Traveling from Nouakchott in Mauritania to Dakar in Senegal over land

Mauritania is a desert country. 

Nouakchott is the capital city of Mauritania. Mauritania is a desert country, bring loads of water and sunscreen. Although there is a caveat to bringing loads of water, this trip has no bathroom breaks. I did not see a toilet anywhere and asking the taxi to stop so you can relieve yourself is a bit tricky as there is no bush and you are driving through the desert. So drink loads of water at your own peril.
The local taxi to get to the border

Take a taxi from Nouakchott to the border with Senegal. The taxi stops about 1km from the border. There are horse carriages available to take you to the border should you need but it is a walkable distance. When you get to the border, you need to produce a copy of your passport. There is a place to photocopy your passport if you don’t have a copy, and there are guys who can change money for you.
The border town  is called Rosso.

There are plenty of trucks at the border. there is no shade so most locals rest under the trucks.
No one speaks English here but there is a random guy that speaks English and when you speak English they will call him for you to assist you and will translate with border officials.
Mauritania does not have street addresses but you will be asked where you were staying, considering that my taxi driver was directed to where I was going to stay using landmarks and I didn’t remember the place, I just knew it was a pharmacist. When asked where I was staying I said I was at the South African embassy as that was easier and safe.
The boat crossing from Mauritania to Senegal over the Senegal River.

After being stamped in you need to move to the Senegalese side of the border. The border between Mauritania and Senegal is the Senegalese River. There is a ferry that moves cars and people from one side to the other but it is slow and I am told it is free. There are also smaller speed boats owned by locals which are used as water taxis. The water taxi driver will charge you more for your luggage, I refused to pay for it and I would take the other boat, he then accepted me just paying for myself and my luggage for free.

There is also a ferry but that can take up to a few hours to wait for. 

Cross over and you are on Senegalese land, the officials there somehow can spot foreigners and the dude who has absolutely no say will be harassing you for your passport to show you he has power. He will look at your passport and escort you to the office where you will get stamped.
This is where it gets tricky, Senegal apparently has free visa. This will be very confusing because the embassy tells you need a visa but it is a free visa. You need a yellow fever certificate which no one will ever ask you for.
I got my visa in Pretoria and it is just a stamp and that confused the hell out of the border officials as they had never seen a visa from Pretoria or know what it looks like.
Best way to get to the garage to get the bush taxi to Dakar from the border.

The trick with all the borders, whether you need a visa or not for your passport, always travel with a visa. This eliminates the harassment from officials wanting a bribe to stamp you in. I was already told at the Mauritania border that I will need some money to be stamped in, but because I had a visa, these officials don’t know how to go about asking for a bribe.

You will get stamped in after being sent around from one person to another just so they can all see your passport and share in practicing their English skills.

Now here begins the fun part. After the stamp, you will need to get to the garage where you will take your bush taxi to Dakar. Now, this is where you will take a motorbike, horse carriage or whatever other means of transport is available to you to go the 3km to the garage. 50m from the border will be a police stop where they need to check your passport and that you were stamped in. there is a market here and I advise you buy anything you might need for the road. Snacks, drinks and anything else. This bush taxi doesn’t stop unless it’s stopped by police or someone needs to get off. Your bathroom break is when you see a decent bush to squat in and indicate to the driver to stop cos trust me he doesn’t speak English nor does he know what “I need to pee” means. Start practicing your sign language.

The bush taxi is an old Chevrolet station wagon that squashes everyone in like a sardine. Your best bet in comfort is sitting in the front where you will be alone. The taxi to Dakar costs CFA 7500. He will ask you to pay CFA8000 for your luggage. At this point, you stop being nice and tell him you will pay CFA500. Luggage fee is how they get money out of you, it is not necessary but they will extort you should you be a willing player to this madness.
In this bush taxi, the speedometer, petrol gage or anything on the dashboard doesn’t work.
I am told that they break the speedometer so that passengers don’t see how fast they are going because the moment they drive over 60km/hr some passengers start panicking that he is going too fast – This sounds exactly like my grandmother.

The trip to Dakar will take just over 7hrs. Good luck to you and your bum as it will be stiff by the time you get to the city. Happy travelling !!!

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