Expedition across Sahara: ancient cities, salt caravans, the world's longest train, Imraguen fishermen and Nemadi desert hunters


MAURITANIA + WESTERN SAHARA

December 2 - 15, 2023
Tour Mauritania and Western Sahara
Eternity of desert and ancient cities, the beauty of Atlantics and golden sand dunes, the world's longest train and the Africa's biggest monolith, unique cultures of Imraguen fishermen and Nemadi desert hunters. It's a big journey across Mauritania and Western Sahara!

This expedition goes through Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and up to Moroccan part of Western Sahara
SCHEDULE AND COST:
Dates: December 2 – 15, 2023

Duration: 14 days / 13 nights

Number of participants: 7 – 12

Cost per person:
— USD 2 990 subject to 12 participants, or
— USD 3 090 subject to 10-11 participants or
— USD 3 390 subject to 9 participants,
— USD 3 490 subject to 7-8 participants, based on double accommodation.

10% early booking discount (in case you book before July 2, 2023)


Everything is included (also full board, single accommodation) except for:
— international flight to Nouakchott roundtrip
— Mauritania visa (about 55 EUR x 2 times: on arrival in Mauritania by air and upon return to Mauritania overland from Western Sahara)
— Western Sahara visa, which is in fact visa Morocco (not needed for Russian citizens. For other nationalities, if needed, to be obtained in advance, before the trip)
— international medical insurance.

Estimated cost of international flight Moscow – Nouakchott – Moscow: USD 1200 — 1600 (to be bought on your own. We consult you).

Estimated cost of international flight Istanbul – Nouakchott – Istanbul: USD 900— 1100 (to be bought on your own. We consult you).

Single supplement: provided by default (included into the cost)





TRAVEL PROGRAM:

Day 1. December 2, 2023. ARRIVAL IN NOUAKCHOTT

Day or evening arrival by air in Nouakchott, capital of Mauritania.
Transfer to the hotel The Best Semiramis 4* or similar.
Free time and overnight in the hotel.

Meals included: no
Accommodation: hotel The Best Semiramis 4* or similar

* Recommended flight:

— with Turkish Airlines, arrives in Nouakchott on December 2 at 13:15 from Istanbul,
— with Air Maroc, arrives in Nouakchott on December 3 at 1:45 am from Casablanca,
— with Air France, arrives in Nouakchott on December 1 at 22:00 from Paris (extra night in the hotel needed and to be extra paid),
— any other flight with arrival in Nouakchott any time on December 2 or in the night from December 2 to 3.

Day 2. December 3, 2023. NOUAKCHOTT – BOUTILIMIT – KIFFA

At 7:00 in the morning, departure from the capital in the direction of the city of Kiffa. Enjoy the landscapes on the way and have a quick lunch picnic under an acacia tree in the desert nearby the dunes. Sahara is advancing to the south of continent as fast as 10 km a year, and the area to the east of Nouakchotte is significantly buried under the sand.
Continue driving to spend the night in the very simple guest house in the town of Kiffa (with basic amenities, but air conditioner and shower available in the rooms).
Today, with picturesque breathtaking landscapes, we discover lots of interesting little villages on the side of the road filled with different colors of our many different cultures due to the variety of ethnicities in the country.
This day is about 600 km and about 9 hours drive.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: guest house with basic amenities


Day 3. December 4, 2023. KIFFA — AIOUN EL ATROUS — DESERT CAMP

After breakfast, at 7:00 AM, we visit the market of Kiffa, which is famous for its unique technics of necklaces' production. Continue driving eastward up to Aioun El Atrous, where we turn to the north towards the old city of Tichit, stopping for pictures and a quick lunch break on the way.
Today the villages and style of construction you randomly see on the side of the road start changing because we are more into the land of Berber nomads, and the landscapes are different as well.
Spend night camping beyond the city of Aioun El Atrous in the middle of the desert. Dinner will be served by our team.
This day is about 300 km and about 5-6 hours driving.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: camping, traditional Mauritanian tents


Day 4. December 5, 2023. DESERT CAMP — TICHITT

After breakfast, at 7:00 AM continue driving across beautiful landscapes that keep changing as you go. On the way meet the salt trading caravans. Lunch break under an acacia.
The discovery continues as we start yet a total different natural decor of landscapes an also realize that we are now in the middle of the Berber nomad tribal land. As we go deeper into the desert, the ethnicity becomes more and more uniquely nomadic. Berber are the only people who stand the harsh environment of this desert. We will stop in one of the Berber nomadic camps on the way.
We reach the historical city of Tichit. Night in Tichit in traditional Mauritanian tents.
This day is about 200 km and about 6 hours driving (due to the off roading).

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: camping, traditional Mauritanian tents


Day 5. December 6, 2023. TICHITT — NEMADI TRIBE

After breakfast, a guided tour of Tichit to discover its library and dry stone architecture. Tichit is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the 4 ancient cities of Mauritania.
Then drive eastward, towards the nomadic camps of the Nemadi tribes, relatively not far from Tichitt, in the area of Akhreijit Nemadi village. Quick lunch break and continue to spend the night camping with the Nemadi.
The Nemadi are small hunting tribe of eastern Mauritania. The name "Nemadi" means "master of dogs". Nemadi are unique hunters of Sahara who use the dogs.
In the night we will sit around the fire and share the traditional desert tee with Nemadi nomads, very kind and happy people of the desert.
Dinner and night under traditional Mauritanian tents.
This day is about 50 km and about 1 hour drive.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: camping, traditional Mauritanian tents


Day 6. December 7, 2023. NEMADI TRIBE – TIJIKJA – RACHID

At sunrise we will again visit Nemadi people to share the tea. Farewell with Nemadi and after breakfast, start driving to the north-west, in the direction of the old historical city of Chinguetti. After long driving (some 270 km) we will arrive in the modern city of Tijikja to buy some drinks and further go to the old city of Rachid (less than 50 km). Visit the ruins of the French fort nearby Rachid and, if time permits, Rachid's streets.
Overnight in the desert camp beyond Rachid in traditional Mauritanian tents or in the open air.
This day is about 320 km and about 8 hours drive (due to the off road driving partially).

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: camping, traditional Mauritanian tents or in the open air


Day 7. December 8, 2023. RACHID — MHAIRETH OASIS – CHINGUETTI

Today is full of discovery, as we cross Adrar region, a beautiful mixture of landscapes between sand and stone, vegetation and water. Here we can see the whole country represented naturally from very harsh, dry but beautiful sand desert and canyons to oases with running natural water sources. From nomad camps here and there to actual cities and villages, to the first old historical city of Mauritania, also recognized a UNESCO site — Chinguetti.
Keep driving off road and partially tar road and finally reach Chinguetti passing by the oasis of Mhaireth. Here in the oasis we have quick lunch and find a natural lagoon with the clean water. Those who are not afraid of the water flourishing (this time of the year), can swim.
Hit the road to catch the sunset from the big dunes of Chinguetti.
Dinner and night at the guesthouse La Gueila or similar.
This day is about 370 km and about 7 hours drive.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: guesthouse La Gueila or similar


Day 8. December 9, 2023. CHINGUETTI — AMOGJAR CANYON — ATAR – AZOUGUI – BEN AMIRA MONOLITH — THE WORLD'S LONGEST TRAIN IN CHOUME – (BOULENOUAR)

After early breakfast visit of Chinguetti and its old town with libraries of ancient manuscripts – for sure the most beautiful and intriguing of all 4 ancient cities of Mauritania. Guided tour, during which librarian will give us a history lesson about the town and what it means to the country historically.
Then we drive towards the famous monolith of Ben Amira, the biggest in Africa. On the way stop in the city of Atar to refuel and then visit of the archeological site of Almoravid in the village of Azougui. Then discover the famous canyon of Amogjar.
Lunch break at the monolith. Visit of the sculptures at the monolith.
Continue back to Choume to get on the train in the direction of Nouadhibou. This is the worlds' longest train, 3 kilometers (!) long, consists of 300 coaches and is full of ore. We gonna take a ride right on top of the ore, which is quite an adventurous experience. Take warm clothes and get ready for not convenient but funny night. It will take us some 14-16 hours before we reach on the morning the next station of Nouadhibou and will be dropped off. Probably this experience will be appropriate not for everyone. Those who don't want to go by train, do not travel to Chome and, instead, go with the drivers to Boulenouar (long evening and night driving, some 200 km more, 4 hrs) in order to set up the camp and spend the night somewhere close to Boulenouar. They will meet the others the next morning at the train station in Nouadhibou.
This day is about 340 km and some 8 hours drive. Those who do not ride in the train, will further drive off-road some 200 km more, 4 hrs late in the evening).

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: in the coach of cargo ore train or in the traditional Mauritanian tent


Day 9. December 10, 2023. BOULENOUAR – NOUADHIBOU — GERGARAT – DAKHLA (WESTERN SAHARA)

Step down from the train in Nouadibou and meet the crew and the others who spent the night in tent before the train station of Boulenouar.
Those who spent the last night in tents, wake up very early in the morning, before sunrise (the exact time will be forecasted based on the actual schedule and actual departure from Choume a day before) and drive directly to the Boulenouar train station in order to have chance to board the train and ride on the ore for some 50 km, if it stops here. The train stops here quite often, but it is not for sure. For those who want to ride the world's longest train for sure, the only quarantee is to board it in Choume for all night riding.
After breakfast in Nouadibou, continue and cross the border with Western Sahara. Sometime it will take quite some time, not really fast.
Apart from our guide, the drivers will wait at the border and we will organize transport from the other side to discover Western Sahara.
Enjoy the beautiful landscapes of Western Sahara on our way. We drive through the Western Sahara which belongs to Morocco. Arrive in Dakhla on the shore of Atlantic Ocean.
Dinner and night at the hotel.
This day is about 450 km and about 10 hours driving and border crossing.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: hotel Mansoure or similar


Day 10. December 11, 2023. DAKHLA — SAHRAWI PEOPLE CAMP – DAKHLA

After breakfast we go for the city tour around Dakhla, visit to the Grang Mosque, Mosque Assona, curious Church of Our Lady of Carmen and nice square around it. It is completely different world, looking more like a resort on the Atlantic coast.
Drive to the desert to meet and explore the lifestyle of Sahrawi semi-nomadic people. Even if they live on the land that Morocco proclaimed a part of the country, most of real Sahrawi dream of independence and their own Sahrawi Republic. The short tripe in between Moroccan Western Sahara and Mauritania is actually belongs to Sahrawi and considered by them as a Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, or SADR (not recognized by UN). If the political situation in SADR allows us, we can visit this territory, but the last years the relationships in between of Morocco and Sahrawi are very tense.
Enjoy the beautiful landscapes of Western Sahara, visit to the Sahraoui nomads and talk to them in their traditional akal dwellings. Lunch and tea and chat with them.
Drive back to Dakhla, dinner and night at our hotel.
This day is about 150 km and about 2-3 hours driving.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: hotel Mansoure or similar


Day 11. December 12, 2023. DAKHLA — GERGARAT — NOUADHIBOU (MAURITANIA)

In the morning visit Dakhla's artisanal market with handicrafts. Then continue back towards the border with Mauritania. Western Sahara is all about the landscapes and also the people on the way to Dakhla and back. We stop for a photo on a white sand dunes.
Continue to cross the border with Mauritania in the late afternoon.
Transfer to Nouadhibou, dinner and night at the hotel Aljazira or similar.
This day is about 480 km and about 10 hours driving and border crossing.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: hotel Aljazira or similar


Day 12. December 13, 2023. NOUADHIBOU — BANC D'ARGUIN NATIONAL PARK — TAFARIT

After breakfast, short visit of Nouadhibou. Then drive in the direction of the National park of Banc D'Arguin (UNESCO world heritage site since 1989) for about 2,5 hours, to reach the first site of the park called Cap Tafarit. Lunch in Tafarit under traditional Mauritanian tents. Spend the rest of the day enjoying the beautiful beach of Tafarit.
Leisure at the Atlantic ocean. Dinner and night in the camping of Tafarit.
This day is about 270 km and about 3-4 hours drive.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: camping, traditional Mauritanian tents


Day 13. December 14, 2023. TAFARIT — IWIK VILLAGE OF IMRAGUEN FISHERMEN — NATIONAL PARK BANC D'ARGUIN – TAFARIT

After breakfast, drive to the fishermen village of Iwik. Here we meet Imraguen people.
The Imraguen are an ethnic group of Mauritania and Western Sahara. They were estimated at around 5000 individuals in the 1970s. Imraguen have lived in fishing villages in the Banc d'Arguin National Park for thousands of years. The name Imraguen is a Berber word meaning «people who fish while walking on the sea». A few generations ago, the Imraguen used to whistle the dolphins to bring them near the shore and catch all the mullets that always followed the dolphins. The Imraguen people are the only ones authorized to fish in the Banc d'Arguin area, as long as they use their traditional fishing techniques.
Here we take a traditional Imraguen sail boat and accompanied by Imraguen people go to discover the islands where thousands of different migratory birds are collected, lunch will be provided by your team on board.
Enjoy a ride by long traditional boat with the fisherman, exchange with them on the boat, ask them to tell about how they used to use dolphins help to bring them fish into the net, before they got boats.
After lunch and having photographed of beautiful migratory birds, return to the land and spend the night back at our camp in Tafarit. The boat trip can appear really long and we can come back even after sunset, because these traditional boats are not equipped with a motor (completely forbidden in the National Park) and we are fully dependent on the wind.
This day is only 60 km and about 2 hours drive. And long boat trip.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: camping, traditional Mauritanian tents


Day 14. December 15, 2023. TAFARIT — NOUAMGAR (NATIONAL PARK BANC D'ARGUIN) — NOUAKCHOTT

After breakfast, drive through the park and its beautiful desert and ocean landscapes to the village of Nouamgar (Mamghar), where hundreds of beautiful pink flamingos are collected.
Visit of Nouamgar and lunch break in Nouamgar. Drive following the beach to the meeting point between the sand dunes and the Atlantic Ocean, stop for a very nice picture.
Drive back to Nouakchott to get there just on time to visit the famous fish market, and then to our hotel The Best Semiramis 4* for shower and dinner (day use hotel).
Late transfer to the airport. Around midnight return international flight home.
This day is about 300 km and 5 hours drive.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: day use hotel The Best Semiramis 4* or similar

* Recommended flight:
— with Air Maroc, departs from Nouakchott on December 16 at 2:45 am to Casablanca,
— with Turkish Airlines, departs from Nouakchott on December 16 at 14:55 to Istanbul (extra night in the hotel needed and to be extra paid),
— with Air France, departs from Nouakchott on December 15 at 23:30 to Paris,
— any other flight with departure from Nouakchott not earlier than at 22:00 on December 15 or in the night from December 15 to 16.


Cost includes:

  • accommodation in hotels according to the program on SINGLE basis (or DBL basis for family couples),
  • accommodation in big Mauritanian tents with folding beds on SINGLE basis (or TWIN basis for family couples),
  • day use hotel for last day on TWIN/DBL basis,
  • camping equipment: big Mauritanian tents, folding beds, mattresses, bed sheets, toilet cabin, shower tent
  • Toyota Hilux 4WD with working A/C, fuel, experienced drivers, max 3 passengers in 1 car– for Mauritania part,
  • bus for the Western Sahara part
  • all airport transfers,
  • boats according to the program,
  • full board meals (3 times a day), except for 1st day dinner,
  • mineral water along the whole route,
  • all formalities and permits,
  • visit fees, contribution to local communities throughout the trip, all activities according to the program,
  • very experienced English speaking guide
  • Russian and English speaking team leader throughout the trip

To be additionally (personally) paid:

  • international flight to Nouakchott roundtrip
  • Mauritania visa (about 55 EUR x 2 times: on arrival in Mauritania by air and upon return to Mauritania overland from Western Sahara)
  • Western Sahara visa, which is in fact visa of Morocco (not needed for Russian citizens. For other nationalities, if needed, to be obtained in advance, before the trip)
  • international medical insurance
  • alcohol, soft drinks, souvenirs, personal items
  • tips
To take with:

  • wear sets fitting weather conditions,
  • at least one or two warm sets
  • long sleeve wear set,
  • comfortable closed shoes and open shoes,
  • forehead torch,
  • big backpack for luggage,
  • small backpack for personal items and camera,
  • sleeping bag for warm weather,
  • mosquito net for sleeping place (is a must!),
  • repellents (is a must!),
  • sunblock set: cream, sunglasses, cap,
  • sandblock set: desert glasses, buff/mask (up to you)
  • personal hygiene items (soap, toilet paper, towel, wet tissues, hygiene lipstick, etc.),
  • personal medical kit (analgesics, sanitizers, rehydration, antiviral, antibiotics, your personal medicine),
  • PCR COVID test result (to be verified as of the date of travel),
  • anti malaria preventive pills (up to you to decide),
  • photo and video camera, tripod
Why with MZUNGU EXPEDITIONS?
  • 1
    UNIQUENESS
    We find the most astonishing places on Earth and speed up to reach them. Our motto is to go ahead of road roller, touch the unique and unknown, before it disappears.
  • 2
    ADVENTURISM
    Wherever we go, we look for challenging activities and adventures, filling the journey with absolutely different spirit and emotions. That is why people join us over and over again.
  • 3
    SAFETY
    In our trips we pay special attention to safety. All our travels are based on personal experience, equipped with the best gear, involving proved providers and experienced local guides who perfectly know local features.
  • 4
    EXPERIENCE
    We have a unique experience of the most offbeat expeditions and ascents, deep knowledge of countries and peoples, and are ready to share it with you. All the expeditions and climbings are guided by Mzungu himself, guaranteeing exciting traveling and your comfort.
  • 5
    LOW PRICE
    All our trips are reach in adventures, with high quality accommodation, transportation and meals included. We do not save on it. Thanks to solid contacts with reliable providers we offer really good prices and high quality.





    Photographs used on this page:
    ©️ Nаtаshа Kirkеndоll
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