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Sahara Travel Forum Topics specific to North Africa and the Sahara down to the 17th parallel (excludes Morocco)
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Desert Travels - Motorcycle Journeys in the Sahara and West Africa!

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  #16  
Old 20 Jan 2013
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Thanks for your Mori report priffe but I think there is a difference between 'secure' (well guarded) and 'safe' (no need for guards).

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And so I came to the conclusion that you can actually drive around in Mauretania at this time - something we should take advantage of, no?
Would you have been happy to drive with your family along the 1000km vertical Mali border, hoping gendarmes would patrol or sleep by you each night?

Surely you're familiar with the local tendency to proudly play down embarrassing problems, or to exaggerate. I bet the 'green & whites' based next to the gas plant in Alg would have been as confident a week ago.

That FCO map of Mori harks back to their bad old days, I admit - especially as it lazily uses provincial borders to separate the zones. If only it was so clear cut.
More realistically I would be relaxed to travel west of a line from Choum SE to Ayoun, as many regularly do at the moment, even with worried police chiefs and the need for disclaimers. (Once in Mali it's all different of course.)

But I find it hard to believe that now they will let you traipse off to Chegga via Ain Ben Tili to repeat some of Cyril Ribas' big routes from the days when Mori was safe and not just secure.
A cordial 20km agreement with AQIM groups is all very well, but I doubt their supporters and sympathisers in Mori are sitting on their hands.

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  #17  
Old 20 Jan 2013
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Chegga would probably mean pushing the envelope

But I wanted to describe the situation as we experienced it a month ago in some detail.
The overtext is a quote from the gendarmes officer. Secure, not safe then, if you prefer...
I am not saying nothing bad can happen in Mauretania (or anywhere else, for that matter)
But it should be clear from what I and others wrote that the situation has changed over the last few years
And my point is that if you're about to enter a non secure area, the gendarmes won't let you through

Another thing I thought of on this trip is how unlikely you are to be kidnapped on a piste. If they are normally well planned events rather than spontaneous grabs, they are much more likely to happen on a goudron, where they will know when and where to strike.

Since there is a natural tendency to write about things gone wrong it is nice to be able to give another story - that a family did this journey at this time and it was a positive experience all the way. The real Africa, not the media version.

They built a nice looking centre for the Bank d'Arguin National Park on the highway at Ghami. This is also the new entrance point to the park.

There are now gas stations and restaurants along the highway, Morocco style

After not having seen any tourists on the border, I was surprised to see most of the tents at Arkeiss (the northernmost village in the N.P.) busy

"Les Sultanes" is a nice getaway from Nouakchott circa 15 kms north of the city
- excellent and not crowded beach, and you can also camp here ("Chez Nico")


Nouakchott streets 2007

Stuck in the sand

Five years later - paved roads through the city

Last edited by priffe; 2 Feb 2013 at 13:12.
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  #18  
Old 20 Jan 2013
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Nice to see/hear all that, but I'm still a teeny bit worried about being there next week!
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  #19  
Old 21 Jan 2013
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Don't worry too much, but be careful.
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  #20  
Old 27 Jan 2013
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We were a little tense on the road down to Nouakchott, but there was no probs at all ..... until we got to 35kms north of the city. The police/douane checkpoint there did an "everything out" search of my car, looking for booze/drugs etc. They confiscated a bottle of wine and ticked me off for having it but made me a cup of mint tea while they were doing it! The search was not very professional ... if I WAS a smuggler, there are dozens of places they didn't look!
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  #21  
Old 29 Jan 2013
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Mauritania security

We are travelling north around February / march through Mauritania and would welcome anyone wanting to make a convoy.
We are a little concerned about travelling through Mauri and seem to be reading so much conflicting information , if anyone is currently there please get in touch
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  #22  
Old 29 Jan 2013
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We did the coastal route, Maroc-Mauri-Senegal last week. One night in Noadhibou, one night on the highway near Chami (beside a police checkpoint) one night in Noukchott, one night on a piste in the south near the sea.

In short, north of Noukchott there are many many police, military and some kind of quasi military checkpoints. Bring extra fiches. They keep tabs on where foreigners are on the road. We tried to wild camp but they came after us and made us camp beside the closest checkpoint to where we pulled off. They insist there is a danger.

Some of the checkpoints are crooked. The usual vehicle searches, blatant attempts to find reasons to solicit a bribe. It is hard to say how 'at risk' we were from Mali related elements. But we felt very safe - too safe - with our friends in cammo. During our drive we gave two soldiers a ride out of Nouadhibou for 50km and took an engineer to Chami. We past one military convoy (seven Toyota's with mounted 14mm guns) on the entire road.

South of Noukchott the checkpoints are far fewer. Less intense.

We were travelling in an ex-military truck that raised alot of eyebrows but did not cause undue issue. Having a kid (4yrs.) does help alot.
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  #23  
Old 29 Jan 2013
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I will add that some friends were cycling (pedal) the road from the border to Noukchott and were picked up by the police and driven the entire distance! Mauritania is taking no chances!

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  #24  
Old 29 Jan 2013
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Originally Posted by autonomy View Post
Mauritania is taking no chances!
That's the point I was trying to make with the thread.

edit - I have noticed that several travellers, notably the above mentioned pedal bikers, became incredibly frustrated with the gendarmes. I don't think it is possible to bush camp anywhere without the consent of the gendarmerie, in particular along the larger autoroutes. They are acting under instructions, and they take their mission very seriously! No reason to become upset or unfriendly.

So trying to sneak out in the bush is NOT a good idea. They'll come after you. In some instances they've called in helicopters. I think noone wants to wake up with the smatter of a helicopter above the tent.
Instead, ask them nicely if you can put your tent at a small distance from their post, say 100 meters, rather than next to the goudron where they will want you to sleep.

Next trip I hope to have the time to go at least Atar-Tidjidja and hopefully other pistes with lots of bivaques

Last edited by priffe; 2 Feb 2013 at 13:15.
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  #25  
Old 31 Jan 2013
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Originally Posted by TheAfricaSchoolRun View Post
We are travelling north around February / march through Mauritania and would welcome anyone wanting to make a convoy.
We are a little concerned about travelling through Mauri and seem to be reading so much conflicting information , if anyone is currently there please get in touch
I am going to be making the same trip in late march, although using pubic transport.

Does anyone know what would be the most sensible way to travel from Nouakchott to Nouadhibou? Should I visit a reputable tour operator in Nouakchott and arrange a driver (ask them for a vehicle which is discreet) or would that in fact be more dangerous because they might tip the bad guys off in advance that I'm travelling? Would I be best off just turning up to the bus station on the day and getting on a bus full or Mauritanians?
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  #26  
Old 31 Jan 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Essien View Post
Would I be best off just turning up to the bus station on the day and getting on a bus full or Mauritanians?
Exactly so, yes. No worries.
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  #27  
Old 2 Feb 2013
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Lift..?

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Originally Posted by Essien View Post
I am going to be making the same trip in late march, although using pubic transport.

Does anyone know what would be the most sensible way to travel from Nouakchott to Nouadhibou? Should I visit a reputable tour operator in Nouakchott and arrange a driver (ask them for a vehicle which is discreet) or would that in fact be more dangerous because they might tip the bad guys off in advance that I'm travelling? Would I be best off just turning up to the bus station on the day and getting on a bus full or Mauritanians?
Hi it's possible we could give you a lift, dates depending and may be a little cramped but air conditioned! Have emailed you

Last edited by TheAfricaSchoolRun; 2 Feb 2013 at 09:21. Reason: Mistake
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  #28  
Old 2 Mar 2013
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Mauretania is secure! - December, 2012

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Originally Posted by nayladog View Post
This is posted by a nervous traveler doing a Spain-Dakar Rally in a back-up vehicle. This will be my first trip through Mauritania and I'm concerned about kindnappings. One of the things that all the travel warnings say is to be especially careful around boarder crossings such as Western Sahara into Mauritania. I would have thought that the boarder which is heavily guarded would be one of the safer places in comparison to the open expanses of desert. Can anyone shed some light on this?
Hi nayaldog! Here other spaniard that just came from an organised trip, crossed Mauritania early 2013. We had lots of military looking after us. We had very friendly police chekpoints everywhere and, even when doing offroad, we had military and gendarmerie controls about every 3-4 hours or 100-150km. We really felt secure, but always have an eye opened. Governors are concerned about the situation and are working really hard helping organised rallys/tours/etc. not only felt protected, but actually being protected. I saw families, with kids, travelling. As said, we can't actually say it's 100% safe, but believe me, it's not as unsafe as it seems. Apply common sense and the already said prevention actions and you'll do fine about the border: no worries. it's 3 km of no man's land. Ignore all the people you'll find there, just smile and wave bye bye. better cross in convoy and always follow a GPS track, if you have one, otherwise the correct way can be found by looking at the Mauritanian radio antenna and going towards it by riding ridden paths. NEVER drive on unridden paths trough this area, as it's heavily mined. it's not difficult, people cross it on a daily basis. Saludos!
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  #29  
Old 2 Mar 2013
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oh dear, paved roads and visitors centres. how long before MacDonalds and tesco?

I think I preferred the old version.
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