10° Latitude / 1000 miles in three days – crossing the Sahara

 Mauritania – Western Sahara – Morocco

N18°13’08” W016°02’10” – N22°03’16” W16°44’51” – N26°07’32” W14°29’09” – N28°59’15” W010°03’27”

Km (miles) today (feb. 23.): 540 (335)

24.: 560 (350)

25.: 645 (401)

Next day (21.) in the evening I recognized I got two Emails from Mike whom I met in Kartong on his Yamaha Tenere. I wanted to meet him in Rao but he didn’t show up. He is in Nouakchott too and wants to head north early next morning. I got everything ready, just would like to change some money in the morning so we decide to go together. I pack all and when I check the bike I find out the oil level is low. Internet is turned off already so I am not able to inform Mike about me having to see a mechanic before taking the ride through the Sahara.

So I get up early next day, Nico shows me the mechanics place and then I go to inform Mike at Auberge Sahara about what had happened. Mike decides to wait for me and takes the chance to change his chain. I am pretty sure a seal in my oil system is a little broken, I already had this problem but the oil level is now ok again and the mechanic says its probably just petrol. He rips me off for this information which I know is bullshit but the oil level is ok now and its incredibly hot! Mike and I decide to spend the evening at Nicos place and hit the road a little past 3am heading to the border which is around 450km away.

Day 1

Its incredibly cold on the bike and I am freezing all the time even though I am well dressed. We arrive at the only petrol station (with not only diesel) exactly in the middle between Noakchott and the border a little past 6 in the morning. Everybody is still sleeping so Mike gets out his petrol cooker to make some fire to get a little warmer. The petrol station opens at seven so we fill up and are on the road again when the sun is rising.

 Arriving at the border at little past 10 in the morning I am a little worried about the Mauretanien stamp in my passport having not paid for a visa. Mike was sent back when he tried to enter Mauretania in Diama without visa but he didn’t have my magic police letter… (they sent him back to Dakar). At the first stop Mike has to do fingerprints and interview about where when and why, I can pass with none of this. And so it goes on at the Mauretanian side for me no problem, no question and for Mike the usual routine. So my advice when u try this – Get that police letter for residential visa when u are in Nouakchott and show it on the way back when entering! Saves obviously money and time! The letter itself only costs a little time.

After crossing the 5km No Mans Land between the borders the good luck turns around. First stop in Morocco no problem but at the second one they don’t want to stamp my passport. They look at all the visas in there again and again and start discussing. Half an hour waiting later they finally give me my entry stamp and I can move on to the customs. The border here has changed since I was here last time I recognize. Much more officials: military, customs, police….

I fill out a form for the bike get it stamped then go to another officer who searches my boxes very rude and impolite, drops my insulin on the floor and leaves me in a complete mess. At least I get the stamp so back to the office to get another signature on the form. Finished, I think when I have it and recognize a customs dog at the vehicles that leave morocco – that’s new too. The way out of customs area is blocked and a minute later I see Mike waiting in front of a big hall – all vehicles coming to Morocco and all trucks going out get x-rayed – at the moment the x-ray is blocked by outgoing trucks.

Its around 2 pm now and we are on the road for 11 hours, still not in Morocco and still 80km to go to a place where we can finally sleep waiting for an X-ray of the motorbikes. When I was asked if I have something to declare I told them only the kalaschnikow in the guitar bag. They laughed at me but did not look. Nobody took care of the bag that was always on my back if there would have been a kalaschnikow inside I would have had imported it legally – at least I had declared one…

Finally after more than 4 hours border procedure I wait at the petrol station after the border for Mike who is trying to get himself an insurance. He takes some time and half an hour later we finally start todays endspurt. Arriving afternoon instead of lunchtime we eat and pass away early evening. I sleep amazingly well until next day morning when Mike knocks at the door around 6 o clock. Like every morning when doing miles I drink a red bull from the ones I bought in the Gambia while I pack.

Day 2:

When the bikes are ready we drink a coffee to hit the road a little before sunrise. Todays target is Boujdour, little more than 500km north of where we start. I slept there in a nice and cheap hotel so its comfortable as we don’t need to search and can just follow my gps.

The sunrise in the desert is mind blowing and I enjoy the day starting at the same moment I start the engine! (Well coffee before was great too) The wind is blowing little less than on the way down, but now in our face and not in our back. We need incredible lots of petrol (both more than 9 on 100km) so I have to stop at the first petrol station after 160km.

We drink a coffee while three cops are just about starting to build up a checkpoint (= they stand on the street staring in different directions). It looks funny in the middle of the desert so I take a picture out of the window of the coffee. That picture costs us half an hour as one of the cops has seen me, they are really bored and have nothing better to do than to check if I have taken pictures of more “military objects” (like petrol stations or bored police officers). I am glad I haven’t and delete the ones they don’t like.

Today we enjoy the road taking many breaks for coffee and petrol and have fun. Late afternoon I see dark spots of several hundred square meters in the sea and it takes me about an hour before I realize it’s the shadows of the first clouds I have seen in weeks! Still the temperature is perfect all day and we arrive in Boujdour in the afternoon. We get all we need soon and find ourselves then at a restaurant eating, drinking coffee and chatting. What an amazing day this was!

Day 3:

Again we leave early and enjoy the desert sunrise on the road. Today will be the hardest one as we expect sand and wind on the way to come. After the first nearly 200km the first town after Boujdour is Laayoune. We stop a little before at it harbor to get petrol and breakfast. For the first time we can choose now: Highway or along the beach to Tarfaya? Of course we go along the beach – the desert landscape of this road is as amazing as itself is tire eating.

I like Tarfaya and we make one of todays many breaks there. It is amazing how we manage to do such a milage together and have so much fun on two so different bikes! Mike can go 400km under this conditions and I have a maximum of 240 maybe while my bike is much stronger and faster. But I wait while riding and we drink coffee every time we get petrol (mostly for me). After Tarfaya the next stop is in Akhfenir. I get petrol and they manage to put 10.5 liter in a 10 liter tank with 2 liter inside before already…. DON’T PUT PETROL IN AKHFENNIR! There are 3 petrol stations with at least one having digital measurement a few kilometers north of town at the police checkpoint!

Between Akhfennir and Tan Tan there are a few lagoons on the beach and in the first one I recognize spoon bills! I brake sharp, stop the bike and get out the big camera. That is one of the birds I wanted to see but until today haven’t! Mike passes by so I hurry up and go on. In the next lagoon again a shoal of big wading birds a little further away. They look a little like flamingos but I am not sure because of the distance. I take a few pictures and find out later that I have really seen two big groups of flamingos out there!

Mike waits for me at a roundabout a little before Tan Tan and we get a coffee in town around 4pm. The decision to go to the next town Guelmim was already made in Tarfaya, its only 130 more kilometers and we have well more than two hours until sunset. At the end of the day we find a cheap but luxurious hotel, great food (well, chicken&chips) and diet red bull! I had the last one this morning so this is just perfect!

Tomorrow Mike will go on heading quickly north while I will only go about 50km to the coastal town of Sidi Ifni. Thank you Mike for these amazing three days, for all the things I learned from you, for your great company and your permanent smile and good mood. There is only one road on this planet and it is connected all over. I hope we meet again out there one day and share another thousand miles!

Save journey my friend!

Kwinella – Nouakchott

N13°24’05” W015°48’10” – N15°55’66” W16°24’21” – N18°13’08” W016°02’10” crossing again at Diamma, close to St. Louis (not Rosso/Richard Toll as the map suggests) taking the way thru the biosphere reserve – GM doesnt know theres a border there obviously….

km done: feb.19.: 400      feb.20.: 330

After getting an amazing breakfast next morning my new friends, the teachers of the nearby school tell me about a problem with the water supply at their school. It’s a solar powered pump and I am engineer… I take a look at it. There is no pump and the inverter is falling apart. I find out everything has been checked already by technicians, to repair it would cost 3000 Euro of which they have 1000 already. If I possibly could help them… its about the children!

I think a few hours about it and then talk to one of the teachers who speaks the best English. In fact the amount of money is not incredibly high. Higher for me alone than for their community in the village which is several hundred people. His last and best argument (remember, there is somebody volunteering here, of the problem is actually already taken care from somebody who does things like this professional) is that I am white, so I am supposed to give the money. The people here have been really nice to me so it makes me sad we have to disappoint each other so much. I don’t have 2000 Euro in my pocket to give away like this and I am not sure if this is what the people here need – another white guy who proves that all white guys just come to supply them.

In the afternoon I pack my stuff on the bike and head to the ferry crossing river Gambia just in time to cross the Senegalese border before it is being closed. When the Gambian customs officer demands 5 Euro I pretend being dumb so he sends me to the police. Passport stamp and straight forward to the other side. Within 15 minutes the border is crossed without paying no bribe at all! Great! I don’t find a money changer so I stop at a restaurant in a village about 50km after the border. I tell I am hungry but only have Euro. Little after I have finished food the boy comes back having changed 100 Euro at a much better rate than offered at the border.

The ride to Saint Louis becomes a night ride. I go with just a view more breaks around 300km after dark and arrive in Saint Louis at 2 am. Luckily I had the number from the neighbor of the Guesthouse so the people from the restaurant where I had changed money earlier had informed them about my late arrival tonight. By the way I see three small and very long foxes crossing the street in the dark!

Border crossing next morning is again very straight forward. Stupid police officer who wouldn’t hand my passport back before bribing on the way is smiling now and asking for me to play guitar. I wait until I have my passport back and tell him there is a bulk offer: 2 songs for 10 euro… I turn around and cross the river – no music this time. For Mauretanien side I prepare 50 Euro for the visa. In Nouakchott I tried to get my visa extended before which was not possible within the validity of the first visa. However I had gotten a paper from the police headquarter then to prove not to have been caught committing any crimes in Gambia ever before. Guys at the border are somehow impressed by the paper, stamp my passport for free and say Good bye! Passavant for the bike is 10 euro again and all together hardly 20 minutes after approaching Senegale border post I ride on the dam into Mauretanie hunting wild boars along the road!

The road seems to be much better this time. I have seen much worse since being here last time so I take most of it at pretty high speed having a lot of fun until more and more sand dunes are on the way. Most of the weight of the heavy loaded bike is too much in the rear. When coming on sand I start swimming immediately and the heavy bike with tyres which are slicks by now is impossible to handle.

One time in a very unexpected sanddune right next to the dam I slip and fall. Nothing happens so far but there is nobody to help me lifting up the bike – I am alone in the desert. I dropped the bike on the damn so its not full down and the sideback is helping too. I try a trick standing with my rear to the bike and lift it up! YEAH! I never thought I could do this alone!

Around 70 km after the border the piste becomes a highway and I increase the speed – at sunset I am sitting in my favourite café in Nouakchott. When dusk is about to end I am at Les Sultanes. “Welcome home!” Nicolas says and it really feels so. I eat diner with the staff at the kitchen and have real coffee and un petit peu internet. I am happy to be here!

Mauritania – Senegal

 

Rosso – Rao

N16°30’32” W015°47’53” – N15°55’66” W16°24’21” (google maps doesnt know Diamma border which is west of the crossing it shows – this map a least gives a rough idea of where I went)

Km today: 154

Feb 5.

A warning straight ahead – if you like Senegal don’t read this, Senegal is the most impolite and inhospitable country I’ve ever been to. If you plan to come here better you just send all your money (which seems all 99% of the people here want from you) and stay at home.

Ok now here comes the story: I leave the hotel in Rosso rather early changing some more money, getting petrol and the Senegalese bike insurance. The road to Diamma is the flood protection “dam” of Senegal river which is in fact a pile of mud compressed by the traffic, and actually that is the nicest part of todays journey as I cross a Biosphere reserve seeing some Marabous, African wild boar and even a crocodile right next to the pile of mud I am riding on. The view and the landscape are really nice again but…

About 40km after Rosso a young guy stops me at his hut. He has a problem with his bike and asks for tools. To be honest I don’t really feel like helping him, maybe because I am a little pissed with the people in this area, maybe because my 6th sense is telling me already he is an asshole. However we are in the middle of the desert, he needs help and his bike is a KTM scooter. I get my tools out and ask for some water as I have forgotten to take some in the morning (after getting money and insurance I jumped on the bike to pull the throttle to get away from the idiots in Rosso). It is afternoon already and 60 more km on the mud pile to Diamma border to go so I am happy when his bike is running again and pack the tools. (No they are not a present I have to make clear first.)

When I do so the guy whom I helped out asks me to pay for the water I had. In his hut he has a small shop so I ask him for the price even though I feel a little pissed about the fact I helped him out and he didn’t even offer something to drink even though we are at his home (somewhere in the desert, with the sun burning down and temperature being about 30°C). 500 ugia he says which is pretty exactly what I paid yesterday for my dinner including the water I had with it. I am glad he understands no word of what I am saying now. I throw the bottle down, jump on the bike, tell him to f*&% off and drive a few meters before I stop again to turn on the music and the camera. He comes running after me bringing the bottle now asking for 200 ugia for it. I tell him to F*&% off again (pretty sure he understood that) and turn on the engine. He puts the water on the bike leaving me no chance but to put it in the bag. The music is already on so I don’t hear what he is saying when I ride away with the water taken for free.

When I come to the border the officials there know only two words which are “10 euro”. The first one being the customs officer of Mauretania, I ask him for a receipt, I get one, so I am stupid enough to hand him the money. Next one is a guy who wants 2,5 euro for putting the road block aside. I tell him I have no money and I don’t need him leaving the bike before the road block entering the police office. I put on my best smile and when the police officer asks me for my guitar I do my stupid “Which guitar? I don’t have on, I am Taliban terourist this is Kalashnikow” joke. He laughs so I sing a few lines of “Mama Africa for him. When I am finished he is holding my passport in his hand asking for ten Euro. I give him a “come on, we had fun together” look and he waves his hand telling me to get out. The guy at the roadblock now wants 500 ugia (half of before) and I tell him to piss of, on the bike I can go around the block and the police officer inside is just having tea and likes me so he wouldn’t mind. He makes a last attempt asking me to give some money to keep “the road in shape”. Ok, I haven’t seen any road the past 100km but whatever you want to call it it should be kept in shape. I give him 50 cent and hit the 500m of road (now it is) to the bridge over the Senegal river.

On the other side road block again and I have to pay 3 euro for the bridge getting a receipt. Next I go to the police to stamp my passport. 10 euro, no receipt and the guy has no humor at all, a stupid bald idiot who is not even able to divide 6500 by two without using paper and pen – probably he cant even count to ten without using his fingers. So this is my first Senegalese experience, nice! Customs is better, the chief there is a funny guy and my worrys about having no carnet the passage for the motorbike proved to have been useless. He wants to give me a Passavant (customs paper for the bike) for 3 days charging 10 euros (no receipt). Again I play the musician card, play a few chords of Mama Africa again and get the 5 days for 5 euro bribe only. At least the road becomes amazing after crossing the border so I pull the handle again and swallow my anger.

I really want to see one National Park in Senegal which is pretty close to the border of the Gambia. Gambia is supposed to make no problem with the bike and they speak anglish there! Well by now I speak a little French again but still I am happy to be able to talk English in a few days with people who can understand me. About 50km after the border, a little after Saint Luise I take a nice, but expensive room. 15000 (25 euro) including wifi and hot shower… I am able to push the price to 10000 and find out later that the offered wifi does not exist but they would lend me there 3G modem if I pay for the recharge…. I really hope Gambia and Mali (if I can get in there) are different. In the evening when I get food at the hotel the guy there steps on a huge bug in the garden smiling at me having fun doing so. I am shocked and when I ask him why he does so pointing at the suffering bug he doesn’t even seem to understand my question.

People here could really learn so much from Indian people – here they seem to have no respect for nothing, and Indian people cheat foreigners in a much more pleasant way too… (Asking to learn from Pakistani or Persian people would definitely be too much hospitality at once)

Nouakchott – Rosso

 

N18°13’08” W016°02’10” – N16°30’32” W015°47’53”

Feb 4.

Km today: 250

Yesterday at night another rally from Budapest arrived. Paris Dakar seems to be more like a highway than an adventure…  I think about joining them to cross the border easier in a bulk but I still have to change money and get a second vaccination. So better to have all I need right than go early morning with the guys…

Today I wake up around nine. I want to go to Nouakchott for vaccination and changing money before packing my stuff as I am not sure if the vaccination will be ok. I have to give them my vaccination card to stamp it today and 1 euro seems to be cheap for yellow fever AND meningitis. However all works out fine and I am back at les sultanes camping at 11 already. I pack my stuff and ask Nicolas for the bill. Everything seems to take ages. I had a lot of fun with Nico and the guys so I am curious about the bill and I get a really nice friendship price! A little more than 60 euros for 6 nights and a lot of food and drinks!

Thank you Nicolas, I really enjoyed that amazing tent at the beach in this beautiful surrounding!

The coordinates of the camping are the ones where I start today, you can easily find this place by turning right at the first police checkpoint about 12km before Nouakchott when coming from the north.

Again I have to cross Nouakchott and a little later I am in the desert again. But wait… there are huts nearly all along the street and 50km after Nouakchott there are solitary trees every now and then. Trees get more and more as I go on but still there are dunes all around. It’s a really amazing landscape and I take a rest under a tree every now and then. I really feel happy about them as I haven’t had the shadow of a tree since I left Essaouira! I want to cross the border to Senegal at Diamma but today its too late already so I head for the big border crossing at Rosso which is well known for its hazzles.

A little before the turn to Diamma I see two motorbikes park in the shadow of a tree and a guy fixing one of them. I stop and ask if I can help but they are fine. As I find out they are from finland on their way around the planet. I wish them good luck and go on. I arrive at Rosso a little before sunset, the choice of hotels is extremely small so I am forced to take a pretty expensive one… At least I can negotiate and pay 16 euro instead of 30 and I have a shower with very hot water in the room. The bike has a real clean place just outside the room so its ok. Tomorrow morning I will take 100km of piste to Diamma right through a National Park where I hope to see some animals and then cross to Senegal at lunch time.

Nouakchott II

 

The days on the beach are windy… cold nights and hot days. Hospitality here is just amazing! Of course some people see the money when they see white skin but mostly people just want to help and make friends. Most of them would rather be insulted when offering money or even inviting them for food two times in a row. My tent on the beach is a little away from the restaurant. Yesterday one of the guys from the restaurant sat with me in front of my tent until late at night. It was simply amazing – behind us nothing but desert in front of us nothing but water and above us only stars! In between us, the fire and the music we made – like we were the only people on the planet. Just amazing!

Today I got the prove for the yellow fever vaccination in Nouakchott so tomorrow I only have to get the vaccination and another visa for Mauretania for my way back. Will be much cheaper to get it here than in Dakar. My helmet headphones from a well known touring equipments company of which the cable broke several times I got repaired too – so after more than a thousand kilometers in silence I will have music when riding again! When Moltar and I were at the shop to buy cable, plug  and a Capo, (that’s why we actually went there because I lost mine) I met a young guy who was just buying recording stuff. He saw my guitar and invited me to show me his recording studio – which is amazing! Unfortunaley I have not enough time now for recording but I promise to be back at night to make some music together.

So tomorrow I will have to go to Nouakchott for the last time to get visa and vaccination and day after tomorrow I will continue direction kiffa to see the Mauritanian desert crocodiles before heading to Senegal.

Nouakchott 1

The night in the tent is pretty cold and when the sun rises a little past eight I stand up. Its Thursday so I need to go to Senegal Embassy to collect my visa today as they will be closed Friday and Saturday for the weekend. My bike registration only lasts seven days so I need to get to Senegal on Monday… No time to lose so. Nouakchott, the capitol of Mauritania, is a crazy town. Kindergartens for example are open at night only because daytime is to hot anyway most of the year and all of the freshwater in town is delivered on wheels – mostly by trains and trucks!

I have to search for more than an hour to find the embassy as there is only a small flag at the top. No signs, nothing. When I come there I got the wrong file printed so the guard at the door is very helpful and tries his best to print the right file from my usb pen – unfortunately without any success. I meet Andi and Julia too and say hello when I enter the embassy but they are just being called into the office. I have to solve the printing problem anyway – but no problem, a young guy who is there just jumps on the bike and shows me the way to a shop to print (I would never have found alone) and back. I expect him to ask for money but no, he smiles at me and thanks me for the ride on the bike.

When I come back Andi and Julia are gone but my papers (Copy of the first 2! Pages of the passport, 1 picture and the print of the email confirmation with the barcode – as well as the passport of course) are fine so I am told to collect the passport at half past 2. That was the nicest embassy abroad ever I think and go to change money, get internet and care for the yellow fever vaccination.

Suddenly a guy tries to stop me but I simply ignore him and stop a few hundred meters later in front of a money changer. The guy comes after me and starts talking to me. He is dressed properly and looks ok so I ask him where it is possible to get coffee and wifi. He actually offers to change money at a pretty good rate but I don’t do this on the street usually. I invite him for a coffee and he tells me a lot about Mauritania and what is possible here. For example a one year residential visa for 80 euro – half a year would be 60… I will need a visa on the way back and getting it in Dakar will for sure be more expensive than 60 euro… I really start thinking about this option but answer that my vehicle registration is valid for 7 days only.

No problem he says and stands up. I pay for the coffee at an amazingly beautiful black girl and we go. 10 minutes before I have to be back at the embassy I have a 15 day extension for the vehicle registration in my pocket and the Senegalese embassy is just around the corner. When picking up the passport I meet Andi and Julia again, my new friend is waiting outside. Visa is fine so we decide to quickly get a green card (vehicle insurance) for West Africa too. Unfortunately this seems to be not possible in Nouakchott. Moltar (my new friend) changes some money for us and then I say good bye to Andi and Julia as I want to stay in Mauritania a few more days and they will head to the border tomorrow.

I haven’t eaten all day so Moltar and I go back to the café this time to eat something and for me to get internet. I invite him again which is very ok for me for all the help and somehow expect him to ask for money… But after exchanging fb contacts he suddenly stands up, says thank you for the invitation and maybe we meet the next days and leaves me alone being very impressed.

When coming back to the camping ground an intercontinental rally has just arrived and I am very pleased to see many KTM Adventures. I get some very good advices during this evening.

 At one time I just come out of the kitchen and fall over a dog who bites me in my trousers – clearly my mistake and I say excuse me by petting him a few minutes. Later one of the guys from the kitchen visits me in my small hut (had to change from the tent because they are reserved for the rally people tonight). We make music together for a long time and he tells me about Mali. What he is telling is not the first recommendation and the south of the country seems to be perfectly safe. I will go to Mali embassy maybe Sunday and check if visa is really possible.

At one time I recognize the dog I had been falling over lying in front of my huts door (which is actually a more a curtain). I ask him to come in but he is too afraid and as I try to pull him in walks away. Later, when writing this lines he is outside again. I think he is my favorite new friend of the day even tough this is stupid to say. It was such an amazing day and I met so many incredibly nice people I could write five more pages and still have not told about all the great and beautiful people I got to know today. What an incredibly beautiful country!

Nouadhibou – Nouakchott

 

N20°55’33” W017°02’22” – N18°13’08” W016°02’10”

Jan 29.

Km today: 485

When I want to pay the room before leaving I find out it is 13000 whatevers and not 3000. I am a little confused and it still seems to be ok for the bathtub and I had to heat the water using my TAUCHSIEDER so the electricity bill will pay the high price back. I am at the Freeteks place around 11 o clock just to tell them I will go ahead today – I like to arrive well before sunset so I have no hurry finding a place to sleep. It’s a different rhythm travelling on a bike or in a caravan too. They are just about making breakfast and I am hungry too so I want to hurry to the next petrol station (where ever that might be).

I hit the road and as I find out at the first village 100km later there is a petrol pump but only Diesel available. 180km to the next real petrol pump they tell me which are 20km less than I have petrol for. Game of luck but I hope they tell the truth and go on slowly to save petrol. The landscape is amazing and I am not really in a hurry anyway. 100km further there is a police checkpoint and a petrol station – but again only diesel. 60km more they tell me and ask for my guitar so I make a little music for them. They like the music and unlike in Morocco they show it and the guys even start singing with me! One guy is going same direction and promises to help if I run out of petrol (again).

Luckily the real petrol station appears 40km before I am completely finished and I even meet some nice guys from the Netherlands there. They tell me about a place to stay about 10km before Nouakchott. A camping place with some nomad tents directly at the beach. They tell me about many Mosquitos being in town and not a single one at the beach. That is enough information for me – price is 5 euro per night in the tent so this seems cool too. They also tell me that they know the situation I have been in in the morning pretty well. Telling one price in the evening and another one in the morning seems to be the most common tourist scam here – even more as the mauretanian French is very hard to understand sometimes when it comes to numbers ;). Best solution as we figure is to make them write the price down on a piece of paper and then keep it. That’s what I will do now.

A little after the petrol pump I overtake Andi and Julia and that’s the last time I see them today. 160km later I take a little piste at the right leading to the recommended beach. The camping ground is amazingly nice and run by the first French guy ever I like from the first moment. A few more overlanders stay there too so all is great. I go back to the main road to ask at the checkpoint to send Andi and Julia to the camping ground too. They should be about half an hour behind me so I expect them to come soon. They told me about a camping ground in town where I can come to meet them if we get lost.

However I stay and they don’t appear. Nicolas tells me later the police told him that they had not been at the checkpoint either. I hope they have no problem and will go to town to the meeting point tomorrow. However its already dark and even if I would go back I would never find them.

The camping ground is ice and I love my tent at the beach. Shared tent is 2000 (5 euro) like promised but unfortunately there is nobody to share with. Alone it will be 5000 but I speak to my new French friend Nicolas and he makes a nice price for me. Great place to be if u are in the area just use the coordinates at the top to find here. By the way the landscape started like desert today and became greener and greener then – more grassland then desert, seems like Sahara is finished already!

In the evening I meet a guy from germany in Nicolas’ restaurant and he tells me that three days ago some guys tried to kidnap friends of his in the no mans land between Morocco and Mauretania threatening them with machine guns. Seems like these lawless 4km between the borders are the only dangerous place here. So for the way back I will wait for other overlanders to go together too. Its probably strongly advisable to do so when taking this way.

Western Sahara – Mauritania (Nouadhibou)

 N22°03’16” W16°44’51” – N20°55’33” W017°02’22”

Jan 28.

Km today: 150

I hardly sleep this night so I am happy we are not in a hurry and I can sleep a little more in the morning. When finally waking up I check everything on the bike as its standing on a clean place (I have to mess up – no but honestly its nicer to lie on clean floor than on desert sand), have two coffee and then hit the road to catch up with Andi and Julia at the border. The landscape becomes more and more amazing but here it is very not recommended to leave the road as there are lots of mines out there. Last year three French offroaders died when “finding” one! Even though I make quite a few stop on the 80 km to the border I catch them when I arrive there.

Leaving Morocco takes about half an hour and then we enter “No Mans Land”. Several kilometer between western Sahara and Mauritania without road, laws or authority. The first time I have no option but to go offroad. Its really crazy how big trucks manage to pass this border! The Mauritanian border is very friendly and straight forward too, no bribes have to be paid, only 10 Euro for the registration of the bike and another 10 for the insurance for 10 days. The registration is only valid for 7 days so I will have not much time in Mauretania.

Sun is nearly setting when we leave the border so we decide to sleep in the closest town at a peninsula similar to Dakhla. The landscape becomes real desert now and the sunset is mindblowing! After Andi and Julia stop at a place where they will stay for tonight I go on to town to check a hotel that was recommended to me at the border. Its dark already and I really don’t like arriving in a new town after dark and needing to find a place to sleep then.

The recommended place – ABBA Hotel is shit. All the rooms are full and I am offerd to sleep in a shared sleeping room with a French guy. No possibility to lock anything and mattresses are lying on the not very clean floor. He asks 3000 whatevers (7,50 euro) for me to sleep on one of them. I thank him a lot and leave. On the way back to the city I see a big white Mitsubishi and a guy in an important looking uniform just about to drive away. I stop him and ask for a hotel – he tells me to follow him and then minutes later we stop in front of a hotel with inside parking for the bike, huge amazingly clean rooms, big bathrooms with BATHTUB (!!!) and wifi for the same price: 7,50 euro! I would love to stay here for longer but unfortunately the vehicle registration…. The guy at the reception is unbelievably friendly and smiling all the time – so is the waiter at the restaurant where I eat a little later. Mauritanien people are really friendly! You can see and feel immediately they are not that much wasted by tourism like Indian or Moroccan people are.