Tell anyone you are going to Mauritania and you’ll get a blank stare back that says: where? The great travel writer Bruce Chatwin, an inspiration behind my travels and photography, remarked in his notebooks in 1969:
‘Blank over Christmas, not my favourite time of year. I am again feeling the pangs of restlessness and am planning to go to Mauritania. – the only country no one seems to have heard of. “I know where is” , said Penelope Betjemen. “It’s in eastern Europe and all used to see it in 1920s films. They wear white uniforms.”
“You’re thinking of Ruritania” – and she was.’
Strange that this land is unknown today. It has an illustrious past.
Named after the Berber kingdom and the Roman province of Mauretania to the north in modern day Morocco, Mauritania straddles West Africa and the Maghreb of the north, between the Atlantic ocean and the Sahara desert.
Its people are related to the Moors of the north, the last African colonizers of Europe, the Almoravids, Islamic warrior monks who colonized Timbuktu, and defeated the empires of Ghana and Mali to the south.
Today Mauritania neighbours to the north, the Western Sahara,,Morocco, and Algeria, and to the south and east Senegal and Mali. Its people of diverse origins share one language, Hassanaya, which, like the country, is a mix of Berber, Arabic and sub Saharan tongues. My highlights of Mauritania:
The Banc D’Arguin National Park. where the Atlantic meets the Sahara. Two epic landscapes collide, the sand dunes of the desert and the waves of the ocean.
Camping out here between the peace and tranquility of After driving across the sweeping plains and breath-taking desert landscapes we set camp near the roar and rage of the wild ocean coast. While the warm desert air feeds the camp fire that cooks your supper, camel stakes or fresh caught fish, you can wash and bathe in the magnificent waves of the Atlantic.
World Heritage Site at Chinguetti in the Adrar Mountains, one of the great seats of learning for the region, alongside Timbuktu and Agadez. Chinguetti, like Mauritania, thas enormous historical and cultural importance to our civilization, though it has long been forgotton. Founded in 777AD, it has been a trading centre for Berber tribes and home to Moors, Almoravids and many others.
On a journey across the desert to Atar along the the Nouadibou- Zouerat railway, you will stay in Tuareg berber camps to awake in the morning to the passing of the longest train in the world. The train takes iron ore, in which the country is very rich, from the mines at Zouerat to the port of Nouadibou and its clanking carts that stretch 3.5kms into the distance is an awesome sight and thunderous sound.
We offer wonderful trips to Mauritania. You can have a tailor-made trip led by Beni and Cheik, brothers and both excellent guides, flying in to Nouakchott for a round trip.
Or my Sahara Overland trips take in Mauritania. Every year I do this route on my London to Timbuktu trip in November/December. The price is €2950, not including food and accommodation.
I am also planning a trip to Mauritania from Morocco in early September 2012. The price for this trip is €1950 for up to three weeks.
On both these trips I can offer a 10% discount on bookings made by 20 July 2012.
For more information about either of these trips please contact me here.
I hope you’ll be joining us soon.