Nouakchott is the largest city in and capital of Mauritania.
Nouakchott International Airport (IATA: NKC) is the base for Mauritania Airlines International which flies to Bamako, Dakar, Abidjan and Nouadhibou. It also receives flights from Algiers on Air Algérie and from Paris on Air France. Other connections include Casablanca, Istanbul, Tunis and Gran Canaria.
From/to Nouadhibou (470 km, ca. 6 hours): the most comfortable option, a Mercedes taking 4 passengers, costs from 4000 ougiya. Sept-places are also available. It is also possible to arrange direct transport from Dakhla in Western Sahara. Ask in Hotel Sahara. The duration of the trip depends mostly on border formalities.
From/to Rosso: cars to Rosso (border with Senegal) depart from Garage Rosso south of town (taxi from the centre - ca. 500 oug). The journey takes approx. 3 hours and costs about 3000 oug in a Mercedes.
Taxis around town cost up to 200 oug, to the fishing port west of town (Port de Peche) - 300 oug.
Five kilometers west from central Nouakchott are beaches, the fishing wharf and two seaside hotels.
- Head to the bustling fishing wharf 'port de peche' for a firsthand look at Mauritania's artisanal fishing industry. At evenings one can see teams of fishermen bring in the day's catch on brightly painted sea-canoes. The catch is sold on the sport and loaded onto donkey carts or ancient Renault 12's to be resold in town.
The Nouakchottois go to the beaches on weekend evenings (especially in the hot season). Swimming in the sea at Nouakchott can be dangerous due to the treacherous and strong current.
- Franco-Mauritanian Cultural Center: movies, concerts, exhibits etc.
- Stade Olympique: run laps at the stade Olympique, or watch a soccer match.
Fishing: surf-casting is possible from the beaches near Nouakchott. Bring your own equipment. Some basic fishing supplies can be bought from Lebanese-owned shops in Nouakchott. Travel in groups only for security reasons.
Traditional Mauritanian handicrafts are available in hotels, at the museum, and in shops catering to tourists at the top of Avenue Kennedy. Silver jewelery - such as bracelets and earrings - make popular souvenirs. Rugs made of camel wool can also be purchased. Items from Mauritania's fast-disappearing nomadic lifestyle - camel saddles and wooden chests - can be purchased.
Unfortunately many items for sale in Nouakchott are of shoddy workmanship. Be prepared for some determined tracking down to find a quality piece. Dakar, Senegal is also a good place to purchase jewelery from Moorish silversmiths. There is a small collection of artisans selling quality good on Autoroute Rosso, away from the airport, but it is hard to find. Sometimes referred to as the Aritsian's Market or the Zoo. Most prices given to you can usually be haggled down to about a third of the given price, so don't be afraid to walk away!
- Markets: the Marche Capitale and Marche Sixieme are the most interesting for purchasing local specialities and souvenirs. The Camel Market on the outskirts of town on the road to Boutilimit makes an interesting visit.
There is a decent variety of restaurants in Nouakchott with plates from 1000 to 3500 UM. Most restaurants in the capital offer pretty much the same menu - simple pizzas, hamburgers, sandwiches, and salads. Nicer places, such as Plan B, New Rest or Iman, will have steaks, brochettes, seafood and even curry!
- There is a string of restaurants on the road from the Stade Olympique to the French Embassy. Good ones include Pizza Lina, Cafe Liban, and Le Petit Cafe.
- The Sahara Cafe, on the other side of the stadium, is also a good place for pizza, sandwiches or Lebanese, and has some of the best reasonably-priced food in town. Come by late at night for some an excellent evening of hooka and hummus! Open late.
- Nearby is also The Sun House, which depending on availability, will also so have alcohol if you're a westerner.
- On Ave du Palais des Congres there's Chickandy, which is halal Fried Chicken as well as Pizza Italia, one of the better pizza shops in town.
- Near Marche Capitale, there is a street of sandwich shops that offer near-identical menus, the best of which is the Prince (which taxi drivers know by name).
- New-Rest, a guest house hidden behind a wall and unmarked near the stadium, has great ambiance and allows you to get away from the crowds. It has a well lit pool and tasty Nims and spaghetti.
If you wish to cook, there are many large markets to be found, including Deja-Vu, located next to Ta-ta on Du Gaulle, which specializes in American products.
Mauritania is a dry country, but alcohol can still be found if you know where to look! Many of the French and Spanish owned clubs and restaurants will have some whiskey or beer available, depending on their supply, and will run from 2000-3000 oug a drink. If you're checking in the United States embassy, ask the Marines on duty (please be subtle about it) if they're having a party! You'll have a great time in a safe place. Same can be said at just about every embassy, as the expat community is very close and will spend the weekends together.
Monotel - Ran by a Spanish Father and Son, this local gets busy at around two in the morning and regularly plays hosts to Senegalese DJs. Decent restaurant and bar by day, is a fairly reliable source for whiskey. Naf's Cafe - Located behind Friso's will also have beer, whisky rum and vodka. Cafe in the American Embassy will also have drinks during the day.
If you're feeling bold, simply start asking around if anyone knows where to get drinks. Several people will sell it here and there, smuggled from Senegal, but don't expect anything top shelf. A small bottle should run you around 6,000-10,000 per.
- Hotel Mercure Marhaba, 160, Avenue Gamal Abder Nasser, ☎ +222 5295050.
- Hotel Tfeila, Avenue Charles de Gaulle, ☎ +222 45257400, e-mail: email@example.com. The former Novotel hotel, which is still is referred to sometimes.
In central Nouakchott, the Hotel Houda and Atlas are not bad options. Other mid-range hotels include Park Hotel and Amane on Ave Nasser and Hotel Mouna north of the Novotel/Tfeila.
- Auberge Menata. Owner speaks English. Help with renting a car and a guide. High reputation with former guests. Dorms with shared facilities from 2500 ougiya per person, tent from 1500 ougiya.
- Auberge JMC, behind the Novotel, - rooms start from 10,000 oug. WiFi available. It's not signposted - look for flowers on the front fence.
- Residence Zahra, opposite Hotel Halima and the Russian embassy, has clean and spacious rooms with ac, bathrooms, TV and wireless internet from 12000 oug.
- There is also a hotel out at the beach with "hut" rooms and a big dining room overlooking the water.
There are also a couple of camping places not far away.
Like anywhere else, try to stay in groups after dark. You might occasionally run into some rude people, but by and large, Mauritanians are a very nice people. Don't be surprised to be offered a glass of tea in a shop.
Embassies & Consulates
- Greece, Quartier des Ambassades, B.P. 4156, Nouakchott, Mauritanie, ☎ (222) 529-0127, fax: (222)525-9899, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- United States, US Embassy, B.P. 222, Nouakchott., ☎ (222) 525-2660/2663, , 525-1141/45 , or 525-3038 (ext. 5441) fax: (222) 525-1592.