A new expedition through Mauritania, an itinerary that is the outcome of many years of research in the Sahara. The itinerary starts in Nouakchott, the capital of the country, and continues to Banc d’Arguin, one of the major migratory bird sanctuaries on earth. The Atlantic Ocean is calm sheltered by large banks, sailing on a wooden local Felucca to the bird’s sites.
From the Ocean to the mountains finding our way through spectacular dunes and chains. In the Adrar massif, surrounded by yellow sand, we will be guests, for lunch, in a nomadic camp. In an absolutely arid universe, we will discover lush oases hidden in canyons with gardens shaded by palm trees and typical adobe villages where the huts have conical grass roofs.
We will spend a whole day experiencing Chinguetti’s magical atmosphere, one of the most well-conserved oases in the whole Sahara. The ancient stone village date back to the XIII century, when Chinguetti was the seventh holiest city of Islam and the main caravan center in the western regions of the Sahara. In the town’s ancient quarter, the Ksar stands a white stone mosque considered the second ancient, still operating in the world, a remarkable example of Arab-Berber architecture. We will pay a visit to two collections of ancient manuscripts in the traditional stone buildings. we drive to Ouadane, founded in 1147. It is the remotest oasis in Mauritania, the western outpost before the total emptiness.
Day 1: ARRIVAL IN MAURITANIA
Nouakchott IN. Overnight at hotel Azalai, international standards.
Day 2: HEAD NORTH
Drive north on a spectacular road between the dunes.
We will leave the road to find the tracks leading to the Banc d’Arguin.
Dinner and Overnight in a Mauritanian-style permanent camp that will be our base for two nights. Located in a scenic environment facing the ocean, the camp is managed by a local woman’s cooperative.
Day 3: SAILING AND BIRDING
Banc d’Arguin National Park is a World Heritage Site.
Two million migratory birds make Banc d’Arguin one of the most important breeding sites. Pelicans, flamingos, and broad-billed sandpipers are common… Thanks to the mild climate, a scarce human presence, and to the rich fishing Ocean, migratory birds winter here from Greenland, Siberia, Ireland, and Scotland… making the largest water bird colony in this part of the African continent.
After an exciting sailing on a wooden local felucca on the shallow ocean water, between sandbanks, to discover the birds, return to our fix camp.
Day 4: SAHARA EXPERIENCE
Early morning departure. Thanks to the experience of our drivers we will make our own itinerary tracing an unmarked path in the sand of the Inchiri region, a less-known part of the Mauritanian desert. To cross long ranges of dunes we will reduce the tire pressure. Gps, maps, and compasses will assist our land navigation in an untouched geological universe. Our direction will be in the first part northeast and in the second part southeast to be able to run in the corridors between the lines of the dunes. Evening arrival and overnight in Akjoujt, at the new and comfortable Sahara hotel, all rooms with A / C and en-suite.
Day 5 & 6: ADRAR, DUNES, AND MOUNTAINS
The even more scenic landscape of Mauritania: valleys, high mountains, yellow sand dunes with peaks of dark brown and red rock, and lost adobe villages. Amatlich Erg is one of the most beautiful dune range in the region. Discover prehistoric stone arrows point an earthenware shard, a silent witness of people living on these sites a long time ago, before the desertification. We will visit remote nomadic encampments, oases, and hidden adobe villages. These human encounters after the immense silence of the Sahara are intense.
Day 5 camp in the dunes.
Day 6 Arrival to Chinguetti will be our base for the next 4 nights. Dinner and overnight in a cozy guest house built in traditional Mauritanian style, (or private residence).
Day 7: CHINGUETTI, THE OASIS
Chinguetti is an ancient caravan terminal and an important trading point between north and Black Africa.
The stone village dates back to the XIII century at a cross point of caravan routes crossing the Sahara.
We will spend the whole day in the magical atmosphere of this citadel, considered the jewel of Mauritanian oases: discovering palm groves that shade vegetable gardens, a green miracle. In the old stone quarters, we will be invited to visit two ancient manuscript collections, including Ould Habott, the largest one in Mauritania. The white stone mosque is considered the second ancient, still operating in the world: Remains of the colonial era will be the former French Foreign Legion fortress and a tall water tower. The day will be on the high dunes for sunset over Chinguetti.
Return to our cozy guest house. Dinner and overnight at La Gueila Guest House.
Day 8: OUADANE, THE REMOTEST
Drive to Ouadane by an absolute “out of any track” itinerary that follows the Ouadi (dry creek). Ouadane built on a rocky hill is the remotest oasis in Mauritania, it is an outpost facing the immensity of the desert that was founded in 1147. Mainly in ruin, some of his stone houses are still inhabited. In the ancient days, this Ouadane was a caravan trading point between the Maghreb and black Africa.
Commerce was so flourishing that in 1487 Portuguese built a fortified trading counter in the region.
Return to our cozy base in Chinguetti.
Dinner and overnight at “La Gueila” (or private residence).
Day 9: BACK TO NOUAKCHOTT
Expected arrival in the evening of 15 th January 2021 at Nouakchott. Day room available. If requested, transfer to the airport. End of our services.
EXPEDITION LEADER: Alberto Nicheli, TransAfrica founder, has been travelling in West Africa since 1975. He has led more than a hundred expeditions in West Africa and sixty-four Sahara expeditions, including a solo crossing of the desert, ethnological research on Tuareg and rocky painting. He has organized the logistics of a documentary about the caravans of the Niger for Discovery Channel and has assisted Angela Fisher and Carol Beckwith from National Geographic in numerous research projects on West Africa, as well as in different television programs on West Africa. He has an expertise in tribal art and security in West Africa.
Alberto will led from day 1 to day 8 of the itinerary. Last day, (day 9) the return to Nouakchott on a tarred road and transfer to the airport will be led by a local guide speaking English.
EXPLORATORY ITINERARY: This itinerary is an expedition, therefore, participants must be flexible and ready to enjoy the unique encounters, as much as some unexpected situations that are part of the “African experience”.
TRANSPORTS: 4WD, air-conditioned vehicles .
MEDICAL and VACCINATIONS: Malaria prophylaxis: recommended.
Due to the Covid 19 crisis, in the mutual interest of each participant, bring a recent (-72 hours) test that grant your negativity.
Note that now (October 2020), Mauritanian authorities does not request a Covid test, but could be requested at the time of our arrival.
VISA: required. Visas at the airport (55 Euro).
MEALS: vegetarian or different meals available on request, please mention it at the time of booking
Lunches: cold meals, mainly picnics or in local restaurants.
Hotels: touristic menu.
Mobile camps: simple dinners made of preserved and fresh local products, bottled or purified water included.
CAMPS: camping in the immensity of Sahara is an unforgettable experience. Igloo tents fitted for tropical climate; camping mattress included. Please bring your own sleeping-bag . Nights in the Sahara are cold and could be windy.
LUGGAGE: due to the nature of the itinerary, please limit your personal luggage to 45lb (20 kg), soft sacs are recommended.
INSURANCE: mandatory for medical assistance (health care), repatriation, physical and material damages. TransAfrica will not be held responsible for any material and physical damages during or in consequence of the tour. Discover our insurance policy proposal: https://transafrica.biz/en/travel-insurance-en/;
NOTICE: The itinerary is designed to experience fascinating places where foreigners hardly arrive. We need to be tolerant and flexible to fully enjoy and truly appreciate the unique nature and wildlife, the spontaneous hospitality of the local populations, the African magic and mystery, the metaphysics, ceremonies, life philosophies and religious beliefs that people are willing to share with us.
Itineraries, visits, overnights and accommodations are subject to changes, improvements and adaptations due to : more recent experiences and news from the fields, force majeure. The changes are decided by the organizer. We are not responsible for any delays and cancellation due to external conditions.