Tips and how to travel to Mauritania in 2023

By Joan Torres 73 Comments Last updated on April 24, 2023

travel to Mauritania

Wanna travel to Mauritania with Against the Compass?

Join a group of like-minded travelers in our next scheduled tour in Mauritania:

November 4th to 11th, 2023

How to get a visa, budget & costs, COVID-19 travel restrictions, cultural facts, moving around, how to find accommodation, top experiences and more. This is the most comprehensive and epic guide for traveling to Mauritania available on the internet.

If I had to say one reason to visit Mauritania, I would say that few countries in the world feel as raw.

Until the middle of the 20th century, when the French were ruling the country, up to 90% of all Mauritanians were still carrying out a nomadic, pastoralist lifestyle.

That wasn’t a long time ago.

Today, many from that generation are still alive, so their tribal system and traditional life are completely visible, not only in remote Sahara towns such as Tidjikja, but even the most cosmopolitan people of Nouakchott will wear traditional clothes and have a haima deep into the desert as their second residence.

Backpacking around Mauritania, traveling like the locals do, is the best way to witness the unspoiled Mauritanian lifestyle. If you are lucky, you will travel in a local pick-up loaded with camels, or goats in the worst-case scenario, and taking a break in a Bedouin camp where you will be offered some zrig (fermented yogurt) is almost guaranteed.

In Tidjikja, I once met a Mauritanian who had lived and worked in the USA for almost 10 years. He decided to return to his homeland and, with all the money he saved, he bought tens of camels.

Like in the old times, this is the best business – he said. He was one of the richest men in town now.

And then there is the desert. Mauritania is nearly twice the size of France, yet less than 5 million people live spread across those extensive arid plains, mostly composed of breathtaking desert landscapes, yet to be explored by the average traveler.

Mauritania was on the way of becoming a mass tourism destination (relatively-speaking) but unfortunate events related to the conflict with the Sahel put an end to the industry.

However, Mauritania is still there, awaiting to be discovered by the rawest adventurers.

Look for all the places to visit? Check my 2-week itinerary for Mauritania

Mauritania travel tips

COVID-19 travel requirements for Mauritania

For entering Mauritania, you can either present a vaccination certificate or a negative PCR.

The PCR for leaving Mauritania isn’t mandatory anymore.

Travel Insurance for Mauritania with COVID-19 coverage

IATI Insurance is one of the few providers that offers full Coronavirus coverage, not only when it comes to treatment, but also cancellations costs in case you tested positive before departure. 

And not only this, but it’s one of the few insurance providers that gives coverage for traveling to Mauritania.

Readers of Against the Compass can get an exclusive 5% discount.

How to get a tourist visa for Mauritania

Today, practically all nationalities can get a visa on arrival in Mauritania, valid for 1 month.

The visa costs 55€ or 60USD, and it applies to both airports and land borders.

Some travelers have recently reported the immigration officer asking for a 20€ extra fee, claiming it was a necessary fee to pay for getting their passport back.

Obviously, this is a scam and, if you experience a similar issue, report it to the authorities right away.

visa for Mauritania
My visa for Mauritania

How to sign up for a tour in Mauritania

Traveling with a group and an expert local guide will make things much easier, and more fun!

Against the Compass has the following scheduled expedition to Mauritania, which includes riding on top of the Iron Ore Train:

November 4th to 11th (2023)

8-day expedition where besides driving through the desert and visiting remote caravan cities, we will ride on top of the Iron Ore Train.

Learn more here about our upcoming Mauritania Tours

How to travel to Mauritania

Traveling to Mauritania by plane

Nouakchott and Nouadhibou have the most transited international airports, and I chose Nouakchott because flights were cheaper.

I flew to Nouakchott via Dakar (Senegal) with Air Senegal, but you can find some direct flights from Europe, especially from France and the Canary Islands (Spain).

Alternatively, the airport of Atar – capital of the Adrar region, where most touristic sites are – has direct flights from Paris and some other French cities.

Traveling to Mauritania overland

Mauritania shares a border with:

How to travel to Mauritania from Morocco (Western Sahara)

An easy border to cross, the entry point being the closest Moroccan city to Nouadhibou.

Here’s a border crossing report.

How to travel to Mauritania from Algeria

The Algeria-Mauritania border is currently closed to foreigners due to safety concerns.

How to travel to Mauritania from Mali

After my trip to Mauritania, I went to Mali but I flew there.

It should be open but do check the latest security update, since most embassies claim the border areas are not entirely safe, even though all travelers I met who crossed them said it was just fine.

Read my Mali travel guide

How to travel to Mauritania from Senegal

A very transited border completely open to all travelers, Rosso being the most common entry point, also infamous for its numerous scams.

Instead, experienced travelers recommend going through Diama.

Best time to visit Mauritania

Spread across some of the driest plains in the Sahara, Mauritania might easily be one of the hottest countries on Earth, along with Sudan and Saudi Arabia, with overwhelmingly killing summers.

Personally, I can’t stand the heat, so my advice is to definitely avoid coming in the summer months, the best season for backpacking in Mauritania being from November to March.

I was backpacking in Mauritania there in the month of February and, during the day, the sun was already pretty harsh, with temperatures averaging 30-35ºC.

Nights and early mornings were kind of chilly though (15ºC), so do bring some small clothes, especially if you are planning to ride the Iron Ore train.

why visit Mauritania
Overlooking the oasis of Terjit. This was early in the morning and as you can see, I was wearing a pretty warm sweater

Travel insurance for Mauritania

For Mauritania, get IATI Insurance:

  • Covers travel in Mauritania (which is rare)
  • One of the few providers with full COVID-19 coverage
  • They have loads of different plans for all types of travelers: from families to backpackers
  • Good for long term trips (up to 1 year).
  • Readers of this blog can get a 5% exclusive discount

Top Experiences in Mauritania

Riding the Iron Ore train

Every single day of the year, a 2.5km long train departs from the remote Sahara town of Zouerat and travels 700km across the Sahara desert to the coastal city of Nouadhibou, transporting hundreds of tonnes of iron ore.

As hardcore as it sounds, travelers can get on top of the train and travel along the 18-hour journey.

This is one of the top reasons to visit Mauritania, and one of the best traveling experiences I have ever had.

Read here about the full experience.

Mauritania travel guide
Riding the Iron Ore train was more than epic

Visiting the rawest Sahara villages

As I said in the introduction, Mauritania is a particularly raw country and visiting several villages deep in the Sahara feels like traveling back in time.

I strongly recommend Tidjikja.

Tidjikja, Mauritania
Daily life in Tidjikja

Seeing the largest concentrations of camels ever

From Oman to Sudan, hanging out with camels has become a vital part of my travels across the Middle East, but I think the camel market that takes place in the city of Nouakchott has the largest concentration of camels I have ever witnessed.

camel market Nouakchott
Cameeeeels 😀

Exploring the vastest Sahara

Mauritania is a far-flung land home to jaw-dropping desert scenarios that only a small bunch of travelers have had the chance to discover.

travel Mauritania
The dunes near Chinguetti

Useful books for planning your trip to in Mauritania

West Africa travel guide by Lonely Planet

A useful book for West Africa overlanders – with a chapter fully dedicated to Mauritania – but bear in mind that it contains travel guides to 18 different countries, so consider it a small introduction to the region.

The desert and the drum (Mbarfek Ould Beyrouk)

This is the first Mauritanian novel to ever be translated into English and I think it’s the only one so far, that’s why I bought it.

The story is about a Bedouin girl who falls in love with a stranger city guy and all the consequences after her tribe found out.

To be very honest, the book is a bit cheesy but what I liked that it gives you many insights into how tribal people live in Mauritania.

Facts about Mauritania, its culture, people and religion

Mauritania is where Maghreb meets Africa

Nestled between Morocco and Senegal, Mauritania is a chaotic mix of both Maghrebis and sub-Saharan Africans, visible not only in people’s facial features but also in their food and the daily life of many Mauritanians.

You might also like: Libya travel guide

Generally speaking, Mauritanians classify their society into 3 main groups:

White Moors (Beidane) – The dominant ethnic group, which refers to those Maghrebi-looking people who have lighter skin, and mostly have Arab or Berber descent.

Black Moors (Haratin) – Descendants of black slaves who lived in the Maghreb.

Sub-Saharan ethnic groups – Mauritanians who belong to African ethnicities from different parts of West Africa.

Something you need to know about Mauritania is that there is a pretty tangible structural racism, visible in all aspects of life. Mauritanians have a particularly traditional society, many of them either have a tribal mindset or live under a tribal system, which is why black ethnic groups are often treated as second-class citizens, have lower salaries and pursue low-qualified jobs, from house servants to fishermen. ‘’You will never see a White Moor cleaning houses’’ – some locals told me, as if they always felt the need to acknowledge to me they are the dominant group. I didn’t like it.

people Mauritania
White Moors, Ouadane

Hassaniya is the local language

Hassaniya, which is a variety of Maghrebi Arabic, is the main language in Mauritania, and in the Western Sahara as well.

Nevertheless, languages such Pulaar, Soninke and Wolof are also recognized as national languages, and they are spoken by black African Mauritanians, depending on their ethnicity.

port du peche Nouakchott
Fishermen are always from sub-Saharian Africa

It used to be a French colony, so French is the way to go, but English is not that useful

As a former French Colony (from the late 19th century to 1960), French is widely used in Mauritania, especially in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou.

Outside of these two cities, however, only highly educated people or people working in hospitality speak fluent French.

English, nevertheless, was hardly spoken by anyone – not even in touristic auberges – and that was a big downside for me, since my French is good enough to make myself understood but I can’t have deep conversations.

It’s a Muslim country

99.9% of the population in Mauritania are Sunni Muslims, most of them being highly devoted to Islam.

You also need to know that there is no freedom of religion and that atheism is punished with the death sentence.

Mauritania tourism
Chinguetti Mosque, the most important mosque in Mauritania (13th century), whose minaret is said to be the second oldest in continuous use anywhere in the Islamic world

Most people wear traditional clothes

What I loved about Mauritania is that everybody wears traditional clothes, even young people from the capital.

Typically, men wear a wide blue dress named daraa and cover their head with a turban named shesh, which basically means scarf in Arabic.

I did buy the full set in a local market in Nouakchott and didn’t pay more than 6€, but I had to bargain.

Women dress in a traditional colorful dress named melhafa.

Mauritania travel blog
Rocking my ”daraa” somewhere in Ouadane, Mauritania

Leblouh is still a big deal in Mauritania

Leblouh refers to the tradition of force-feeding girls when they are very young, typically in those places where obesity is directly related to beauty, so they can get married earlier.

This old practice has been used in many African countries but in Mauritania, it’s still a very big thing. A few young local men talked to me about this particular topic, saying it’s a widely used habit. You will quickly notice that most Mauritanian women are curvy.

Slavery in Mauritania
You probably heard of Mauritania being home to the last slavery stronghold in the world and, to some extent, it can be true. Slavery in Mauritania was only abolished in 1981, but it didn’t become an actual criminal offense until 2007. According to international media, however, slavery still exists. Slaves in Mauritania were always black Africans serving their White Moor masters. When you travel in the north of Mauritania, you are likely to see Bedouin families with black servants. Those servants were born and raised among those Bedouins but are treated as second-class family members, whose main goal in life is being their servants. Foreign media will tell you that those are actual slaves, while local Mauritanians claim those people are free to leave but they don’t because they are uneducated, that’s the only life they know and, basically, they are OK with it. Make your own judgment.

market Nouakchott
Looking for a ”daraa” in the local market of Nouakchott

Food in Mauritania

If I ever travel back to Mauritania, food won’t probably be the reason.

Mauritania is mostly composed of arid plains and it’s a traditionally nomadic society, so they never had either the ingredients or the motivation to have an elaborate cuisine.

Nonetheless, since Mauritania is sort of a cultural hub with people from Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa, you can find some food variety, but you need to look for it.

One thing that surprised me about backpacking in Mauritania is that it can be difficult to find food, cooked food I mean.

In many towns and villages, there weren’t any restaurants, and even in a relatively sized-town like Tidjikja, there was only one, and the day I went there, they said I had to order 3 to 4 hours in advance. On the next day, I did go there early in the morning, but it never opened.

Don’t panic, however. Usually, most auberges have a daily dish.

Things you are likely to eat in your trip to Mauritania:

Macaroni – Regular, greasy pasta with vegetables and meat. That’s what they fed me most days.

Mauritania food

Thieboudienne – That was my favorite. It’s a traditional Senegalese dish consisting of a brown, thin rice, fish and spices.

Mauritania cuisine
Thieboudienne is a Senegalese dish but in Mauritania it’s as traditional

Moroccan cous-cous – I say Moroccan because that’s what they call it. Just regular cous-cous but nothing comparable to the ones you find in Tunisia or Morocco.

Camel meat – Many of the above dishes will often come with camel meat.

Tea culture in Mauritania

Tea is an essential part of Mauritanian life, and a symbol of hospitality.

They have it in a similar way to neighbouring Morocco but the ritual takes longer and they serve it with a lot of foam, like in the Western Sahara.

Their tea is good, heavily concentrated but they take so much time preparing it, averaging 20-25 minutes, if doing it right.

During the first few days of your Mauritania trip, it’s a pretty cool process to observe but then, when you bump into random people who want to invite you for tea, expect to waste 40 or 45 minutes of your time. Because of this, once I missed the sunset and got very upset.

Alcohol in Mauritania
Mauritania is a dry country and alcohol consumption is strictly forbidden.

tea Mauritania
Preparing tea, somewhere in Nouakchott

Is it safe to travel to Mauritania?

For a more comprehensive analysis, read my Mauritania safety guide

If you look into the FCDO advice, you will see that all Mauritania is a big NO-GO zone.

Mauritania travel advisory, according to the FCDO

Mauritania belongs to the Sahel, a region that spreads across Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Chad – among others – and one of the most turbulent regions on Earth, today home to rebel groups like Al Qaeda Maghreb (AQIM) and many other similar organizations.

The truth is that Mauritania has actually suffered from unfortunate incidents that ended with the premature tourism industry, but it’s also true that, thanks to an outstanding level of security, the situation in Mauritania has remained stable for many years.

Nowadays, Mauritania is a safe destination to travel.

There are some areas near the border with Mali and Algeria where security can be an issue but that’s too remote to go anyways.

Mauritania travel tip: Bring 20-30 copies of your visa & passport
When you are traveling around Mauritania, you will go through endless checkpoints in which all foreigners must register for their own security. In those checkpoints, the gendarmerie or military will ask you for a fiche, a document containing a copy of your passport and visa. If you don’t have one, they will make you get off the car and write down all your information, wasting you a lot of time. Therefore, do bring plenty of copies (30, at least). I recommend printing one single page with a copy of your visa and passport, along with your local phone number, if any.

can you travel to Mauritania
Chinguetti is limited by a sea of dunes

Solo female travel in Mauritania

Mauritania is a patriarchal, conservative, Muslim country, so a woman’s experience will differ greatly from a man’s.

However, I haven’t met yet a female traveler who has been backpacking in Mauritania by herself, so I can’t give very specific information about it. If you have visited Mauritania as a solo woman and would like to tell us about your experience, kindly let me know.

Based on female experiences in other countries, nonetheless, here are a few observations:

Internet and connectivity in Mauritania

Generally, internet is pretty bad in Mauritania, both Wi-Fi and internet data, even in Nouakchott.

Outside of Nouakchott and Nouadhibou I never found Wi-Fi.

Internet data worked OK in Atar, Tidjikja and Zouerat.

In Ouadane and Terjit, it was nonexistent. Chinguetti was fine to send emails and simple browsing.

If you need to download anything, do it in your home country.

I bought a Mauritel SIM card and you can buy extra data and calls in any regular grocery store across the country.

Get a VPN for traveling in Mauritania

You should always use a VPN when you travel, especially when you connect to public Wi-Fi networks.

Your connection will be much safer. 

Moreover, you will be able to access content which is typically censored in Mauritania. 

I recommend ExpressVPN – Extremely easy to use, fast and cheap. 

If you want to learn more about VPN, check: Why you need a VPN for traveling.

Money, budget and costs

In Mauritania, they use the Mauritanian Ouguiya (MRU) and, approximately:

1 USD = 34.75 MRU


In 2018, Mauritania replaced their currency by introducing a new Ouguiya with the same value divided by 10.

The problem is that the vast majority of people still think in the old currency, and it’s so easy to get confused. Occasionally, it’s difficult to guess in which currency they are talking about, especially because sometimes it looks either too cheap or too expensive, but Mauritania is a very cheap country, so always go for the cheaper option 😉

Credit cards and ATMs

You will hardly find a place where you can pay by card. Do always have cash.

Société Generale is the most popular bank among foreigners for withdrawing money. I think it’s the only one that accepts international credit cards. You can find quite a few branches in both Nouakchott and Nouadhibou.

Outside of these two main cities, ATMs are scarce, so remember to bring enough cash.

Exchanging money

There are several exchange offices in the city center (Capital area). Alternatively, I exchanged in many auberges at an acceptable rate.

How much does it cost to travel in Mauritania?

Prices of the most typical things:

Backpacking in Mauritania – Average daily budget

35€ a day

Mauritanian notes have camels in them

How to find accommodation in Mauritania

In Mauritania, there are many accommodation options but, outside of the main cities, they mostly consist of basic campsites and auberges. They also come with a large variety of nonsensical prices. Once I paid 20€ for a creepy hut and the next day I paid 4€ for a similar quality room.

In Nouakchott, if you are a budget traveler, I strongly recommend Le Village & Auberge Triskell, run by Sebastien, a French man who has been living in Mauritania for a long time.

Moreover, in Nouakchott, you can find hotels suitable for any wallet.

Outside of Nouakchott, you will rarely find anything on the internet.

Below is a list of some of the places I stayed at:

For a more detailed explanation of all these places, don’t forget to check my Mauritania travel itinerary

How to move around Mauritania

Traveling around Mauritania with a rented vehicle

If I ever visit Mauritania again, I will rent a 4×4. Actually, one of the things I regret about visiting Mauritania is that I didn’t get deep into the desert. I mean, I did visit remote Sahara towns, but didn’t get far away from civilization and main roads.

You can easily rent a car in Nouakchott, or through your preferred guide/tour operator.

By the way, only experienced drivers should attempt exploring the depths of the Mauritanian Sahara.

Traveling around Mauritania by public transportation

Before traveling to Mauritania, I thought that moving between Sahara towns would be challenging but it turns out that all you need is a shit load of patience.

OMG, you can’t imagine how many hours I wasted waiting for a bus/car to leave.

Typically, local 4×4 pick-ups is the preferred way of transportation for moving between Sahara towns. They fit up to 8 people and leave once they are full, but when a town is too remote, it may take a few days to fill it up.

A local pick-up, or shared taxi, loaded with a camel

I actually wanted to go to Tichit from Tidjikja. Upon my arrival in Tidjikja, the first thing I did was try to arrange the local pick-up to take me there. The car wasn’t full yet, so I waited for one more day but nothing, they still didn’t have enough passengers:

Maybe tomorrow, or maybe not – they said.

In the hypothetical case I managed to get to Tichit, there could also be the possibility that I had to wait there for 3-4 extra days to come back to Tidjikja, which would imply spending more than a week in a very remote area with not much to do and where nobody spoke English, so I passed.

This is how I moved between towns:

roads in Mauritania
More often than not, that sand has literally swallowed the road

More information for traveling in Mauritania

All guides and articles for traveling in Mauritania destination

Travel guides to other countries in Africa

visit Mauritania


Amazing travel blog Joan, thanks alot!

One thing: as far as I understood, the border between Morocco & Mauritania is not closed because of Covid but because of increased tensions in Guerguerat and at the Berm between Morocco and the Frente Polisario since November. Freight shipping is open but tourists are not allowed to pass through (travelling in Western Sahara remains of course open, safe and wide open):

Hello, why choose, in fact it’s both. The land borders of Morocco and Mauritania have been closed since March 16, 2020, in fact the land borders of Morocco (even with Europe) are not really open except to the flow of goods and for rare exceptions, it is a way for Morocco to preserve the Sahara, on the other hand, tensions between the Polisario and Morocco add an unstable climate at the border with some clashes.

Hello Matthis

Almost a other year have passed since your last post that my border is not open for toursit from Marocco to Mauretania. I wanna cross it by car in March 2023. So you know about the current open or not?

hello there,
actually, borders are a little bit dangerous if u are not coming with an agency so they contact people from here and there to make it easier.
for me, I recommend the agency below they are more professional in dealing with people and also care more about quality I will let u discover their progs by yo self.
have fun

Thanks Joan… I am Australian and we can’t travel right now . ( and I do appreciate how well off we are! ) it’s nice to travel vicariously

Amazing blog and tips, thank you.
Have to ask how you managed from Zouérat, was it easy to find where the train departed? Did you hire a local guide to help you?
Thanks in advance, am struggling to find much information online!

Fascinating! Love the idea of travelling on the iron ore train.
Mauritania has not been in my radar but it is now. Can’t wait to get back on the road again. Australian borders are still closed.

Dear Joan,
Thanks for your description of Mauritania. It looks a hardly reachable and challenging, but luring destination. If you ever organize a tour there, I’d gladly be in 🙂

Hi, I really don’t know but my recommendation is that you should always have the yellow fever vaccination when you are traveling anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa because they do random checks in all countries they require it so. It happened to me in Mali for example, where I traveled from Mauritania. I didn’t know the yellow fever vaccine was a requirement, and if I didn’t have my international vaccine certificate (the yellow card) with me, I would have had to pay a fee at the border

Yes, Australia is a lovely country but we are rearing to go explore other parts of the world.

I got pulled over on more than a couple of occasions for yellow fever vaccination checks while on the road in Africa. Not just at the borders.

I am asking specifically for Mauritania as that country does not fall in the yellow fever area if we exclude some of the southern part same as to travel to Brazil Yellow Fever is not an entry requirement but an recommendation.

Hello Dear friend ,
I was very impressed by your trip thanks for sharing this experience.
I would like to know if i need to self isolate 14 days if i come from UK.

I ended up leaving Mauritania in 2017 with 5.000 ouguiya. How much would this have been worth in dollars/euros in 2017? If I go back to Mauritania again will I be able to exchange these old ouguiya for new ouguiya? I’m really confused.

Hello, wonderful article! Incredible source of information, thank you.
I’ve started planning my trip for probably December and stumbled upon here.

Given the pickpockets and safety, I have a relatively expensive phone – do you suggest I should bring a cheap burner phone to avoid any issues?

Also, what about packing – how big was your bag and what did you find useful, any possibility to wash clothes? I’ve never visited the Sahara and I don’t expect to bring a big suitcase so I want to make sure I can take only essentials.

Hi there, to be very honest, it’s not for me to decide whether you should bring your phone or not but what I can tell is that there are much more pickpockets in any European cities than in Mauritania

About packing, I travel with quite a big backpack because I carry many travel gadgets (camera gear, etc) but other than that, I travel with very few clothes.

I washed my clothes at the hotel in Nouakchott

I’m planning a trip in an year gap and Mauritania is a must go!
But I only have august to visit the country. 🙁 I hear it is raining season, do u know if it would ruin my trip? I know it is desert, but…

Hi there. Great post. Do you know the time requirement for the test leaving Mauritania? Is it 72 hours? Thanks!

salut Joan, j’espère que tu vas bien et tes amis en Afganistan. The test is 48 hours maximum before departure it is free it is even possible to have it the same day by going there in the morning and then pick it up at 5.30 p.m.

When entering Mauritania there are no problems with the photo equipment? I want to take a SLR camera and several removable lenses to it.

Dear Joan,
Thank you very much for your invaluable travel blog. I would feel extremely lost without it. Taking the iron ore train has long been on my radar but I am wondering what you recommend for transportation from Nouakchott to Choum? Is there a truck that makes a daily run or does it change day to day? Thank you very much for all your help.

Best wishes,

Hi Joan,

First off all, congrats for the amazing blog you have.

Any advice for taking my drone to Mauritania? Is there anything I can do before arriving in the country so that I don’t have my equipment confiscated?

Thank you

When leaving the airport they do check your luggage, but they don’t check on yo. Maybe you can put it in your jacket? Also, by removing the battery there’s less chances from them to find it

Great Article with details on smallest possible information a visitor may required while visiting Mauritania. Loved your article.

I read that to enter Mauritania now it is enough to have an international certificate of full vaccination?

It should be enough. I’m planning to do the iron ore train mid may:)
But due to transit countries its maybe better to do the PCR test anyway even it is not neccessary

Here is the official text:

Unvaccinated Passengers: Passengers aged 12 years and older must hold a negative PCR test certificate from a certified laboratory obtained within 72 hours prior to arrival.

Vaccinated Passengers: Test is not required for passengers who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

· Passengers displaying symptoms of Covid-19 on arrival will be subject to an RT-PCR test. If a negative result is received, the passenger is advised to quarantine for 10 days. If a positive result is received, the passenger must quarantine for 10 days on arrival in designated establishments at his own cost and will be subject to an RT-PCR test at the end of the quarantine period.
Crew members who are required to spend one or more nights for operational or technical reasons and who do not hold a vaccination certificate or a RT-PCR test must quarantine in a hotel until their departure.

The PCR test is no longer compulsory to enter Mauritania but it is requested from the Marocco (even in the event of a stopover)
Currently from Nouakchott towards the exit of the territory the test has become paying (50 euros) 2000 mru.
It is no longer necessary to pick up the result on site, it is now sent by whatsapp at 5 p.m.

Hello Joan! Your blog is a gift to fellow humans. Thanks for sharing your experiences and knowledge with such candour and good humour 🙂
I’m planning a solo (female) trip to Mauritania at the end of Feb 2022 (gutted that I missed your expedition dates).
I’m wondering whether you think it’s possible to go directly from Nouakchott to Chinguetti by public transport (in one day)?
Any tips will be greatly appreciated.

I had the same question! So I hear there is an 8am bus from Nouakchott to Atar, and then hopefully the car to Chinguetti leaves from the same location that the bus arrives?

And then from Chinguetti to Zouerat via Atar. Hoping to do in the same day. Joan it seems you were able to do that, but needed to wait 5 hours in Atar.

I will be in Mauritania in 2 weeks, and I can’t wait! My only concern is the time required to get from place to place. I wish I had more time, but I’m somewhat limited.

Thanks, Joan for this info. Amazing blog.

Thanks for all the amazing information! Your blog helped in more than one ways and am glad to finally make it here to Mauritania. Tomorrow I will trek towards Tarjit and Chinguetti, etc, from Nouakchott. FYI you now don’t need a PCR test if you are fully vaccinated to enter the country.
All the best

Hi Aaron,
Did you by any chance go onwards to Morocco? I am trying to do the iron ore train trip in Mauritania and finish in Nouadibhou. Is it OK to leave Mauritania without a PCR test now, too? By the information I have, entering Morocco/Western Sahara should be possible with just the vaccination certificate. Thanks!

By the way, I wish I knew French or Arabic, because it’s been a bit difficult to manage in English & Spanish. Especially when trying to meet locals in the street.

Hi guy’s, do you know if it nowday’s again possible overland travel from Morroco to Mauritania ?

Joan, amazing, informative post, again. Thank you!

The blasphemy law and apostasy/atheist law and their punishment by death sentence, do you know if they apply to Mauritanians only or to foreigners as well?
As a foreign tourist if you’re atheist you need to lie and say you are a believer in some religion, or is it OK to say you’re atheist if asked for example?

Hi there, there’s absolutely no need to say you are an atheist. Just say you are Christian regardless of the local law… Having traveled extensively across many Muslim countries, being an atheist is a very negative thing in most locals’ eyes.


the death penalty is in the texts in Mauritania but it has not been applied for a very long time. In Mauritania, the last execution dates from 1987 and followed a death sentence pronounced by a military tribunal. Unless you commit an unforgivable crime, you are unlikely to encounter any kind of trouble with the police in Mauritania. Mauritania is a Muslim country practicing an Islam of tolerance (in fact normal Islam) If you want to spend a full day dicerting on religion, you only have to say that you are atheist, if not to shorten, you just have to (as Juan says) say you’re a Christian. In general and for the respect of the populations who welcome you, we will avoid blaspheming whatever the country in which we are….

Hi Joan! Thank you so much for you blog, really, I use it a lot. There is really not such a blog that explains in that much detail how to travel in off the beaten track places.

Did you go from Nouakchott to Nouadhibou? is there easy and often busses going there? If you did (or anyone else), how many hours should I expect to go up there and then cross the border?


You have departures from Nouakchott to Nouadhibou in the morning from 7 a.m. then in the afternoon around 3 p.m. it takes 6 to 7 hours by road, if you want to go to Morocco from Nouakchott, there is a bus company (moussafir) which offers a Nouakchott – Dakhla ticket with a change of bus across the border.

Thank you for this post! Intending to travel to Mauritania, however my second language is Spanish, not French or Arabic. Will that cause major problems as I try and find rides between towns and places to stay at? Also, how do you book a room for the night, was it upon arrival, or were you using tripadvisor. Finally, I’ve traveled alone many times, and understand the reality that this world can be dangerous, but never to Africa alone, too dangerous of a choice? Loaded question, but man I’m lucky to have found your blog before I buy the ticket.

Hi Jacob, most people there speak French, I suggest learning a few words, but you might find some english speaking people from time to time, at least good enough to buy tickets, book hotels etc.

I always booked upon arrival, never in advance.

Mauritania is super safe!

Thank you so much for this blog! I have a question as I’m planing a trip – is it possible to cross the border back to Western Sahara from Mauritania?

Hi Joan,

Thank you for sharing your experiences on this blog 🙂

As Maroc and Tunesia both lifted all covid-19 measures, do you expect Mauretania to do the same soon?
I saw that people who can not present a pcr test on the airport, are temperature measured and exposed to an antigen test, which would be fine by me.
How strict is Mauretania still with this?

Hey Joan, love your blog on the iron train. I really wanted to join your group after reading it but it’s full. Wah Wah.. so now I wanna do it solo. Have you heard from any solo women doing this and if so, how they felt.. or do you know anyone In Mauritania that I could talk to about possibly giving me some tips while I’m there? Thanks so much! Love your blog.

Hi Morgan, I don’t know if I heard from women doing the train experience completely by themselves… I did it solo once, and I recommend you finding a travel partner, cause 24 hours on the train do get lonely! Other than that, woman traveling solo across Mauritania didn’t experience more issues than other Muslim countries in the Middle East

Hey Joan, yea I’m here in Mauritania right now and I find it to be less conservative for solo females than other Middle Eastern countries actually. I ended up hiring a local guide for the train just because I don’t speak French and to be on the safe side. Taking it tonight. Thanks for responding. 🙂

Helloa Joan,

I am from Iraq. I read your blog. It is very interesting. Very useful. Very smooth.
I travelled 73 countries. after reading about Mauritania, I would like to make it my next destination.
I am very allerged of dust and smells. Do you think it Ok for me to vist Mauritania whis is also called Chankit in Arabic.
Maadidi Yahya

I am a tour guide from Mauritania and would like to express my gratitude for the creation of this informative travel guide. The promotion of my country is greatly appreciated and the detailed explanations provided will be useful for those considering a visit to Mauritania.
I am passionate about sharing the beauty of my country with others and I would be delighted to lead tours for those interested in experiencing all that Mauritania has to offer.

Hi Joan,
Thank you for this updated and excellent description of Mauritania travel. Question: do you sense the recent protest in DarNaim is growing into anything bigger than an isolated protest? I have just one day in Nouakchott coming up – do you have specific places you recommend seeing in the capital city? Thank you again.

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