Dakhla to Nouakchott via Nouadhibou – Mauritania Visa

Dakhla to Nouakchott via Nouadhibou

Dakhla is a city in Western Sahara which is under Moroccan control.  Dakhla offers the following points of interest for tourists and photographers;

  • Kite surfiing
  • Sahara sailing
  • Assona mosque
  • Sahara desert tours

When searching for accommodation in Dakhla, it’s better to turn up and find a hotel.  Booking online before you go is possible, but more expensive.

Dakhla, Western SaharaDakhla, Western Sahara

There’s not much to do in Dakhla town centre, just a few hotels and restaurants.  It’s a stop off point really, between Morocco and Mauritania.  Most of the hotels are found around this area of downtown which is where you’ll also find a share taxi to Nouadhibou or Nouakchott early morning.  Just north of Dakhla, (pictured above) is a hugely popular kite surfing venue, passing it I saw at least 50 kite surfers.

I arrived late evening and asked around outside hotel Sahara for a share taxi the following morning.  I was told to come at 7am and the taxi will leave right away.  I arrived the next morning at 7am, and there was no-one there, so I sat and waited.  At around 8am, 3 more passengers came, a car, and a driver.  The driver who agreed to take me at 7am was nowhere to be seen.  I was told that the car could not go with less than 6 people so continued waiting.

Sahara Hotel, Downtown Dakhla, Western Sahara

Sahara Hotel, Downtown Dakhla, Western Sahara

I began talking with another passenger from Japan.  She persuaded me that we should hitchhike as it was already 11am so I went to tell the driver and all of a sudden he jumped up and had 6 people.  He had been waiting for a 7th passenger but didn’t want to risk losing 2 passengers.  We then left straight away for the border, the cost was 350 Dirham per person.  Just as we were leaving, the driver who arranged to meet me at 7am arrived and started complaining that I was going with another driver!

If you did decide to hitchhike, you can take a petit taxi to the police checkpoint at the crossroads of the peninsula 7km away.  This will cost around 25 dirhams.

Share taxi, Dakhla to Mauritania border - 350 DirhamShare taxi, Dakhla to Mauritania border – 350 Dirham

The taxi ride to the border was about 3 hours, with a short bathroom stop at a decent enough place.  Arriving at the border, I got my exit stamp from Morocco before changing taxis from a 7 seater to a 4 seater.  The 6 people in the taxi now had to squash into a normal car with a driver, it would have been worse if there was a 7th passenger!  The taxi then crossed no mans land which is paved half way, I guess they are paving the rest and it should be completed soon.  No mans land is covered with land mines so your life really is in the hands of the taxi driver!

On arriving in Mauritania, I didn’t have a visa because the embassy in Rabat was closed.  The Japanese tourist didn’t have her visa either but was confident of a visa on arrival as the Japanese travel sites say it’s possible.  Firstly we went into the police station where our passports were checked before being sent to the visa office.  When I say visa office I mean a hot, dirty old room in he middle of the desert where visas are issued.  The rule was those who were first time in the country needed to get fingers scanned and a photo taken by the webcam, no photocopies or passport photos required!  The cost would be €120 or $150, no Dirhams accepted.  I sat down, got my fingers scanned and photo taken, then the internet stopped working so I could not get my visa yet.  The internet never came back on that day so the police confiscated all passports until the following morning and told us we had to sleep at the border.

Taxi 2 - border to Nouadhibou (included in 350 Dirham)

Taxi 2 – border to Nouadhibou (included in 350 Dirham)

Three of the passengers from the taxi did get there visas and were told they had to leave the border immediately.  One was a 9 year old boy, and his fathers visa wasn’t issued so he got special permission to stay on at the border with his visa.  The police then gave us permission to stay in a hostel just over the border anyway without our passports.  It was interesting to see who stays at the border;

  • Money changers
  • Trucks drivers that arrive late wanting to cross over to Morocco
  • The famous Borat lookalike heckler who’s mentioned in many blogs about the border crossing. (he mainly bothers tourists with vehicles)
  • Police and immigration officers

After a night at the border the visa office was supposed to open at 9am but it was actually around 11am before it opened.  The good news was that the internet was now working and I paid €120 for my 30 day single entry visa and was ready to get the hell out of there!  The taxi driver was already back to take us to Nouadhibou, I just had to tell the police which route I was taking through Mauritania and we were off.

Nouadhibou to Nouakchott - 6000 - 5 hoursNouadhibou to Nouakchott – 6000 ouguiya – 5 hours

In Nouadhibou, the taxi dropped me off on the first roundabout on the way into town.  Less than 30 meters from this point is the bus station for the minibus to Nouakchott which has wifi on board and takes about 5 hours.  The company copies your visa several times to give to the police at the many police checkpoints.  The bus stopped for one toilet break midway to Nouakchott.

Nouakchott to St Louis via Rosso

2017-03-13T15:10:00+00:00 October 5th, 2016|Morocco, Northern Africa, Western Sahara|12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Natalie January 11, 2017 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    Oh, my goodness…I have no words for such a crazy experience! We always travel with the kids and I shudder at the thought of suddenly sleeping at a border until….whenever the wheels start turning again in the process to let you through. WOW!! So…..in the end….was it worth it???

    • James Smith January 11, 2017 at 2:19 pm - Reply

      Well, I survived it and continued my journey south. I wouldn’t recommend Mauritania, especially with kids!

  2. Hendrik January 11, 2017 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    Very interesting trip, I must say this. “No mans land is covered with land mines so your life really is in the hands of the taxi driver!” – when I read this it was clear for me that obviously not really my kind of trip 😀
    Its ok to have adventures but that would be of course way too risky for me, but cool that you did it and obviously you had quite good fun 🙂
    Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  3. Christine K January 11, 2017 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    Such an exciting ordeal. I couldn’t stop reading about your adventure and kept wondering what was going to happen next. I would not have done this personally but you were a trooper and went through it. Good for you. Keep writing about your travels; I am enjoying it tremendously.

  4. Maja Mexatia January 11, 2017 at 5:37 pm - Reply

    Wow what an exciting trip! I love reading about less touristy places and your experience is going to be incredibly valuable to other travellers visiting the area. I am glad you find your way to Mauritania without bigger problems.

  5. Swati & Sam January 11, 2017 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    The first thing that came to my mind after reading this was, I am never going here. I think you had an absolutely crazy trip. Were you scared handing over your passport overnight?

    • James Smith January 11, 2017 at 6:45 pm - Reply

      I didn’t have a choice really, it was like being held hostage for my passport. At least I had some cash to buy some food and pay for a room for the night!

  6. Ticking the Bucketlist January 12, 2017 at 7:27 am - Reply

    What an experience! I am not sure if I would want to go there….agree to what Swati has written above! Was there place to spend the night? And was Mauritana worth all this?

  7. Rashmi and Chalukya January 12, 2017 at 8:05 am - Reply

    This is incredible.. Staying all night on border luckily you were allowed to stay at the border hotel, going back all the way would have been a pain. Good that finally you got your visa stamped not to mention all the time wasted in these processes and taxi delays.

  8. Janine Good January 12, 2017 at 11:36 am - Reply

    I would have had an anxiety attack if I went through your experience. I don’t know if I would travel there myself, but it at least you survived the ordeal and can now write about it. I”m hoping you don’t have to deal with anything of this sort in the future. Getting your passport taken from you can be quite scary.

  9. kathy (from walkaboutwanderer.com) January 14, 2017 at 4:52 am - Reply

    What an exciting trip and worrying trip. I love hitch hiking. I am so glad you chose to do that. I just went to a little bit of the Sahara desert when I was in that area on an organised trip but I enjoy it more doing things unorganised and seeing what happens.

  10. Julie Cao September 21, 2017 at 4:08 am - Reply

    You should adapt a short novel or film a movie about this travel. I cannot believe these guys at the border held your passports overnight and let you stay at the border with some crazy people. I will be freak out, refuse to hand in my passport, run away and not enter Mauritania ever. Although it is not a good experience for you, it is a very interesting read, probably the best post so far I have read on your blog.

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