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The first part of this piste is now sealed and follows the tarmac road from Nouadhibou to Nouakchott. The best place to join the piste appears to be at the town of Bou Lanouar about 90kms from Ndh, which is where the tarmac road begins to turn south. Navigation by the railway remains straightforward and the tracks are quite clear.
Although there is a promising looking fuel station about 1km past the town of Bou Lanouar on the Ndh - Nkt road, no petrol was available when we were there. Petrol was available in jerrycans from Choum for 300 Ouguiya a litre.
Hi, it's a year since I last drove this, but I doubt it's changed much.
Navigation is easy - just stay South of the railway, then follow the piste South West from Choum. The going is frequently rough at either end - with particularly nasty corrugations between Choum and Atar. Some soft sand in the middle section, but if things got difficult you could possibly ride between the tracks. I'd allow 2 days in a 4x4, so maybe 3 on a bike?
There are some dramatic rock outcrops West of Choum which are fun to climb for a sunset/sunrise. Enjoy!
Agree with the previous post, however I don't think the sand was ever deep enough to warrant riding on the tracks. There are two relatively easy dune sections and a couple of sections with deepish sand ruts, including near the first village as you join the piste from the Ndb - Nkt road and in the middle of the piste. Most of the rest of the piste is relatively fast tracks across open desert.
I think two days on this piste on a bike is sufficient (and indeed would expect a bike to do this piste much quicker than most 4WDs).
we did it in 21/2 days with very heavilly loaded 4x4s (carrying schoolbooks) so a fair bit of digging!. I wouldn't reccomend riding on the tracks
a. it would be mind bogglingly uncomfortable
b. I have heard there are a lot of nails about, close to, and presumably on, the railway, stay a good 50 metres away
Haakon, sorry don't know a place in NDB, but the border bottleneck is often a good chance to hook up with others. Otherwise, further North in the WS, the campsite outside Dakhla is a longtime haunt for overlanders.
Matt - be interested in hearing more about your recent trip, sent you a pm.
When I was there a couple of years ago Camping Bai du Levrier in the middle of Nouhadibou was the overlanders hangout. The road may have changed this as there's less need to go to at Nhb now - particularly if you're going to Choum and don't need supplies
We (3 BMW 1150 GSs and a Yamaha 600 Tenere) tried this route about 10 days ago, from Nouadhibou to Choum/Atar. We got 54 miles from the sealed road and decided it was too difficult (but not impossible) to continue, we camped for the night and rode out the next day. Fortunately we made the right decision, as we were leaving the piste a sandstorm started that lasted all the next day. We rode in it for 8 hours/300 miles all the way to Nouakchott, totally blinding and so fierce that it stripped the anodising off the fork legs and wheel rims, ruined the screen, headlights and 2 visors. It also took the nickel plating off my ratchet strap! We would have been in serious trouble if we had stayed in the desert, it would have been impossible to ride and the locals said the storms can last for up to 6 days. We were very heavily loaded though, with full luggage, camping gear, 50 litres of fuel and 20 litres of water each. Running on TKC tyres but the soft sand was a nightmare. The railway track is litterted with huge steel shards from the lines, I wouldn't recommend riding on the track although I did a few hundred yards. We saw the Desert Train, absolutely awesome!
I did it a couple of months ago in a car and if I was riding a bike (especially a tanked up 1150) I would ride steadily between the rails around the dune cordons which come later. I can't say I noticed any stakes any more than general metal junk (like old sleepers, etc) lying around. You just keep your eye out. There are no sleepers on the rails, or they are covered with coarse gravel/stones - at least on the sections we saw. It would be much more predictable on the gravel than riding sandy dune ruts which is the worst sort of terrain for a bike IME. You'd want to keep and eye on your mirrors though...
Cutting the corner to avoid Choum was not so obvious on the ground (got some wpts somewhere) but we worked it out on a bearing and picked up the main track down to Atar. With the interesting sites around Atar/the Adrar plateau I think it's well worth trying to go this way rather than down the highway to NKT. One could even take a direct route from Bou Lanouar or the highway to the first escarpment pass (KM494) before Azogui. It cant be any harder, just trackless. fyi Maison de Bien Etre in Ching (in the book) is still a cool spot to park up and there is hand pumped fuel in Oudane now - also well worth a visit.
What is approximately the distance between nouhabidhou and atar. And is it possible to complete the way with a 4x4 subaru forester? Maybe we want to drive this road in begin August. And then from Atar go south to Nouakchott. That's a better way, isn't it?
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