Mauritania and Western Sahara – 9 days

Africa
|
9
days | 2 - 9 people in a group
tour description

nature, history, culture, sightseeing

We invite you to an exceptional expedition to the western end of the Sahara, during which we will see beautiful desert landscapes which are only seemingly monotonous and austere.

During our journey, we will visit the towns of Atar and Chinguetti which used to be important centres of trade and culture in the western part of Saharan Africa. We will also go to Western Sahara – one of the least frequented countries of the world, where we will meet with its inhabitants and learn about the culture, traditions and contemporary history of Saharan people.

itinerary

Flights usually arrive in Nouakchott in the evening. After arrival, visa formalities. Transfer to a hotel and evening dinner. D.

D.

After breakfast, we will begin our Saharan adventure, taking the route on the Atlantic shore of Mauritania. Then we will visit the Banc d’Arguin National Park, one of the most important sanctuaries for migratory birds in this part of Africa. This place – owing to its outstanding natural features and extraordinary landscape – was entered into the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1978. Then we drive deeper into the desert, to the area of Bennichab. En route we will stop at the most spectacular viewpoints. We will stay for dinner and for the night in our desert camp among majestic dunes.

B. L. D.

After breakfast, we will start heading north-east, towards the border with Western Sahara. On the way we will see a 740-km long railway line connecting the Nouadhibou port with the mines in Tazadit. Trains that run on this route are over 2.5 km long. Then we will go to Ben Amera with its second largest rocky monolith in the world after the Australian Uluru. It will be an extraordinary encounter with this granite colossus measuring 633 metres. Near Ben Amera we will have our lunch and some rest. Then we will cross the border with Western Sahara and go to the place where our desert camp will be put up, for dinner and night rest.

B.L.D.

After breakfast, we will continue our journey through the territory of Western Sahara, which is controlled by the POLISARIO front troops. Now most of the country is occupied and colonised by Morocco. Currently, the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic occupies 15% of its original territory and is recognised by 84 countries of the world. During our trip, we will get to know the inhabitants of Western Sahara, their traditions and culture. We have accommodation planned near Aghweinit.

B.L.D.

After breakfast, we will go towards the border of Western Sahara. We will cross it and drive to Zouérat, the location of one of the largest iron mines in Africa. There will be an optional attraction of taking the famous train to Ben Amera, 80 km. We will stay for the night in the camp near Ben Amera.

B.L.D.

After breakfast, we will set off to the south, towards Atar. En route we will see rock paintings left by the first inhabitants in the times when Sahara was a green savannah. Then we will stop in Azougoui where we will visit the remains of an 18th century fortress that existed in the times when the town was ruled by the Almoravid dynasty. In the afternoon, we will reach the town of Atar. For thousands of years, this town has remained an important trading centre at the intersection of Saharan routes. Dinner in one of local restaurants. Night rest at the hotel.

B.L.D.

After breakfast, we will set off for Chinguetti, one of the oldest towns of Western Africa. Owing to its rich history and historical sights it is found on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The town was founded around 770. Chinguetti was on the trade route between the towns located on the Niger River and Mediterranean shores. After Timbuktu, it was one of the most important cultural hubs in Africa, which is evidenced by the library where we can still find a collection of antique books dating back to the Middle Ages. In the afternoon, we will go to see the nearby dunes, one of the most beautiful sights in Mauritania. Dinner and night rest in Chinguetti.

B.L.D.

Po breakfast, we will leave Chinguetti and head to the Terjit Oasis. This settlement located in a gorge at the end of the Adrar plateau is a truly enchanting place owing to its lush vegetation and cool shade. After some rest and lunch, we will start our trip to Azweiga (Amatlich), for the last dinner and night stay in a desert camp.

B.L.D.

After breakfast we will start our drive to Nouakchott. We will arrive in the Mauritania capital in the afternoon – there will be time for lunch and and some refreshment at the hotel, depending on the time of our arrival. Then transfer to the airport and flight back home from Mauritania. In the case of a morning flight, a supplementary payment for the additional accommodation will be necessary.

B.L.

Practical information

  • the length of the tour : 9 days in Africa;
  • start of the trip: Nouakchott;
  • end of the trip: Nouakchott;
  • the highlights of this expedition The most important attraction will be the desert expedition to one of the least accessible and least tourist-visited regions of not only Sahara but the whole of Western Africa. During our tour, we will visit the most important scenic attractions of Mauritania – the Ben Amer monolith, the spectacular dunes in Bennichab or the Banc d’Arguin National Park. Moreover, we will see one of the towns of the western part of Sahara, such as Chinguetti, Atar or Azougoui with their outstanding architecture remembering the times of ancient kingdoms that once existed in this part of the continent. During our tour, we will also travel through the territory of Western Sahara, where we will try to learn about the life and culture of its inhabitants.

The tour is oriented on sightseeing and cultural tourism. Because of the special nature of the visited places and of the expedition features, the travellers are required to be physically and mentally fit. You should be prepared to long car rides through the Saharan wilderness, often at more than +35°C. Sleeping in tents without access to toilets and showers may be very tiresome and cause considerable discomfort. Furthermore, as the expedition will take place to very remote areas, during its course there will be practically no access to medical services, except for the capital – Nouakchott, and Atar or Zouérat. No long hikes or activities that require strenuous physical effort are envisaged during the tour. The itinerary was designed to enable best possible viewing of the places away from mass tourism routes, while meeting basic safety standards and ensuring comfort to the travellers. Bear in mind that the area of the planned expedition is mostly inhabited by Muslims, which means the need to respect cultural differences and adhering to the appropriate dress code.

 

Depending on the political situation, the length of the tour and the order of visited places may change. In a situation of a serious threat to travellers’ safety, the tour may be cancelled. We will keep you updated as to whether the expedition is possible.

Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after the planned end of the tour.

You may buy the Mauritanian visa at the airport but if you choose this option please contact our office.

We will obtain the visa for Western Sahara when crossing the border with Mauritania.

You should take with you for the trip a photocopy of your passport (the photo page) and an additional ID document.

  • Take with you for the trip the yellow vaccination booklet with certified valid yellow fever vaccination.
  • Vaccination against yellow fever, tetanus, diphtheria, viral hepatitis A and B, meningococci, typhus and meningitis is recommended.
  • Despite a low risk, it is worth preparing to malaria prevention (Malarone or Lariam).
  • There is a risk of dengue and tuberculosis at the places planned to be visited during the trip.
  • During our expedition, we will drink only bottled water. You should avoid ice in your beverages and eating raw or undercooked foods. Only private medical care exists in Mauritania and Western Sahara, and this only in the capitals.
  • Because of difficult travelling and accommodation conditions and particularities of the country, good general health and physical fitness are necessary. Furthermore, your patience will definitely be tested and you should prepare for hardships of long journeys, lassitude and discomfort.
  • Before departure, we recommend a consultation with a family physician and a tropical medicine specialist.
  • Please take with you a first aid kit and a sufficient supply of your regular (prescription) medicines, if any. Some useful contents of the first aid kit:
  • insect repellents – absolutely necessary
  • high sun protection cream (recommended SPF 50)
  • disinfectants, wound dressing materials
  • analgesics and antipyretics
  • antibiotics, as a precaution
  • anti-diarrhoeals, electrolytes and vitamins

Mauretania is a relatively stable country. In the region where we plan our trip the actual terrorist threat or armed conflict risk is nowadays relatively low. We design our itineraries so as to avoid places that are potentially dangerous (border region with the Republic of Mali).

Western Sahara, i.e. the territories controlled by the POLISARIO front, is disputed with the Kingdom of Morocco. However, in the region where we plan our trip the actual terrorist threat or armed conflict risk is nowadays relatively low. We design our itineraries so as to avoid places that are potentially dangerous – e.g. the region of border walls with the Kingdom of Morocco.

Owing to the good relations we have with local contractors, we keep following the news to be aware of any potential threats and safety risks. We also recommend you to read the latest news on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website:https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

The official currency in Mauritania is ouguiya. Currency exchange is possible only in the capital – at the airport and in hotels. You cannot change money anywhere else. Using payment cards is practically impossible outside the capital. The best foreign exchange rate is for euros. US dollars or UK pounds are not generally exchangeable.

In the territory of Western Sahara, payments in ouguiyas and euros are accepted.

For current foreign exchange rates see www.xe.com or install xe.com on your phone.

The official language in Mauritania is Arabic. Moreover, a high proportion of society speaks French. Arabic and Spanish are generally used within the territory of Western Sahara. In the case of a group tour, the tour leader will speak English or French. For self-guided tours, you must speak French, while English-speaking travellers must hire a local guide with a command of English.

Mauritania and Western Sahara are multi-ethnic countries with predominance of Sunni Muslims who are often very conservative. There is no obligation of wearing headscarves by women but out of respect for the local customs wearing them will be very much appreciated by the locals. The same applies to wearing long trousers by men or loose-fitting clothing that hides the figure by women. When visiting some mosques and other places of worship, women may be asked to put on a chador that may be borrowed free-of-charge at the entrance to the building. In some towns, non-Muslims are not allowed to enter mosques. You should bear in mind that there are considerable differences between the conservative province and relatively liberal large towns. It is very important to respect local customs and abide by local laws. You will receive the relevant information from your local guide or the tour leader.

The tour dates are proposed in periods of the best possible weather conditions at the sites included in the itinerary. The best time for a Saharan expedition to Mauritania and Western Sahara is the period between November and February. Temperatures do not exceed +35°C during the day and +7°C at night. High density of dust particles is a major issue. Sandstorms may appear.

For detailed information see https://www.meteoblue.com/en.

Mobile network coverage is available in most towns and villages but absent in many areas, especially outside larger towns. Purchase of a local SIM-card is complicated and of little benefit. Before the trip, please enquire with your mobile network operator whether they have a contract signed with operators in Mauritania and Western Sahara and what the prices of call and SMS roaming are. To avoid a nasty surprise, we recommend disabling mobile data usage.

  • Wi-Fi is available only in hotels in the largest towns, e.g. in Nouakchott, and in a handful of restaurants.
  • Additionally, we recommend taking a capacious power bank, solar charger or car charger. In the course of car rides, it will be possible to charge electronic equipment only from vehicle power supplies.
  • Power sockets of type C, E and F. Voltage 220 V, frequency 50 Hz.

For climatic and cultural reasons, loose garments will be most appropriate: long trousers, long skirts, long-sleeved shirts, which can be easily washed and will quickly dry. The most comfortable footwear for the tour will be lightweight boots. Palladium brand boots are recommended. You may walk in open sandals but in towns as well as in savannas and desert regions this may be uncomfortable because of stones, thorny plants and sharp grasses. Hiking boots are not necessary.

The following are worth taking:

  • aluminium sleeping pad or light self-inflating mat and thin summer sleeping bag; we provide a mattress during the trip but taking your own pad or mat will improve your sleeping comfort during the Saharan expedition
  • sachet for documents and money
  • wet wipes for body cleaning and antibacterial gels
  • dry shampoo
  • polar fleece jacket or warmer blouse, especially useful at evening and night times
  • head cover and sunglasses – mandatory, the sun is no joke!
  • comfortable summer clothes, useful during practically the whole trip
  • light T-shirts/shirts
  • useful odds and ends: torch, Swiss Army knife, sewing kit (usually is not needed but is not heavy and does not take much place), chargers, mug (for special occasions); inflatable neck pillow, useful on the plane and during car rides; small wallet for the local currency; books to pass the time on flights and car rides

Price

Price depends on number of participants. Please refer to list below:


  • £ 4290  p/p  – group of 2
  • £ 3390  p/p  – group of 3
  • £ 2990  p/p  – group of 4
  • £ 2650  p/p  – group of 5
  • £ 2490  p/p  – group of 6
  • £ 2390  p/p  – group of 7 – 8
  • £ 2290  p/p  – group of 9 – 10
Price includes

During the expedition, we will travel by 4WD vehicles. Expected number of travellers in one vehicle: 3 + the driver. We will spend 7-9 hours travelling by car every day. The vehicles do not have air conditioning. Speed depends on the road surface conditions, terrain characteristics and number and length of stops.

We are not able to guarantee a uniform accommodation standard at each of the planned sites during the stay in Mauritania and Western Sahara. Our priorities are your comfort, appropriate location, character of the site as well as historical and cultural values. We always place emphasis on the support of local community when selecting the sites for our accommodation. In general, rooms will be assigned on the assumption of two people sharing a twin room (rooms with individual bathrooms). The surcharges for single rooms are quoted in the “Price” section.

Two overnight stays in 2- and 3-star hotels (African standard) are planned during the trip.

In the course of our Saharan expedition we will sleep in tents.

Meals are included in the tour price, as specified in the itinerary. B – breakfast, L – lunch, D – dinner. Apart from the capital and larger towns, only very basic foods can be bought.

For information about the local costs of living see https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/.

Services of a tour guide and  local guide throughout the tour

Entrance fees and permit charges.

The price includes the cost of tips and porters’ fees.

Trip preparation, visa mediation, the invitation necessary to obtain a visa

Price does not include

Costs of the main flight to and from Nouakchott

Costs of flight tickets are not covered by the tour price. BTP Adventure does not directly arrange and buy tickets for international flights. However, we may suggest the best connections and airlines. For this purpose, contact us by e-mail or call us.

Visa costs and visa services.

Visa for Mauritania (can be obtained at the airport)

Visa for Western Sahara \ (can be obtained at theborder with Mauritania)

Insurance is not covered by the tour price. Having valid insurance is a condition for taking part in the trip. We recommend taking out insurance that will be appropriate for the planned itinerary and for your individual state of health and needs. Please send us the proof of your insurance contract.

You can purchase insurance on your own on the website of Axa or any other insurance company: https://www.axa.co.uk/travel-insurance/.

BTP Adventure may help you obtain adequate insurance cover. If you want our help, please contact us.

Meals other than those listed in the final itinerary.

supplementary payment for the additional accommodation  In the case of  arrival or departure on a different date,

Surcharge for a single room: 250 £

Train ride from Zouérat to Ben Amera

Personal expenses and souvenirs.

Final notes

Depending on the political situation, the length of the tour and the order of visited places may change. In a situation of a serious threat to travellers’ safety, the tour may be cancelled. We will keep you updated as to whether the expedition is possible.

We can arrange a self-guided tour – if you are interested, please contact the office.

The tour may be combined with a tour to Senegal, Mali, Chad or Niger.

We will keep updating the detailed information on the safety and final itinerary of the tour. Before you decide to submit the booking form, please learn about the current political and sanitary situation in Mauritania and Western Sahara.

The planned expedition is an exclusive proposal prepared on the basis of our experience and knowledge of the local peculiarities and major sightseeing attractions of Mauritania and Western Sahara.

We are committed to ensure the best possible and safe and, as far as feasible, comfortable travelling through this little-frequented and extremely interesting countries.

With any questions please contact BTP ADVENTURE.

dates & prices
03/12/2022 - 11/12/2022
04/02/2023 - 12/02/2023
11/03/2023 - 19/03/2023
14/10/2023 - 22/10/2023
18/11/2023 - 26/11/2023

2290 £ Per Person for 9-10 person group

The tour may be combined with a tour to Senegal, Mali, Chad or Niger.

 

 

 

 

 

you can find price for the group in description
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