Mauritania, located in Northwest Africa, is a country with vast desert landscapes, historic sites, and unique cultural experiences. While it is an off-the-beaten-path destination, Mauritania offers a wealth of natural and cultural attractions for adventurous travelers. Here are some of the best places to visit in Mauritania, along with information on how to reach the country and the best time to plan your trip.
Nouakchott: The capital city of Mauritania, Nouakchott, is a bustling metropolis where you can experience the blend of traditional and modern aspects of Mauritanian culture. Visit the lively Port de Pêche, explore the vibrant local markets, and immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage at the National Museum of Mauritania. Nouakchott is accessible by flights to Nouakchott International Airport.
Atar: Atar is the gateway to the stunning desert landscapes of Mauritania. It is the starting point for exploring the nearby UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Ancient Ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt, and Oualata. These ancient cities offer a glimpse into the country’s rich history, with their well-preserved architecture and cultural significance.
Banc d’Arguin National Park: This national park, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a haven for birdwatching enthusiasts and nature lovers. It is home to a wide variety of migratory birds, including flamingos, herons, and pelicans. Take a boat tour to explore the coastal areas and witness the diverse marine life and seabird colonies.
Terjit Oasis: Located near Atar, the Terjit Oasis is a hidden gem in the desert. This picturesque oasis offers a tranquil and refreshing escape with its palm trees, natural pools, and cascading waterfalls. Enjoy a relaxing swim in the oasis pools and take in the beautiful desert scenery.
Chinguetti: Chinguetti is a historic desert town known for its ancient libraries and architectural marvels. Explore the well-preserved mosques, visit the ancient libraries containing ancient Islamic manuscripts, and witness the unique beauty of the surrounding sand dunes.
The best time to visit Mauritania is during the cooler months from November to February when temperatures are more moderate. During this period, you can comfortably explore the desert and outdoor attractions without extreme heat. However, it’s worth noting that Mauritania has a desert climate, so temperatures can still be quite hot during the day, even in the cooler months.
To reach Mauritania, international travelers can fly into Nouakchott International Airport, which is well-connected to major cities in Africa and Europe. From there, domestic flights, buses, and taxis are available for traveling within the country.
It’s important to note that Mauritania is a vast country with remote areas, and infrastructure may be limited in some regions. It is advisable to research and plan your trip well in advance, especially if you are venturing into the desert areas.
When visiting Mauritania, it’s important to respect the local customs, traditions, and Islamic practices. Dress modestly, especially in public areas, and be mindful of local customs and sensitivities.
In summary, Mauritania offers a unique blend of desert landscapes, ancient cities, and cultural experiences. Whether you’re exploring the historic sites of Chinguetti, immersing yourself in the desert oasis of Terjit, or discovering the diverse wildlife of Banc d’Arguin National Park, Mauritania promises an authentic and adventurous travel experience.