Mauritania is one of the most curious states in West Africa. It is a country between a vast desert and an endless ocean, striking in its contrasts. The people here are not like other nations, but they are all very open, friendly and independent. Welcome to Mauritania, the country is waiting for you!

Mauritania on the map

Mauritania on the map

Geographical location

Mauritania is a country in West Africa. From the west it is washed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the entire central part of the country is occupied by the vast and gloomy Sahara Desert.

Mauritania lies in the Northern and simultaneously in the Western and Eastern hemispheres. This means that the zero meridian crosses the territory of the republic.

In the north the country borders with Algeria and Western Sahara, in the east – with Mali, in the south – with Senegal. The length of the coastline is 700 kilometres. The total length of the state borders is 5 thousand kilometres.

More than 60 per cent of the country’s area is occupied by the Sahara desert. The relief is flat, with prevailing heights from 150 to 300 metres above sea level. The highest point is Mount Kediet Ijil (915 metres).

Flora and fauna are rather poor, in the south the Sahel savannahs with abundance of grass and ungulates begin. On the shores of the ocean there are many birds.

Dangers for tourists

In the global index of peacefulness, which takes into account the calmness of the situation, attitude to tourists and many other factors, Mauritania is in 114th place, and it is justified. The country cannot be called calm and safe. Although numerous military coups and armed conflicts are a thing of the past, the dangerous legacy of that era is everywhere. And the northern coastline is often littered with minefields. There is still a high risk of terrorism in the eastern and northern parts of the country.

The crime rate in the country is high. It is unsafe to walk even during daylight hours on many streets. Not only petty theft, but also outright banditry, is rampant here. There have been cases of kidnapping tourists with ransom demands and even show executions of non-believers. Pickpockets and swindlers operate everywhere. Getting into an unlicensed taxi can be life-threatening.

The situation on the country’s roads is not the best either. Although traffic is fairly light, drivers rarely pay attention to the rules.

The quality of medical care is very low, and the risk of intestinal diseases is high. Therefore, tourists should be especially careful and follow all the rules of hygiene and sanitation.

There are practically no dangerous animals here, but there are mosquitoes, which can be carriers of malaria and other diseases. There are a number of poisonous fish and jellyfish in the ocean, and sometimes sharks come to the coast.

In general, Mauritania is a country where tourists should be especially careful and cautious.


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Holidays in the Islamic republic are traditionally divided into secular and ecclesiastical, with Muslim holidays clearly favoured. All major dates of the Islamic calendar are public holidays in Mauritania. These are Muharram or New Year, Rabi al-Awwal or the birthday of the Prophet, Shawwal, Zul-Hijjah and others.

The secular holidays include the New Year according to the European calendar and memorable dates of the history of the state: Independence, Labour and Africa Days.

In addition, the different nationalities inhabiting the republic have their own special holiday traditions. They are very fond of music, songs and dances. The most frequently heard at ethnic festivals are the tidinit (Arabic lute), tbal (a type of drum) and daghumma (ratchet).

What fun things to do in Mauritania

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Mauritania still seems to be a mysterious and mysterious country. Only a few tens of thousands of tourists come here per year, and therefore there is no special entertainment infrastructure. Nevertheless, a curious tourist will always find something to do, even in a country like Mauritania.

  1. Beach holidays. The coastline of the country is quite extensive, but most of it is not suitable for recreation. There is no tourist infrastructure. Only in the south of the country near the border with Senegal there are good beaches.
  2. National parks. Almost the entire northern part of the Atlantic coast is occupied by a huge reserve – the national park Bank d-Argen. It amazes with the diversity of landscapes and abundance of animals. Here you can meet monk seals, sea turtles, watch dolphins, see gazelles, foxes and wild cats.
  3. Sights of the capital. Nouakchott is a city of contrasts, where rich neighbourhoods are next to the shacks of the poor. There are many beautiful mosques and the National Museum.
  4. Camel ride. The most popular entertainment in all Arab countries. Just remember that getting on a camel is easier than getting off it.
  5. Jeep safari. Another entertainment, which is often found in the desert. For not very much money, you will be offered a ride on the dunes and barchans.
  6. Kitesurfing. Riding on a board under sail. In Mauritania, you can ride such a board not only in the ocean in the south of the country, but also on the sand dunes.
  7. Ancient cities. There are several ancient cities in the desert of the country, which are very popular with tourists and scholars alike. Among them is Shinghetti, founded in the 8th century. It is the seventh-holiest city for Muslims and houses the oldest Islamic manuscripts.
  8. Train in the desert. The only railway in the country is designed to transport iron ore. The longest train in the world runs along it. Its length is 2.5 kilometres. Tourists are offered a fascinating journey in a passenger carriage through the Sahara desert.
  9. Fishing. One of the few marine activities available to tourists in this country. In the waters of the Atlantic Ocean there are a variety of fish from ordinary mackerel to tuna and trout.
  10. Eye of the Sahara. Mauritania is home to one of the most mysterious places on earth – the Rishat ring structure. Scientists still do not know how it appeared, and mystics put forward the most amazing theories of its origin.

What is important to know about Mauritania

If you are planning to visit this state, here are some of the most important things to know:


The official language of the country is Arabic, spoken by almost 90% of the population. Other local languages used in the country are Hassānīya, Fula, Bamana, and Tukuler.

Traditionally, many locals speak French.


The country is currently home to just under 4 million people. Almost the entire population lives in a narrow strip along the Atlantic coast. The central parts of the country are very sparsely populated.

Almost 70 per cent of the population is made up of white and black Berbers, former slaves and slave labourers. The rest of the population is represented by small African tribes – Tukuliur, Fulbe, Bambara and others.


The national currency is the ugiya, which is divided into 5 hums.

Currently, the country has banknotes of 100, 200, 500, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 ugiyas. As well as coins of 1, 5, 10 and 20 ugiyas.

Tourists should bring cash dollars or euros, which can be exchanged for ugiyas at any bank. In some places, vendors accept foreign currency.

The approximate exchange rate is 300 ugiyas to 1 dollar.


Officially, the majority of the country’s population is Muslim. Islam is practised by almost 100% of the population. In addition, there is a small Christian community in the country.


Mauritania has an arid tropical climate with extreme temperature variations throughout the day. At the same time, the average air temperature does not change much seasonally. The average temperature in Nouakchott ranges from +28 degrees in winter to +32 degrees in summer.

The arid climate is due to the low rainfall. Rains are very rare here. Winter is the driest season, when hot winds from the Sahara, called Harmatan, blow across much of the area.

In summer, rainfall is more likely. The town of Selibabi receives about 500 millimetres of rainfall between July and September, an all-time record for Mauritania.

Seawater temperature

The average temperature of the seawater off the coast of Mauritania shows little annual variation and always remains suitable for swimming. Even in local winters, the water off the coast remains very warm.

  • Water temperature in winter, December-January: +20 to +22 degrees Celsius.
  • Water temperature in spring, March-May: from +22 to +25 degrees Celsius.
  • Water temperature in summer, June-July: from +25 to +27 degrees Celsius. The hottest water is in July.
  • Water temperature in autumn, September-November: from +25 in early autumn to +21 degrees in November.

Natural disasters

The main natural disaster of both Mauritania and the region is drought. Rainfall in the Sahara Desert is extremely rare, and some places have not seen rainfall for decades. This leaves much of the country unsuitable for agriculture and almost no human use.

Nevertheless, heavy rains occasionally occur in the south of the country, leading to localised flooding, as happened in August 2023. At that time, heavy rainfall led to massive flooding and 5 people became victims of the raging elements.

Sandstorms also cause a lot of trouble for Mauritanians and are common in the winter months and early spring. Sometimes these storms even cover the coast and the towns lying on it.

The country lies in the centre of the African tectonic platform, and it is practically not threatened by earthquakes. There are also no active volcanoes. The small amount of vegetation does not favour the formation of forest fires.

In general, Mauritania is a rather calm place in terms of natural disasters.

Political structure

Mauritania is an Islamic republic. The official head of state is the president, who is elected for 5 years. The legislative power is represented by the bicameral parliament, consisting of the Senate and the National Assembly.

Administratively, the country is divided into 12 provinces and a metropolitan district.

The capital of the country is Nouakchott.

The largest cities and resorts

Nouakchott is the capital of the country, founded in 1957 on the site of a small village of fishermen. Now it is home to about 1.1 million people. Tourists are attracted here by unusual mosques, a museum, and a huge market, more like a flea market, where you can buy anything from groceries to art objects.

Kiffa is a city in the south of the country. It has a population of 90 thousand people. It is known as a centre of production of bright beads, which got their name from the name of the city – Kiffa.

Atar is an ancient city on the Adrar plateau, from which most often go to the Eye of the Sahara or to the ancient fortifications of Shingetti and Ouadan. The Dakar Rally circuit passes through here. The city is home to 35,000 people.


The camel is the ship of the desert, an animal much valued by the local Berbers and other tribes.

The date palm is a symbol of wealth and prosperity, which found its place even on the national emblem of the country.

The Koran is the holy book of Muslims, which defines the rules of life.

How to get to Mauritania

You can get to the country almost exclusively by aeroplane. There are three international airports in the country, the largest of which is located near the capital Nouakchott and is called Umtounsi. This airport was opened in 2016 and can handle up to 2 million passengers a year. Unfortunately, even now, the number of airlines flying to Nouakchott is very limited. Regular flights are neighbouring African countries, and from European countries to Paris and Istanbul. Therefore, tourists from other countries will have to reach the country with connections in France, Turkey or Morocco.

Motorways connect Mauritania with neighbouring countries, but they are suitable only for local tourism.

Nouakchott and Nouadhibou are seaports, but there is practically no passenger transport there.

How much money to take with you

The cost of holidays in Mauritania can pleasantly surprise you. Firstly, it should be noted that you will most likely have to get to this country on your own. It is almost unreal to find an all-inclusive holiday in the country. There are few hotels, poorly developed infrastructure, and tourists have to deal with accommodation and travel issues themselves. Some companies offer group tours to the Mauritanian desert, the price of which is from 2 to 5 thousand euros per person for 10 days.

Mauritania is not far from Europe and for EU tourists the flight here is relatively inexpensive. For example, a round-trip ticket to Nouakchott from Paris will cost from 500 euros.

In the country itself, the following costs await tourists:

  • Food: food prices here are very low, and you won’t have to spend a lot on food. So, the cost of lunch at McDonald’s is only 1.7 euros, and a cup of local coffee will cost a tourist 50 cents. A meal in an inexpensive restaurant for two people will cost 5 euros. Having planned 10–20 euros a day for meals, you can not be afraid to stay hungry.
  • Accommodation: the average price of a double room in local hotels is around 90 euros. Luxury suites in a four-star hotel cost about 250 euros. But in two-star hotels, a room will cost only 30 euros.
  • Visiting attractions: almost everywhere is free, including mosques and beaches. But for visiting a number of museums and parks, you will have to pay a symbolic price.
  • Souvenirs: Mauritania is not the best place for shopping, that’s why people bring from here mainly products of local handicrafts: cloth, leather, clay. Local knives and kalebas – vessels made of gourd – are popular. Camel cheese is often brought from foodstuffs.
  • Transport: You can get around the cities by buses or taxis. A ticket for public transport costs 50 cents. Getting into a taxi costs 1 euro and then 40 cents per kilometre. You can even travel between cities by taxi. In addition, intercity transport is provided by seven-seat taxis.

Thus, taking into account the reserve amount for unforeseen expenses, a holiday in Mauritania for two people will cost from 2000 to 3000 thousand euros for 7 days including flight. And of course, the maximum holiday amount can be much higher.


If you have already visited Mauritania, please share your impressions in the comments. Please write a few words, what you liked most of all, what moments remained in your memory forever, and what you would recommend to other tourists. We will be very grateful for your recommendations!

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