Overland Mauritania Travel
West Africa > Mauritania
Currency to display:
- 1 Visiting Mauritania
- 2 Entering Mauritania with a Car or Motorbike
- 3 Driving in Mauritania
- 4 Gas price in Mauritania and Diesel price in Mauritania
- 5 Safety and Security Considerations
- 6 Camping in Mauritania
- 7 Navigation
- 8 Special Overland Travel interests
- 9 Vehicle Maintenance
- 10 Buy or sell a car or motorbike in Mauritania
- 11 References
- 12 Helpful External links
Mauritania is often considered the best location to access the vast remoteness of the Sahara Desert. As of 2016, it's not safe to venture into the South East.
Entering Mauritania with a Car or Motorbike
Correct as of: July 2016
Travel Visa for Mauritania
Visas can be bought at the border no problems for €55.00 EUR for one month single entry. Pay in Euros. African passport holders pay 40EUR for one month visa.
Mauritania recognizes the Carnet de Passage but usually do not use it. Instead they will write a laissez passé (temporary import permit) for you.
So you will need:
- Original Vehicle registration
- Passport, in the same name.
Process at border
The main Mauritanian border is a bit confusing. You arrive at the military check post after a few horrible km no mans land from Morocco. The military guys will check your car after which you are allowed to continue on wards. About 100m forward there is a building on the right where you have to get your car papers arranged. Its hard to find the right office and person but the office to have is ground floor in the back. After getting your temporary import permit you continue again 100 m to get to the small immigration office at the left to get yourself stamped into Mauritania.
Once you are stamped in, proceed past the chain blocking the road, and immediately park and buy insurance on the left.
Many people suggest using one of the many fixers at this border. If you do, discuss the price in advance and no more then €5.00 EUR to €10.00 EUR.
I crossed the border in mid 2016 without a fixer and found it not needed. Take your time, it's not hard.
Cost of entry
€10.00 EUR for the temporary import permit. You can pay in Euro, US Dollar and Mauritanian Ougya
Permitted length of stay
Papers are valid for 30 days, usually, sometimes only 10 days, depending on how hard you negotiate.
Extension of stay
Storing a vehicle and temporarily leaving the country
When entering from Morocco, you will be issued a TIP for 30 days and the vehicle will be stamped in your passport. It is possible to leave your vehicle behind in Mauritania and leave and re-enter at Nouakchott airport. If you overstay (/violate) your import permit you will need permission to take the vehicle out of the country later. This is done at the Customs Department in Nouakchott, or -when lucky- the customs office at the border can pardon the overstaying of the permit.
Exiting with a vehicle
If you cross into Senegal never take the Rosso border, always go to Diama if possible( the piste to Maka Diama may be blocked as soon as the raining season starts). Exiting is painless, except for the fact that every office demands 5 or 10 Euro for their work. So police, customs and immigration all want their share. Other then that its straightforward, getting you car signed out and your passport stamped. Smile, be friendly and don't pay - it's all free, apart from 500,- ouguiya for the "tax de commune". for that you will get a payment reciept. Be aware that 20km before the border there's a national park guy who wants money and just before entering Senegal you have to cross a small bridge. The bridge keeper wants his money as well but will try to overcharge you.
Driving in Mauritania
Recommended books for Overlanding in Mauritania
Travel insurance for Mauritania
Vehicle insurance requirements
Insurance is mandatory but I have never been checked for it and I have the feeling that many locals drive without.
Cost of vehicle insurance
€25.00 EUR for one month for a newer 4x4 in 2016.
About €45.00 EUR for a month for a truck in 2012.
Where to purchase vehicle insurance
Can, and must, be bought at the border.
Your regular, valid, drivers license should be all you need. The one time they checked mine, he was holding it upside down.
Driving side of road
RHD vehicle is no problem in Mauritania.
Mandatory items in vehicle
I guess the usual stuff is mandatory (i.e. safety triangle, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, etc.) but I have never ever been checked
General Road quality
The road between Nouakchott and Nouadibhou has decent tarmac but some sections with potholes. The rest of the roads in Mauritania have old tarmac that is suffering from summer heat and lack of maintenance — plenty of potholes are possible, and piste which varies in quality but may have a heavy washboard. As of 2019, between Nouakchott and Rosso you can expect a lot of detours because the whole road is being rehabilitated.
There are not to many road signs in Mauritania, then again, there are not so many roads.
Bribery in Mauritania
Officers will probably ask for small gifts, and sometimes might ask for money simply to do their job - like stamp you out of the country. Keep a big smile on your face and play dumb. See the bribery tips page for advice.
There are many many checkpoints in Mauritania, all for your security. It is advisable to prepare about 20 copies of a Fiche. This will save you a lot of time since they need not enter your name and details in the big book. The checkpoints are usually correct and friendly.
Traveling with pets
List the entry requirements and anything else required to travel with a pet.
Gas price in Mauritania and Diesel price in Mauritania
Last updated: July 2016
Currency and unit to display:
|Unleaded||UM425.00 MRO per Liter|
|Diesel||UM385.00 MRO per Liter|
Gas and Diesel Availability / Frequency
Gasoline shortages are extremely common in Mauritania, expect many stations to be out of gasoline. Distances are vast, come prepared.
Gas and Diesel Quality
Gasoline is known to be very low octane, expect lower than normal mileage.
It can be assumed diesel is high sulfur, low quality.
Safety and Security Considerations
Driving at night
Driving at night is not recommended due to animals and other road hazards, and the increased risk of bandits.
In the larger cities, locked overnight parking is recommended.
Special driving considerations
Expect many potholes, camels on roads, poor signs and poor lane markings all throughout Mauritania.
Security advisories and information
- Country Specific Information - U.S. Department of State
- Travel Reports and Warnings - Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
- Travel advice by country - Foreign and Commonwealth office (U.K.)
- Travel Advice for Mauritania - Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Camping in Mauritania
There are campsites in every major town, so Nouadhibou, Nouakchott and Atar. Some are mere parking, others have at least some facilities like shower and water or electricity.
Camping will cost you between €2.00 EUR and €5.00 EUR per night.
Many people wildcamp, without problem.
Camping guide books
List and link to books specifically for camping.
Water seems safe in the major cities. Outside of these, if you can find it, I have my doubts.
Reise Know-How are among the best paper maps. Purchase paper maps before arriving in Mauritania
GPS Maps of Mauritania
- Garmin Open Street Maps has excellent coverage of all roads - highways and cities.
- Tracks4Africa is an SD Card for Garmin GPS, and contain Routable turn-by-turn maps with 809,000 kms of roads and over 129,000 points of interest.
GPS co-ordinates for camping, propane, gas, repairs, etc. in Mauritania
- iOverlander is a website and iPhone application designed by Overlanders, for Overlanders. It contains GPS co-ordinates and reviews for camping, hotels, propane, water, mechanics, borders and much more.
Link to sites that have a list of GPS co-ordinates (or directions) for camping locations (including "wild" campsites), propane filling, gas stations, repair shops, places of interest, etc.
Special Overland Travel interests
Atar, Chinguetti and the Adrar region as well as the one of the world's longest iron ore railway that runs from Nouadhibou to Zouerat.
4x4s / Trucks
- Toyota Global Dealer Locator
- Land Rover International Dealer Locator
- Mercedes Benz International (select country on bottom right)
- Jeep International site locator
Add known good mechanics here.
Buy or sell a car or motorbike in Mauritania
Describe how a foreigner can buy a vehicle. List any difficulties or limitations on where the vehicle can be driven.
Describe how a foreigner can sell a foreign-plated vehicle, or list not possible.'
Links to the source of any information - blogs or discussion forums, etc.
Add any helpful external links here.