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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Mauritania - 23 October, 2000

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Nouadhibou (campsite), Mauritania N2056.374' W01701.978'  3 m
Finish Sahara Desert bush campsite (due east of Nouadhibou) 81 km

Total:

6,328 km

 

Weather: Clear, sunny and very hot.  The wind is very strong and it is quite cool in the shade with the wind blowing.  Very dusty.  It was quite cold in the evening and night after the sun goes down.  The wind picks up significantly after dark and blows the sand everywhere.

 

 

Daily Journal Entry:

This morning we pack up the campsite and are ready to go by 8:00 AM.  Today we will start our four day crossing of the Sahara Desert to go to Nouakchott, the capital.  While we do not need four days to do the crossing, we are taking it easy in order to enjoy our time in the desert.  We first head into town to do some food shopping for the next three days.  We are the third cook group that will prepare the meals for a day, so we have to look for food that will last that long.  The markets are not too bad, but the selection is a bit limited and the quality not the best.  While shopping, one member of our group gets dragged of to the police station after taking a picture of a butcher, even though the butcher had given his permission.  Not sure what the policeman wanted, but he was able to get away by giving up a new roll of film (the policeman probably thought it came from the camera).

 

Mauritania00_SaharaDayTwo_Driving_832_Web.gif (163633 bytes)

After shopping and waiting for our desert guide (there is no road to follow), we start off at 1:00 PM.  We need to re-trace our tracks a bit, but after clearing a police check point (where we fill up the water tank at a well - we have to make sure we have enough water), we turn east and then south and head into the desert.  The truck (and drivers and guide) are too good, and we only get stuck once.  We have to get out the sand mats and push a bit (see 25 October, 2000 for further details on getting out of the sand after getting bogged).  The desert is amazing.  While there is not much out here, it is very beautiful.  The landscape does change.  At times there are dunes, then flat, hard surface, some trees or bushes, etc.

 

Mauritania00_SaharaDayOne_Campsite_Overview_811_Web.gif (199557 bytes)

At around 5 PM, we stop for the day.  The campsite is right next to a big dune that curves around our tents and the truck.

 

Mauritania00_SaharaDayOne_Campsite_Dune_Jac_814_Web.gif (257896 bytes)

After stopping, we have a race to see who can get to the top of the dune first.  It is quite a competition.  Jacqui also struggles up the dune - it is a tough climb in the sand.  When you run back down the dune, it makes this loud, groaning sound that is quite eerie.

 

Mauritania00_SaharaDayOne_Campsite_Sunset_822_Web.gif (160138 bytes)

We have relaxing time in the evening, while waiting for dinner to be prepared.  We climb back up to the top of the dune to watch the sun set over the campsite.  It is a wonderful, peaceful place, until ...

 

Mauritania00_SaharaDayOne_Campsite_SandBlowing_820_Web.gif (252646 bytes)

... the wind picks up as the sun is going down.  As the wind picks up, more and more sand is being blown everywhere.  The cook group has to retreat to the truck to continue preparing the meal as sand is getting in everything.  We have to put on our head scarves to keep the sand out of our mouth and nose.  Some of the tents start to blow down (but ours is able to withstand the wind).  When we eat dinner, the food is full of sand (it adds a nice crunch).  We are not able to wash the dishes, as once they get wet, they are instantly covered with sand.

 

After eating, we retreat to our tent (it has also gotten quite cold with the wind).  First we have to sweep out of our tent as much sand as we can.  The sand is being blown through the mosquito netting (the one downside to our tent with so much netting).  We scoop out a couple of pan fulls.  We then lay out our stuff and try to fall asleep with the wind blowing, the tent flapping and sand falling around us.

 

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