After conquering No Mans Land I felt I was ready to take on Mauritania. Unfortunately the border was closing in less than two hours and it was imperative that we got through.
Spending a night in No Mans Land isn’t an option for a motorcyclist with a tent. Bands of lawless criminals prowl the area exiled from one country and not allowed into the next. When Javier attempted the trip in a car a few years back some of these people jumped onto the car whilst he was driving and then proceeded to rip bits off. Not a place that you want to be spending the night!
After a hefty visa fee of €120 and a fair bit of being pissed about we finally got through with 5 minutes to spare. We picked up some local insurance and started racing to Nouadhibou hoping to make use of the rapidly dwindling daylight.
After a chaotic ride through a pitch black and frantic Nouadhibou we finally pitched up. The southern half of Morocco is dry, as is Western Sahara and Mauritania. By this stage I was in dire need of a drink. Fortunately we had been told of a restaurant that might be able to help. As well as selling distinctly average food it also doubled up as a black market currency exchange, a brothel and very expensive beer seller.
The next day we set off at dawn for the capital Nouakchott. Mauritania is absolutely vast, you can drive for miles and see nothing but sand and rock. Ordinarily it can be tricky to find fuel and we had turned up during the middle of a fuel shortage.
Having decided at home to save weight/space I hadn’t brought fuel containers like the others. I had reasoned that Western Sahara and Mauritania would be the only places we would struggle and I could always use water bottles in a pinch. After stashing bottles of fuel all over my bike I was ready for the ride ahead.
We spent two nights in Nouakchott so we could pick up our visas for Mali. I was thankful for a day of the bike and the chance to walk around a bit. Even managed to find an imported Mars Ice Cream!
The next morning we left before sunrise again in the hopes of getting to the Senegalese border in good time, a decision I wasn’t thrilled about. Navigating the ‘roads’ is difficult even when you can see clearly. Going through the town we hit one road which was made of just deep, soft sand. I lost control of the bike and came off with my leg trapped underneath. Fortunately the others got the bike off me pretty quickly.
I had sprained my ankle and hurt my knee. I knew I could ride but I couldn’t put any weight on it. The 70km of challenging off road to the Diama border post would be impossible. My only option was to push ahead solo to the Rosso border point. Rosso is notorious for being one of the most notorious border crossings in Africa (just google it!) I would later meet up with the others in Senegal. This would also be the last point I would be riding with anyone else (currently writing this in Gambia).
The next hour of riding to the border was by and large incredibly relaxing once I’d accepted my impending fate. The Sahara was finally starting to give way. Trees would awkwardly start breaking through the desert. The closer I got to the border the more apparent this would become. Once over the border I would be officially clear of the desert that I had spent the last few weeks passing through.
I’m going to write the Mauritanian exit procedure up when I write Senegal so that I can keep the whole Rosso experience as one.