Go on!
Click the links below and support this Web Site

 

 
Web  
Camel World  
 

 


Home 

Route

Travel Diary - 2003
5 January | Senegal
22 January |Gambia
18 January |Guinea
9 February | Mali
22 February | Burkina Faso
3 March | Ghana
19 March | Togo
20 March | Benin
25 March | Niger
12 April | Chad
15 April | Cameroon
16 April | Nigeria
30 April | Congo
24 May | RDC
31 May | Angola
5 June | Namibia
27 June | South Africa
30 August | Lesotho
10 September | Swaziland
9 October | Botswana
17 October | Namibia
19 October |
Zambia
29 October | Malawi
4 November |Mozambique
16 November | Tanzania
12 December | Rwanda
16 December | RDC
18 December | Uganda
24 December | Kenya

Travel Diary - 2004
9 January | Ethiopia
6 February | Sudan
21 February | Saudi Arabia
23 February | Jordan
3 March | Syria
5 March | Turkey
12 March | Greece
21 March | ...And Home

 

= Photo link
 
= Country Info Link
 

 

17 months, 43 countries, and 2 vehicles

Mauritania

So well over a year later I'm trying to tie up all the loose ends, and that includes this page.... well that'll teach me for being so lazy...

So this is how it went. We entered Mauritania with Roger et Bernard - this started with a fairly long drive through the desert which included the odd destroyed carcass of a car - this was the famous minefield - and a few stops to pick up fire wood (I sent Roxana).

We arrive at the Mauritanian border post; it was a dusty border post half-hidden amid hummocks and dunes - a shack with rough log ceilings supporting a roof of tin and rags, the whole held together by the  glue of a million swatted flies.

The fee of 10 for which we received fake receipts was a bad joke, as was the guide who we were told we would need for the crossing to Nuadibou. We set off ahead of the Range Rover for a quick reccie - the piste was pretty straightforward - it split and rejoined a few times as pistes do, but we decided to return after a few minutes anyway as we were afraid that the others would pass us along one of the splits.

The guide was furious - this was his livelihood we were stealing. No, we had to pay his extortionate fee or die among the land mines... I suppose now it's clear why there are no piste markers - the guides remove them all...

One day soon a new asphalt road will arrive across the desert from Nouakchott, and his sort will have to find new employment. Roll on progress.

As we entered Nuadibou a stone struck my rear wing, luckily missing the windows. Nobody seemed to care, or even notice. Welcome to Mauritania.

As part of the guide's bargain we agreed to stay at a pretty reasonable auberge, and the next morning we set off to the rail head to try to organise a ride to Choum on the famous ore train. The railhead was an exercise in disorder. No train. Maybe a train tomorrow. Maybe a train today. If you pay us, of course.

After a whole day of waiting the flat bed arrived, and after an extended period of haggling we joined the seven or eight vehicles making the trip, leaving behind an obnoxious young German guy who was haranguing the hell out of his poor passenger (Always lock zee toor. in Afrika always!)

The menagerie of old Peugeots, Landies and vans were wired to the flat beds, and then we settled down for a moderately uncomfortable night in the car, Roxana in the Front with the gear stick, and me in the back with the fridge. It wasn't actually too bad; we were protected from the dust unlike the bikers sheltering in the lee of a van.

Although we couldn't see much in the dusk, then night, this was reputed to be the longest train in the world. We spent hours being shunted around and it wasn't until after I fell asleep that we actually set off. I woke up in the realisation that the train had been stationery for some time. I lay awake wondering if I ought to risk a pee - and in the end slipped outside. There's a narrow walkway alongside the car, but for comfort's sake I hopped off and set about my business. I swear the driver must have been watching, for at the moment the train lurched forwards, and I had to nimbly leap past the turning wheels and clamber aboard. Roxana probably drank less of the red wine that some French colleagues had offered - wise girl.

Eventually we arrive at Choum., and pull up alongside piles of scrap metal. Then it's a wait to have the cars release from the wire - for a fee, of course. Eventually we're all off, and in convoy we set off across the piste to Atar, a couple of hundred kilometres away.

The camel came into it's own that day; I lost count of the number of times we towed our fellow travellers out of the soft sand - there were a few 2WDs in the convoy, and the van was in poor shape too. Gerhard, the German biker, was also struggling with his bike, so we took off his panniers and added them to our load - apparently it made a big difference.

Eventually we climbed out of the plain and arrived in Atar, an unassuming town with an entertaining Restaurateur who mixed French German and English in the same sentence as we enjoyed a hearty dinner.

We moved on to Chinguetti for a look around - it's famous for it's libraries, but mostly these are just used to trap tourists nowadays. Bernard and Roger in their Range Rover were heading on to Nouakchott, so our next stop was Oudane, where we hoped to find a guide to take us to Guelb Al Richat, a massive volcanic crater in the desert that is visible from the moon...

.

More to come. No really, I promise, it's just that I've forgotten exactly where Mauritania is, and Alzheimer's is advancing swiftly across my wrinkly grey stuff...