Oualata, Tichitt, Tidjikja or also : camels, crocodiles and thousands of birds
Between Mali Empire and Almoravids - On the traces of the history of the South
How versatile can two weeks be? The south of Mauritania is a cultural region of its own - at least one. Get to know it. In fourteen days, over 2700 kilometers, dozens of resting and sleeping places and countless photos, you will travel to the centuries-old cultural cities of Tichit and Tidjikja in Tagant, then to Oualata with its famous ornaments and decorations. Cave drawings, an elephant-shaped rock, ruins of bygone days - all in one tour. Lac d'Aleg and Diawling National Park are among the largest birding areas in West Africa. In the Guelta Metraucha and Guelta Matmata, Western Sahara crocodiles, previously thought to be extinct for decades, have been seen again since the 1990s. Diversity is preprogrammed. We leave no wishes unfulfilled and are happy to adapt the proven tour to your ideas.
*Who likes traveling alone? Groups of 2 or more visitors save significantly with ChingiTours.
Elephant rock / Finger rock Es Sba
Ayoun el Atrous
Total distance: 2700 km
Many roads lead to Oualata, but the best ones start in Nouakchott. The capital of Mauritania is a microcosm, a mixture of the entire country. With the exception of the Saudi mosque, it is almost architecturally insignificant, but it is worth a walk just for the ethnic-cultural diversity that reflects Mauritanian society. And you will regret not having taken a cab ride through Nouakchot at least once. We also invite you to discover the camel market, the Port de pêche (fishing port), the city garden and the Marché Capitale. Before we leave for our big trip the next day, we will end the day on the beach with a Mauritanian tea ceremony. And if you like, you can already take a boat trip, a small camel tour or a visit to the tent market here.
Day 2Sangrave - Moudjeria - NBeika - Guelta Matmata
Since none of the sights of our two-week tour are near Nouakchott, we first have to do some kilometers. Sangrave is the name of the first stopover of the second day. Located in the extreme east of the Brakna region, we drive 400 km on the Route de l'Espoir. In fact, the town of 15,000 inhabitants gives a first impression of the relatively isolated towns still to come, but not much more. After lunch and a short walk through the town, we continue our tour. It only gets really exciting when we have driven 80 km through the Moudjeria Pass and leave the asphalt behind us behind the village of N'Beika. Because only a few off-road kilometers away lies the Guelta Matmata, home of the Western Sahara crocodiles, which were considered extinct just a few years ago. It is advisable to bring a telephoto lens or binoculars. Near the Guelta we will set up camp for the night.
After the first night and the first breakfast outside, we take a last look at the crocodiles and then leave towards Tidjikja, which we should reach before noon. The town itself still represents the center of the Tagant Plateau and is located in one of the largest and most beautiful date oases in the country. However, the journey is not worth it just for the date tasting. In the course of the day you will have enough time to take a closer look at all the local features. The numerous natural stone houses, the local market or the local mosque for example. There are also relics of French posts and forts in abundance in Tidjikja. You may also just enjoy the nature. Our offer: Before reaching Tidjikja, we dare to make a detour to the ruins of Ksar el Barka. Little effort, great travel gain.
The next destination on our trip is Tichit. More than 200 km of demanding soft sand track have to be driven. In principle, this can be done in one day, but after at least 9 hours of driving offroad in the Sahara, the mood is usually gone - and so is the concentration of the driver. But here too we will accommodate you. If you wish to complete the route in one day, we will take this into account in consultation with the driver. On the way to Tichit is the village of Lekhcheb, where you can stretch your legs a bit and get some cultural impressions. Be sure that there are not many visitors from abroad and our stop will be a welcome change for the inhabitants as well. The night we´ll spend under the stars.
Day 5Jebel Zig - Tichit
Also on the fifth day it is first: An hour-long drive between beautiful dune and rock landscapes, in between wells, nomads and herds of animals. We make a stop at Jebel Zig, where there are even some rock drawings hidden near a well. The plan is to reach Tichit before noon. Tichit is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, camel capital of Mauritania and still an important place for the salt trade. In the colder months, salt caravans can be seen in the area of Dar Tichit, as they were 500 years ago. Impressive manuscripts are still stored in the Ksar. Mosque and natural stone houses are also worth seeing today. Tourism is not common despite the historical importance, so you may feel welcome in any case.
Day 6 & 7Akreijit - Elephant rock- Finger rock Es Sba
We have breakfast in Tichit, then we start the long journey to Oualata. But it is varied enough. 30 km after Tichit we reach the Neolithic settlement of Akreijit. This lies on the edge of the huge Aoukar depression, which was once a lake whose dimensions would now stretch from Kiffa to Oualata. There is no lack of remains from that time in Akreijit, be it house ruins, rock drawings or purchasable souvenirs such as arrowheads. After leaving the settlement behind, our next stop is called Elephant Rock (also: Rocher de Makhrouga). We plan to reach this interesting rock formation by afternoon at the latest. Only a few kilometers away is the finger rock El Sba. We will leave the natural arches, rocky landscapes and caves behind us. We will spend the night - as well as the following one - in the desert. All in all, there are many kilometers between Tichit and Oualata. How well we make progress depends on many factors, but for the sake of safety we better plan the required driving time generously.
Day 8 & 9Oualata
By some, Oualata is called the most beautiful city in Mauritania. Surely this is also due to the richly decorated ornaments on houses and doors, which give the place an unmistakable style. In any case, after the kilometers behind us, this UNESCO Ksar will certainly seem like the most beautiful place in the world to us. After a hearty meal, you will get to know the city. What is not waiting for you? The mosque, the manuscript museum, the market, the cemetery of Trirzet. The town of 14,000 inhabitants has a lot to offer. Its rich history as one of the most important places of the Trans-Sahara trade has left countless traces. Also an important Koran school still exists today. We will be happy to discuss with you on site what you plan to do in and around Oualata. A discovery tour on foot? A 4x4 adventure? Or a camel tour, which fits perfectly here? There should be no lack of time and possibilities, which is why we also intend to spend at least a day and a half in Oualata.
Day 10Néma - Timbédra
On the tenth day, after breakfast, we leave Oualata for Néma. Néma is the center of the Hodh Ech Chargui region. More than 20,000 people live in the city. As the terminus of the Rue de l'Espoir, the town is connected to the rest of the country, and it also has its own airport. You can allow 4 hours for the drive from Oualata. But enjoy it, it will be the last longer distance offroad according to plan. However, with Koumbi Saleh we have an exciting optional destination that can only be reached off-road. The starting point would be Timbédra, which we would also like to get to on the tenth day. After lunch, a tour of Néma's town, replenishing supplies and - finally - the tank, we finally make our way to Timbédra, where we spend the night as planned.
Day 11Ayoun el Atrous - Tamourt Bougari
New day, new luck. After the first meal of the day, we leave Timbédra behind and head west to the Hodh el Gharbi region, which is the linguistic counterpart of Hodh Ech Chargui (Basin of the East). Both refer to the Aoukar depression in their names. The destination is the regional capital of Ayoun el Atrous, just under 2 ½ hours away. Already the area around Ayoun el Atrous is beautiful. Bizarre rock formations can be seen to the east of the town. In Ayoun itself there are several ornate houses made of natural stone, for which the short stay is worthwhile. It is about 150 km via Rue de l'Espoir to our next destination, Tamourt Bougari. There are even crocodiles living in the local lake. Not far away is the Guelta Metraucha, where there is also some species richness. Should you communicate in advance the desire to also see the ruins of the presumed capital of the Ghana Empire, Aoudaghost, we would also start this excursion in Tamourt Bougari. We will spend the night in the open air.
Day 12Kiffa – Affollé
From Tamourt Bougari it is only about an hour's drive to Kiffa, capital of the Assaba region. We plan to stay there up to and including lunch. Above all, this town of 60,000 is prized for its multicolored, variously shaped and richly decorated glass bead jewelry. Visitors to Kiffa can also explore other areas of arts and crafts. The Affollé Mountains in close proximity to the town are also worth visiting. After noon we will continue our journey - towards Aleg. We are not expected to arrive there before evening, alternatively we will look for a place to camp outdoors for the night. Aleg is interesting for several reasons, first of all for its enormous freshwater lake Lac d'Aleg. Water depth and surface area vary with the seasons, but the lake forms its own ecosystem year-round and a refuge for countless bird species. The area around the lake has been used by nomads for thousands of years.
After breakfast and a daylight visit to Lac d'Aleg, we set off once again. Boutilimit is the first stage destination of the thirteenth day and our first step into Mauritania's southwest. The place is famous for its elaborate carpets made of goat and camel hair. Leather and woodwork, teapots, and enamels from the village are also valued nationally. Despite its late foundation, Boutlimit has become an important, if not the most important, city of religious knowledge in the Bilad Shinqit (Mauritania). Not only are important Islamic manuscripts stored here, but Mauritania's recent history is closely linked to Boutlimit and Aleg. To keep the trip to Diawling National Park short the next day, we recommend spending dinner and the night at a place outside, a few kilometers closer to Diawling.
The last destination of a two-week trip through the south of Mauritania is called Diawling National Park. Located in the extreme southwest of the Trarza region, Diawling's nature is characterized by the delta of the Senegal River. More wetland than desert. But camels can also be found here. In addition, cattle and sheep, which are not kept further north. Guaranteed it will also be the first time you see warthogs in Mauritania. En masse. With a little luck also servals and primates. By the way, as a biosphere reserve, the national park is one of the most important refuges for migratory birds and waterfowl. If you wish, we will spend the night near the national park and bring you to the Rosso border crossing the next day. Alternatively, we will drive back to Nouakchott in the evening and end the trip there.