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Mauritania II

Bush Camp. GPS N17 20.753’ W013 32.956’. Just south of the Nouakchott/Kiffa road and to the east of Chogga. The site is sheltered from the wind and the road by piles of earth and gravel left over from the construction/repair of the road. The local goat herders may come close but respect your privacy and in any case go to their campment at night.

Tidjikja. Auberge La Phare du Desert.GPS N18 32.959’ W011 26.194’. On the left as you enter the town and just before the fuel station. Not a lot of space for vehicles, but happy for people to camp. Friendly English speaking staff. Facilities just about adequate, but better than the other auberge we looked at in Tidjikja. Electricity hookup possible, a/c rooms available.

Bush Camp. GPS N17 34.672’ W012 52.657’. Just to the west of Sangrafa and just south of and close to the Nouakchott/Kiffa road. Chosen as it was getting dark; the exposed site was behind a hump that sheltered us from the noise of the road. Camping with a second vehicle for the first time removed any security worries. Funny how the mind works!

Kiffa. Auberge La Phare du Desert. GPS N16 38.716’ W011 26.872’. On the right just before you enter the town and immediately before the police post. Perhaps because they felt the tourist season was over, the camping facilities were the pits with little attempt at any maintenance or cleaning. On the plus side: electricity hookup was available, the food was basic but fine and (for twitchers) the birdlife was good. As with their Tidjikja auberge, a/c rooms available. Kiffa is a good place to refuel (a Total station just after the auberge) and stock up on fresh food for the day.

Lunch Stop/Bush Camp. Turn left off the Kiffa/Ayoun el Attrous road at GPS N16 38.250’ W009 39.512’ and follow the piste for about 1km to a pool and palm trees with views of wind sculpted stacks, etc. The turning is on the left and about 400m past a huge solitary sandstone stack, also on the left, and as you begin to climb a rise in the road to the police post over the brow of the hill. We didn’t bush camp here, but on reflection could have done.

Ayoun el Attrous. An auberge (the name has gone walkabout!). GPS N16 39.780’ W009 35.851’. Carry on along the main road into Ayoun, through the centre and past the right turn for the Mali border; the auberge is on the right just after a customs post and customs office building. Ignore the price they first come up with for b&b, we were able to reduce it by over 50%! We decided we wanted a/c, so didn’t camp. The room with bath/shower was fine and breakfast was adequate. We tried the Hotel Aioun in the centre of town, but the gate was too low for Boris! Ayoun has a Total station (as you enter the town), a bank that will change euros and plenty of places to buy food, etc.

As Ayoun was the last stop in Mauritania, a few points that may be of use when in the country:

Money Changers. We came across the money changers in every major town and city, they seemed to be at their most prolific and persistent at the weekend when the banks were closed. It became clear why - the rate they offered was well below that of the bank! The rate they offered was invariably somewhere between 340 and 350 ouguiya to the euro, whilst the banks would be around 360/365 and exceptionally in the case of the BMCI in Ayoun, 380! We made sure we used the banks to change money and that we had enough money to last us over ‘the weekend’ (Fri/sat). We were once also asked for proof (receipt, etc) of using the official banking exchange facilities at a customs checkpoint. The receipt we were able to show may have prevented an on the spot ‘fine’ being levied!

Fiche d’Etat. Thank heavens for the photocopier! We handed out a total of over 23 copies of our Fiche d’Etat at the various checkpoints we came across, this speeded up our passage and endeared ourselves to the police! We amended the Fiche we used in the Western Sahara (delete Morocco and insert Mauritania!) and the template for which is available on The Hubb ( www.horizonsunlimited.com).

Roads. Go now before the dreaded mobile homes take over! The network of tarred roads is quite comprehensive. If we had wanted to, or were pushed for time, we could have travelled on good tarred roads to most of the places we visited; there is tarred road from the border to Nouhadibou, Nouhadibou to Nouakchott, Nouakchott to Atar, Nouakchott to Tidjikja and all the way from Nouakchott to the Mali border south of Ayoun at Gogui (and then all the way to Bamako!).

Cadeaux. This problem with the police was covered earlier, but the hope that the practice had died out proved premature! It lives on, on the road to Tidjikja from Sangrafa and has reached heights of professional excellence on the road from Ayoun to the border at Gogui. But these were the exceptions and only once was the ‘applicant’ really insistent and we never encouraged corruption by giving a cadeau.

Car Insurance. Olivia, who runs the Auberge Menata in Nouakchott, has a book that contains all sorts of useful telephone numbers. She was able to find for us a representative of a Senegalese insurance company who came to the Auberge and provided blanket car insurance for 6 months covering all the francophone countries in Western Africa; collectively known as CIMA, the countries covered are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Centrafrique, Comores, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Guinee Equitoriale, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Tchad and Togo! The receipt is not to hand, but it was somewhere around 180 euros and for the peace of mind offered great value!

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