Our tour of fascinating Mauritania begins when we get to Nouakchott,
the country's capital. From here we take the Trans-Mauritanian Highway,
also known as the Road of Hope. The first few kilometres of this road
cross great dunes which leave central passages in which there are
towns. Our first stop is Boutilimit (154 km from NKTT). Built in mud,
this is one of the country's most traditional towns with a very interesting
market. During the morning we shall visit the library and the Town
Hall. We go on our way, stopping to eat at Aleg (108 km.). After lunch,
we follow the Road of Hope until we take the the new road to Tidjikja.
When night falls we pitch camp on dunes near Moudjeria.
third day, we continue our route until we reach Tidjikja at midday.
The town was founded in 1680 by the 'Idawali' Moorish tribe and
has very special architecture with geometrical paintings and gargoyles.
We spend the whole day visiting the town and enjoying its natural
We resume our journey and on the fourth day get back onto the Trans-Mauritanian
Highway. We stop to eat in Djouk. This is the entrance to the central
escarpments of Tagant and an oasis inhabited by a small population
of monkeys and crocodiles. A quiet day spent visiting the surrounding
Our fifth day in Mauritania will be a long day on the road (about
700 km) as far as Nema, where the made-up road comes to an end.
From here on we leave the Road of Hope behind us and all there is
are unmade-up roads until we get to Walata (a distance of about
100 km, though it takes around three and a half hours to cover).
Walata, one of Mauritania's four oldest cities, has a city centre
that has been declared World Heritage by UNESCO. For centuries it
was a focal point for trans-Saharan trade caravans. It formed part
of the Empire of Ghana and built up a cultural legacy of an impressive
size and importance. The local architecture is unique and the mural
decoration and local crafts are examples of the particular nature
of certain Walata traditions. We spend the night in a guest house
or camping site.
We are now in Walata on the sixth day of our trip and every corner
of the city is an invitation to us to explore. Places appear before
us that are filled with history, and we have the chance to visit
the Walata Museum, the Library of Manuscripts and the traditional
homes in the old part of the city, without forgetting the Mosque,
an example of the red adobe architecture. It is a good idea
to set aside the night time for sitting under the stars listening
to the region's history and its magic legends.
But our visit to Walata must not be limited to the
city itself. A few kilometres away we find such suggestive spots
as the 'sebkha' (salt flat) of Tagouraret, the village of Shuergde
or the rock paintings and carvings of Tuecritt
We still have two days left before
we leave Walata, so there is still time to marvel at the sunrise
and sunset in El Dhar and to cross the dunes of the Walata Oued
(ancient river bed) as far as the traditional wells and the fort.
Our last night in this wonderful city will be spent watching a performance
of traditional dances. This will put a marvellous final touch to
our stay in Walata before we leave for Nema to catch the plane to
Nouakchott and from there to our final destination.
|| Arrival and departure via Nema airport.
- Nema-Walata. Shopping in the market at Nema. Lunch. Visit to
the sacred mountain of Tiguiguil. Walata: evening meal and presentation
of available programmes.
- Morning: Guided tour of the city. Afternoon: Museum, Fatimti's
house, sunset from the she-camel garden returning via the mud
- Morning: French cemetery with the grave of Bonnel de Mézières.
Clay mines, cooperative farmland and its ecological protection.
Excavation at Birú. Soninké and Mehadjib cemeteries. Devil's house,
etc. Afternoon: optional, guided tours and interior of houses.
Evening, story and legends.
- Visit to the Neolithic kingdom of Shuergda (optional, south
settlement, 4 Km on foot or camel-back). Rock paintings and carvings
at Tuecritt. Return to Walata or bivouac.
Rock paintings and carvings at Tuecritt.
- Salt pans and neolithic remains at Tagurarrett (in winter there
are Tuareg who extract salt and transport it to Mali on caravans).
Afternoon: Arts and crafts and manuscript library.
Evening: traditional games.
Variations on the 4th day: In the morning, ruins at Tizeghtt and
Bir Nazar well, or ruins at Tizeghtt (5km) by camel.
- Morning: Mausoleum of El Bekai, mountain Walata with sunrise,
animal traps and sentry houses, crossing of dunes to Wed Walata
with breakfast at the great acacia and return via traditional
wells and the fort. Free afternoon. Evening: traditional dances.
Ancient traps for lions and panthers.
- Afternoon: departure towards Buagzama or Aguinit oasis. Accommodation