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Travel Notes: Africa - Mauritania Travel Notes.

Mauritania Travel Notes

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Mauritania Travel and Tourism on Travel Notes


Escape the hustle and bustle and immerse yourself in the serene beauty of Mauritania's desert oases. Find inner peace amidst its breathtaking landscapes.

About Mauritania

Known for its vast deserts, ancient cities, and unique cultural traditions, Mauritania is popular with travellers looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure.

Countries neighbouring Mauritania: Western Sahara, Algeria, Mali and Senegal.

Travel Map Mapping Mauritania

Map of Mauritania

Map of Mauritania

Mauritania lies almost wholly within the Sahara; except for the southern section, along the River Senegal.

Its capital is Nouakchott.

Mauritania Overview

Located in North-west Africa, Mauritania is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Western Sahara to the north, Algeria to the north-east, Mali to the east and south-east, and Senegal to the south-west.

About Mauritania

The majority of the people are Moors; of mixed Arab and Berber descent.

Berber nomads, from the Sanhaja Confederation, moved into the area in the 1st millennium AD.

Initially dominating the trade between the kingdom of Ghana and North Africa, the Sanhaja destroyed Kumbi Saleh, the then capital of the kingdom of Ghana - situated in modern south-eastern Mauritania - in 1076.

The Berbers were in turn conquered by Arabs in the 16th century, and the descendants of the Arabs dominated the upper level of Mauritanian society. Arabic also displaced Berber dialects as the language of the country.

In the early 1900s French forces moved up the River Senegal and made the area a French protectorate, in 1903; and subsequently a colony of France, in 1920.

Capital and Major Cities

Nouakchott is the capital and largest city of Mauritania.

Other significant cities include Nouadhibou, Kiffa, Kaédi, and Rosso.


Mauritania faces several challenges, including poverty, unemployment, desertification, and political stability.

Issues related to human rights, including slavery and discrimination, have been a concern as well, although efforts have been made to address these issues.


Mauritanian cuisine reflects the country's nomadic and agricultural heritage.

A staple food is couscous, which is often served with meat, vegetables, and spices.

Tea, particularly sweet mint tea, is an important aspect of Mauritanian hospitality.

Culture and Society

Mauritanian culture is influenced by Arab, Berber, and West African traditions.

The majority of the population adheres to Islam, which plays a significant role in daily life and societal norms.

Traditional music, dance, and storytelling are integral parts of Mauritanian culture.


Mauritania's economy is primarily based on agriculture, fishing, and mining.

The country has rich natural resources, including iron ore, copper, gold, and oil, which contribute significantly to its export earnings.

However, poverty and unemployment rates remain high.


Mauritania is primarily a desert country, with the Sahara Desert covering much of its territory.

The country has a coastline of around 754 kilometers (469 miles) along the Atlantic Ocean.


Mauritania has a rich history dating back to ancient times.

It was part of various West African empires, including the Ghana Empire, the Mali Empire, and the Songhai Empire.

European colonial powers, such as the French, also had influence over the region in the 19th and 20th centuries.


Mauritania gained independence from France on November 28th, 1960, becoming the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.

Since independence, the country has faced various political, economic, and social challenges.


The population of Mauritania is diverse, consisting of multiple ethnic groups, including the Haratins, Moors, Soninké, Wolof, and others.

Arabic is the official language, while French is also widely spoken in Mauritania.


Mauritania has some attractions for visitors, including natural sites like Banc d'Arguin National Park; a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its diverse birdlife and marine ecosystem.

The ancient city of Chinguetti, with its historic libraries and architecture, is also a popular destination.

Visit Mauritania

Mauritania is known for its vast desert landscapes, rich history, and unique cultural heritage.

Visiting Mauritania

Remember to check the travel requirements, safety advisories, and obtain the necessary visas or permits before planning a visit to Mauritania.

It's also recommended to consult with official travel sources or contact the embassy or consulate of Mauritania for the most up-to-date information.


Atar is a city in northern Mauritania and serves as a popular base for exploring the surrounding desert landscapes, including the breathtaking scenery of the Adrar Plateau and the nearby Oasis towns of Ouadane and Tichit.

Banc d'Arguin National Park

This UNESCO World Heritage site is a protected area on the Atlantic coast of Mauritania.

It is renowned for its diverse ecosystems, including sandy beaches, coastal dunes, islands, and wetlands; which serve as a haven for migratory birds, marine life, and other wildlife.


Located in the Adrar Region, Chinguetti is an historical town and an ancient centre of learning.

It is known for its well-preserved medieval architecture, including mosques, libraries, and old houses.

The town also serves as a gateway to the Sahara Desert.


The capital city of Mauritania, Nouakchott, is located on the Atlantic coast. It showcases a mix of modern and traditional architecture, bustling markets, and vibrant street life.

Sahara Desert

A significant part of Mauritania is covered by the Sahara Desert.

Adventure enthusiasts can embark on desert excursions, camel treks, or 4x4 tours to explore the mesmerizing dunes and experience the vastness of the desert.

Terjit Oasis

Situated in the Adrar Region, the Terjit Oasis is a natural haven with palm trees, freshwater pools, and beautiful rock formations.

It offers a tranquil environment where visitors can relax and enjoy the natural surroundings.

Traditional Nomadic Culture

Mauritania has a rich nomadic culture, with some communities still leading a semi-nomadic lifestyle.

You can learn about the traditional customs, music, dance, and cuisine by interacting with the local population.


If you're travelling to Mauritania, then you will probably spend some time in the capital; situated in the west of the country.

Map of Nouakchott

Map of Nouakchott

Originally a village in the desert on the route south to Dakar, the community grew after being selected as the site of the national capital in 1957, three years before Mauritania accomplished full independence.

Where to Stay in Nouakchott

The Monotel or Mauricenter are reasonable places to stay in Nouakchott. The Hotel Wissal is also acceptable, although some  rooms have poor WiFi connection and food can be little more than average, at best. But then, you have to remember: this is Mauritania.

Hotel Mauricenter Nouakchott

Hotel Mauricenter Nouakchott

Hotel Mauricenter Nouakchott: Rond point Cite smar, Nouakchott, Mauritania.

Reasonable 3-star accommodation in Nouakchott with private bathroom.

Guests at the Hotel Mauricenter Nouakchott were generally pleased with the comfortable rooms.

Hotels in Nouakchott.

Other Main Towns in Mauritania

Kaedi is a farming centre on the River Senegal.

Nouadhibou is a fishing centre and seaport for iron ore exports; brought by rail from F'derik.

Travel in Mauritania

A lack of infrastructure means that many people choose to fly in Mauritania.

As with most of the West African countries shared taxis do go to the major towns, and there are two trains a day between Nouadhibou and Zouerat, near the iron ore mines of F'derik; but throw comfort out the window.

Airlines and Airports:
Air France and Air Afrique fly to Nouakchott from Paris, and Sabena serves the Mauritanian capital from Brussels. There are also regional flights from neighbouring countries and a pilgrim connection to Saudi Arabia.

Overland to Mauritania

Border crossings from Western Sahara are dependent on an army convoy, so most people choose to travel to or from Senegal.

It is theoretically possible to travel to or from Mali but the current situation needs to be checked in the capital of either country.

Adventures of Mauritania

Mauritania is beyond doubt the most dramatic country in North Africa, and one of the few remaining areas of the world which offers a feeling of medieval lifestyles.

World's Longest Train

The train carrying iron from Zouerate, to the coast at Nouadhibou, is probably the world's longest train. Its length can be as much as 3 kilometres and the 700km journey takes around 12 hours.


Adrar is the Berber word for plateau, and that's what this region is. The brown landscape has patches of green after the rains.

The official languages of Mauritania are Arabic and French, although Poular, Wolof, and Soninke are also considered national languages.

Mauritania Maps and Travel Guides

Lonely Planet West Africa (Travel Guide) History of West Africa

Mauritania Travel - Mauritania Maps.

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