Mauritania is a country that is rich with stunning Saharan landscapes, boasting massive dunes juxtaposed against miles of serene and isolated beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. The country is located in West Africa and is bordered by the Western Sahara to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mali to the west and south, and Senegal (which completely encloses The Gambia) directly south. Its capital city is Nouakchott, which is located on the coast about in the center of the country.

The breathtaking landscapes of Mauritania Africa that offer dunes, beaches, and ocean are part of the Banc d'Arguin National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are also four ancient caravan towns (Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichit, and Oualata) that were founded in the eleventh and twelfth centuries as service stops for caravans making their way across the Sahara. Today these former centers of Islamic culture that thrived well into the sixteenth century are very well preserved and together comprise the country's second designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. These partially abandoned settlements can give you a glimpse of what life was like for the residents and nomads of this vast desert hundreds of years ago.

Unfortunately, Mauritania has many of the same security issues that other North, West, and Central African nations have. As in the country of Chad in Central Africa, it is important to monitor political developments and current events closely before any planned travel to Mauritania Africa, and to be aware of your surroundings at all times once you have arrived. Travel in the western part of the country is not advised at all because of heavy mining. Driving on roads from Morocco and near the borders of Mali and Algeria is also not advised. All travel should be done in convoys due to banditry and kidnappings.

You can relax your vigilance to some degree if traveling along the Mauritania coast and southern regions of the country, which is fortunately where the main tourist attractions are. In the capital, exercise common sense such as leaving flashy jewelry at home and being discreet with other symbols of wealth. If all this sounds daunting, the destination has fantastic rewards for those who are prepared.

As mentioned above, you can get to Mauritania Africa when using certain precautions. You can also arrive on flights to the only international airport at Nouakchott. The only European city with direct service here is Paris in France. Other flights arrive from Morocco's Casablanca, Dakar in Senegal, Tunis in Tunisia, and Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.

Nouakchott hotels with international standards (and more expensive prices) are the Novotel and Mercure located near the Russian Embassy in the city center. Most of the rooms at the Novotel are actually self-catering apartments with full kitchenettes. There are also a few less expensive hotels and even very cheap "hut" accommodations on the beaches. There is little western-style lodging outside of the capital city. The towns of Atar and Nouadhibou both have some very modest auberges (inns), with Nouadhibou boasting the best variety. Otherwise, you are limited to camping in areas where you might be provided with tents or a covered hut.



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