Mauritania Tour (and Iron Ore Train!) – November/December 2023
Email me on email@example.com if you’re keen!
So we’re doing it again! After years of talking about it, last year we finally did a Mauritania Tour featuring the epic Iron Ore train across the depths of the Sahara! And we’re back in for our Mauritania tour 2023 this November/December, so COME JOIN ME! This will be my FIFTH TOUR TO MAURITANIA! I’m the only foreigner to ride this mad train 5 times or more.
For you guys who have traveled with me on my crazy tours to Socotra, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan sorry it took me so long to get around to finalizing this trip. But it’s a tricky one to organize. Alas, quarantine in Thailand gave me some free time to get this thing together, and we are GOOD TO GO.
If you follow my Instagram, you’ll know I did a couple of iron ore train tours to Mauritania last year and they were probably the COOLEST TRIPS I’VE EVER RUN. They were amazing, and now I’m back in Thailand, I’m getting itchy feet, so let’s get it going again in on our Mauritania Tour 2023 – this time in November/December. I’m also running a Mauritania tour in January 2023, but it’s sold out already!
Mauritania Ultra Marathon?!
NOTE: I’m also organizing an ULTRA MARATHON IN MAURITANIA IN WINTER 2023/24! You can join the normal trip, listed here, but if you want to spend an extra 3 days running 150km through sanddunes, email me and I’ll send you the info. 20 spots only.
*Originally this ultra was gonna be 2023 but I’m climbing everest in 2023 now so I pushed it to the end of 2023 instead.
Table of contents
- Mauritania Tour (and Iron Ore Train!) – November/December 2023
- So why join?
- Why Visit Mauritania? (And where even is it?!)
- My Mauritania Tour Itinerary
- What’s Included in the Mauritania Tour and What’s not?
- Mauritania Tour Dates and Pricing
- FAQs about My Mauritania Tour
So why join?
Very simple. hitching a ride on the iron ore train through the Sahara desert is one of THE epic adventures on our whole planet.
For those of you who don’t know me, and you have stumbled across some weird Irish guy running trips in even more obscure countries, then welcome! And get ready for the kind of trip you have never experienced before.
Adventurous, chaotic, one to tell the Grand Kids, and always oh, so fun. And, you’ll get to hang out with an awesome group of people who are also interested in this crazy form of travel.
So without chatting any more nonsense, let’s get into it:
Why Visit Mauritania? (And where even is it?!)
Mauritania is a country in West Africa. It’s south of Morocco (and Western Sahara for any county counters out there), and north of Senegal.
Why visit Mauritania? Well, I’ve got a treat for you! I love Thailand, I’ve chosen it as my adopted home. I have friends in Mexico, Bali, Portugal, etc who say the same. And these are places that are great to holiday in. But travel? REAL travel? Those days have gone. Mass tourism. Bloggers (sorry!), YouTubers, etc. It’s hard to find genuine epic travel experiences in our beautiful world.
Well, for people who love REAL travel, Mauritania is one of the final frontiers. One of the least visited countries in the world, home to ancient holy cities, legendary nomadic tribes, sand dunes in the true Sahara, and one of the most hardcore travel experiences on the planet – the IRON ORE TRAIN.
You can check where Mauritania is on Google Map here:
Ok, so Tell Me About This Iron Ore Train in Mauritania?!
I wrote a blog post about the Mauritania Iron Ore Train here. So first, I should say this is quite a hardcore experience. It’s uncomfortable, it’s filthy, it’s disorganized, there’s a chance the train never arrives, it’s in the middle of the Sahara desert, it’s hot during the day, and freezing during the night, it’s loud, and despite all that, no… BECAUSE of all that, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life.
Read the blog post for more info, but the long story short?
The longest train in the world runs through Mauritania, through the depths of the Sahara desert. It goes to the iron ore mines in the centre of the Sahara, then returns, full of Iron Ore and runs all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, to the port town of Nouadhibou.
We will meet the train at the halfway point, literally climb onto one of the carriages, dig a little whole in the iron ore to rest in, and ride that baby 400km (250 miles) through the night, under the stars, until we reach the Atlantic some point the next morning.
My Mauritania Tour Itinerary
DAY 1: Arrival.
Arrive in Nouakchott anytime. I’ll be there at least 1 day early.
Group dinner to see old friends who have traveled with me before and new crazy people who like to spend their vacation time in places like Nouakchott! Alcohol is strictly illegal. But, I know my way around this city, so we may even find a little bar from our friends ‘in-the-know’. Sssssh.
DAY 2: Nouakchott tour
It’s our first full day in Mauritania’s capital. Culture shock. This is what travel is all about. We’ll check out the city, a museum, the administrative center.
Lunch on the beach and a visit to the local fish market. One last dinner & sleep in civilization before we head off to the desert.
DAY 3: Terjit Oasis
We hit the road today. 450km, so 5 or 6 hours inwards into the Sahara. We’ll reach one of Mauritania’s absolute gems, the Terjit Oasis. Palm groves, cooling water. Like something from a cartoon as a kid. Here we’ll bed down in our tented accommodation, have dinner under the stars and soak up just where we are in the world.
DAY 4: Vallee Blance, Pass Tifoujar, Toungad and Mhairett Oasis and Azougui
An action-packed day. We start with hitting up the White Valley, via the epic Tifoujar mountain pass. Reaching the Oasis of Toungad, where we’ll stop for lunch. Before heading deeper into the Mhairett Oasis later in the afternoon.
Soon we’ll reach the Ancient Dynasty of Azougui where we can visit the ruins and chill in the Palm Groves. Then back to our tented accommodation for the night.
DAY 5: Chinguetti (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
First, a little-known secret of Mauritania, the Rupestrian Paintings in Agrour Cave dating back THOUSANDS of years. Then we’ll move on to Fort Sangenne.
Up next is Islam’s 7th Holiest City, and a World Heritage Site, Chinguetti. We’ll visit the Medina, the Ancient City, followed by the ancient Mosque and library of the old city.
We’ll have sunset in the sand dunes of Chinguetti and sleep just outside the town itself.
DAY 6: The Main Event.
What can I say? Today we make our way towards the depths of the Sahara, to Choum, and the train tracks that mark our pick-up spot.
After lunch, we’ll prepare ourselves. Lined up, and relaxing. Waiting for the noise of the train approaching. At this point, we’ll hustle. Get your bags ready, your calf muscles prepped. Once the train pulls in, we’ll be hopping up the carriage, 4 to a carriage, to claim our spot for the night. Digging holes in the corners to bed down in. Photo time, earphone time, goggle time. It’s a beautiful, winding, loud, and epic journey through the Sahara. I don’t want to say too much, you’ll experience it soon enough. Just epic.
DAY 7: Arrival in Nouadhibou
Early arrival into the port town of Nouadhibou. Here we’ll have an early check-in to our hotel for a WELL EARNED shower. You’ll be filthy from the iron ore. I mean filthy!
If we have time after the train, we’ll pay a visit to the old mining district, have lunch on the Bay of Nouadhibou, and dinner & overnight in the hotel. And maybe another secret bar to celebrate. Watch this space!
DAY 8: That’s all folks. Hometime.
That’s the end of the line. For the intrepid, you’ll overland north to Western Sahara. For those with return flights from Nouakchott, we have a bus transfer back to the Capital City, it takes about 6 hours or so. Depending on your flight time, you can stay an extra night or leave the same day, we can help organise that stuff for you.
What about Traveling During COVID-19?
It’s almost over! Yaaay!
18 months of this stuff and it’s still here. Personally, I think we have to learn to live with COVID, much like the flu. It’s time to try to grasp back some form of normalcy. Traveling to Mauritania during COVID does vaccination proof, although a negative PCR may work. If you’re not vaccinated, please email me.
What’s Included in the Mauritania Tour and What’s not?
- All transport within the itinerary
- Airport transfer upon arrival
- All accommodation for the 7 nights (well 6 nights, plus a night on top of a pile of Iron Ore on a moving train!)
- Breakfast each day
- All meals outside the capital city
- All activities and entrance fees
- Local guides
- A Western Guide throughout
- Price based on per-person sharing (but don’t worry, you can come solo and I’ll pair you up, most people who travel with me come solo).
- Travel Bragging rights for the rest of your life
- Mauritania visa ($55 at the airport). You don’t need to do anything, don’t worry. You just show up and organise at the airport. Bring cash!
- Lunches and dinners in the cities (payable by cash each day, minimal cost)
- Tips to our local guides
- Clothing for the Iron Ore Train experience (ski goggles etc, I’ll send a packing list as part of the welcome pack).
- Travel insurance. Mandatory for trips with me. I recommend these guys $10 a week, and can cancel anytime (and includes COVID insurance).
Mauritania Tour Dates and Pricing
My Mauritania Tour 2023 will start on Day 1 on Sunday November 26th, 2023 and finish in Nouakchott on Sunday December 3rd. 7 nights/8 days.
Please note we drive back from Nouadihbou on the morning of Sunday 3rd, so we won’t reach Nouakchott until the afternoon. So only fly late that night, or the next day.
Also, if you need a PCR test for your onward travel, we can do that on the last afternoon of the trip, on the 29th. And we’ll get the results that night at 6pm. We can help you organise an extra night at the hotel for the 29th if you prefer to fly home on the 30th. I normally do that.
The cost of the trip is $2249USD.
- 10% non-refundable deposit to secure your spot.
- Full payment due 2 months days before Day 1. That means full payment is due before September 23rd 2023.
- PLEASE NOTE. If you pay late, there is a $100 additional fee. I hate doing this but it’s the only way I can ensure you guys pay on time, and I can secure our hotels and cars in Mauritania!
FAQs about My Mauritania Tour
Perfectly safe. Sadly, in the Western world Islamaphobia is rife, but the people of Mauritania welcome foreigners with open arms. Big smiles, offers of local tea, wide-eyed smiles. For any of you guys who have been to places like Yemen before, expect the same kind of warmth. It’s beautiful.
That being said, many of the older generation in Mauritania have outdated views on women traveling alone and on LGBTQ issues. Everyone is welcome to travel with me, but we would keep our partner choices personal. One day the world will catch up, I’m sure.
Our Mauritania tour 2023 is open to every nationality. Previously UK citizens need to quarantine, but no longer. So now EVERYONE CAN COME!
100% yes. But much easier to travel with a tour group and guide (like us!)
It used to be a nightmare when I first went. Now it’s available in the airport for 55 euro or $60USD. Yaaaay!
You can fly directly into the Capital City, Nouakchott. Normally you fly via either Paris, France or Casablanca, Morocco. Tunis and Istanbul are also possible. If you need help with flights, let me know, it’s pretty easy.
The 10% deposit is non-refundable. And the full payment is required 2 months before the trip starts (so late September 2023).
However, refunds will be issued (minus any costs) if countries mandate paid-state quarantine upon return.
The train runs everyday, but there are no tickets to hop on board. So there is always a chance that the train doesn’t come! This has never happened with my teams, but just to be aware if there is a problem with the train, it’s out of our control and we’ll take other transport to continue our trip. Rest assured, this should ‘t happen, don’t worry!
This is an adventure trip. Like real adventure. We’ll be staying in tented accommodation in the desert and basic guest houses in the city, and the night on the train is as basic as it gets! Wifi will be tough to come by, if at all available, and hot water would be a welcome surprise. Certainly don’t expect it. If you want adventure, you’re in the right place. If you’re after what G Adventures or Intrepid Travel like to call ‘Adventure Trips’ then this kind of trip isn’t quite for you. No shame in that 🙂
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