Also known as: Erg Aoukar, Awkar

A lake, a desert sea

The Aoukar Depression is a natural area in the extreme south of Mauritania that spans several administrative regions. The depression borders the Tagant Plateau to the north and Mali to the south and gives its name to the two regions Hodh el Gharbi and Hodh el Charqui, which are simply called the Eastern and Western Basins. From 1700 to 400 BC, a lake existed at this location, and people lived on its shores for centuries until its drying out. Numerous traces of the settlement can still be found today. The ruins of what are believed to be the most important cities of the Ghana Empire - Koumbi Saleh and Aoudaghost - lie in or near today's depression, as do the modern cities of Kiffa, Ayoun el Atrous and Tintane. Mauritania's perhaps most beautiful city, Oualata, borders the area to the east. Until the 1980s, African elephants still lived in the related Affollé Mountains. But are they really extinct? Who knows? For decades, West African crocodiles were also considered extinct in Mauritania until they were rediscovered in 1999. It is also possible that the nearly extinct Mendes antelope still occurs sporadically in the area. Two of our tours pass through the Tagant region and parts of the Aoukar Depression. Due to the variety of historical and natural sights, they are worth exploring. Due to the distances to be covered, we recommend a two-week tour.


  • Aoudaghost
  • Koumbi Saleh
  • Kiffa
  • Ayoun el Atrous
  • Tintane
  • Desert and rocky landscape
  • Salt Caravan

 Tours including Aoukar

Tagant Aoukar Tour
Between Mali Empire and Almoravids - On the traces of the history of the South
14 Day(s)
16 Destinations
2700 km
3 Languages
Adrar Tagant Aoukar Tour
More than 3000 km of desert, oases, mountains and petroglyphs
14 Day(s)
21 Destinations
3050 km
3 Languages

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Aoukar

How many mendes antelopes are still living worldwide today?
The number of this rare antelope species is estimated at a few hundred specimens, about half of which are in human care. The number of animals living in Mauritania amounts to a maximum of 100.
Why is a trip to the Aoukar Depression worthwhile?
For a long time, the depression was a blossoming point of early civilization. Even today, countless traces of this can be seen, be it in tool finds, ruins or rock drawings. Furthermore, Aoukar impresses with its landscape, consisting of salt deserts, sand dunes and kilometer-long sandstone cliffs.
Is the Aoukar depression still used by people economically today?
The depression in southern Mauritania plays an important role in the transport of salt from Tichitt to the southern cities. Even today, the salt is transported by camel caravans.