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Old 8 Oct 2003
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Smara to Mauritania

A question was asked here a month or so ago about a possible way from Smara to Mauritania. I was in Smara a couple of weeks ago and asked around.

I went both to the police, the gendarmerie and what passes for customs and was told by all that they had no problem with this. I was also told by the surete and immigration that if the military are in agreement then its fine by them too. So I went to the military and was shown into some senior officer after some waiting.

I asked him was there any problem in doing the route and was told "If layooune and Agadir are OK then so are we". he had a talk with a more senior officer who said "I dont think it should be too difficult". A fax was sent to Layooune and I wass told the answer will probably take 2-3 days.

I was then taken outside by the senior officer who wanted to inspect the vehicle, when he saw it was a Merc 190 he said straight out that there was no way I was going to be allowed to do the route in a car like that and not alone. I asked him is it possible to wait for the response from Layooune and was told to come back with a 4X4 and they will see what happens.

Frustratingly enough I was never told if it was actually possible or not and a day of asking around didnt help either. I had no intention of doing the route in the 190 as I was on my way to Nouadhibou but I met a couple of UN or Red Cross people who were the opinion that it is legally possible.

I'm not telling people it is or isnt possible but I got positive signs in most places I went, but if anyone ends out wasting a couple of days in Smara waiting for a permit that doesnt exist then dont blame me. Im going to try it again in Janurary or February with a 4X4 so I"ll see what happens then.
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Old 8 Oct 2003
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Interesting news. I'll be in Smara myself in a couple of weeks (in a 4x4) and will start off the same routine (wont have time to hang around for days and see it through tho').
If enough of us keep asking it will become more normal to them, tho in my experience guys on the front line are often positive about possibilities - its the chefs or rules back at HQ that are obstructive.

It would certainly make the drive to Mori more desirable.


I just picked up an old book "The Forgotten Path" from 1965 which takes that route, but from Tindouf. Ch. 1 is called "It's Impossible". He was in a Ford Zephyr.

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Old 17 Oct 2003
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Heres some info which I picked up on www.sahara-info.ch the last couple of days.
I'm just going to summarise it as the internet in Bissau hasn't been working properly the last couple of days and I'm not taking any chances trying to do something fancy like transferring files.

The border crossing below is referred to as "Guelta Zemmour".

The Mauritanian Consul in Paderborn Germany (a german and very helpful and reliable) says that it was until the bombing in Casablanca possible for a short time although illegal. It is now only possible for UN workers. There was recently an attack on the train line just North of Choum and he doesn't recommend the area for tourists at the moment.

Another post is from a guy called Gebhard who I don't know. He doth sayeth; "we took the route via Atar,Choum,Bir Mogrein, Galat Zemmour. The route to Bir mog was no problem, at atar Choum and Bir Mog we were told that the border was open. At the moroccan border we were told that the border was closed since 01.05.2003 for civilians. After several hours of waiting we were taken in convoy to layounne where we did our entry formalities. We were only the third group to cross the border since 01.05."

So maybe the crossing west to east is impossible and the other way round it is, who knows, as Chris says if a lot of people ask maybe they will think it over although I must admit that security has been stepped up in the south since the bombings in Casa.
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Old 17 Oct 2003
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I also just heard this news that Mori to Maroc is not possible from the north due to Casa bombings. Never thought it was but sounds a plausible reason for Morocco to try and control incoming from the south.
We've got Mori visas now and will give Smara - Bir Mog a try in a fortnight or so.


PS: That Zephyr book is reveiwed here:
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Old 19 Oct 2003
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Looks like an idea. At least if the piste from Bir Moghrein to Fderick isn't too though. Does anybody know about it. and what about other traffic? We're in Casa now and head to Mauri in about 10 days or so.


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Old 20 Oct 2003
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From what was written on the "sahara-info" site the trip to Bir Mog wasnt difficult. I did it twice years ago in a Landie and it wasnt too difficult.

I spoke with a high ranking Moroccan guy in the UN in Dakar a few days ago he said that "under the present circumstances (Casa bombing)" he doesnt think it will be possible.

There is a report on the "sahariens" website that a bunch of French tourists had their GPS units impounded by Moroccan customs in Tanger. At the moment theres relativly little info on it but we should know more in a couple of days.
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