Mauritania

ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF MAURITANIA

PART 1, General Information

PART 2, BLOGS, Pictures and Gallery

PART 3, Video Clips

PART 1, GENERAL INFORMATION 

Capital city: Nouakchott

Population: 4.5 million

Currency: Ougiya

Km travelled: 2650

Days in Mauritania: 43

Languages: Arabic and French

GENERAL

Mauritania is part of the unseen Africa. This is where Africa starts. (forget Morocco, it has nothing to do with Africa, it is just part of southern Europe) Amazing and not very well known, but modern-day slavery still exist in Mauritania! (And it is suggested thousands are still enslaved). In fact, it was legal to have slaves until 2007. However, in 2010 a report released showed the government did not do enough to enforce the anti-slavery law; in fact until 2010 no one was charged with having slaves. First case was in Jan 2011 when someone was charged with owning slaves, he received just 6 months jail. During our visit (2011) is was estimated that between 500000 and 680000 people lived in slavery. Even in 2018 this figure was still at around 100000. The great Sahel droughts of the early 1970s caused massive devastation in Mauritania, exacerbating problems of poverty and conflict. In recent years, drought and economic mismanagement have resulted in a build-up of foreign debt. Mauritania has extensive deposits of iron ore, which account for almost 50% of total exports. Gold and copper mining companies are opening mines in the interior. Most of the population still depends on agriculture and livestock for a livelihood, even though most of the nomads and many subsistence farmers were forced into the cities by recurrent droughts in the 1970s and 1980s. The Abdallahi government was widely perceived as corrupt and restricted access to government information. Sexism, racism, female genital mutilation, child labour, human trafficking of largely southern-based ethnic groups continued to be problems. Homosexuality is illegal and is a capital offense in Mauritania. Amnesty International has said that the Mauritanian government has practiced institutionalized and continuous use of torture throughout its post-independence history, under all its leaders. This included mistreatment of detainees and prisoners; security force impunity; lengthy pretrial detention; harsh prison conditions; arbitrary arrests; limits on freedom of the press, corruption; discrimination against women; female genital mutilation, child marriage, slavery and slavery-related practices and child labor.

BORDER CROSSING From Morocco to Mauritania

There is a 3km unsealed part between the borders, but it can be passed by a 2WD car without any problems. A few kilometres of twisting, stony, but straightforward pistes to reach the Mauritanian border. This is  no-man’s land, belonging to neither bordering country. Avoid making deals with any one you might meet there. This is when you leave European Morocco and enter the real Africa. Care should be taken not to leave the well-worn pistes between the two border posts, as the area is mined. The danger is still present once you reach the tar on the Mauritanian side, and the area is not considered mine-free until you pass the railway line*1

*1 Please note our crossing was in 2011

BORDER CROSSING to Mali (Timbouqtou)

The dirt road Southeast from Nema, continues to Basswkounou before crossing the border near Lere where it improves into a good dirt road to Niafunke and Timbouctou but since the trouble in Mali you may get some local advice first.

BORDER CROSSING to Mali   

A tar road connects Ayoun al Atrous to Nara in Mali. The Mauritanian formalities are conducted at roadblocks along the border road. The border formalities in Mali are completed at various buildings around Nara town (local children will lead you to the police or customs for a small present).

Border crossing to Senegal (rosso)

Due to the many reports of corruption we never crossed this border but went to the Diama border, also corrupt but not busy, in Diawling National Parc

TOURIST HIGHLIGHTS

Live your dream and visit some of the most beautiful and sensational sand dunes of the Sahara, sleep under the stars, travel to real remote places. Mauritania is part of the unseen Africa and most overlanders follow the main road south towards Senegal or Mali or North back towards Europe. It’s a pity that tourists overlook Mauritania because it has so much to offer the adventuresome traveller. Mauritania is big and empty. It’s almost twice the size of France with only 4 million inhabitants

The Adrar Region

The Adrar massif in the north is full of stunning desert scenery. This region, with its rocky plateaus, mountains and endless dunes, is rugged and picturesque.
Take your 4×4 off-piste (real off road) across rocky terrain and through narrow canyons to explore the lush, hidden date palm oases which have provided water and refuge to traders crossing the Sahara for centuries and 2 historical cities.

Chinguetti was once a trading centre and centre of Islamic scholarship whose architecture remains unchanged in nearly a millennium. The town is a Berber medieval trading centre. This small city only attracts a handful of visitors who admire its spare architecture, scenery and ancient libraries. The city is seriously threatened by the encroaching desert; high sand dunes mark the western boundary and several houses have been abandoned to the sand. The indigenous Berber Saharan architecture of older sectors of the city features houses constructed of reddish dry-stone and mud-brick techniques, with flat roofs timbered from palms. Don’t forget to visit the former French foreign legion fortress

Ouadane

is a small town in the desert region 93 km northeast of Chinquetti. The town was a staging post in the trans Saharan trade and for caravans transporting slabs of salt from the mines. The town declined from the sixteenth century.The old town, though in ruins, is still substantially intact, while a small modern settlement lies outside its gate.

          

World’s longest train      

The train carrying iron from Zouerate to the coast at Nouadhibou, is probably the world’s longest train with a length of 3 kilometres. Consisting of more than 200 carriages and three or four locomotives, the whole journey takes around 12 hours, where almost 700 kilometres are covered. Passengers sit on top of the ore. The train can carry road vehicles as well, and if you are self-driving, you must make arrangements for your vehicle to tag along for the ride. Once your vehicle is on the train, you can decide to travel inside it, on top of the ore, or a combination of the two. The cost of travelling is just around $3USD one way (2011). Sitting on top of the wagons, is all what is offered but this may change in the years to come. Speaking to backpackers who set on top of the ore, they told us it is not an easy ride, no toilets, no food, bitterly cold at night and very hot in full sun during the day as there is no shelter. Lucky, we did the journey in comfort in our truck following the railway line and stay overnight halfway. Amazing scenery and lots of dust and once it gets dark a million stars. Bear in mind that there are no paved roads. These are all dirt tracks running through the desert.

A must do stop (when driving your own vehicle) is the Ben Amera Monolith. The second largest in the world (Ayers Rock in Australia is the largest)

ZOUERATE
In one word: a dump! The conditions of life for people living here is still not very good. But around this place, you’ll meet a lot of foreign workers. And it does seem strange that a country like Mauritania, so poor, is housing foreign labour. Not skilled, normal workers, coming up from the even poorer countries in the south. There is absolutely nothing in Zouerate making it worth visiting. However, the scenery around Zouerate is amazing. Nature here is the strange mixture of Mauritanian red and iron black. The formations of the mountains are made even more dramatic through the mining that started in 1960.

BIR MOGHREIN
Heading the long journey north 440 km from Zouerate to Bir Moghrein you will do for 2 reasons only:

Scenery or if you are on your way to Algeria (border area closed for foreigners (2011). The landscape of this part of Mauritania is dominated by numerous and enormous crater-like depressions and by extremely ancient rocks.   Bir Moghrein itself is little more than a military outpost, and there are no attractions for tourist in town.

CHEGGA
Around 600km north east of Bir Moghrein, but we never made it. A few hundred kilometres before we were stopped by the army and advised this was restricted area and the border to Algeria was not open to foreigners. Chegga is mainly a military outpost, but it has been a tiny settlement and caravan stop for centuries. There is one attraction in Chegga, the fort. It is not old, but dramatic in its setting. The other main attraction is of course the road out here, along the long escarpment of Hank.

 

ATAR
This is called the big town by the locals. While large parts of the traditional architecture of Atar was destroyed by floods and rain in early 1990’s, this oasis, one of the largest settlements in Mauritania’s north, has enough to hold the interest of most visitors. Atar is a very lively town, an important market centre for a vast region, with nomads coming into town in order to stock up, as well as sell their products (mainly foodstuffs and animals). The date Palmeria of Atar is a must for people spending time in Atar, green and luscious, and with an impressive irrigation system. Atar offers a ksar with narrow streets, and a French fort from World War II. Last but not the least Atar has a great overlander camp spot called Bab Sahara with the great Dutch host Justus Buma. It was Justus who gave us all the local info.

NEMA
This is as far south East as you can go in Mauritania. (350 kilometres east of AYUN AL-ATRUS)
Nema is a place of quite a few nice spots. The architecture here is of stone and clad with clay, quite a bit like what is found further north in Oualata. Nema is adorned with luscious green vegetable gardens. From here it is possible to travel to Timbouctou (Mali). Since the trouble in Mali you may get some local advice first.

OUALATA
A great little Medieval desert city, just 80km North of Nema. Probably the most beautiful city in Mauritania. No paved roads here. The houses are decorated beyond most you’ll see elsewhere in the Arab world. The women give ornamentation to the walls, making use of all materials found in this region, mainly gypsum and clay. Doors in wood are highly decorated too. It has a very well-known Koranic school famous all over the Muslim world. This is due to Oualata’s position as one of the most renowned centres of Islamic scholarship in this part of the Sahara region. The school has space for not more than 20 students, and the waiting lists are turning longer and longer.

TIDJIKJA
This was part of the original Dakar race but today few make it out here.  Tidjikja is so much a world set apart, and we were told, true slavery still exists here, – “white” Mauritanians hold “black” Mauritanians as slaves, despite it being illegal today in Mauritania. Pretty rough road to get here and a 4WD is required (2010) Should you make the effort; you will not regret it.

AYUN AL-ATRUS
Here you can make the decision to drive south (180km) or east (350km) to enter Mali.
The sandstone houses, of which there still are a number, are nice, and walks out to the rocks near the town offers some nice views. The market of Ayun-Al-Atrus has become renowned for its trade beads.

Parc National du Banc d’Arguin

This covers a large part of the central coastline and is home to millions of migrating birds each year. Another attraction of the national park are the seven villages of the Imragen people. Their number is a modest 500, all living from fishing. You can watch the unique spectacle of local tribesmen communicating with dolphins (The fisher men beat the water with pods, making dolphins hunt the fish towards the shore) to round up teams of fish into shallow waters for them to be netted.

NOUAKCHOTT

Nouakchott was constructed for 15,000 people, back in 1958. Now there are 600,000 people living here. This extreme growth has nothing to do with economic growth. It’s the recurring droughts in the Sahara the last 10-20 years, that have forced young people, families and small communities into leaving their traditional ways of living.

Nouakchott, by far the largest city of the Sahara, exhibits all the problems of Mauritania. Some people are rich, but inadequate living conditions and slums are dominating, unlike what is normal to the Muslim world. Nouakchott is one of the Arabic cities having the most of the social problems. But Nouakchott has a lot of charm and is not a dangerous place. This city, stretching for kilometres in northern direction, has a laid-back atmosphere. People are very friendly, and there are almost just as many women in the streets as there are men, and there are few signs of limitations to their freedom. The city centre is active and with entertaining market activities going on, mainly in the early hours of the day. The wealthy part of town is the Tavragh Zayna and Las Palmas area, less than half a kilometre northwest of the town centre, indicate what the good life in Mauritania can be like. Huge and impressive villas can be seen from a distance, behind walls and gates. The mosque donated by Saudi Arabia in the town centre, is impressive. So is the Moroccan one, further south.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

NOUADHIBOU
Nouadhibou is the first town you’ll see of Mauritania if you have travelled all the route through Morocco. There is very little to see inside the city of more around 60,000 people, but the nature here is of splendid beauty. Nouadhibou means Place of the Jackal. Many jackals used to come and drink water in a well. The town center roads were paved, and Internet and mobile phones arrived only in 2003. In 2005, the highway between Nouadhibou and Nouakchott was completed. Nouadhibou Bay is regarded unequivocally across the world as being the world’s largest ship graveyard. More than 300 vessels can be found in this graveyard. The Bay of Nouadhibou was used as a ship dumping ground mainly due to corrupt Mauritian authorities allowing uncensored dumping of ships in the Bay after receiving bribes. Hundreds of ships were brought from all over the world to be disposed of in the area during 80’s.

CLIMATE

CHINGUETTY

Summer: 25 degrees at night to 49 degrees during the day

Winter: 11 degrees at night to 30 degrees during the day

Rainfall: Minimal July-Aug wettest

PART 2, BLOGS, Pictures and Gallery

It took 2 hours to clear the Morocco border the person responsible for signing us out had an appointment with a doctor and in typical African style; no-one else could sign us out. Lucky, he never died. The road (wheel tracks in soft sand) now passes through 7km of no-man’s land, which is littered with landmines, so we advise everyone to make sure that you stay on the right track. I also think the 7km is a drive back into history as the Mauritanian border is one of complete chaos, which includes fixers, black money dealers, army, police and customs, all after the many stamps. The obvious poverty at the Mauritanian border post cannot be exaggerated. In huts that in Europe would cause an outrage if you kept your animals in them, here the poor officers from the army, customs and police must take care of the formalities and deal with people crossing a border. No doubt wages are low as most if not all are looking for cadeaux (presents). We finished up paying around 120 dirhams, (around 15AUD and we are not sure for what) so once they had stamped our final paperwork they needed to borrow our pen to sign on the stamp. Anyway, after another two hours and a thorough check in our Motorhome looking for alcohol which is strictly forbidden in Mauritania, we were free to go with the signboards displaying the words “Welcome to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania”.

NOUADHIBOU TO ATAR                                                                                                                                             

And yes, you guessed it another 2km and the first roadblock and then another 3 in the 40km to Nouadhibou. Nouadhibou a town situated on a 60km peninsula or headland called Ras Nouadhibou, of which the western side, with the city of Lagouira, is part of Western Sahara. Nouadhibou is less than a kilometre from the border, if you decide to drive via the beach from Morocco. The city has a relaxed feel and is a mixture of Moors, Berber and Africans. It feels like we are just about to enter Black Africa again. We had heard of a small Auberge in the middle of the town where we could stay inside the gate in the car park. That seems like a good idea. Today’s happy hour was cold water and nuts… Nouadhibou, the interesting part the dormitory town Port Mineralier in the far south, from which iron ore mined in Zouerat is exported. Other points of interest are several markets and a ship’s graveyard. The port of Nouadhibou is the final resting place of over 300 ships and hence the world’s largest ship graveyard. The number of craft has built up over time, as corrupt officials accepted bribes from boat owners to allow them to dump their vessels in the area. The major economic activity is fishing; however, the largest industry is processing iron ore that has been transported by train from the interior mining towns of Zouarate These freight trains can be as much as 3km long, and are the longest in the world. We decided to take the track east, following the railway line as much as possible, to Choum. This famous train carries thousands of tons of crushed rock in a chain of wagons up to three kilometres long. Their schedules and frequencies depend partly on unpredictable hold-ups many of which are caused by damaged rails, engine failure and attacks by Polisario guerrillas from over the border in Western Sahara.

The train has one passenger carriage on the afternoon schedule, but passengers can also travel for free on top of, or inside the ore trucks. You turn off the bitumen at Bou Lanouar N21.17 .396 W 16.30 363 (not exactly correct). The track is remote but not difficult and as long as you do not veer south too much and keep the railway line in sight to the left (driving east), you will be okay. Avoid the many iron stakes by not driving too close to the railway line. Enroute we did see a 2-wheel drive, driving on the rail way track. Never cross the railway had line to the north as this area is heavenly mined. We did the trip to Choum in two days. A great night in the desert. The following days we visited Oudane. the only highlight enroute to Ouadane, was the Amogjar Pass.

The next highlight, it was very narrow, very steep and very scenic. But at the top it was too narrow for our truck! You can also take the now tarred Ebnou pass to save time. This is also spectacular, but nothing compared to the Amogjar pass. The rest of the 200km are a little boring. Arriving at Ouadane you see a palm fringed hill and after such a boring drive, it is unexpected. The town is built in the same colour as the rocks (using the same rocks). You only realise these are houses when you get very close. We found ourselves a nice bush camp and enjoyed a starlit night. We decided to travel from Quadane to Chinguetti, following the notes from Chris Scott, auditor of Africa Overland. This route follows the dunes to Chinguetti. But as we left town we were stopped by the army/police and we were told to turn back and not to use the track. Reason was that a few people got lost and two had died in the desert. One of them rolled his Pinzgauer on the dunes and walked away from his vehicle not to be found for two days! You are now only allowed to drive this stretch with a guide. Reluctantly we turned around and had to drive back the same boring route. Just before Atar, we passed the Azougui Oasis.

ATAR TO NOUAKCHOTT

When we arrived in Atar we were confronted by demonstrations, not just men but also women. Initially we thought It was to do with labour day, but it didn’t take long before we heard Bin Laden had been killed. As we walked around town we found ourselves right in the middle of the demonstrations. We did our shopping and found Bab Sahara, a small compound where we parked our truck. Atar is a lively place and the hub for the Adrar Mountains. After we left Atar we travelled via the Oasis of Terjit to the town of Akjoujt. This is a town in the middle of Mauritania and is located at around 19.75N 14.38W. It is the capital of Inchiri region. The town’s main industry is gold and copper mining. Summers in Akjoujt are extremely hot, with temperatures reaching up to 50 degrees Celsius. Today we encountered 10 road blocks and the main reason given was security and rebel activity. The area we travelled through today showed the poor Mauritania that we often see on TV. Located in the Sahelian and Saharan zones, Mauritania has one of the poorest agricultural bases in West Africa. We were told today that the average Mauritanian lives on 1.25 USD per day. From here we made a right-hand turn reason we were required to drive to Nouakchott for our Mali Visa. Nouakchott was something very different and to be quite honest not one previous African Capital we have visited in the past 14 months has been so poor and so undeveloped. Sand has taken over this desert town and the people walking the streets are some of the poorest we have seen anywhere. The few cars are mostly Mercedes or Peugeot and are on average 50 years old.

Nouakchott “The place of the winds” is the capital and by far the largest city of Mauritania. It is one of the largest cities in the Sahara. The city is the administrative and economic centre of Mauritania. Most streets are completely covered by Sahara sand and the few bitumen roads are in poor shape. Traffic lights work on and off. We did our shopping and looked up Auberge Menata, where we can camp in the car park within the compound. We arrived at the Mali Embassy and at Midday our Visas were ready. Well organized, friendly and helpful. No doubt Mali wants visitors. Today, the French army flew in as extra protection for the airports. With the death of Osama Bin Laden, everyone is on high alert. The Islamic Magreb is a North African off-shoot of a Bin Laden extremist network. They say it is very active in the south-east of Mauritania and the northern parts of Mali. And this is exactly where we will travel to today and for the next 3 or 4 days. We are not sure what happened here yesterday, but we were told a convoy of AQIM vehicles crossed from Mali into Mauritania to assassinate the Mauritanian President. They got as far as the outskirts of Nouakchott when one car blew up during an engagement with the army. The pressure continues following last month’s abductions of two French nationals from Niger, which soon ended in their deaths. While at the Mali Embassy, we also heard of trouble in Burkina Faso. Apparently mutiny of members of the military. Also, the government has been dissolved and police are firing into the air to disperse demonstrators. There is no Ghana Embassy in Nouakchott. After one more night on the beach watching the fisherman pull the nets in full of fish. We were about to leave but were stopped with the message no-one can leave town?!?!

NOUAKCHOTT TO MALI BORDER

2 days later we had the all okay and were allowed to leave Nouakchott travelling east, but we had to assure the police that we would not travel beyond 6pm. The Sahara is the world’s largest hot desert and the world’s second largest desert after Antarctica. At over 9,000,000 square kilometres (3,500,000 sq. miles), it covers Algeria, Libya, South-west Egypt, North- east Sudan, Niger, Chad, Mali and Mauritania till the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean. To the south, it is delimited by the Sahel, a belt of semi-arid tropical savanna separating the Sahara from Sub-Saharan Africa. The Sahara is almost as large as the continental United States, and is larger than Australia. Some of the sand dunes can reach 180 meters (600 feet) in height. Its name comes from the Tamajaq Tuareg language word Tenere, which means the desert. Slowly the sandy Sahara dunes started to disappear, and the Sahel country started to appear. The Adrar is exactly how you’ve always imagined the Sahara to be. Endless ergs (dunes) and regs (rocky desert) with tabular small mountains. From here you can follow many tracks far to the south east before crossing into Mali like we did on our way down. Mauritania is an Islamic Republic. The Southern part of the country is filled with friendly people, and they are very welcoming, if a little unused to tourists. The Mauritanians are certainly not extremists. Most of the people in the North are very conservative and quite reserved. At 8pm the temp was still 39 degrees and the wind was as hot as that coming from a hair-dryer. In Australia our main concern is kangaroos on the roads, but here it is camels. After the camels it must be the overloaded trucks. Some trucks were up to 7 meters high. It was incredible seeing the evening traffic. Only one in ten cars had all their lights working and only one in five had just a front or a rear light. Four out of ten have no lights and the cop car only had one light. Once we arrived at an army post at 5.30pm (11th for the day) we were inspected and invited to camp right behind their camp.

It was obvious they were expecting us. We shouted them some diet coke (no alcohol in Mauritania) and biscuits and in return we were invited for the tea. We enjoyed another night under the stars feeling a little secure knowing we have police/army around us. By the way, the local Muslim people made it quite clear to us that Bin Laden was unarmed, and his children were there when he was shot. We just left it at that as we do not speak French and we didn’t want to make a comment.

As the night progressed, we received more visitors and I don’t think they have ever seen a truck from Australia before. We handed out some cadeaux and before we knew it we received camel milk, camel meat and other foods in return. Problem was we were not sure what it was. As we found during Stage One of our journey, the African people are so friendly, and we love this continent. The people who live here deserve so much more. We left early and spent the whole day driving. Like yesterday, passing villages full of rubbish either at the beginning or the end. Even rubbish dumps in the middle of the street. All streets are made up out of tiny stalls selling everything from phone cards to fresh slaughtered meat in the open sun. The Mali border was our planned destination for today. But the road between Kiffa and Ayoun El-Atrous was potholed for the complete distance of 220km. This, in conjunction with over 15 road blocks and corrupt officials, we were asked over and over for everything from toys for their kids to Euros and cadeaus. Today we remembered again the joke you are drunk in Africa when you miss all the potholes. Well we were not drunk, and we were incapable of missing the potholes, in fact it was not a matter of missing the potholes, but which pothole was better to drive through. I felt quite silly with my fully optioned 4WD truck doing 20/30km per hour while bush taxis and 1990 Mercedes taxis were speeding at 60- 70 km hour. Obviously, the stock standard suspension, although noisy, seems to keep going. And no doubt they gave up on aftermarket items years ago. I also worked out that the best tyre was a brand imported by Ali Baba (this is the real name) called Ling Long. No patents, no anti-chip and no other fancy shit. Just a cheap strong tyre, which can be driven with chunks missing and steel coming though the tread with an average speed of around 30km per hour, the last 180km took 6 hours and it was 6pm when we arrived in Ayoun El-Atrous. We again looked for a nice spot for bush camping, but the same as yesterday, we were told to stop and find an enclosed compound in town to be safe for the night. We were again advised there were bandits operating at night. We took the advice and we found a spot inside a compound in Ayoun El-Atrous. This time an Auberge that was being built. After a bit of negotiating we stayed for 5 Euro including a cold shower. As we were parking the truck, we realized we had a puncture. But after a long day and very hot weather, we first had a shower and decided to put the jack under the truck and change the tyre tomorrow morning, when it is cool (probably around 35 degrees!

RETURNING BACK IN MAURITANIA (ENTERING FROM SENEGAL) JOURNEY BACK TO MOROCCO

DIAMMA BORDER to MOROCCO BORDER

We had an early departure, filling up with fuel and then off to the Senegal border in Diamma. From there, we cross into Southern Mauritania. Driving through northern Senegal we drove around the Senegal River and Parc National du Djoudi. Further inland, the Senegal River region is characterized by vast open spaces dotted with tiny villages and beautiful mud-brick houses. A chain of 18th-century French forts also provide focal points for travellers making the effort to visit the river region. Forming the border between Senegal and Mauritania, the Senegal River runs for some 1790km through West Africa. After about 20km we arrived at the Senegal border. Formalities were going smoothly and with no problems until the passports where stamped. Then we were told to pay10,000CFA to get them back! This was the fee for stamping. I looked at the officer and said, “Well sir, let me give you my business card and I would also like to use your phone.” The card was just our website and email address, but we told them that we are writing a book. “Surely you don’t want to be in my book,” I said. The chief had to get off his bed to have a look at the card and then he told me that this charge was a mistake because the stamping fee only applied when we enter Senegal, but as we were leaving, there is no need to pay. Next border was Mauritania. Same story, they said that we had to pay 6,000CFA for the paperwork. Unfortunately for him, he had no receipts left but he said the stamp in my passport would verify that I have paid. So that was that and so far, as I was concerned there was no more to pay, because you don’t have to pay at Customs. Then, just as I was reconciling that in my mind, a Customs officer came up to me. The demanding that I pay him 2,000CFA. I then became very angry and said, “I have already paid!” He replied and said that it was nothing to do with him. “Well, you come with me,” I told him. And we went back to the police. Unfortunately, both work together and when I demanded to get my 6,000CFA back, he said, “No problem, but first we will search your car. Oh shit. To cut a long story short they found one can of beer I had forgotten to take out of the fridge. This of course is a criminal offence in this Muslim country. After some discussion we came to a compromise. The officer said to me, “You did not see the can of beer in the fridge so just leave the 6,000CFA with us and be on your way. Anyway, only one more border crossing in West Africa and we will be in Morocco. It seems to us that most of West Africa is so corrupt and we are both pleased to be leaving this part of the world. The constant demands and subsequent haggles over bribes put us on edge. It is so bad that police officers at road blocks even argue with each other over who is going to rip a bribe out of the unsuspecting white fella. That is certainly not the way to gain respect. At Diama we entered the Diawling National Park, Due to the unrest in the country we stayed overnight in the park before returning to the main North – South road in Mauritania. Unfortunately for us, we found ourselves caught in a major sandstorm, which lasted for two days. It is called the Harmattan, which is a hot, dry, and dust-laden wind. It blows from the Sahara and one night we were battered by 80km hour winds, which really made us worry about the truck blowing over or at least, having the paint stripped off. Except for 50mm of dust over the truck, we survived. From here we stuck close to the ocean because visibility was very very poor, and the heat inland was close to 50 degrees Celsius. While near the ocean it was so cool that we sat inside for the first time in months. We arrived at the border with Mauritania and Morocco, hoping to have the formalities done in a few hours but it took a lot longer than we had expected. Three hours to clear Mauritania customs then the infamous 7 km through an ex minefield to reach the Morocco border (Western Sahara) and then two and a half hours to get into Morocco, including driving our truck through a scanner. From here all the way Bitumen to our next stop in Morocco

WELCOME BACK TO CIVILAZATION, WELCOME TO MOROCCO.

PART 3, Video Clips

(VIDEO Mauritania is under construction)

COMPILATION VIDEO AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST include Mauritania

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Round the world video compilation