Frequently Asked questions

Answerd by locals,

Is Mauritania Safe?

Is Mauritania safe to visit? This is the number one question many of our clients ask before they visit the country. When you google this question, the first result is from an insurance company called ‘Worldnomad’. In their biased and outdated article, they portrayed Mauritania as hell on earth. The article emphasises small incidents that happened in the first decade of the 21stcentury. Among other problems, according to them, Mauritania is a home of mass-terrorism, kidnaps, crime, landmines, and the prosecution of homosexuals. However thanks to the internet and the fact that it is now easy to travel, people are posting comments of their own experiences and impressions about Mauritania.

Here you can read the article and travellers’ reactions to it.

In reality Mauritania is one of the safest countries in the region and the world. The facts reveal that it is safer than Paris, London and Brussels. Terrorist attacks and kidnapping areunheard of since 2009.“'I feel safer here, than in my country. I don't wanna go back'”, said one of our clients from Brazil, while drinking tea on a sand dune in the middle of the Mauritanian desert.

Unlike so many countries, in Mauritania you can go into someone's house, eat, drink, sleep, and stay as long as you wish, the house owners would be very glad to host you, especially when they know that you're away from home.

When deciding to visit a place, listen to people who live there or have been there recently. Some embassies and websites might exaggerate to the point that they refer to events that are more than a decade old.

How much is Mauritania Visa?

For Americans, Europeans, and Asians, a Mauritanian visa is available at the airport on arrival and costs €55.00 for single entry only. US dollars are also accepted. We recommend bringing the exact amount. Normally, you’re not supposed to pay any extra fees at the airport. Note that if someone offers to help you carry luggage or something else, they’re likely to ask you to pay later for the service. Before Covid19, one could enter the country through land borders with Senegal and Morocco, but now all land borders are (officially) closed. The only way to enter the country is through the international airport of Oumtounssy in Nouakchott.

Should I change money at the airport?

We recommend that you do not change money at the airport unless it’s essential for your immediate requirements. The rates offered are very poor and can result in a significant loss compared to changing money downtown. At the black market, you can get much better rates. However make sure, despite the insistence of currency exchange agents, not to make the exchange on the street in Nouakchott. The chances of a scam or theft are low, but it is always better to be safe than sorry. Here you can check the current exchange rates of the Central bank of Mauritania.

It's worth mentioning that our agency deals with one or two exchange offices, especially used when our clients are leaving Nouakchott and don't have time to do the change on their own. These offices can be contacted to swiftly prepare the exchanged amount for any given amount.

What should I know about ATMs and local currency?

Not that a 100% surely-working ATMs can only be found in Nouakchott. Especially at one of the several agencies of the bank Societe General​. 

Mind you, that Mauritania changed currency recently. As a result people are mostly still stuck and dealing with the ancient form. The only change in the currency was dropping a zero. For example, if they say, this is 4000 (quatre mille) they mean 400, or 10 000 (dix milles), it's just a 1000 (mille). Old notes are no longer existent, but still people mention them. Don't get confused. Use your calculator once confused, bearing in mind that (usual rate) 1 EUR = 40 MRU. (Local currency is called Ouguiya).

MRU is New Oguiya

MRO is Old Oguiya

Where can I have Covid19 test done in Mauritania?

You can have the PCR test done at:

''Institut National de Recherches en Santé Publique''

Click on the link for directions to the place. It(s quickly done, but queues are long now and then. It takes the test 6 hours to come back, but it is recommended that you do it a day before deparature. The test used to cost around 62 EUR, but the authorities decided to suspend the paid-fees starting from Tue Dec 15th, 2020 until a further notice.

Does your team follow regulations against Covid?

Yes. To minimize or stop the spread of the virus, our teams are regularly asked to follow maximum measures of awareness of the virus, such as wearing masks or (turbains), distancing, and avoiding unnecessary and much contact with others around. 

As we do this to protect others, we expect our clients to gently keep the same level of measurements to protect our teams.

Furthermore, when accomodation is concerned, we only use hotels and auberges where everyone is taking this virus with the gravity it deserves.

Is Mauritania open for international travel?

As of today - Feb 12th, 2021-, it is possible to enter Mauritania but only via Nouakchott international airport. Mauritanian authority hasn't spoken of shutting down the country  any soon against travel. 

However, on  11th of February 2021 Mauritania government decided to push back the curfew to start at 00:00. and ends at 6 a.m. throughout the country. This  measurement is into practice until a further notice.

PS: As of Feb 12th 2021, Travelers coming from UK, Brazil and South Africa are subject to Isolation and self quarantine for 14 days when arriving in Mauritania.

This is updated every 3rd day.

Is there a dress code for foreign women in Mauritania?

No. But always remember that Mauritania is a conservative country; covering the hair, wearing long jeans is a very good idea to show respect to the culture. Plus, that will chase away a lot of undesired attention because most locals have a good amount of interest in foreigners since they don't see them that often. However, when in the deserts or at the local expat beach you can always wear comfortably.

However, as you go to major touristic towns in Adrar such as Ouadane, Chinguetti, and Terjit, people tend to not care about how you dress because they're used to 'mass' tourism.

Is it better to cross from Rosso or Diama?

If crossing from Rosso you will have to cross the river, while in Diama you'll do it overland. Though you sometimes waste more time crossing from Rosso, at Diama they suspend issuing visas occasionally.

Before deciding to cross to Mauritania from Diama, we recommend that you contact us inquiring whether visa is available at the border or not. 

Is Rosso border safe to cross?

Yes, it is SAFE. All the hustle talked about on the net is caused by people, who are not official but work at the border, trying to sell you things you don't need. But you know what you need, you need to cross the border. All you have to do is to ignore everything that's going around, and head straight to the police office to stamp your passport or get the visa. Do this and you won't have any problem.

Iron Ore Train Questions

Answered by our main guide that took the train ride 37 times, and counting

Is the train safe?

Riding the train is safe. We don't have any accidents reported of people falling off a wagon. What's not safe is jumping from one wagon to another, as you might be quickly and strongly blown away by the wind, or fall between the wagons as the train changes speed and refrains suddenly and unexpectedly. Furthermore, while waiting for the train to stop, keep your distance and try not hop on unless it's fully stopped or everyone else is doing it. Not to mention that crossing in front of a moving train is sometimes fatal. 

How long is the train ride?

Full train 

From Zouerate to Choum: 4 hours approx

From Choum to Nouadhibou: 13/14 hours

Empty Train: 

From Nouadhibou to Choum: 12 Hours

From Choum to Zouerate: 3 Hours

What time does the train arrive in Choum?

Normally, there is 6 trains running through Choum everyday. 3 heading empty back to Zouerate, while  the other 3 running to Nouadhibou to unload their cargo. The one that you're waiting for is one with a passenger cart. As it has the cart, it should stop for passengers to ride in. The trains that don't have carts won't stop, unless they arrive, for some reason, at a time they should wait for another to pass. This happens because all these trains run on one line. 

Unfortunately, with all the above details, the train with a passenger cart in Choum doesn't run to a schedule. But it's mostly expected between 7 p.m and 11 p.m. However, it can arrive in Choum after midnight, but it's so rare. In Choum, you might ask at the Base if they have updates about its arrival. They usually know exactly when it will arrive in Choum, but can only tell two hours before its arrival.

It's also worth mentionening that the train company would some rare  times detach the passenger cart from the train, which results in train passing from Choum but not stopping at it. If this happens, it means you will have to wait for the train next day.

We have this phone number for you to call us for daily free train updates, +222 48175553

You can also book one of our train tours to guarantee the train is gonna stop for you whether there's a passenger cart attached or not.  We can also assist in transporting your van on board of thetrain.

Tips for the train?

Two things to think about before hoping on a wagon: cold (strong wind) that might affect you, or dust that's likely to destroy your gadgets. We thought of this list to help ensure you fully enjoy the ride with nothing else to worry about.

  • Warm Blanket/Sleeping bag

If travelling light, you might buy a blanket in Nouakhott or Atar, or we can simply rent you a blanket.

  • Warm clothes
  • Gloves,
  • Glasses,
  • Masks for your head and face,
  •  Trash bags for your belongings: luggage, camera/phone, food, etc
  • Head torch.

This is in addition to cookies and bottled water that you can buy from Atar or Choum.

Which is a better ride, full or empty.

Full. Full stop.

Is there toilet on the iron train?

No. But whether it's number 1 or 2, you can still choose on the corners and do it. If the call of nature comes your door in the evening, then that's perfect. But if it's at daytime then you need to have the guts and just do it. That's if you don't have any wagon-mates. If you're a group of boys and girls, for boys it's super easy, but the girls have to ask the boys to look away unil the whole process is done. This technique is registered under one of our pervious client's name: Ania. 

Regional questions,

Can I go to Western Sahara from Mauritania overland of vice versa?

Unfortunately no. Tension in the region has steadily increased when Morocco announced Friday (November 13) that its forces would move in the "Guerguerat" buffer zone in Western Sahara on the border with Mauritania, in order to "re-establish freedom of movement" in civil and commercial areas in the region, condemning the "provocations" of the Polisario Front.

Can I go to Senegal from Mauritania overland or vice versa?

You can't enter Mauritania from the Senegalese land border, but you can leave through it. To leave Mauritania you require a permit from the local Ministry of Interior, this permit sometimes takes up to four days to be issued, so we recommend applying for it as soon as you can.

In addition, and to be able to enter Senegal, you'll need a recent Covid19 test that's at most 5 days old, and a recommendation letter from the Embassy of Senegal in Nouakchott.

Keep in mind that failing or skipping doing these documents will result in a lot of waste of time at the border, and/or finally doing it the African way.

Note  that nationals of the following countries aren't allowed to enter Senegal:

Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Can I go to Mali from Mauritania overland or vice versa?

Unfortunately the road to Mali hasn't been active over the last few years because of the rivalry taking place, and the attacks that happen from time to time.

We don't encourage or organise tours or visits there, nontheless, we have contacts that can take tourists to some 'safe' areas of Mali. 

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