Ouaidane to Nouakchott

Trip Start Sep 13, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed

Flag of Mauritania  ,
Monday, November 6, 2006

Léon and Xavier were two guys traveling from France to Bamako Mali where they are hoping to sell their 4wd. I met them at the Auberge in Ouadane and as I needed get to Atar they offered to give me a lift.

We left Ouadane by the road rather then by the sand dunes. Actually the road was just a dirt track but you could easily get up to 80 kmph on it. Unfortunately we hadn't gone more then half an hour when we got a puncture. Having two spare tires meant we managed to keep going with out any problem. I wasn't to know it at the time, but this was the beginning of a tire saga.

I leant that the guys were going to go to Tidjikdja, which is a town directly south of Atar but you needed a good 4wd and a guide to go over the dunes so that you wouldn't get lost. They promptly suggested I go with them, which I promptly accepted. Not knowing anything about the south east of Mauritania I was pretty keen to go have a good look around.

At Atar we organised to follow another convoy of people that were arriving tomorrow on the first plane of the tourist season. This meant that we only had to get the tyre fixed. Managed to find a garage and the bits necessary but in the end the repair was large lump were the hole was, and it didn't look like it was going to last for long. We somehow found a cheap auberge, but because it was elections in Atar as well as Ouadane, we were treated to blaring propaganda in the form of a song being repeated day and night from a candidate's place not 500 meters away. I have never been so sick of a song in my life and it actually became nauseating.

Still that night we went and ate with some of the locals and ended up going back to their place for tea, which was great to see where they lived. It was strange to see the entire family on mats asleep in the courtyard outside and in the only bedroom there were low mattresses and others trying to catch some sleep anyway they could.

The next day we arrived at the rendezvous and found out that the flight was delayed a day. So we took the opportunity to take a 1 hour trip to Teijit. The route contoured the Adrar plateau and went up into a small valley where there was a little village with little dome huts made from palm leaves. We stopped the car and were swamped by kids asking for presents. This had never up till now really bothered me, but these kids actually seemed to get aggressive which seemed very odd.

At the top of the valley is where the oasis is. And I can truly say was one of the nicest places on earth that I've been to. We weren't planning on staying the night, but after going for a swim in the water and lying around doing nothing in the shade of palm trees, no one wanted to move. So cooked some food and became food during the night for mozzies.

We woke up early and got to the car as the sun was just rising. During the drive back to Atar we managed to explode the repaired tyre. And although hopes were high that we would find a replacement at Atar, doubt was creeping in as to whether we would in fact be able to get to Tidjikdja. Back at the Rendezvous the guys managed to get a tire but decided it wasn't worth taking the risk of going off road to find ourselves stranded in the middle of the desert. So we pointed the car towards the capital Nouakchott and left Atar.

The drive Atar to Nouakchott crossed desert with dunes and rocks and every so often a small village or just a house in the middle of nothing. The desert would change from yellow dunes to rocks to flat white sand planes to white dunes to rocks. All along the trip a wind was blowing across the road and sand would flow across in waves. Spaced about 2-3 kilometers apart were whirlwinds of sand that slowly travelled across the road and on towards the coast. I managed to take a few photos on them and we found ourselves in one as we were having lunch which was pretty exciting.

After travelling most of the day we found ourselves in Nouakchott and checked ourselves into an Auberge. Here I stayed 2 full days mostly at the Auberge but also I walked around the town a bit. On the second day I said good bye to Léon and Xavier and hopefully I'll see them again in Bamako.

I got news at the Auberge where I was staying (like at almost all the other Auberges I had passed through) that a Peruvian had come by looking for me. The messenger happened to be delivered by a South African that I didn't meet but was the message was conveyed by in the Japanese man who I had met in Nouadhibou. With hopes high I went off looking for him but he had left that morning.

I found Nouakchott less interesting then the other smaller towns further north and the moors very racist towards the black Sub Saharans people. Although I would have like to see the grand mosque closer up and see the fishing boats return at dawn I was quite happy to take my leave and head further south towards Senegal.
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