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Zangskar Valley, India

Trans Sahara Routes.

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Old 8 Dec 2022
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Paris - Dakar (125cc, no CDP) - October-December 2022

Ahoy fellow overlanders!

New poster here, but I've been lurking on the site and the forums for a while back (immense thanks to the community for the priceless insights it brought me while preparing for a few trips).

Anyway, I just completed a 45 days Paris-to-Dakar trip on a 125cc motorcyle and I just wanted to share some updated info on border crossing, paperwork, fiches and stuff, because I saw a lot of outdated information prior to that trip. And because I want to encourage everybody to do the same, regardless of your experience with travel or motorbikes.

I'm going to try and make a short as possible, but it might still make for some reading.

So first, a few things about me, so you understand which point of view I speak from.

Passport: French
Languages spoken : French, English
Motorcycle : Honda XL Varadero 2008 125cc
CDP : no
Motorbike insurance : no
Repair skills : none
Previous experiences : completed most of the Silk Road in a 125cc a few years back.



Nothing to say here really, good ol' European union. We took the ferry in Tarifa and paid around 80 euros, bikes included, which is pretty expensive. Shoulda probably booked before...

Entering Morocco with a EU passport is painless, and your regular bike insurance will suffice (if it's registered in the EU that is).


As long as you're following the coastline (mostly via the N1), the road quality will range between very good and perfect. These days, all of the intercities routes have been revamped, there is nothing to worry about. You will regularly find gas stations along these new highways, complete with a cafe, a mosk, and the occasional garage.

You will meet the Sahara in Guelmin, when passing through the aptly-named Porte du désert. If there wasn't a lot to see before, now you're literally riding in flatland. Then again, you'll never be alone on the road, nor will you be looking for gas stations. You'll find multiple ATMs in every medium-sized city (Tan-Tan, Tarfaya, Boujdour, Dakhla,Bir Gandouz, Guerguerat).

Western Sahara starts right after Tarfaya (stop there for the night, it's a really laid-back town that was made famous by the Aéropostale).

Starting here, you will encounter regular police checkpoints (around 2-3 per day, keeping in mind that I rode 300-350km tops per day). YOU DO NOT NEED A FICHE, I repeat, they do not care about the fiche anymore. The cops will, however, take your passport, check it, and return it in less than 3 minutes, in perfect professional manner. No one ever asked me anything (there might be some white/ French privilege at play, here).

Then you're up for 2500km of flat nothingness, if you can survive the boredom (get some Bluetooth earplugs and good podcasts - also, cellphone signal in pretty OK, albeit inconsistent, but there are antennas every 20 km or so).The road stays (95%) perfect until you reach the border. Allow yourself a night at the incredible Hotel Barbas in Bir Gandouz. most overlanders stay there and, not gonna spoil, but the place speaks for itself.

One last thought : It was pure chance that I start this trip mid-October, but it was a really good decision. I was chilly during most of my ride through the Sahara, due to being 100m from the coastline. In the mornings, I sometimes had to delay my departure because of the fog. Totally unexpected but welcome overall, as you can easily ride between 2 and 4 pm without feeling too much heat. Remember to stay hydrated, tho. And cover your face, UVs are no joke.

Finally, exiting Morocco was painless. They might search your bags and have a dog give it a sniff but they honestly don't seem to care that much.


Okay, so, almost everything I saw online about that part is dogshit.
**** you, travel influencers.
You will NOT be risking your life zig-zagging through a 10 kilometer minefield in the sand littered with old trucks rusting under the scorching sun. First, the DMZ is barely a kilometer long these days (or so it seemed, I crossed it in maybe 3 minutes).
Yes, the gravel road is shit, but only for a few hundred meters.
Yes, there are still mines, but you have to wander a few hundred meters away from the road to actually risk exploding. (People don't do that anymore; stray camels do, so we've heard.) Fear not, my brave comrade, and please don't go filming another of these sensationalist videos while you cross that weird lawless territory.

Right after the Moroccan gate, you might be greeted by Lamine, a young Black man and self proclaimed "ambassador of Mauritania". He's a fixer (there are a few others), and will help you get through the Mauritanian paperwork for 10 euros.

If you do not speak French (or even just enough), I would advise you to do it. Lamine is not only a sweetheart, he speaks a few languages, knows his shit and walks the walk. First, I told him I didn't need him, because I like to try my luck. But we met again on the other side of the DMZ and he started directing me to all the right places, and making sure I could get all the paperwork done before the 3pm prayer on a Friday. Even grabbed some cop by the jacket to bring him directly to me so he could stamp my passport. He definitely earned those 10 euros. Great guy. With his permission, here is his Whatsapp number : +222 46 68 69 85.


So yeah, Mauritania is another level of sketchy. Once at the border, do not trust any of the guys that don't wear full uniforms. They'll be asking for your papers, just ignore them, breathe, and make it into an actual office before handing any paper (first one on the left). You will have to pay:

-Visa (55 euros)
-Laisser-passer (10 euros)
-Temporary insurance : you can choose either 5, 10, 15 or 30 days I reckon.
I took 10 days for 15 euros, but you'll have to pay for this on in ouguiyas (you can change at the border, Lamine can also help with that).

And you're good to go!

THERE, you WILL need Fiches.
(If you don't know what a Fiche is, there's a template:
Remember to write everything in French.)

I'd printed 20. In four days spent on the road,I gave away exactly 17. Checkpoints are frequent, but not all of them stop you, it's kinda arbitrary. They also barely glance at the Fiche. Just have it ready, say saalam aleykoum, hand out the fiche, say merci and leave. No cop ever asked for any kind of bribe either.

The main road between Nouadhibou and Nouakchott is mostly good, with a few potholes here and there, and a few parts where the new asphalt has these weird perpendicular lacerations due to, I guess, the heat? Cause there, my friend, you will feel Satan's breath as soon as you leave the coast. It. Gets. Hot. Also, you will find a bit less gas stations and cafes, but enough to have a break after an hour or two. I had 5L extra gas with me in case, and never got worried enough to use it (my bike has a range of about 400 km, full tank).

What else? If, like me, you're on a 125cc, you might wanna spend the night in Chami, Mauritania's gold rush city. There's a pretty strange (and rather cold) atmosphere but it's safe overall. In front of the Hotel Iwik, there's a little Auberge called l'Or du Sahara (not on Google Maps, but on IOverlander). Private sort of hut, secure parking, and a cool old Belgian man called Olivier might welcome you there.

Also, be extremely wary with your camera/ cellphone : most Mauritanians I met don't seem to enjoy being photographed, and they will come and ask you, sometimes rather angrily, to delete pictures, even when you're not directly pointed at them. Stay calm, apologize if you must, show them the picture, delete it. Next time, ask for permission.

Once in Nouakchott, be really careful while in traffic. People do crazy shit on beaten-up cars, and go fast while doing so, far from your typical jammed city center where you might get a scratch or two. You might see a couple cars utterly wrecked on the side of the road. Pretty stressful.

Once you leave Nouakchott, you're almost done with the Sahara. A mere 100 km south, you will meet grass, trees, the colour green that' you'd almost forgotten.

I did as everyone does and headed for the Diama border post, supposedly safer than Rosso. After Keur Macène, you're in for about 40 km of dirt road, so don't even try to go there during rain season. Before the border, you'll need to pay for the entrance to the national park (100 MRU), then pay the Exit stamp (500 MRU), then the Taxe de commune (100 MRU), and you're good to go. The policeman that will stamp your passport AFTER you've paid the 500 MRU to his customs colleague next door will try to ask you for a bribe. Play dumb, wait, and get your papers back.


OK, real quick to finish this. Entry to Senegal was really easy. THERE IS NO (in my experience) RESTRICTION FOR MOTORBIKES OLDER THAN 8 YEARS.

When asked about my CDP, I said I didn't have one and asked for a Passavant de circulation valid for 5 days (for 5000 CFA), that I then extended for 15 days in Saint-Louis (at the Bureau des douanes Nord, 16°02'16.1"N 16°30'09.0"W) for another 5000 CFA, and a second time for 15 days in Dakar (the AXA building on Place de l'Indépendance, 4th floor)... this time for free.

And voilà! You've made it to Dakar. If you have the chance, push a bit further to go to Ziguinchor, and come back to Dakar by boat

Hope this helps! Safe journeys everybody!
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Old 23 Dec 2022
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Thank you !!!!

Thank you very much. Very helpful information. Did you take the ferry back to Dakar from Ziguinchor ? Can you tell a bit more of that experience if you did it ? Also wanted to know if you shipped your bikes back from Dakar to France once you finished your what's sound an amazing trip ..... I am planning the same trip this spring.
Thanks again.
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Old 4 Mar 2024
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Great post! I’m aiming to head off from the unfashionable part of The South of France in April.
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125cc, dakar, paris, varadero

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