"Tips from my "end-of-mission" report" Top 5 Page for this destination Nouakchott by carolerica
Nouakchott Travel Guide: 43 reviews and 222 photos
Ouguiyas (UM), there's a shortage of foreign currency, and a problem of cash flow in banks.
You need a visa, maximum is 3 months. BE SURE TO ASK FOR A MULTIPLE ENTRY, even if it is not specified in the form you get at consulate!!! Otherwise, once in Nouakchott, you can get a visa extension at the "suretýe".
Until the coup on june 8th and 9th 2003, I would have said Mauritania is the safest country in the whole world, with a ridiculisly low rate of criminality towards foreigners. Foreigners are considered almost as sacred, and you will get so much warmth and welcom from locals!!! I could walk at night in the street, go to market, no pb! but this is Africa, you never know what might happen!!! The missed coup d'Etat did not change anything regarding foreigners' safety, but it did shake me to the groud and I had only one will, get out of there!!!
But know, I just want to go back!!!
You need the proof of the vaccine against the yellow fever (if you go to Senegal from Mauritania, the Senegaleese health inspection will demand it at your descent from the plane. If you can't show it, you won't be able to get into Senegal, believe me, they are serious, I had to go back on the plane to Nouakchott, I had forgotten my proof at home!!!).
Better take some anti-palu (malaria) pills (Savarine is enough), especially if you go inside the country, good sun block. Tap water is drinkable, but better use it for hot beverage, and mineral water for cold drinks.
The best pharmacy in town is pharmacy Kennedy , the pharmacist, a lady, has a doctorate in pharmacy!!!
Get a cell SIM card. There are two operators, Mattel (630 and 660 numbers) and Mauritel (640 and 650 numbers), most people get a SIM card for each operator, since it's very expensive to call from one operator to an other. Calling a fixed line from a mobile is also very expensive.
Cyber cafes, my favorite was Compunet (close from DHL), where I used to scan documents and send them in attached files (cheaper then a fax!!!)
Novotel is the newly opened hotel in town, belongs to Accord group, but the prices are terrible!!!! It has a swimming pool.
Mercure is very good a little cheaper than Novotel.
The Halima hotel, a bit cheaper, is quite nice, but has small rooms, ask for their rooms in the "extension", bigger, nicer, quieter.
Then there is a range of "appart-hotels, see each of them to chose which one you like best!!!
Semiramis, Welcome Residence, and my favorite (stayed there over three months!) Les Ambassadors.
Ussually they consist of a one bed room appartement with kitchen and bathroom, well serviced, and less expensive than hotels.
Beware of the "taxe hoteliere", 14% extra!!!
PHONE is damn expensive in hotels same for internet or fax.
In Nouakchott, unless you know exactly where you are going, and how to get there, don't take a taxi (drivers scarcely speak French, and usually don''t know the place you want to go to, and most of all, there are no real address here, everything is "near" something, that's how you give directions!
The best driver for me is Mr. Abdoullahi SY (cell: 630 7550). He has been working with my company for many years. He's a bit expensive, but damn worth it. He's way more then a driver, he'll help you with about everything you need, from shopping to organizing a tour, dealing with the authorities, etc. And most of all, he's very reliable!
An other one is Saidou (630 8075), He's the second best I found in the country and a little cheaper, and nearly as helpful as Mr. Sy, but not as reliable.
There is one English driver (he doesn't speak French though, but perfectly Hassanian) I know, Mohamed Lemine (662 0045) cheaper then the two others, but extremely slow and only good for driving, nothing else, don't expect anything else then driving you from one point to an other!!!!
If you need to go in the center of the country or to Nouadhibou by road, you can rent a four-wheel car from Mr. Chebani, the owner of a tourism agency (next to Park Hotel), he's very nice and makes good prices (fixed line: 529 5657), and can also organise tours to Terjit's oasis or anywhere!
To go to Nouadhibou by plane: Air Mauritania!!! Faster, and almost cheaper!!!
The national activity is sipping tea and lazing : going to people's house, lay down on the rugs, sip mauritanian tea, watch your hostess preparing it, talk a bit, and do nothing for hours....
You can always go for a swim at one of the Accord hotels' sweeming pool in town, or get a four wheel car and go to the beach. There is one "compound" by the beach which had just been built and where you could sit under an umbrella on the beach, and order some tea...
Be carefull when you swim in the sea, the waves and surge can be quite stong.
The local central market is very nice, specially for Melafas (the long piece of material women wears). You'll see women preparing the patern before they get died...
To get away, in the south, near the fronmtier with Senegal, along the Senegal river.
One amazing oasis is Terjit, reach it during a hot morning and afternoon drive, and you'll understand the meaning of water! Their are amazing cave paintings in this area as well.
Some others, discovered by Theodore Monod, are further away, going towards the holy city of Chingetti. The old city is a wonder, and better go there before the sand buries it all.
The desert is amazingly beautiful in this area... sand of different color and huge "tabulaire" mountains....
If you like bird watching, there is the northern coast of Mauritania, and mostly the Banc d'Arguin area that host hundreds of migrating birds and is internationnaly renowed. The government has given strict instructions for fishing in this area so as to protect the eco-balance of the place. You'll see local people fishing the way they usd to hundreds of years ago.... Wonderful.
If you read french I highly recommend you my best friend's page on Mauritania, where you'll also find lots of useful tips:
In Nouakchott, unless you know exactly where you are going, and how to get there, don’t take a taxi (drivers scarcely... more travel advice
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