A Mauritanian Photo Blogpost

Sunset over rooftops in Nouakchott. 

Mauritania is the country where my housemate says “If it was not for you, I would have never known that this place exists”. Well, today that is the country I will be sharing about. There will be no follow up blogpost on Mauritania, this will be the only one as I didn’t get to do anything there.

Ladies washing the dishes outside the flats. Most families cook outside because their houses are not big enough to have a kitchen.
Mauritania is a North Western African country. It is an Islamic state, so here you will have to take extra precaution in how you dress. A hijab is not necessary for the ladies. There are a few things about Mauritania that most never discuss, Slavery, female genital mutilation, discrimination against the darker skinned citizens, child labour and human trafficking are prevalent issues and are not hidden. There is extreme poverty in parts of the country where the darker skinned locals live.

A herd of goats heading home and stopping outside local houses to eat the leftover food from the trash that people have thrown out.
The capital city is Nouakchott, and most of the city is on reclaimed land – meaning the city is built at sea level. Nouakchott is a coastal city.
Mauritanians speak Arabic and French, however, their Arabic is different from the Moroccan Arabic. This is one thing I failed to learn, the different Arabic dialects, I guess I was too busy trying to learn to speak Arabic.

Walking the streets in the middle of a small town in Southern Mauritania.
Obviously, the country does not receive tourists except the crazy backpackers, so the locals do not know much about having strangers around but they are super friendly. There are no street addresses in the country, your taxi driver will be given a landmark to take you to instead.
Like any Islamic country, people of the opposite sex do not embrace each other. Shake hands but no hugs even with your friends.

The goat meat that is sold on the street sides and downtown at the market.

If I had to be honest, on a scale of 1 to 10 on how difficult this country is, Mauritania is right there at Sudan.

***Please also note that there is a difference between an Islamic country and a country where the majority religion is Islam.

Nouakchott International Airport.
Visa and travel docs

In Africa, all the Mauritanian embassies are in North Africa except for one in South Africa. You receive your visa on arrival. The visa costs you USD50, you need 2 passport photos, your biometrics will be done while you wait and your visa printed. The country is very welcoming to tourists and they will give you no hassles at the airport.

The streets aftr a night of rain. If you look into the picture, Top right are silver doors.
That was the landmark where my taxi driver was told to drop me off at. 
This was the one time I realised that visas did not have to take all that time. Every single thing that every embassy has to do in order to grant you a visa, Mauritania did for me in 10 minutes and I was on my way. And their visa was more professional than 90% of the stickers or stamps that I have in my passport and are called visas. 
Water and food

As this is an Islamic country, there is no alcohol sold anywhere in the country. In such countries, your best bet if you really need a drink is to visit the German or French embassies, they always have bars that sell alcohol to their residents based in those countries for various reasons.

Shoes galore and the downtown Nouakchott market.
It is a desert country so you will need to constantly be hydrating. Sunscreen is super important.
I had to leave Mauritania because of Mosquito bites, they were so vicious that the bites turned into large blisters and I struggled to walk for over a week. And their mosquitos are gold. So yes, mosquito repellent is important but I would suggest citronella oil as your best bet to ward off other insects as well. 

Banking & Currency
Mauritania currency is the Mauritania Ouguiya. Try change all your dollars at the airport as you come in. The ATMs like most West African countries have ridiculous withdrawal limits of below USD50 and it's not ideal if you have a bank card that charges you for every withdrawal transaction from a foreign country.
When traveling in West Africa, for international banking I always suggest you go with Ecobank or Société Générale. Mauritania does not have Ecobank. These are the 2 banks that take foreign Visa and Mastercard and their ATMs are in English as well.
I feel like being in Nouakchott took me back to 2003 with the flip phones.
Yes, it still worked and this was Papis phone that we made fun of. 
You will have no internet, you will have no Wi-Fi. It's not complicated, the connection is just really poor. Even embassies don’t have a connection.

I flew into Noaukchott from Casablanca, Morocco. The locals taxis leave a lot to be desired. Old and rusted and are shared taxis. You may have it for yourself and just pay the price.

The water delivery family business.
The traffic on the road is the cars, donkeys and some livestock. Yes, this is in the city. Peak hour traffic is a nightmare that does not move and everyone hoots at each other. So avoid driving at those hours.

Local fishermen boats at the fish market.

A local fisherman with his catch for the day on the beach. 

Did i ever tell you guys about Speedy Gonzalez 🐢 Some South African embassies have resident pets. Usually fury friends who welcome you when you visit the embassy. But not the S.A. 🇿🇦 embassy in Naoukchott, #Mauritania. These guys have Speedy Gonzalez the tortoise. No one knows how Speedy was adopted too. Everyone found him there and just keep him as part of the family. Speedy is sneaky and moves at the speed of sound. He is supposed to hang out in the garden area as he is major friends with the security guys. But everyday without fail, speedy will sneak into the offices without anyone noticing him to go chill in the offices and enjoy the aircon. His favourite spot is next to the book shelf with all the S.A. pamphlets. It always becomes a mission trying to get speedy back outside but my dude is not having any of it, that Mauritania desert heat is not for the faint hearted and I do not blame him. And when they get him out, he throws a tantrum and heads for the gate 😂😂😂 Ok, I miss Speedy. Well that's Speedy Gonzalez 🐢 one of my favourite S.A. 🇿🇦 embassy pets. #BreakingBorders #Thesolowanderer
A post shared by Katchie Nzama (@thesolowandera) on

In terms of things to do in the country. Visiting the fish market was amazing. That is definitely a must do. Also for the sunset as it is breathtaking but the fish market at that time is almost empty as the vendors have sold off their daily catch. 
Most of the country is employed in the informal sector. the streets are filled with vendors
even in the parts that are not designated marketplace.

More shoes at the market. Shoes are a big commodity. these are second hand shoes that are shipped in usually from Asia. 
More walking through the market.
Tea making station. Tea drinking is a tradition in North Africa.
The tea can take as much as 30 minutes to prepare.
The tea making process. 

The tea is served in a shot glass and is never filled.
The glass rotates as you done drinking someone else must drink from the glass.
This mint tea is loaded with sugar. This tea process can take all day.
As locals chat and catch up and sip the perfect brew. 
You can read more on traveling out of Mauritania into Senegal here

#BreakingBorders is proudly sponsored by Simeka Capital Holdings.