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Desert Travels - Motorcycle Journeys in the Sahara and West Africa!

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  #1  
Old 11 Feb 2007
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border western sahara - mauritania

hello there,

i am new here. this website seems a great source of information. here is my question;

i am planning a trip by car from Europe to Gambia. it's not my intention to go off-road, since i have a normal peugeot passenger car. i've heard that recently the road from nouadhibou to nouackshott is aphalted in total. my question is about the bordercrossing into Mauritania. i have heard that from western sahara there is 2 kilometers of sand untill mauritania (where the new asphalt begins, I guess near Nouadhibou). there are a lot of mines in the area. i also heard that there are a lot of different sandroads in different directions from there. is mauritania/nouadhibou signposted from there? or should i better take a guide? i wouldn't like to drive on a mine or something (i don't know how high that risk is, but I'd better be careful).

any reply is much appreciated, thx.

Last edited by chapati; 11 Feb 2007 at 23:06.
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Old 11 Feb 2007
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this has been discussed before...
yes, 2-3 kms stony, sandy piste, with some deviations, but pretty straightforward, just follow your sense and biggest ruts. Guide not necessary, but they might turn up, and say something different, esp, when they see you are newbie... Mines? If you stay on the track, what could possibly happen? This year I watched group of posh French motorhomes crossing it, if they could, should not be problem for anybody...
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Old 11 Feb 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaspars
Guide not necessary, but they might turn up, and say something different, esp, when they see you are newbie... Mines? If you stay on the track, what could possibly happen?
hi kaspars,
thx for your info. well that's exactly my point. there are mines there but i don't know how far from the road . btw how would a guide notice that you are a newbie? I don't print it on the car or on my forehead

I ask about the mines because I don't know if a track on a piste is always visable (especially in a sandstorm I have an imagination). I actually never seen one so I don't know. I have been in several different deserts but never saw sandtracks (I never drove by car/motorcycle through the desert, only by camel....I know its too touristy). thx for any reply....

Cheers

Last edited by chapati; 11 Feb 2007 at 23:10.
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  #4  
Old 11 Feb 2007
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western Sahara/Mauri border

Hi I followed the 06 Dakar and for the sand/stone crossing I just followed everyone else, make sure they ARE heading into Mauri as on the way back I followed a Merc van and thought he was taking a strange route only to realise he was going to a remote settlement! Lucky for me he dropped off some supplies and headed back into Western Sahara with me following. Warning take the Diamma 100km off road (easy route) into Senegal AVOID ROSSO at all costs, I was warned but an Harley riding companion would not ride offroad..... he did I later find out take Diamma for the return!! The Nouad/Nouak road in 06 was 'perfect' although caution had to be taken on a bike as sand had often been blown across the road and was between 6 and 18 inches deep and stretched often between 5 and 30 yards...not pleasant to hit at speed
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Old 12 Feb 2007
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As you cross the border from western sahara, head left up onto a slight rise, here the ground is rockier. there is soft sand in the dip. if you get into sand, don't follow the ruts, you'll get bogged!!! You don't have the ground clearance and in someone elses ruts the sand will be softer.
If you come to a soft patch sit and watch some others go through to judge the difficulty and whether an alternative route may be needed, but keep well up to the left and you should be ok. If in doubt walk the route first. even if you do have to cross some sandy stuff, air your tyres down to about 15psi, give it some gas and use momentum to get you through. plan your route on foot first to avoid rocks hidden in the sand.
there is rumour that a 110 was blown up by a mine here some years ago. I personally think the mines risk is overstated in this area. most of the terrain is too rocky for mines, and the soft bits have now all be driven too much for their to be any mines left, but you have to make your own risk assessment about that, I'm not going to carry the can when you drive over one!!

lots of 2wd cars pass this way every day.

there are also links on here about preparing a 2wd to drive the route your intending. Also on how to find the diama crossing. basically it is the last turn on the right before you get to the rosso crossing. when you have missed it (as you probably will!!) turn round at the entrance to the border by the garage (avoiding the hawkers!! - my navigators only comment was -'get me the f--- out of here, and that was before we got to the border) and take the first left, it looks like a little track to no where, but it is the right one. I have done both crossings. Diama is more expensive, but nicer. I think they make it easier deliberately so they can make more money!!
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Old 12 Feb 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave ede
Warning take the Diamma 100km off road (easy route) into Senegal AVOID ROSSO at all costs,
Heard about rosso and the convoy into Senegal. I am travelling via Mali and cross the border with Senegal from there (no convoy from here as I have understood). btw, where can I get the most recent roadmaps for this area (they seem not very common)?

Last edited by chapati; 12 Feb 2007 at 07:30.
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Old 12 Feb 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moggy 1968
As you cross the border from western sahara, head left up onto a slight rise, here the ground is rockier. there is soft sand in the dip. if you get into sand, don't follow the ruts, you'll get bogged!!! You don't have the ground clearance and in someone elses ruts the sand will be softer.
If you come to a soft patch sit and watch some others go through to judge the difficulty and whether an alternative route may be needed, but keep well up to the left and you should be ok. If in doubt walk the route first. even if you do have to cross some sandy stuff, air your tyres down to about 15psi, give it some gas and use momentum to get you through. plan your route on foot first to avoid rocks hidden in the sand.
Thanks very much. Good idea probably to first walk it .
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Old 12 Feb 2007
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western sahara/mauri

I think you will be suprised and wonder why such an indepth discussion was needed when you get there, in my experience returning from Diamma was only a fraction of the price than Rosso, if in a car take some of those cheap/shi#e market stall small perfumes, they love em, I had the complimentary ones from an hotel to 'give' away including the small soap bars, The bribe difference may well have changed as the major hustlers may have moved away from Rosso. It will be interesting to see your reply when you return from the trip.
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Old 12 Feb 2007
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The track(s) are very easy to follow, just avoid the ruts. There will be plenty of other vehicles, including 2WD cars, campers and caravans, so don't worry. This is looking back to Western Sahara from 'no-mans land' . The towers are at the border and the photo was taken 4 weeks ago.
Andy.
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Old 12 Feb 2007
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Look it on Google Earth. This area has high resolution.
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Old 12 Feb 2007
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mines

The mine thing:

I asked my brother in law, who works in MAG, about the mines in RIM. There are plenty of them

1 all along the border with Western Sahara.
2 many places in western sahara, sometimes just a meter a-way from the road/piste
3 in RIM near the border. sometimes in places where nobody expects them

MAG made a study of it, however, so far, they are not gonna remove the mines since there is little human action in the area and, compared with other conflictive areas, casualties are relatively low, mostly Saharaui civilians. Just another way of making live even more difficult for the people of Western Sahara.

http://www.icbl.org/lm/2006/western_...html#Heading97

Regards.
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Old 12 Feb 2007
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yes, there are problems with mines. but I don't believe this affects the border area. there is just too much traffic and the ground is mostly unsuitable. I think a lot of the stories were perpetuated by 'guides' when the area first opened up to persuade people to pay to be escorted through a 'safe' route
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Old 12 Feb 2007
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I crossed back last week ,no problems if travelling south keep to the left and follow the track over polished stone and no problems as loads of 2wd follow this route to rim border.
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Old 12 Feb 2007
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thanks for the valuable information you all. especially the picture gives me a little of an idea. its not pure sand but the surface seems reasonably hard . will there be a petrolstation near the border in western sahara? anyone knows how far the next petrolstation is from the border in Mauritania (in Nouackshott or maybe earlier?)..
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Old 12 Feb 2007
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fuel

Fuel in Wester Sahara, from Nouad to Nouak you need to carry enough fuel to cover 300 miles I 'cleared' it on the way down with my BMW R80gs tank but on the return went onto reserve with 100 miles left to do due to a higher running speed and a strong wind that came at me across my throttle hand, the sand stripped off the paint on the crashbar and right hand frame rails nicely, and shotblasted the front wheel mega clean. I was helped out by a French expedition truck carrying bikes that I'd spotted earlier in the day 'playing' in the sand
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