Mauritania

 

The drive from Nouadhibou to Nouakchott is is bit of a hike, the previously contemplated diversion through a national park was abandoned as we found out from locals it was desert and you needed a guide to get the best out of it. Having seen enough desert we decided to crack on. Had a Mauritanian tea though ( very dismissive of Moroccan version weak/ minty they say  – theirs involves lots of pouring back and forth , adding sugar until you get substantial froth then small glass is poured, its the tea equivalent of espresso coffee and quite nice.

 

Drive was 450 kms of desert of all sorts ,the southern third had a surprising number of tented villages – sort of modern Bedouin set ups with 4x4s. They seem to exist by the use of huge water bladders hence proximity to roadsides. Roadblocks – reached double figures before lunch, gave up counting after that.

 

Mauritanian facts – its huge, twice the size of France, they only recently abolished slavery, their government still estimates there’s about 100,000 slaves out of a population of 3 million – nice!!. Girls haveyou got a weight problem? this is a place for you –  young brides to be are still force fed in some areas untill they are deemed fat enough  to marry then kept that way. You can see why most people it seems aren’t too keen on the country despite the charms of its desert.

 

Nouakchott is a modern town – I don’t think there were any originally in the country, all date from last 40 years. Didn’t see much , but stayed in nice place. because of Mali problems we decided it was not worth it, getting in was likely to be OK but local ECOWAS countries ( EU type of thing) are promising military intervention unless the coup leaders negotiate and with embargoes it was felt we would only get so far then get stuck because of no fuel.

 

Left next morning for border only 2 options one of which is regarded by serious African travellers as arguably the worst in Africa ( therefore probably world class) -Yup thats the one we had to take as road to other was apparently closed (mud) and it meant a 100k + round trip to find out. We had spoken to a spanish lady who took over 18hours to get across a few days before, and that does not involve sitting in some nice terminal believe me.. We did it in four hours which is very good but costly, bribes, sadly is the only way,otherwise we would still be there

– police, customs more police etc etc etc on both sides by the time we crossed we were both absolutely shattered – constant harassment takes its toll – and a fair bit poorer probably $200+ .We were assured by various Senegalese that border aside (and to be fair most grief was on Mauritanian side, corruption elsewhere was not an issue which seems to be the case.

 

Drove through Senegal to coast, a much nicer feel than the previous two countries, got to campsite near St Louis after dark including long drive down tracks –our mega beam lights did there job well. Joy of joys even in the dark it was apparent why Zebrabar is rated as an overlanders paradise – Honesty bar with cold beers , only a few English people here – part of some Gambian charity thing we had met some previously in Morocco .

 

Daylight confirmed our views, white sand coconut palms very quiet, lovely loos/showers delicious breakfast, lunch, dinner . Area is a National park based on a series of lagoons and famous for birds. Havne not a clue what most are, as only bought Southern/ East African Bird books but have seen Pelicans – huge, hornbills, and Purple Heron (??) and lots of others interesting things. Huge change from camels and desert.

 

Have to go to St louis tomorrow for money then back for local market in nearby village and more laziness-just chillin.

 

Struggling with photos very poor link tend to load then crash at end spent hours will add ASAP