The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is a mystical country in Africa. It is washed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and borders Senegal, Western Sahara, Algeria, and Mali. The capital city is Nouakchott.
The climate in Mauritania is desert. In summer, the temperature can be as high as +43°C. The best time for visiting the country is winter. From December to February, the temperature is about +20°C and winds blow from the ocean.
The population of Mauritania is white Moors (the Arabs), black Moors (the mestizo), and black people close to the Senegal descents. The official languages are Arabic (hassanyia dialect) and French.
Nouakchott is a unique Arabic city situated on the Atlantic coast. During a trip to the capital city, the tourists will see old Mauritanian architecture. The touristic infrastructure is well-developed in Nouakchott. The city is well-known for its mosques and the pilgrims come here every year. On the central market and in the trading district Medina Nouakchott, the travelers will feel the atmosphere of the Arab market.
You can relax on a beach and go fishing in Nouakchott and in Nouadhibou. The port of Nouadhibou is the second largest city in Mauritania and the only place in the country where people can legally drink alcoholic beverages.
The tourists choose Mauritania for the sake of ancient ksars and the ruins of medieval castles. In Oudane, the city in the Ardara province, the tourists will plunge into the atmosphere of an ancient Berber city.
The lovers of ecological and out-of-town tourism can visit the Banc d’Arguin National Park which is under UNESCO protection. In the park, there are many birds, sea turtles, and dolphins.
The most famous natural phenomenon in Mauritania is the Eye of the Sahara. This is a crater 50 kilometers in diameter in the province of Ardara near Oudane.
There are no direct flights between CIS countries and Mauritania. The tourists can take a transit flight with a transfer in Europe or in Africa. Air France offers regular flights from Paris to Nouakchott, Royal Air Maroc offers the flights from Casablanca, and Binter Canarias from Tenerife.
Recently, airways with Senegal, Burkina Faso, and Mali has been restored.
Th only country with valid crossing point is Western Sahara. The tourists can get to Dakhla by plane and then take an international bus to Nouadhibou. The bus journey will take about 5-7 hours.
The Russian citizens, travelers from CIS and EU countries must obtain a visa to travel to Mauritania.
A visa allows the maximal duration of 3 months. However, commonly a visitor visa is issued for a month only.
Normally, the tourists can receive a visa within 3 working days.
The touristic can get a visa on arrival at the airport Nouakchott or at the crossing point between Mauritania and Western Sahara.
It is prohibited to import and export national currency. Foreign currency must be declared. When leaving Mauritania, the Customs officers check the amount of money you have and compare with the information in the declaration form.
Mauritania is the Islamic state and the Prohibition Law has been introduced here. It is strictly prohibited to import alcohol to the country.
It is problematic to import photo and video gadgets.
The tourists are not allowed to export:
- items and documents having historical value;
- art objects;
- seeds and seedlings of exotic plants.
The tourists who want to buy handmade carpets or collectible weapons must provide sales receipt at the Customs.
What the Mauritanians love most of all is rice. Another popular dish here is couscous with meat. We recommend trying a Mauritanian version of couscous in the local restaurants.
The ocean gives the people fish and seafood. The fish is typically prepared over the charcoal or baked in the sand.
The Berbers traditionally bake flatbread Takula. They always take Takula when they take a desert journey.
Cheese and milk are very important food in Mauritania. They prefer cow, sheep, and camel milk.
The village people prefer such a dish as Dok. It is a mix of millet and barley flour, spices and ground baobab fruit. The locals add water to this mix, some cane sugar and eat it with cheese.
From milk, water, and sugar the Mauritanians make a refreshing beverage Zrig. They also like Bissap, a drink made of Hibiscus.
The Mauritanians ground the figs to flour and make Cubo et tmar.
Mauritania is the only Arab country where the people prefer herbal teas to coffee. They like to drink tea with mint. Tea is served hot and they cool it by pouring from the cup into a small glass and back again.
The tourists who have already visited Mauritania especially recommend local pies and sandwiches with ground meat.
The national currency of this Islamic Republic is the Mauritanian Ouguiya (MRO).
The authorities are very strict about the currency and the tourists can pay only with national money. They can exchange the currency at banks. There are banks only in large cities. We recommend exchanging the currency in Nouakchott or Nouadhibou.
The bank buys freely convertible currencies and traveler’s checks. It is useless to take credit cards as there are almost no ATMs and you can’t use the cards or checks to pay for goods and services.
Details of interest
Mauritania is the only country worldwide where slavery still exists. The Senegal River Valley is the zone free of slavery.
Sightseeing in Mauritania
- Ancient Ksour of Chinguetti, Oualata, Tichitt and Ouadane are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The tourists want to see these sights first when they come to Mauritania.
- Chinguetti is one of seven Islamic cities. In medieval times, in ksara, there was the largest library and today Chinguetti contains thousands of ancient Arabic manuscripts. The tourists can see the ruins of dwellings and the castle.
- Tichitt is an empty Bedouin city. Officially, there are 5.000 people in the city but in reality, only 500 live here. The tourists can see the ancient ksar and the mosque.
- Kumba Saleh is an ancient capital city of the Ghana Empire. Archaeological excavations have taken place here for a century.
- In the capital city of Mauritania, the travelers can go to the fish market Port de Peche and have a meal in the restaurants near it. Learn more about the Mauritanian culture and visit the National Museum of Mauritania. The Grande Mosque in Nouakchott is very impressive.
Souvenirs in Mauritania
Mauritania is famous for its handmade carpets but the tourists can also buy embossed leather goods (bracelets, bags, tobacco pouch), wooden figurines, knives with inlaid elements, silver and coral jewelry and clay toys.
A delicious Mauritanian souvenir is camel milk cheese.