Across Mauritania

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Making tracks in the Mauritanian sand

After a lot of back and forward, I decide I will not explore Mauritania. The distances are vast, and I’m not certain I will be able to buy gas in the remote areas of the desert I’m interested in exploring. I would love to drive out to Atar to see the world’s longest train, but I can’t carry enough gas to get there and back comfortably, and there really is no way to find out if they actually have gas there or not. To be perfectly honest, I’m also kind of done with the endless sand and intense sun beating down day after day.
I’m done with the desert. I’m ready for something else.

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The dunes in Mauritania are spectacular

Gas shortages are very common in Mauritania, and even when it can be found it has a reputation for being extremely low octane and very expensive – to counter this I filled my Titan tank and the stock tank on the Jeep full to the brim at the last station in Morocco.

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The highway is paved, but full of nasty pot holes that sneak up at 60mph

I drive straight South into the capital city, Nouakchott, putting in a massive day and arriving in the city right on dusk. It’s dark as I make my way on severely crumbling roads to the Auberge Menata, a famous Overland hangout right in the city centre. The place is deserted, save for the sad-looking monkey tied to a short rope. I spend a couple of days in the city getting a visa for a future country and buying insurance to cover the Jeep for most of the countries in West Africa for the next 6 months. I venture downtown to the market, and am a little shocked by the poverty and desperation I see. It’s by far the worst I have ever seen in my life.
The city is very decrepit and dirty, a result of recent severe droughts and a military coup in 2008.

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The pet turtle at the Auberge Sahara

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Moving gas from my Titan Tank into the main tank

After a couple of nights I move over to the Auberge Sahara across town, and am immediately happy with that choice. It’s certainly not cleaner, but I happen to bump into William, a French-Canadian riding south on an old Honda motorbike he has just bought this week in the city. His route looks similar to mine, though he will cut through The Central African Republic to cross the continent, and end his journey somewhere around Kenya.

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Camels are all over the place – hard to say if they are wild or not

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More endless dunes

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Hanging out with more camels

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Warthogs! Right on the side of the road. My first genuinely African animal spot!

In the morning I again aim South, heading towards what is commonly called “The Worst Border in Africa”.

-Dan

10 Responses

  1. nick says:

    Being in 120 degree heat can’t be fun for too long. I’d imagine running your AC is a waste of gas and wonder how well it works in those conditions anyway. Thanks for taking the time to write this. Can’t wait to hear about the border

    • Dan Grec says:

      Nick,

      Yeah, it’s hot alright – way more enjoyable in the early morning and late afternoon/evening.
      The A/C actually works really, really well. Within a couple of minutes it’s very noticeable, and after 20 minutes I can make my hands on the wheel so cold I have to turn it down/off. I can’t notice a difference in gas consumption with it on or off.
      I try not to use it though, because once I get acclimatized to it, I get super, super exhausted whenever I step out of the Jeep, which is no fun.
      So I almost always drive with the window down so I’m in the environment more. As long as I’m moving, the breeze is great. Being stopped, or in traffic is where I really get hot.

      -Dan

  2. Anthony says:

    I keep checking your blog site regularly. Such a fascinating journey! Good luck and stay safe. Looking forward to your next post!

  3. Mike Manuel says:

    Where you staying in a hotel or in your Jeep at Auberge Sahara?

  4. frank says:

    Hey there Dan.
    Awesome what you are doing realy looking forward to your update all the time.

    But i have a question, Your 6 month car inssurance for west Africa (Brown Card) that you bought in Nouakchott. Do you have more info for me.
    * Company name
    * Location on google maps or grid
    * Prices

    Be safe and keep us posted.

    Frank

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Frank,

      I’m sorry, I don’t have co-ordinates. I drove all over looking for it, then forgot to make a note of where I was.
      Ask locals, ask insurance offices, ask, ask ask.
      Prices vary a lot depending on the year of your car – I think I paid about 200 euros for the 6 months, my Jeep is 2011.

      Good luck!

      -Dan

      -Dan

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