MAURITANIA TRAVEL GUIDE
Mauritania is a land about desert and ocean. It is, of course, no wonder that the main attractions for most tourists are the desert in Adrar and the Tagant areas (around Atar), and the ocean in Banc d'Arguin (a natural reserve with dunes ending in the sea, full of millions of birds and protected by UNESCO). The Adrar is exactly how you've always imagined the Sahara to be - endless ergs (dunes) and regs (rocky desert) with tabular small mountains. Most tourists stay along the west coast of the country, although there are a few beautiful sights far into the interior (rock formations in Aioun, for example). If you decide to travel off the beaten path, leave plenty of time to get around.
Sadly travel to Mauritania is ill-advised due to persistent crime and terrorist activity. Ensure to follow the latest travel advisory from your embassy.
MAURITANIA QUICK FACTS
- Capital: Nouakchott
- Currency: New Ouguiya (MRU)
- Area: 1,030,700 km²
- Population: 4,403 million (2018)
- Language: Arabic (official), French, Pulaar, Soninke, Wolof
- Religion:Muslim 100%
- Electricity: 220V/50Hz (European plug)
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MAURITANIA PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
- 1 May, Labor Day
- 25 May, Africa Day
- 28 November, Independence Day
Also, Muharram, Maulid an-Nabi, Eid al-Fitr, and Eid al-Adha.
FESTIVALS IN MAURITANIA
BEST TIME TO VISIT MAURITANIA
The best time to visit Mauritania is during the cooler and drier months between November and February. During this time, the temperatures are more comfortable, and there is very little rainfall. The weather can be extremely hot and humid during the summer months, which are from June to September, and the rainy season can make some roads and areas difficult to access.
However, if you are interested in attending the annual Nouakchott International Sahara Festival, which is a celebration of Mauritanian and Saharan culture, it takes place in early February, during the peak of the dry season. So, if attending this festival is your priority, then February would be the best time to visit.
It's worth noting that Mauritania is a vast country, and the weather patterns can vary depending on the region. For example, the coastal areas experience a more moderate climate, while the desert regions can be extremely hot during the day and chilly at night.
It is important to note that the northern regions of Mauritania, including the ancient trading city of Chinguetti and the desert town of Ouadane, can experience extreme temperature fluctuations, so visitors should be prepared for both hot days and cold nights, regardless of the time of year.
MAURITANIA WEATHER SYNOPSIS
Mauritania has a dry, hot and windy climate, and is severely exposed to the effects of desertification. The majority of Mauritania receives very little rainfall throughout the year. The country’s southern edge, which reaches the Sahel, has a wet season controlled by the movement of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) which oscillates between the northern and southern tropics over the course of a year. The country’s mean monthly temperature stay above 25°C year round with the hot season occurring from May to October, with peak mean monthly temperatures reaching 33°C in June and July.
MAURITANIA TOURIST SEASONS
Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists.
Off Peak Season
SPORT & ACTIVITIES
SNOW SPORT IN MAURITANIA
HIKING & CYCLING IN MAURITANIA
The best time for outdoor activities in Mauritania is from November to March, when it's warm but not scorching, and the nights can be cooler. From May to June temperatures are at their highest and June to October can bring some rainfall.
BEACH OPTIONS IN MAURITANIA
The beaches in Mauritania can be enjoyed throughout the year. The weather is more moderate from November to March, when it's warm but not scorching, and the nights can be cooler. From May to June temperatures are at their highest and June to October can bring some rainfall.
SURFING IN MAURITANIA
The best time find good surf in Mauritania is from October to February. Make sure to bring your wetsuit as although the average water temperature is much higher, it can also drop to 10 Celsius. There are no marked surf spots in particular and access can be tricky, but there is some great surf to be found!
KITESURF IN MAURITANIA
The best season to go kitesurfing in Mauritania is from March to July, although you can find good wind from February until September. The best known spot is Star Bay, very close to the capital town of Nouadhibou.
For more details on kite surfing in Mauritania expand this section!
HEALTH RISKS IN MAURITANIA
Be aware of possible health risks in
Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.
Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.
Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.
Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.
MAURITANIA TRAVEL COSTS
The cost of traveling to Mauritania can vary depending on various factors such as the season of travel, the duration of the trip, the type of accommodation, the mode of transportation, and the activities you plan to do. Here are some estimated costs to give you an idea:
- Flight: A round-trip flight from Europe or North America can cost anywhere between $500 and $1000, depending on the airline, the season, and how far in advance you book your ticket.
- Accommodation: You can find budget-friendly accommodations in Mauritania, including guesthouses, hostels, and campsites, which can cost between $10 and $30 per night. Mid-range hotels can cost between $50 and $100 per night.
- Transportation: Taxis and buses are the primary modes of transportation in Mauritania. A taxi ride within the city can cost between $1 and $5, while a long-distance bus ride can cost between $10 and $30, depending on the distance.
- Food: You can find affordable meals in local restaurants and markets, with prices ranging from $2 to $10 per meal, depending on the type of food and location.
- Activities: Many of Mauritania's attractions, such as visiting the ancient cities of Chinguetti and Ouadane, or hiking in the Adrar mountains, can be done independently and at a low cost. However, guided tours and activities can be more expensive, ranging from $50 to $200 per person, depending on the activity.
Overall, a budget traveler can expect to spend around $30 to $50 per day, while a mid-range traveler can expect to spend around $100 to $150 per day. It's important to note that prices can fluctuate, and it's always a good idea to research prices before traveling to Mauritania.
MAURITANIA TRAVEL TIPS
Here are some travel tips to help you plan your trip to Mauritania:
- Respect the local culture: Mauritania is an Islamic country, and it's important to dress conservatively and respect local customs and traditions.
- Stay hydrated: Mauritania can be extremely hot and dry, so it's essential to drink plenty of water and avoid dehydration.
- Be prepared for the weather: Depending on the region, the weather in Mauritania can be extremely hot during the day and chilly at night. Pack clothing that can easily be layered and consider bringing sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.
- Be aware of your surroundings: Mauritania is generally a safe country, but it's always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions such as avoiding deserted areas at night.
- Be respectful of photography: Some locals may not feel comfortable being photographed, so it's always a good idea to ask for permission before taking photos.
- Bargain when shopping: Bargaining is a common practice in Mauritania, especially when shopping in markets. Don't be afraid to negotiate prices, but be respectful and polite.
- Bring cash: Credit cards are not widely accepted in Mauritania, so it's important to bring cash with you, especially in smaller towns and rural areas.
- Learn some French or Arabic: French is widely spoken in Mauritania, and Arabic is the official language. Learning some basic phrases can help you communicate with locals and make your trip more enjoyable.
- Plan ahead: Mauritania is a vast country, and transportation can be unpredictable. It's a good idea to plan your itinerary in advance and consider booking transportation and accommodations ahead of time.
- Be flexible: Mauritania is an off-the-beaten-path destination, and things may not always go according to plan. Be flexible and open to unexpected experiences, as they can often be the highlight of your trip.
SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF MAURITANIA
Mauritania is divided into 13 regions, each with its own unique landscape, culture, and attractions. Here are some highlights of the main regions in Mauritania:
- Nouakchott: This is the capital city of Mauritania and is known for its colorful markets, bustling streets, and beautiful beaches.
- Adrar Region: Located in the central part of Mauritania, the Adrar region is home to ancient caravan cities, stunning landscapes, and the famous Tergit oasis.
- Tagant Region: This region is known for its striking desert landscapes, rocky plateaus, and traditional architecture.
- Brakna Region: Located in southern Mauritania, the Brakna region is known for its fertile river valleys, beautiful oasis towns, and historic mosques.
- Hodh El Gharbi Region: This region is home to some of the country's most beautiful desert landscapes, including the towering sand dunes of the Chegga Erg.
- Hodh Ech Chargui Region: Located in eastern Mauritania, this region is known for its beautiful oasis towns, ancient fortresses, and stunning desert landscapes.
- Gorgol Region: This region is known for its rich history, traditional music, and beautiful landscapes, including the Banc d'Arguin National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Assaba Region: Located in central Mauritania, the Assaba region is known for its rich cultural heritage, including ancient rock art and traditional music.
- Trarza Region: This region is home to some of Mauritania's most stunning beaches, including the popular resort town of Nouadhibou.
- Inchiri Region: Located in the northwestern part of Mauritania, this region is known for its beautiful desert landscapes and historic towns, including the UNESCO World Heritage site of Chinguetti.
- Dakhlet Nouadhibou Region: This region is known for its natural beauty, including stunning coastlines, beautiful beaches, and vibrant birdlife.
- Nouadhibou: This is Mauritania's second-largest city and is known for its historic port, vibrant fishing industry, and beautiful beaches.
- Guidimaka Region: Located in the southern part of Mauritania, the Guidimaka region is known for its beautiful landscapes, including the Banc d'Arguin National Park and the picturesque oasis town of Tidjikja.
Each region of Mauritania has its own unique attractions and experiences to offer, from beautiful desert landscapes and historic towns to vibrant markets and stunning coastlines. Whether you're interested in history, culture, or natural beauty, there's something for everyone in Mauritania.that showcase the country's rich history and culture.
Mauritania is a country with a rich history, unique culture, and stunning natural beauty. Here are some of the best things to see and do when visiting Mauritania:
- Visit the ancient city of Chinguetti: Located in the Inchiri Region, Chinguetti is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the oldest cities in Mauritania. It's known for its historic architecture, ancient libraries, and beautiful desert landscapes.
- Explore the Banc d'Arguin National Park: This national park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including migratory birds, dolphins, and seals. Visitors can take a boat tour or go on a hiking expedition to explore the park's beautiful beaches, sand dunes, and wetlands.
- Experience traditional Mauritanian music: Music is an important part of Mauritanian culture, and visitors can experience traditional Mauritanian music and dance at local festivals and events.
- Visit the ancient caravan city of Ouadane: Located in the Adrar Region, Ouadane is an ancient caravan city that was once an important center of trade and scholarship. Visitors can explore its historic architecture and learn about its rich history.
- Relax on the beaches of Nouadhibou: Nouadhibou is a coastal town known for its beautiful beaches, fishing industry, and historic port. Visitors can relax on the beaches, go fishing, or take a boat tour to explore the area's beautiful coastline.
- Take a camel trek through the desert: Mauritania is home to some of the world's most stunning desert landscapes, and visitors can take a camel trek through the dunes to experience its natural beauty up close.
- Visit the Tergit oasis: Located in the Adrar Region, the Tergit oasis is a beautiful and peaceful spot in the middle of the desert. Visitors can relax in its cool shade and enjoy its natural beauty.
- Explore the markets of Nouakchott: Nouakchott is the capital city of Mauritania and is known for its colorful markets, where visitors can buy traditional Mauritanian handicrafts, textiles, and spices.
- Learn about Mauritanian history at the National Museum of Mauritania: Located in Nouakchott, the National Museum of Mauritania is home to a collection of artifacts and exhibits that showcase the country's rich history and culture.
- Enjoy Mauritanian cuisine: Mauritanian cuisine is known for its flavorful spices, traditional stews, and grilled meats. Visitors can enjoy local cuisine at restaurants and cafes throughout the country.
These are just a few of the many things to see and do in Mauritania. Whether you're interested in history, culture, or natural beauty, there's something for everyone in this fascinating country.
WHAT TO EAT IN MAURITANIA
Mauritania has a unique cuisine that is influenced by its desert environment, Arab and Berber cultures, and African traditions. Here are some dishes you should try when visiting Mauritania:
- Thieboudienne: This is the national dish of Mauritania, and it is a flavorful and spicy fish stew made with rice, vegetables, and tomato sauce.
- Couscous: Couscous is a staple food in Mauritania, and it is often served with meat or vegetables in a spicy tomato sauce.
- Camel meat: Camel meat is a popular protein source in Mauritania, and it is often grilled or stewed with vegetables and spices.
- Grilled lamb: Lamb is another popular meat in Mauritania, and it is often seasoned with cumin, garlic, and other spices and grilled over charcoal.
- Mboga: This is a vegetable stew made with okra, tomato, onion, and other vegetables, and it is often served with rice or couscous.
- Bissap: This is a refreshing drink made from hibiscus flowers and is often served chilled.
- Tea: Tea is an important part of Mauritanian culture, and it is often served with mint and sugar in a traditional tea ceremony.
- Dates: Dates are a common dessert in Mauritania, and they are often served with nuts or as part of a sweet pastry.
These are just a few of the many delicious dishes you can try when visiting Mauritania. The country's cuisine is diverse and flavorful, and there are many unique dishes that are sure to delight your taste buds.
LGBTQ IN MAURITANIA
WHERE TO STAY IN MAURITANIA
When visiting Mauritania for the first time, it is recommended to stay in the capital city of Nouakchott. Nouakchott has a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences, including hotels, guesthouses, and apartments. Some popular areas to stay in Nouakchott include the city center, Ksar, and Tevragh-Zeina.
If you're looking for a more luxurious experience, some of the top hotels in Nouakchott include:
- Azalai Hotel Marhaba: This hotel is located in the city center and offers spacious rooms, a swimming pool, and a restaurant serving international cuisine.
- Novotel Nouakchott Tafouri: This hotel is located on the beachfront and offers a range of amenities, including a swimming pool, tennis court, and fitness center.
- Al Khaima City Center Hotel: This hotel is located in the heart of the city and offers comfortable rooms, a restaurant serving local and international cuisine, and a rooftop terrace.
If you're looking for more budget-friendly options, there are also many guesthouses and hostels in Nouakchott that offer affordable accommodation. Some popular options include:
- Auberge Menata: This guesthouse is located in the Ksar neighborhood and offers basic but comfortable rooms, a restaurant serving local cuisine, and a rooftop terrace with views of the city.
- Hotel Wissal: This budget hotel is located in the Tevragh-Zeina neighborhood and offers simple rooms with private bathrooms and air conditioning.
- Nouakchott Hotel: This hotel is located in the city center and offers basic but clean rooms with private bathrooms and air conditioning.
No matter what your budget or preferences, there are plenty of accommodation options in Nouakchott to choose from when visiting Mauritania for the first time.
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