In the Maghreb region of western North Africa is the country of Mauritania, officially the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. The country is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, by Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mali to the east, and Senegal to the southwest. 90 percent of Mauritania’s land is within the Sahara Desert, and its capital and largest city is Nouakchott on the Atlantic coast.
What to see & do
With approximately three-fourths of the country being desert or semi-desert, some of the main attractions in Mauritania include the desert in Adrar and the Tagant areas, as well as the ocean in Banc d’Arguin, a natural reserve with dunes ending in the sea. This UNESCO protected area houses millions of migrating birds. The Nouamgar village in Parc National du Banc d’Arguin is where tourists can watch local tribesmen communicate with dolphins to gather fishes into shallow waters. The Adrar massif in the north has infinite dunes and a rocky desert with tabular small mountains. Drive a 4x4 across the rocky terrain and narrow canyons to appreciate the stunning desert scenery and explore the lush, hidden oases. Two of Mauritania’s historical cities are also in the Adrar – Chinguetti, once a trading centre and centre of Islamic scholarship with preserved architecture, and Ouadane, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The world’s longest train is also in the Adrar, which runs to the coast. Picturesque unique rock formations are also an attraction in Mauritania, particularly in Aioun. In the southeast part of the country, the oasis city of Oualata is where travellers will see colourful buildings that feature intricate geometric designs. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is also home to a manuscript museum, which houses collections of ancient scrolls in fine calligraphy.
How to get around within Mauritania
Mauritania is served by a single train line that connects Nouadhibou with Choum and Zouerat. This is the longest train in the world, with more than 150 cars and is over two kilometres long. Mauritania also has a motorway that link Nouakchott with Nouadhibou along a coastal route, as well as a motorway that
links Nouakchott with Rosso. Ports and harbours in the country are located in Nouadhibou and Nouakchott.
How to get there
When travelling to Mauritania, it is important to be aware that citizens of all Western nations are required to have a visa, while those who have West African passports are not required. The main airport serving the country is Nouakchott International Airport, the base for flag carrier Mauritanian Airlines International. Other airlines operating at the airport are Air Algerie, Air France, CanaryFly, Iberia, Royal Air Maroc, Senegal Airlines, Tunisair, Turkish Airlines, and Ukraine International Airlines. Driving to Mauritania from Western Sahara, Mali, and Senegal is also possible via its open road borders. Buses and bush taxis enter Mauritania from Senegal and Mali.
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