desert piste or coast piste to Atar
from Mauri and Morocco border, which way is more easy to get in Atar? by desert piste along the railway or coast piste via Nouakchott?
my car is a range rover classic. 2 persons
I took the coast road from Nouadhibou to Nuakchott which was fun, colourful and not too difficult. I took a guide which probably added to the pleasure, and the trip took three days.
My info is probably out of date now, last trip was 5 years ago.
I then drove up the old Nouakchott to Atar road which was well broken up and a very uncomfortable ride, but easy to find. You’ll find some info on this on my website, front page, click on the ‘Chinguetti’ link.
Another traveller drove on a course parallel to the old road, about 20 miles east, using GPS. He had a much better time.
Next time I’ll take the railway route out… and the parallel route back.
Good travels - Kitmax
Kitmax - Traveller
Desert Pictures at
we did the Atar - Nouakchott tarroad a few weeks ago: No problem at all, easy driving.
The train piste could be a problem when you are not used to drive in soft sand and when you travel alone. If you drive too close to the railway there are a lot of metal parts on the ground! In Choum there was good Diesel available in March(barrels).
There is a third road tar/piste between Bou Lanouar and Nouakchott not completely finished last month.
[This message has been edited by ursula (edited 01 April 2005).]
The easiest way is via the coast road / beach piste and then take the tarmac to Atar. This route is however longer.
Nouachott is good for spares and a cold beer so you might want to go there anyway.
I suppose it depends upon whether you are doing a loop and going back to Morocco or whether you are heading South to West Africa and perhaps beyond.
If you are doing a loop I would do both routes - ie beach piste on the way down and come back along railway line.
If I was heading south I would be keen to restock in Nouachott (and so would do the beach piste) and then take the tarmac to Atar.
thanx a lot for ur reply. very impressive.
I think i will go via desert piste if I find another accompany with me. Otherwise i'd better to take the beach piste to Nouakchott,then new road to Atar.
However, how difficult is that desert piste? sure i have never try to drive in desert. but I bought some decent recovery tools. Air jack and sand mats. of course also the shovel. And most important navigation tool, GPS.
so with those assistance, can i go on that route? need some opinions.
Only do the route if you are
a) Confident that your vehicle is "sound" menchanically.
b) You are accompanied by another 4wd
c) Someone who is an experienced desert driver (i.e. a guide or someone who has done a desert expedition before).
If you have not driven in the desert before you will undoubtably get stuck which can be stressful and exhausting until you get the hang of it and it becomes routine.
Therefore if you do make the desert route make sure you are confident in using your air jack etc. You do not want to be reading the instruction manual for the first time when you get stuck in the sand with the sun beating down. It can also be tricky to release the air out of an air jack safely. So it is doubly important in your case.
I've done these routes one year ago (one Defender ; 2 people).
The easiest and the more beautiful way is the coastal one (No guide is necessary to do that ) but the faster one is along the railway : with a very good guide we did it in only one day beetween Nouadhibou and Atar ( He knew all the detours and passages , so we were never stuck in sand ).
Have a nice trip .
The Railway piste is very easy to drive.
But, don't drive to close to the railway due to the debries (puncture risk) and always south of the railway, because there is the risk of mines to the north.
The new edition of Sahara Overland has the waypoints for this piste.
The piste now begins in Bou Lanour at the police checkpoint on the southern exit of the village.
However, I agree 100% with CTC: only do it alone if you have previous experience in desert driving and if you feel very confident on your vehicle reliability.
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