DAYS 29 – 42: MAURITANIA & SENEGAL
On this leg of your overland Africa trip, after crossing into Mauritania you will travel to the desert city of Nouadhibou, depending on the current FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) travel advice, you will then do one of two routes from Nouadhibou.
- Option1: Leaving civilization behind you will travel into the desert proper, making your way toward the capital, Nouakchott. You will drive off-road for hundreds of miles, occasionally having to dig the truck out of very soft sand where the use of sand ladders will be our only way forward.
- Option 2: The alternate route from Nouadhibou will see you drive south on a sealed road. Passing small isolated villages surrounded by vast desert, you will also see herdsman migrating with their camels in search of water, before reaching the capital, Nouakchott. With very infrequent traffic on the roads, no food crops being grown, leaves one wondering how tough it is to live in such harsh desert conditions.
Both options bring you to Nouakchott where you spend a couple of days reorganising the truck and life in general after your dusty desert travels. It is quite incredible to think that slavery was only abolished here in 1980 and it is rumoured that it still continues in some outlying areas. South of Nouakchott, the intention is to travel through a remote border into Senegal, passing along the piste through Diawling National park (weather permitting).
You will enter sub Saharan Africa by crossing the Senegal River into St Louis, West Africa’s first French settlement and from where French colonialists conquered the interior. Senegal has a very different feel from the west Saharan countries you have just come from. Here you will begin to be exposed to West Africa’s vibrant food and music culture, colourful fashion and markets. You will start getting used to bad roads, ‘interesting’ local driving styles and a mixture of modern West African cities as well as some fly blown and remote border posts and villages. Welcome to West Africa – we hope you love it as much as we do!
The city of St Louis, is located at the mouth of the Senegal River and is an interesting place to visit. You will spend a couple of nights near town camping within the national park ‘Langue de Barbarie’, well known for its fauna rich with various species of birds. You can take a pirogue trip and bird watch, relax and swim on the sandy beach, try your hand at fishing and much more.
Your overland route through Senegal will visit Lake Retba (or Lac Rose as it is known by locals) where you can float in the pink lake. Its salinity content compares to that of the Dead Sea and during the dry season it exceeds it. From here you may have the opportunity to visit Dakar. Like any large city in the world Dakar has its undesirables so compared to the laid back country side and small towns that we are more familiar with, in large cities we learn to take care and go out and explore in pairs.
Your last stop in Senegal is Tambacounda, a bustling market town at the junction of many trade routes.