Traditionally inhabited by Berber nomads, the contemporary history of Mauritania has been somewhat interesting. At the start of the 20th century the country became part of the French Empire, before gaining independence in 1960. Its history since then has involved one-party rule, numerous military coups and the ongoing conflict in Western Sahara.
Nowadays the country is relatively stable, and although Mauritanian tourism is still in its infancy, it remains one of the most fascinating destinations for independent tourists.
Click here to see our Five Reasons for visiting Mauritania.
Travel Update for Mauritania regarding Coronavirus
Is Mauritania currently open to tourism?
- Mauritania is currently completely open to tourism and there are no restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
- You must provide a negative covid certificate on arrival dated no later earlier than 72 hours beforehand.
- For up to date information on the travel situation in Mauritania, please get in touch.
Private Guide in Mauritania
Whether you are just visiting Nouakchott, or plan to go further afield in the country, YPT work with the best tour guides of Mauritania. Private guides can be hired for simple city tours, or for extended tour packages.
Vehicle Hire in Mauritania
We can provide everything from small car hire in Mauritania to bus rentals, and 4×4 vehicles to take you out into the desert.
We provide first-rate bilingual (English or French) drivers at excellent rates.
Vehicles in Mauritania can be booked with or without a guide, with or without a package and can be rented for travel throughout Mauritania.
Guided Independent Tours to Mauritania
We currently run one group tour per year to Mauritania as part of our Morocco, Western Sahara and Mauritania Overland Tour. This trip starts in Morocco, travels through the unrecognised country of Western Sahara, before finishing with the famed Mauritania iron ore train in open carriages into the Saharan sunset. We can offer this trip, whole, or in parts as an independent package.
Read more about the Longest Train in the World: the Mauritanian Mineral Train. On an independent tour you will be accompanied by a local guide at all times if required.
Independent Tour Classic Itinerary
Day 1 – Nouakchott
- Arrive at your convenience into Nouakchott – the largest and capital city of Mauritania which is well connected from many countries within Africa and most of Europe.
- Airport pick up and overnight at a hotel in Nouakchott
Day 2 – Nouakchott – Nouadhibou – Choum
- Drive north to Nouadhibou city – Mauritania’s second largest city and economic capital (6 hours)
- Arrive at the Port of Nouadhibou that was first controlled by the Portuguese, then the Dutch and finally by the French. Many local fish markets to explore.
- Lunch at Ice NBC, a family restaurant with a wide menu of delicious local dishes.
- Prepare for Mauritania Mineral Train – our local guide will arrange your visit to local shops and stores to ensure you are well stocked up on plenty of water, fruits, sandwiches and snacks.
- Tour Highlight – Board the world famous Mauritania Mineral Train – this is the longest and heaviest train in the world. You’ll be sitting inside open top cars so please ensure you have prepared a blanket, warm clothing and goggles to protect yourself from the sand. Train will depart around 4:00pm to 6:00pm.
Day 3 – Choum – Chinguetti
- Arrive at the town of Choum at 3:00am and spend the rest of the late evening/early morning resting in an igloo tent
- Wake up in the morning and enjoy a cooked breakfast by camp fire
- Begin exploring the Adrar Region of Mauritania
- Visit Azoughi oasis and village for a tea stop and experiencing how locals live
- Lunchtime at hotel Mer et Desert. You’ll most likely meet the owner, a French woman who has left everything behind to become member of the community. She knows a lot about the social issues of local tribes and is a wonderful source of information.
- Drive to the UNESCO world heritage site of Chinguetti – a holy city of Islam. You’ll visit the library and other historical monuments and landmarks including the much loved Friday Mosque of Chinguetti, the national symbol of Mauritania.
- Evening sunset watched from the huge sand dunes of Chinguetti
- Dinner and overnight at Hotel Eden – a traditional stone guesthouse
Day 4 – Chinguetti – Ouadane
- Breakfast at hotel
- Begin 80km drive through pure desert and sand dunes: on the way stopping in Tanounichert for a tea stop with the locals – once upon a time it was an important stop of the trans-caravan routes of the Sahara. In YPT, we nicknamed Ouadane the Pompei of Mauritania for its sprawling city in ruins which is sure to amaze you. It was here that products of sub-Saharan Africa were traded with those of the Maghreb. The Portuguese arrived in 1487 and transformed the city into a local centre of cultural, economic and scientific advancement.
- Explore the streets and see the buildings that once glorified the country as a whole and then move on to the new part of town where you’ll be sure to mingle with the locals.
- Traditional dinner and overnight in the Hotel Vasque
Day 5 – Ouadane – Atar
- Breakfast at hotel
- Depart for Tergit Oasis – Mauritania’s most picturesque location.
- On the way stopping at Agrour – here’s your chance to see pre-historic paintings left there 5000 years ago as well as incredible lava formation
- Visit the Mheirith Oasis – an incredibly picturesque place where Mauritanian like to come and relax during the date season
- Continue onwards to the White Valley – a dune-filled fault line with many small settlements and palm groves. The Guelb Aouelloul crater is 3.1 million-old impact crater approximately 40 km across and can be observed from space. Breathtaking scenery.
- Home-cooked lunch in Terjit Oasis followed by a short trek (approx 30 minutes) to the source of the oasis, here, the scenery will remind you of Jurassic Park.
- Drive through the stunning Tivoujar Pass and arrive early evening in Atar
- Overnight and dinner in the Hotel Des Caravanes
Day 6 – Atar – Nouakchott
- An early rise for breakfast and the long drive to the Mauritanian capital city of Nouakchott
- On the way stopping for lunch at San Francisco Café for a hearty meal and access to WiFi after a few days of deprivation.
- Arrive in time to catch the lively Atlantic fish market. Every evening hundreds of fishermen bring in the day’s catch on their distinct sea canoes recognized by their colourful hand-painted hulls. The catch is then brought by donkey cart to the city’s markets
- Visit the National Museum where artefacts of the history of Mauritania and its ancient cities are exposed – this will allow you to have a quite recap of what you’ve seen in the last days.
- Visit the local craft market where locals specialise in camel wool rugs
- Driving tour of the massive embassies of the main players of the region – USA, China, France, and Russia.
- Quick photo stop by the Great Mosque of Nouakchott – funded by Saudi Arabia and built in 1982.
- Head to the beach for some great people watching. This is where local Nouakchottois come to escape the city and cool off.
- Farewell dinner at a local restaurant
- Overnight in Nouakchott
- Breakfast at hotel
- Tour concludes – YPT is able to arrange post-tour accommodation or advice for flights out.
These itineraries are meant as just guides and can be amended precisely to see exactly what you want in the county.
Tour price includes:
- Airport Transfer *2
- Accommodation in clean and comfortable 3* hotel in good location
- Breakfast, lunch and dinner
- Private transport in a 4×4 and tickets for the train
- English-speaking accompanying guides
- All entrance fees
Price per person: 1595 EUR (subject to change)
Mauritania Tour Extensions
All Mauritania Independent Tours can also be combined with Morocco, Moroccan Western Sahara as well as to the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. In the other direction you can visit Mali!
Get in touch to let us plan your Mauritanian adventure.