Deep Into The Sahara, Mauritania, Oct 19 -22, 2007
Trip Start Sep 19, 2007
85Trip End Jan 05, 2008
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How I feel about wide open spaces like Sahara desert is summed up by the following quote I noticed posted on Daphne's announcement board:
"One of the gladdest moments of human life methinks, is the departure on a distant journey to unknown lands. Shaking off with one mighty effort the fetters of habit, the leaden weight of routine, the cloak of many cares, and the slavery of home, man feels once more happy." - Sir Richard Burton
Our trip to the Adrar provided a taste of the real off-the-beaten-path Sahara where few travelers venture. We traveled nearly a full day and several hundred miles on well paved roads to the provincial capital of Atar and then on graded dirt roads to Chinguetti, rising from lowland country via a spectacular canyon up to Nouatil Pass and the Adrar Plateau on which Chinguetti is located. The region would appear to have great potential for more adventure tourism.
As we traveled into the desert I kept thinking about the Paris-Dakar Rally, now just called the Dakar Rally because it no longer originates in Paris, the most famous race in motor sports, which since 1978 has traversed a varying route each year through much of the same country we traveled through. Western Sahara and Mauritania have been the standard routes for nearly two decades since Algeria's civil war essentially closed that country to most foreigners
In a postscript to the chapter, on my flight home from Africa more than two months later I heard the startling news that the decision had just been made to cancel the Dakar Rally for the first time in 30 years just as it was about to begin because of security concerns. This cancellation took place after France advised its citizens against travel to Mauritania because of the Christmas Eve killing of French tourist family picnicking beside road east of Nouakchott followed by three policemen killed at checkpoint the next day. A group associated with Al Qaeda claimed credit for the killings.