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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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  #1  
Old 24 Oct 2003
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Q:Road Condition between NKC and Atar in Mauritania

I plan to travel from Nouakchott(NKC) to Atar and Chinguetti in Mauritania and am wondering whether I can drive a car for that travel. The information I collected so far is : Previously the road condition was acceptable only for the section between Nouakchott and Akjoujt. Some construction work, however, was made around 2000. After the work,it became possible for one to get to Atar from NKC in 7 hours and to Chinguetti from Atar in 1 hour.

Also what I read was that sand dunes move contniuosly in that region and parts of the the road are apt to be covered by sand.

What is the current condtion of the road? Is the road contion relatively well maintained so that the current driving hours is still close to the 7 hours and 1 hour or the condition became very bad nowadays one needs to give up the idea of driving a car there unless one is fully experienced and prepared against car problems such as puncture and suspension breaks?

I need this information urgently. Anybody has recent information?
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Old 24 Oct 2003
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Road between Nouachott and Atar was pristine in 2001.
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Old 24 Oct 2003
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..and unless they have sealed it (as they were planning) Atar to Chinguetti takes about 2 hours (Route R1. via the New Pass), getting sandy as you near Ching.

CS
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Old 25 Oct 2003
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Thank you for the information.

It seems the condition is not bad and I feel my plan of renting a car of 4-wheel drive at Nouakchott and driving it by myself may be feasible. Though I have a relatively wide range of driving experience such as on snow, ice and rough roads and have engineering background, I do not have experience of driving on sand at all.

Will my plan work out there? (Situation of car renting in Nouakchott? Condition and performance of cars under renting? Also specific road condition?)
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Old 25 Oct 2003
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You can hire a Toyota Hilux in Atar with or without driver from a small private company (I forget the name - but they will find you if you put the word out). I'm sure you could also hire one in Nouachott but given that it is basically a day's drive to Atar and a days's drive back it may be cheaper to organise in Atar (provided you can find alternative transport to atar).

In any event take your time in negotiating price, remain polite during the bargaining process (even if the prices are outrageous at first) and have a clear idea of what you want or are willing to pay.

Re experience, if you have not driven in the desert before I would recommend travelling with someone who has or taking a driver on the understanding that you want to learn to drive.

It is often the case that the guides cannot drive and that drivers are not guides. You need to be clear what you want.

If you are on your own you may want to hire a guide, driver and car. You'll then be well looked after and will get good introductions where ever you go.
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Old 26 Oct 2003
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Drove Atar-Nouakchott in March 2003. Great road & took 5 hours. Stop at Akjoujt for fuel & a cool drink if needed.

Atar-Chinguetti took approx' 1 hour. The new pass, through the mountain, is sealed, with a good formed gravel road on either side. Minimal sand is on the road.

I would hire a car in NKT & then a guide, if you think one is needed (we didn't), when you get to Chinguetti.

Regards

David
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  #7  
Old 27 Oct 2003
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Thank you guys for the great information at the last minute of my preparation for the trip. I am leaving for Moritania tomorrow.
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