Area: 1,030,700 square kilometres
Population: approx. 3 million
Currency: Ouguiya (MRO)
Mauritania is a huge but sparsely populated country. Its position between North and West Africa, has made Mauritania a blend of both worlds. Contrary to neighbouring Morocco, Mauritania does not receive many tourists. Despite the challenging conditions of the road network, there are oasis towns with beautiful sceneries well worth visiting.
Getting to and from Mauritania:
Nouakchott International Airport (NKC) is located 5 kilometres from downtown Nouakchott, along the Autoroute Akjoujit. The airport is the hub for the national carrier Mauritania Airlines International, which has flights to Morocco and some West African countries, as well as domestic flights to Nouadhibou and Zouerat. A number of international airlines operate scheduled flights from Nouakchott to Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Senegal, Mali, Spain, France and Turkey.
Terminals: One terminal.
Getting to & from Nouakchott: Taxi services to and from the airport are available.
The buses to and from Morocco are currently not running. Cars for crossing the border into Morocco can be arranged in Nouadhibou.
Going to or from Senegal, there are bush taxis that run between Nouakchott and the ferry at Rosso.
Where to Stay:
Some of the best hotels in Nouakchott include:
|Road distances in Mauritania|
|From Nouakchott to:|
|Agadir (Morocco):||1,908 km||Chinguetti:||525 km|
|Ain Ben Tili (Western Sahara border):||1,350 km||El Aioun (Western Sahara):||1,275 km|
|Atar:||441 km||Nouadhibou:||480 km|
|Banc D'Arguin National Park:||140 km||Rosso (Senegal border)||525 km|
The capital of Mauritania is on the shores of the Atlantic. The city started growing more considerably in the 1960’s, after previously having been a village on the route between Morocco and Senegal.
The modern buildings in Nouakchott maintain the traditional Berber style of architecture. Places to see in Nouakchott inclufe the Ksar (fort), the Grand Mosque (donated by Saudi Arabia), the African market, the Camel Market, the Crafts Center and the House of Culture (Maison de la Culture).
During the great drought of 1973-76, huge numbers of the rural population migrated to Nouakchott, increasing the population by more than 300%. Nouakchott’s current population is around 800,000.
Banc d’Arguin National Park
This national park covers a large area of islands and coastline on the Atlantic coast, about half way between Nouakchott and Nouadhibou. The park was created in 1976, and in 1989 it was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.
The park is one of the world’s largest bird sanctuaries and provides shelter for over two million migrant birds from northern Europe. The park’s ecosystem is rich in fauna and flora. Its marine animal-life includes seals, large dolphins, marine tortoises, and crabs. There are also terrestrial mammals such as jackals and gazelles
The islands also have several archaeological sites.
The town of Atar, capital of the Emirate of Adrar, was founded during the 17th century and became an important city for trans-Saharan trade.
Atar was a bustling city during the French colonial period and hosted a large garrison. In recent years, Atar has become a tourism center for the area of Adrar and one of the main tourist destinations in Mauritania.
Places to visit include the central market, and palm plantations like Tawaz, Teyarett, M'Haireth or Azougui, which is an old city of the Almoravides located 10 km from Atar.
40 km of Atar is Tergit, an oasis with lush vegetation. It is one of the most beautiful locations in Adrar.
Chinguetti (Arabic: Shangueet)
Chinguetti, 100 km east of Atar, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. It is a picturesque town with scenic surroundings. Chinguetti is considered a holy city by Mauritanians.
The Grand Mosque of Chinguetti was constructed sometime in the 13th century. The mosque’s architecture is basic, with a striking lack of adornment. In the 1970’s the mosque was restored by the UNESCO.
Chinguetti’s old town is home to five manuscript libraries, containing scientific texts and Quran manuscripts dating back to the Middle Ages.
Note that travelling in Mauritania is time-consuming, and experienced travellers recommend using the domestic air network, rather than going by road. For road-trips to the inland, only 4x4 vehicles are recommended.