(.700 member)
08/05/11 05:09 AM
Re: Dunia - An African Odyssey Part 2

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Mauritania 1

A deep water well in the middle of nowhere.

The desert has long been a facination of ours that we have looked forward to experiancing. Leaving Nouadigbough in the morning, we headed out towards the desert. We were still in company with the germans and the belgians and navigating by GPS. The first part of the track was quite rocky with rough terrain. Some soft sand stretches appear inbetween and we got stuck! A couple of minutes of sand shoveling and we were on our way again.

Hey, which way?

The landscape then shiftes to endless streches of gravel and sandunes and we hit our first dune where we had lunch. Driving over the flat landscape at 70 km/hour with the occasional dune passing by was amazing. We then found a great place and set camp. Unfortanetly, we could only enjoy the calm and the tranquility of the desert for a few minutes before a mini sandstorm caught us. We then had to put everything back in the car in a hurry and had to sleep inside the car, which is not very comfortable.

The morning after the sandstorm. It wasn't exactly a comfy night!

Nils tried to sleep outside under some canvas for awhile, before he was forced inside his car!! Before leaving camp the next morning Nils and Erik was driving around on the dunes for fun and for training, and Erik got stuck! So we got to use our sandplates for the first time and they worked excellently.

Not many roads or signs nearby. A GPS is needed to find the way.

That day we crossed the big dunes (according to the GPS points). The dunes where a little different than we imagined. Not the caracteristic dunes like we had driven past, but these were long and stretcy dunes with some vegetation. Trying to get up the first time, Nils got stuck in the sand. A little shoveling and pushing got him loose and we decided to take another track up where Erik had noticed a local truck drive.  This time it worked and we were all up. Now we just had to keep the speed up plus that we had very low tyre pressure to float on the sand. Driving through the desert passing hundreds of camels was just great experiance.

Lunch was accompanied with a camel shepard who hung around wanting a "cadeau". Later in the afternoon we hit the beach part of the route. This strech has to be driven according to the tide. When the tide is down you drive on the beach, but it is important to get off the beach before the tide gets up because then there is no more beach and it's too steep to drive off in some parts. According to the locals the tide is up at 18:45. Since it was only 15:00 we decided to start and see how far we got.

Driving down the white beach with blue/green water on your right and dark yellow dunes on your left was fabulous. After a couple of hours the water became so high that we decided to get off and camp. Nils and Francoise had a swim, and the rest of us joined in the next morning. Playing around at the beach a couple of hours before the tide went down was well worth the waiting.

Beach camping

The rest of the drive was fairly easy down the beach. A little rough ride to get off the beach and we were in Nouakchott. In Nouakchott we stayed at the Auberge Nomad which was a good place to stay. The next day we used to get our visa for Mali (Mali Embassy) and Burkina Faso (French Embassy). Both very efficient, we got them the same day. In Nouakchott we said goodbye to Francoise and Pierre, who were heading for Senegal, and Nils and Angelika, who were going around Mauritania, but not until a few days later. For us it was time to get to Chinguetti and do some camel riding!

Mauritanian desert highway. Watch out for speed traps!

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