Author: Irina Darovko
Mauritania hides among the sand dunes of the majestic Sahara desert. Here live Berbers, Arabs and Negroid tribes who have created a unique culture. Many cities in Mauritania are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Who and why should come to Mauritania
Mauritania attracts lovers of African culture, researchers of the life of nomadic tribes and their traditions. The architecture and history of the country is protected by the UNESCO Foundation. There is something to see here for fans of ancient buildings and unique cities.
The wide dunes of the Sahara and the African savannah attract active travelers. Wildlife lovers will be interested in oases, bird colonies, wild desert plateaus, as well as a variety of animals in local national parks.
The city of Nouakchott, with its fish markets and vibrant trading life, is sure to attract gourmets and lovers of exotic cuisine.
National parks and reserves
Dialing National Park
A small green island on the southern outskirts of Mauritania is one of the most popular places for birds. Pelicans, Sudanese golden sparrows and pink flamingos live here. In addition to the feathered inhabitants, the park is famous for its acacia forests and lakes, where crocodiles coexist with ducks and hippos.
Banque d’Arguin is the only major national park in Mauritania. Its natural landscape resembles a patchwork quilt: low sandbanks interspersed with rocky beaches of Arguin Bay.
A population of migratory birds settled on the coast: waders and flamingos, pelicans and terns. The park is inhabited by people of the Imragena tribe, who often scurry through the waves on pirogues between sandy islands in search of fish and other ocean creatures.
Cities and UNESCO sites
Chinguetti is literally swallowed up by the insatiable Sahara desert. The sands have been invading human settlements for decades and have already taken over the residential outskirts. The city, with eerily empty streets, was once an important trading hub between the north and south of the country.
Tourists from all over the world flock to this ancient Berber settlement to admire the brick towers and fortresses of the Almoravids. Chinguetti is one of the major UNESCO World Heritage Sites along with other cities in the Adrar region.
The city was built for 15 thousand people, and today more than two million live here. Nouakchott is an amazingly cute place. Compared to the caravan settlements of the Berbers of the Great Sahara, the capital of Mauritania has a more developed infrastructure and more entertainment.
You can experience the rhythm of life in Nouakchott for yourself by visiting the traditional market or the Barrios districts. Each is brought here with fish and seafood from the Atlantic Ocean.
Atar is the gateway to the Adrar plateau, dotted with medieval World Heritage listed caravan towns. The area is located near the very heart of the country — at the very border with Western Sahara. The city has an Earth Bazaar and craft markets where you can buy souvenirs and traditional Moorish trinkets.
Among the sand dunes, the oasis of the city of Terjit looks like a fabulous mirage, painted with broad strokes of the artist. The city is filled with date palms, flowers of unprecedented beauty and murmuring streams. A speck of tropical greenery, surrounded by a sea of sand, is protected by low cliffs, smoothly turning into the Adrar plateau.
The city of Ouadan is an interesting place that reveals the harsh realities of life in the arid region of Mauritania. Most residents fled their homes due to abnormally high temperatures. The long streets of adobe buildings of the Barrios people crumble and crack under the scorching desert sun.
But Wadan can still show the way of life and customs of the people who left him before the desert swallowed him up. In the center of the winding lanes, you can meet lonely Berber nomads and buy traditional-style souvenirs from them.
Tishitt is a city in the middle of the Sahara, protected by UNESCO. Above the city rises like a tower of a mosque floating in the clouds, crowned with battlements and strewn with triangular windows. The city is famous for its ancient districts and buildings with colored stones.
One of Mauritania’s most charming desert attractions and the most famous UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Sahara.
Antique sandstone frontispieces are adorned with elegant Berber and Moorish designs, while earthy arabesques mimic the elegance of Morocco’s grand kasbahs in Fes and Marrakesh. Tourists stroll through the ruined old city and admire the towers of the Walata Mosque.
The city of Nouadhibou is located on the Cabo Blanca peninsula, extending into the Atlantic Ocean. It is the center of the Mauritanian fishing industry. The endless docks that line the city along the southern border are adorned with thousands of sailboats and boats.
Every day, fishermen go for seafood, transporting their catch to other cities and neighboring countries. Tourists inspect rusting liners in Nouadhibou Bay and enjoy the sunset in Cançado.
An interesting crossroads city, located in the shadow of the Affolje mountains, where the southern reaches of the Sahara meet the lands of the African Sahel — the savannah region. Tourists come here to hike through the mountain towns and find the legendary Kiffa beads, which were made by famous local artisans.
According to legend, the beads were made from a top-secret mixture of powdered glass. Another attraction of Kiffa is the site of a large meteorite that crashed into the mountains in 1970.