After relaxing in Dakhla for 2 night, we drove to the border of Morocco and Mauritania early this morning.
About an hour into the journey we suffered a flat tire, which luckily took about 30 minutes to sort out thanks to a friend of the driver’s brother that was nearby!
And yet that was my opportunity to get in about 200 push ups while waiting, so ’twas meant to be.
We enjoy one final rest stop on our epic road trip beginning a week ago in Casablanca.
Once we hit the Morocco/Mauritania border at 1pm we said our goodbyes to our guide and drivers and exited the country.
They stamp you out in this little office here:
Once they inspected our bags at “customs” we were picked up by our Mauritanian guides across the border.
From there we hopped into 3 pick up trucks and began a 5km drive into no man’s land, more officially (or arguably?) controlled by the SADR (Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic).
While the rest of Western Sahara is claimed by Morocco, this sliver of land is indisputably Sahrawi.
While you may see stolen cars sellers, guns smugglers, and refugees from the conflict here, we saw simply an eerie road lined with endless rows of desolate trucks, and a barren wasteland of abandoned cars as if the apocalypse had occurred years ago. Or Mad Max.
It makes for a surreal 5 minute drive.
Right from the Mauritanian border we entered a whole new world, especially after 2 weeks in Algeria and Morocco. Keep all obvious camera equipment on you and hidden away unless you want to spend forever here.
Our visa on arrival here took nearly an hour and a half to arrange; bring small denominations of Euros to pay for the visa in exact cash (55 euros at the time of posting) because they’ll conveniently “not have change.”
Another trick is to pay in a big group: Not only did we make sure we wouldn’t be swindled the 5 euros per person, but also it ensured our place in the queue.
We were led into the small office about four folks at a time where one by one they took our fingerprints and photos before issuing us our one page visa on arrival.
After getting our visas, we quickly continued onwards to Nouadhibou, the Mauritania’s second largest city and economic capital.
Along the way we sailed through a series of checkpoints; it helps to have a stack of printouts that list your group’s names, nationalities, passport numbers, and visa numbers so you can hand them to every guard that stops your vehicle. That way they can let you drive on without having to get out and be inspected every time.
We quickly drove through Nouadhibou for a southern detour to Cape Blanc: a peninsula shared between Mauritania and Western Sahara.
Like literally shared. Look at Google Maps. What country am I in anyway?
It was here that the Spanish expanded their fishing presence from the Canary islands onto the African coast.
If you’re lucky, you might spot the endangered Mediterranean monk seal colony there; there’s only 150 left out of 500 total in the world. We settled for the small museum in the area.
Making use of a rope nearby, we then rappelled down to the beach, where the world’s biggest ship graveyard used to be located until it was broken down into steel parts and sold by Chinese companies.
We then visited the newer ship graveyard of Nouadhibou.
Looks like they’re phasing this one out as well: Last year there were 15 ships being taken apart, now there’s only 2 left.
Afterwards we grabbed a late dinner at Ice NBC where they served humongous portions for a great value and with decent WiFi. If you fancy a cold one you can grab a beer at the next door Chinese restaurant, the only place that openly serves alcohol.
Then by 11pm we turned in at Hotel Al Jezira.
And yet during all the driving, we managed to get a sneak peek of the train we’re hopping on tomorrow:
The next morning we quickly the Port of Nouadhibou and its fish market . . .
. . . before getting our supplies ready and hopping on this:
- At time of posting in Nouadhibou, it was 26 °C - Humidity: 33% | Wind Speed: 23km/hr | Cloud Cover: clear