any case we eventually made it through into our second African country; Mauritania,
where I felt our journey really begins as we step off the more popular tourist routes and into
West Africa.

My first impressions of Mauritania in the North were certainly a desert country with the
influence of the imposing Sahara evident. Views were much the same as W Sahara and it was
approximately an hours drive to arrive into Nouadhibou for a one night camp at a cosy little site.
After a little wonder around the town (finding a very nice pattisserie) we had dinner and then
bed - which forme was sleeping under the stars - no mosquitos and nice and warm - you cant beat
it!

The drive to the capital was potentially a long one with check points scattered along the
route, however in truth we made excellent time with very little difficulty and after setting off
at 7.30 arrived in town around 3pm. We stayed at the Auberge de Nomad campsite located
centrally and I took this chance for a wonder around the town. Nouakchott seems a bussling
and vibrant mix of the Arab Moor decent and Black West African populations. There was lots
of building work evident around town and locals said this was partly to do with the current president efforts to revitalise and invest money in the country in recent years - people
seemed generally happy with this and certainly seemed postiive after past difficulties.

The next day we had a full day about town - the main highlight for me being the chance to
visit the famous and magnificent fish market. 12 of us headed off with a local guide
(cramming into 2 taxis the journey was quite cosy - I now know how the locals feel on the
public transport!). When we arrived at the market the vibrant centre was a hive of activity,
sights and sounds as the locals brought in the days catch - heaving the heavy boats up the
shore (it looked hard work in the hot weather - I didnt envy them) the market stalls selling
the produce and 12 interested trans african tourists wondering around taking it all in.
Unfortunately it was this point that my camera decided to stop working so no pictures for me;
ill try to grab some from the other guys to update my blog.

After heading home to a lovely dinner of BBQ chicken and a couple of beers I headed to bed
(trying our my mosquito net for the first time - the little critters having got me a few times
the night before). Next day we head down towards the border with Senegal and 1 night bush
camp near to the border at Rosso, then our next border crossing...
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