The best of all (Mauritanian) worlds: West Africa's cultural regions in a triple pack
More than 3000 km of desert, oases, mountains and petroglyphs
The most diverse trip in our program. Experience Adrar with the historic cities of Chinguetti and Ouadane as well as the oases of Terjit, Entkemkent and Mhaireth. And join us directly afterwards in the south to Tagant, the region of Tichitt and Tidjikja, and in the region of Hodh Ech Chargui, east of the Aoukar depression, where the unique Oualata is located. If you like, the ruins of the archaeological sites of Ksar el Barka, Audaghost and Koumbi Saleh are also waiting for you. World culture has taken place around Adrar, Tagant and Aoukar over the millennia. Between Sanhādscha and Kunta, the Almoravids or the empires of Ghana, Mali and Songhai. Follow in the footsteps of the greatest dynasties, empires and rulers of African history.
*For a group of three people. We operate according to the following rule of thumb: the more travelers, the lower the price!
Film set Fort Saganne
Ayoun el Atrous
Total distance: 3050 km
A trip needs to be well prepared. In Nouakchott, you will see many things that you will become familiar with in the following weeks. Market stalls on the Marché Capitale selling boubous and haulis, for example. Or the largest camel market in West Africa in the east of the city. The Saudi Mosque is the largest in the country - and completely different from the historic sandstone mosques in Chinguetti, Ouadane or Tichitt. Also a trip to the city garden, the fishing port (Port de pêche) or a relaxing tea in the evening while the sun sets over the sea. All this is our daily program. If you like, we will also familiarize ourselves with the history of Mauritania at the National Museum before we get down to business in the next few days.
Day 2Terjit - Atar
Right after breakfast we will pick you up. The first stop on our long journey is Terjit. The oasis is certainly the most famous in Mauritania and just under 400 km from Nouakchott. But don't worry. Not every trip from sight to sight will take that long. Terjit, at any rate, is worth the trip. Date palms can grow between protective rock cliffs and even water can flow year-round. A cooling off in the natural pool is of course planned. After lunch we move to Atar, the capital of the Adrar region. The area around Atar offers a diverse and worth seeing landscape. The town itself provides us with a traditional local market. Last purchases for the trip are best made here. We will also spend the night in Atar.
Day 3Mhaïreth - Fort Saganne - Agrour - Ouadane
The third day will be no less exciting. No less than four destinations are on the program without us having to rush. One hour away from Atar is the oasis of Mhaireth, which - unlike Terjit - also has several small lakes. Rock cliffs, sand dunes, grassy landscape - a lot of things come together here. The nearby village consists mainly of traditional huts (tikit). There, after an extensive lunch and - if desired - another pool experience, we will set off in the direction of Ouadane. This is another 250 km away, but on the way there are two spots we like to stop for. First, the film set Fort Saganne, built for the movie of the same name, and then the hill Agrour near the Amogjar pass, which is characterized by interesting rock paintings. The last stop of the day is Ouadane. A walk through the world famous ruins of the old city and finally the restful night.
If there are still unseen destinations in Ouadane, we will change that in the morning - after all, we don't want you to miss anything. Immediately after, we head back west and arrive in Chinguetti about two hours later. The most famous city in Mauritania, which gave the country the name Bilad Shinqit for a long time, has a lot to offer. A walk in the old town, a visit to the mosque with its unique minaret, the presentation of a museum that houses a library of numerous writings. But also a camel tour can be easily realized from Chinguetti - for example to the nearby oasis Entkemkemt or the original Chinguetti, which today is hardly more than a collection of huts and a restored mosque. You should also have seen the Ouarane sand dunes. We spend the night in a well-selected auberge with excellent cuisine.
After leaving Chinguetti, an adventurous off-road trip to Tidjikja awaits us. Our first destination on the way is the Zerga mountain range (Arab. zarqā', blue). These sandstone formations are also called "montagne bicolore" (two-colored mountains), because it seems like the sand dunes grow into the mountains. The area is extremely attractive in flora and fauna. After lunch at the mountains, we continue south without having a specific place to sleep in mind. The nice thing about the desert is: There is enough space for the night!
Day 6Wadi Ichif - Rachid - Tidjikja
Breakfast in the desert! And directly afterwards: Hours of driving through beautiful landscapes like the Wadi Ichif and the Wadi Timinit, before we finally reach Rachid as the first human settlement of the Tagant we get to know. The village of Rachid was founded at the beginning of the 18th century by the Kunta near several date groves and developed into a caravanserai later on. From there it is less than 40 km to Tidjikja, which we also plan to reach the same day. Tidjikja is the center of the region and has one of the most important date oases in the country. It is worth visiting for the old town, the market, the old mosque - and the last gas station before Néma that reliably carries gasoline. The perfect place to camp for the night.
Completely offroad, we drive 4 hours further to Tichitt the next morning. This town was also founded in the middle of the 12th century as a Ksar and is today, despite its difficult accessibility, one of the most popular sights in Tagant. Similar to Tidjikja, it was mainly date cultivation that helped Tichitt to prosperity. Included in the trip is a visit to the history museum as well as the local market. The traditional stone houses as well as the famous mosque in the northern part of the city are certainly a reason for its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tichitt even has its own small airfield. Besides the city itself, there is an impressive natural landscape to discover. Here we like to spend day and night.
Day 8Akreijit - Elephant rock- Finger rock Es Sba
The first destination of the eighth day is the Neolithic settlement of Akreijit, located near the Aoukar Depression. Once there was a lake here, which dried up in the centuries before the turn of time. Eventually, the settlement was abandoned, but the stone buildings remained as ruins. These are the oldest surviving settlements in all of West Africa. The inhabitants living in the area today sell relics from that ancient time on site. We leave Akreijit in time to approach an impressive natural site - the Elephant Rock (also: Rocher de Makhrouga). Remarkable in its shape, it clearly stands out from the desert landscape. The finger rock El Sba, not far away, is the last planned destination of the day. Between the most beautiful places of the Sahara we set up our night camp under the open sky.
Day 9 & 10Oualata
The most beautiful city in the south, some say in all of Mauritania, and next to Chinguetti and Ouadane certainly in the top 3 of the most historically important places in the country. Oualata impresses with its architecture, its richly decorated houses and doors, its mosque and last but not least its history - as part of the Mali Empire and Trans-Sahara trade. Oualata had its economic and cultural peak in the 13th century but much can still be seen today that makes the trip worthwhile. A visit to the Manuscript Museum, for example. Camel tours can also be arranged around the town of 15,000 inhabitants. Because of its comparatively difficult accessibility, the city is visited much less frequently than the sights of the Adrar. There is no trace of tourist crowds and unlike often in Cairo or Marrakech, one is treated honestly as a tourist. We spend the night on site.
Day 11Néma - Ayoun el Atrous
About 80 km away from Oualata lies Néma, in some respects Oualata's modern counterpart. With 21,000 inhabitants, it is only slightly larger than its northern neighbor and also historically insignificant, yet Néma is the capital of the Hodh Ech Chargui region. The Route de l'Espoir, the paved connection to the capital, also ends in Néma. For us, this means that after a short stop for fuel, food and a walk into town, we continue west and leave the offroad days behind us - for now. With Ayoun el Atrous we should reach the next regional capital in the evening, this time of Hodh El Gharbi. Some houses are built of natural stone and richly decorated, but the real attraction is the wonderful area around the town. Here too we will have the opportunity to explore before spending the night in the city.
Day 12Tamourt Bougari - Kiffa - Affollé
From Ayoun el Atrous to Kiffa, our next destination, it is just under 215 km via the Rue de l'Espoir. But if we didn't stop along the way to see the Tamourt Bougari lily pond, which is even home to some West African crocodiles, we would surely regret it. If you have the desire, we will also drive a little offroad to the Guelta Metraucha, where there are numerous crocodiles and even baboons, jackals and klipsliders. Later, in Kiffa, there is also a lot to discover. With more than 60,000 inhabitants, the city is one of the largest in the country and is known for its handicrafts. Especially the multicolored glass beads are considered a special feature of Kiffa's art. The mosque is also worth seeing. Immediately nearby are the Affollé Mountains, in the vicinity of which the above-mentioned crocodiles were rediscovered for the first time in the 1990s. An elephant population was also able to survive there until the 1980s. We plan to spend the night in Kiffa.
The destination of the thirteenth day is Aleg. 350 km are to be driven, but the journey is worth it. First and foremost, it is Lac d'Aleg, which covers between 2500 and 5000 hectares, depending on the season, and represents its own ecosystem similar to that in Diawling. In fact, it is still unclear whether Lac d'Aleg is not the larger refuge for waterfowl and migratory birds. Tens of thousands of birds are the rule rather than the exception, especially in the colder months; including brown sickles, godwits, garganey and spur-winged geese. The area around the lake has been used by nomads for thousands of years. The town of Aleg, with a population of 25,000, has only existed in this form since the 1970s, when tens of thousands of people abandoned their nomadic way of life after periods of drought and the Western Sahara conflict. Aleg is of regional importance as a trading center. So a walk to the market is worthwhile. As you wish, we spend the night inside or outside Aleg.
We are in no hurry to get to Boutilimit, as the capital of the Trarza region is only about two hours away. Boutilimit is best known for its elaborate carpets made of goat and camel hair. Leather and woodwork, teapots and enamels made in the town are also highly valued. Although the town was not founded until the 19th century, it was and is considered the most important religious center (Arab. Zāwiya) in Mauritania. Numerous manuscripts are located here; a few years ago, a copy of a script by Averroes (Arab. Ibn Rushd), hitherto unknown worldwide, was found, a sensation, after all, he is one of the most important Islamic scholars of all. Culturally and historically, Boutilimit and Aleg are much more closely linked to Mauritanian national consciousness and independence than Chinguetti or Nouakchott. The last night of our trip we plan to spend it in the city itself but provide opportunities to sleep outside as well.