Category Archives: Mauritania

Walking into the evening sun, Sahara Desert, Mauritania

Walking into the evening sun, Sahara Desert, Mauritania

Camel transporting a bicycle across the Sahara

Camel transporting a bicycle across the Sahara

I dug these photos out from the archives for this weeks Photofriday challenge. I like the weekly challenges because they get you rooting thorough old photo memories looking for something suitable.

This is a trip I made on a bike across the Sahara in Mauritania a few years ago. I cycled to Chinguetti from the coast, into the interior. But there is only one road in or out, so I left by camel, rather than backtrack on the road by bike.

Trekking in these inhospitable environments is always described as a huge struggle and full of challenges by travel writers and programme makers. But I have to say that it was a very relaxing time just ambling across the desert in sandals!!

There is no real point in sitting on the camels because it’s more fun walking alongside them, as you can wander off whilst the guide follows the trail that is memorised in his head.

Most of the routes that the guides take are ancient trade routes. The routes have long since shut down for trade, but the tourist industry keep them open and frequently used. The guide stop over at small oasis in the desert, where he can stock up on water (60 liters) which was carried by the three camels that I hired for the trip. Although as you can see by the pictures…one of them had to carry my bicycle.

Making the tea in the desert.  Sahara Desert, Mauritania, West Africa

Making the tea in the desert. Sahara Desert, Mauritania, West Africa

This is a photograph taken in the morning with my hired cameleer and guide making breakfast and pouring tea.

This was a week long camel trek between two remote towns in the Mauritanian desert. A very relaxing experience….and the tea was delicious…If anyone is looking for a relaxing couple of weeks…fly to Atar in Mauritania from Paris and get to chinguetti…from there just hire a guide and a couple of camels and walk back to Atar…..Travel writers try to make this kind of thing sound arduous and difficult…but it is really pleasant and relaxing.

My guide baked the bread that you can see by burying it in the sand under hot coals and leaving it over night… in the morning, perfect bread!

Bicycle strapped to the back of a camel.  Sahara Desert, Mauritania, West Africa

Bicycle strapped to the back of a camel. Sahara Desert, Mauritania, West Africa

After a one way visit to Chinguetti by bicycle, I hired three camels and a guide so that I could walk back across the sand dunes of the Sahara.

Chinguetti is an ancient desert trading city that once was. Today it is a fading town, beating back the desert sands as best it can. It was also a place for pilgrims to stop and gather on their way to Mecca.

The old trade routes were almost entirely shut down during the period of European colonisation as the Europeans effectively shut the internal trade routes and replaced them with their own routes via roads and railways, which all pointed to the coast.

So today its the tourist trade that keeps the traditional old routes alive. I am actually on a well worn trade route, that has been used for many centuries for the transportation of tradeable goods.