Sunday, November 10, 2019

Western Sahara to Mauritania

Leaving Morocco
All fairly straightforward and efficient. Officials are friendly and helpful.

Took 60 minutes or so.

No Man's Land
For a not-very-experienced off-road biker on a big, heavy bike it was intimidating. About two miles of undulating mixed surface (forget any notion of a road) - rock, soil, sand. There is no one actual track, but a variety of possibilities which you'll choose according to your vehicle. Motorcycles will avoid the sand, while trucks will seek even terrain and 4x4's do what they want. There's lots of activity, though, and you're unlikely to get lost or be ignored if in trouble.

Entering Mauritania
We didn't use a fixer, but wondered afterwards if one might have made things quicker.

The process is fairly straightforward and there are many people willing to give advice. The various processes take place in offices in sequence.

1) Get passport stamped
2) Apply for Visa. You have to queue outside the Visa office, waiting for them to take your passport inside. After a while (90 minutes in our case) they call you into the office and put you through a computerised application process. €55 per person- they don't like old or soiled notes. This whole stage - including a break for midday prayers, took the longest. They don't operate on a first come basis. You just have to live with that.

Waiting for visa application
3) Customs clearance for your vehicle. Leave the visa compound and there is another compound on your right. Find the right room and there is a 15 minute form filling exercise for this process. €10.
4) Opposite this compound is a shop selling motor insurance. We paid about €6 for 10 days.

We took about five hours from arriving at Morocco border to leaving Mauritania customs/insurance area.

The road leaving the Mauritania compounds is mayhem with trucks crowding in on each other. It was difficult to find a path through - but we did! 🙂

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