Mauritania is one of the hardest hit countries by the worst locust invasion in West Africa for 15 years. The locusts, which can eat their own weight n food each day, invaded the entire country.
The FAO warned that up to 50 percent of Mauritania's cereal production might be lost after swarms of locusts devoured their way through crops. The Mauritanian government faced a grain deficit of almost 190.000 tonnes during the year ahead. Around 1.6 million hectares of land were infested with the locusts at the height of the crisis in summer 2004.
Not only people lost their food. Also the 17 million camels, cows, sheep and goats, which many nomadic Mauritanians depend on for their livelihood, were under threat. Much of the desert pasture has been picked clean, leaving the nomadic herdsmen with shortages of grazing land for their animals.
The Mauritanian locust control programme moved into top action in October, when western donors brought more spray planes and insecticide. When we were in Mauritania in November most of the swarms had moved to the north into the Sahara desert, far away from the crop growing areas of southern Mauritania.
In the south we saw hardly any locust, only a few trees were covered with the red coloured locusts. In the north along the railway we saw one small swarm of locusts, resembling flying shrimps. Along the road to Nouadhibou we saw the most locusts, all dead problably by insecticide or by exhaustion after they reached the ocean.
When you go into the desert, especially the route between Tidjikja and the Adrar Region (Atar/ Terjit/ Chinquetti), you need a good guide, because there are no distinct tracks and orientation points.
We hired an excellent guide in Tidjikja, Baba Ulabdi Nega. He lives in the quartier Kraifa, tel. 00 222 569318. The staff of the Auberge ''Le Phare du Desert" in Tidjikja arranged this for us.
Baba knows the desert as his backyard. He showed us the best way through the sand, the dunes and the rocks. He was not only a good guide, but also a good driver, if needed.
With the guide we did this route of 350 KM in 2 days. We heard of people, who did it without guide. It took them more than 5 days before they reached finally their destination.
When you go into the desert it's necessary to bring enough supplies, like food, but more important water and diesel ! Allthough we had enough water to cross the 350 KM desert from Tidjikja to Chinquetti, we bought 24 bottles extra. Even back in Spain we still drunk the water from Tidjikja.
It's also important to go with at least two 4WDS. Baba our guide told us that two frenchmen and their guide died last year halfway Tidjikja and Atar. Their only car broke down and they hadn't enough water at the end.
In the north of Mauritania the waterpump of our landcruiser broke and destroyed also the ventilator and radiator. So the pajero had to drag the landcruiser for about 400 KM along the railway from almost Choum to Nouadhibou.
El Hospital de Chinguetti, Mauritania
construido por una O.N.G de la Región de Murcia
Pediatras, Oftalmólogos, Médicos,
Dentistas y Técnicos de Laboratorio,
para realizar campañas de formación y de tratamiento
de pacientes. La duración de cada campaña
es aproximadamente de 3 semanas.
Alojamiento y comida gratuito.
NECESITAMOS URGENTEMENTE UN ECÓGRAFO Y UN AUTOCLAVE
AYÚDANOS A CONSEGUIRLO
I heard about crickets two month before start and when I arrived the calamity was still there. The trees totally covered by crickets... they leave only the wood. In some places 80 million concentration for Km2 is not an exaggeration.
But for our trip wan't a problem at all. Only in doing the bath on the atlantic ocean I confused the cricket with shrimps :-)
After having passed the gauntlet of the Mauritanian police for your visas, there is also the customs to be got through. This can be a truly testing time and a lot depends on good humour and ambivalence towards officialdom. After that you run into the touts that are (also) after your money, from money-changers to campsite managers to insurance vendors. In general any green card for insurance is now worthless, whatever your company told you. It is better to take one here, around 500 UM(15 euros) for 15 days, as at the first and subsequent police controls on the road it is one of the things you will be asked for. Negociate hard with the money changers as from one side of the road to the other it can and does change. Impossible to escape from this as the touts are right there where the customs men stop you. Not necessary to bribe the customs.
The main risk is “mal d’Africa” (help me to translate!).
I was walking with a friend in a very lonely place, when I realised that I’ve spent a lot of time walking around alone, in the desert, in darkness, without any feeling of fear.
Don’t travel alone in the desert; but this is just a matter of common sense.
About malaria ask health care in your country before leaving. Vaccination against yellow fever is not mandatory, unless you’re coming from an infected area.
No visas machines or posibility of paying at shops. Only in good hotels you can pay with visa.
No health problems except is you go to the south close to Senegal River (paludism or malary vaccums recommended).
Public transport very complicated. It is more recomended to contact a local agency in order to be driven by a good guide.
Do not go alone to the desert. It´s extremely dangerous. Always, as minimum, two 4x4 vehicles, enough water, petrol and spares (including several tyres). However that´s not enough, you must be an expert driver on sand and know orientation techniques (i recommend to get a GPS system and a radio station to use in case of danger).
The main risk for a traveller is to go alone in the desert.
They only travel in the desert two by two, in case of an accident, a puncture, an illness, lack of gasoline or whatever could happen.
If you get lost in the desert, write in big letters a message and you will probably be found. We saw it near Madar, coming from Banc d´Arguin to Nouakchott. A person was 3 days lost because he didn´t follow the guide. They were going with motorbikes. He was alive but he could not have been, Never go without an expert local guide. Now, the one in the left is me, before the accident in the desert. I´ll tell more when I have the picture.
No problems encountered when entering in Fall 2000 !
Stay out of Mauretania altogether except:
Good background of survival and own equipment.
Only come if invited by a local resident,preferrably a
Mauretanian citicen.Try to come for business purpose.
NEVER VENTURE ANYWHERE ALONE. Avoid vast east stretch towards Mali, you may disappear !
NEW ALERT: Due to dispute with Senegal over water rights
there is no avenue to enter at all and neither through the
West Sahara. STAY OUT - until advised !
***** CLEAR TO ENTER AGAIN ! *****
If you can possibly avoid goning to Mauritania, do so. It is one of the few countries where slavery is still practiced and there is no edible food there. Nooaqshoot the main city is slowly filling with sand (looks like Iceland in the winter, except for the snow there is sand)
I have never been closer to hell on earth. Mauritania is one place I will try to avoid in my travels around the world.
Not really a danger. Just make sure you have plenty of small bills with you. Chances are you will have to bribe the arrivals officer who will quickly process your passport as you arrive. Make sure you don't just have $20 or $100 bills!
Malaria is probably the number one danger. Make sure you take proper measures and you'll be fine. Be aware of corrupt police and officials who constantly try to have you arrested or threaten you. Just ignore them and if you learn a little arabic you'll be fine - - Gasar amerik - - joking!
Avenue de Nouadhibou 2e carrefour, BP 3176, Nouakchott, BP 3176, Mauritania
Good for: Business
Cite de la Concorde (sebkha), Nouakchott, Mauritania
Good for: Couples
10 Rue Mamadou Konate, Nouakchott, 5219, Mauritania
Good for: Business