Morocco – Mauretania – Mali 2010
The goal was to get to Senegal for a beer. Of course it didn’t go through in the meantime and we got to the desired beer in Mali. It took us a bit more than two weeks for the whole trip. The budget was limited and the total cost in the end was around € 750 (plane, transport, food, sleep, visas, …). We did 5,500 kilometers to Africa and back. We drove about 8,000 kilometers across Africa. This included old Mercedes taxis, trains (ride also on top of the wagon), buses (no air conditioning for 36 hours), Toyota pickups that broke down. We were probably on some kind of transportation 50% of the time. We slept in a cheap hostels or on means of transportation and once even with a local people. We ate along the way, some grilled things, kebabs, fish, … It was nice but different everywhere. What surprised me the most was Mauritania, about which I knew little before. This country, which is 90% sand had two highlights along the way, the longest train composition with the two of us at the top of the train and the fish market. The journey was certainly more than strenuous but worthwhile because of the adventures and memories that remained.
Two days before the trip there was a big birthday party where there were about 60 people. This was followed by a day when it was necessary to return and tidy up the party place and get some rest before the trip.
Table of Contents
I woke up at 6 AM after 5 hours of sleep, not feeling too Olympic. While Alenka stood me up I took a cab (6 €) to train station. On the way there we picked up Boštjan aka Bob at market Moste. Bought ticket for the train back from Venice (25 €). At kiosk bought some cigarettes and magazine 12€. Grabbed Cheeseburger at Mc Donald’s 1€. Next was a ride with DRD van to Treviso 27€. We started with 15-minute delay. We were cramped in our seat with a lack of space. To the airport with another bus. Airport was bit confusing, also one could tell which gate was for our destination. Finally, flight with AirArabia 87 € at 15:00. While airplane was not full we moved back and stretched over multiple seats. Coca Cola was 2€. Arrived in rainy Casablanca at 17:30 local time (GMT+0). We took train 75 MAD from airport to Rabat, had to change once. The train station was in the renovation. Took 4000 MAD on ATM. On foot, we moved to a hotel in Medina 60 MAD. We had a colorful room, a group toilet, and no shower. Went for a short walk before reading Lonely planet and sleep.
Morning routine, getting up, washing. I eat a homemade sandwich around 9am.
Tea and coffee cost 16 dh. We are going to make photosfor the visa 8x – 25 dh and copies of the passport 4x – 4 dh. By taxi to the Mauritanian Embassy 20 dh. We bought a double entry visa, 510 dh. In the crowd, I answered a call from work, the reason was the monitor and grumbling around the equipment? By taxi to the bus station 20 dh, change of money again 100 € – 1100 dh. The bus ticket to Dakhla is 570 dh. Another taxi this time to the hotel, where we cleaned up, check out and left our luggage.
Something to eat 51 dh. We took a walk in the time available. On the walk we saw a cemetery, the coast, a fortress, small blue streets, gardens, a medina.
Another break with tea / coffee 15 dh. Again on the taxi back after picking the visa 20 dh. After waiting in the crowd, back to the city – taxi 15 dh. We treat ourselves to tea and desserts for 48 dh.
The last wandering around the city, buying bananas at the market, eating mini burgers 16 dh. We return to the hotel for our luggage. We used a public shower 9 dh. The taxi took us to the station, 25 dh, we had to walk to the cmt bus, which is delayed. Tea on the machine is 3 dh, surcharge for luggage is 3dh. The bus itself was solid, I even fell asleep a bit during the night, I lay down over the seats.
We arrived in Agadir at 7:00, followed by a walk around the city. We saw big differences here. At first we passed barracks, stray dogs and dead chickens.
We end up at the beach where the resorts are nicely arranged. It was raining outside and it was 20 degrees. We retreated to the bar for tea and pancakes 12 dh. It was time to leave and we take a taxi to the bus. Again the luggage costs 3 dh. This time we were on the bus for 20 hours.
At one of the intermediate stops we ate some fish and olives 35 dh. Cigarettes cost 32 dh. In between, driving almost all day, the weather was very changeable. We experienced everything from rain, hail, sun, cold, … In the meantime, we are constantly stopped due to various military controls.
Dakhla – walk, search for a taxi and the necessary vaccination for yellow fever for Mauritania and Senegal, panic (bob forgot to mention, he had already been vaccinated). We were looking for a clinic who could vaccinate me. Boško went to the hotel and the first hospital, gave the address for the next one, drank coffee and tea, looked for the next one, among vaccinated the children, it was not ok, went back to the first hospital, then to the third hospital, they did not have yellow fever vaccine, they wanted to sell a malaria vaccine that does not exist.
Eventually without being vaccinated we went to look for a taxi for the trip to Nouadhibou, Mauritania. 450 dh per person after bargaining. Hostel 6000 oug (2x), exchanged for 350 x 20 eur.
We ate for 820 oug – 2.5 eur, Omar took us. We bought bananas and went to the hostel – exchanged 50 euros. On a slow internet and a strange keyboard (200 oug hour).
Coca cola, American Legend 120×2 cigarettes purchased from street. There is no beer to buy anywhere. We returned to the hostel, followed by a shower and sleep.
Waking up at 6am, packing, bathroom, departure to the bus station. Negotiations again and got the price 4500 oug with luggage, 6 passengers in an old Mercedes. Me and Boško are sitting in one seat in the front, I can’t feel my buttocks on the left side.
In between on the way military controls checked us up, a rotation among the passengers, one change and I go back to the front seat, this time easier to survive. After arriving in Nouakchott, first to the Senegalese embassy by taxi. We would wait for the visa until Monday, we were disappointed. We bought a drink. Because the seller made a mistake, he comes after us and returns the change to us. We took OK hostel, got the information there, the other guests had a bad experience on the way, ž. We went out again. This time to the fish market. We had a problem with taxi – drove to the big market for 500 oug.
Another taxi was needed to get to the real fish market. Because I was taking pictures, locals were pissed off and I stopped. Otherwise, this market is a really nice thing to see. At sunset, fishermen pull colorful boats ashore and sing along.
Little homeless kids pick up fallen fish and already sold them. Slowly back to the hostel. In the meantime, we tried to change money. The little kids tried to deceive us 3x and we left. The hostel made exchang at the rate of 355 oug for €. We settled the bill at the hostel and went to the SONEF station, a taxi of 400 oug in one direction. Tickets to Bamako are 15,000 oug.
We went back, something else appeared on the way. On the arrival to the hostel, there is a mouse in our room. Followed by shower and sleep.
Getting up early at 5am. We’re at the station at 6 o’clock. We quarreled with the taxi driver, 1300 oug, departure at 7h, bus almost 36h. After 4 hours, changed the tires, which lasts 1 hour. We had almost no food with us. We had biscuits, Coca Cola and water. In the meantime, there are a lot of controls on the way. The last part to the border is a terrible road. We changed to taxi and crossed the border. We bought a short-term visa at a poor exchange rate from a customs officer who had pockets full of cash in various currencies. He rejects one toddler at the border because he didn’t have enough to pay. In the meantime, we have been waiting at the border for a long time. On this long drive, we met Cisee, who was a footballer in Mauritania.
Since he was not paid, he decided to return home. In Bamako we stayed with him at his sister’s. The house was in the suburbs, full of children and unfinished. After washing, we went for a walk around the city. We finally got to the beer. We had kebabs for dinner. He took his portion home and we later saw him sharing it with the family. We got a little lost in the city and bought cigarettes, no one knows the city, we saw a couple of white people.
We went back to sleep, he gaves us his ‘bed’ or 2 cm mattress on the floor and he falls asleep on the floor next to us. At night, I am awakened by a mouse jumping around.
Getting up again at 5am. Packing up and we’re at the station at 6am, stomach problems. Departure from the station at 7am. This time we are on the bus ‘only’ 33h. More controls on return, we had few stops, during prayer time.
In the meantime we ran out of water and we drank theirs. From the yellow bucket from the only scoop where things floated inside. Fortunately, no consequences. Otherwise it was on the way similar to the opposite direction, maybe even hotter.
Immediately upon arrival in Nouakchott we bought water and run to the station for bus to Atar. The start was at 5 pm, this time the ride lasted just under 6 hours.
In between, for lunch sandwiches and pastries and water 2100 oug. On arrival we searched in the dark for the Bab Sahara hostel, finally found, owned by the old hippies, drank some cognac, ž, shower and sleep.
I got up around 8:30, the first slightly longer sleep, bathroom, washing, rest, change for 360 x 80 €.
Walk around the city, shopping at the market, lunch (rice with vegetables, fish, water, cocacola).
Some weird game in the evening, I even won one but didn’t buy it and they were offended.
With a Toyota jeep, we head to the train station in the desert, Choum. They equiped us with turbans. after about a third of the way, the car stops. They open the hood and fixed something up. We drove on soon. After the second third of the way, the car stoped again. This time the car didn’t start again.
The driver got into the shadow of the only tree and made us tea while we waited for the next vehicle. With another vehicle we reached our destination, all dusty and tired from riding in the open trunk. We crawled into the shadows and waited. In the evening, the sky filled with stars because there is no light pollution
At night, the train arrived and people run towards the wagons from all over. With Boško, we chose one in the middle and climb on it. The wagon is a full of iron ore sand. We crawled with our things in the bivouac bag we brought along. The reason is because it blows constantly and also gets cold at night. We bury ourselves a little more and fall asleep after a while. We woke up at sunrise, really nice view.
After a few hours, the train stopped again. When people got off from other wagons down the ladder we started to worry. The locomotive disconnected. In a panic, we collect our stuff and run to the next train. We climbed onto one of the wagons where the others were alredy there. We climbed in with other 10-20 people, there are also chickens.
The next stop in Nouadibu. We found accommodation to sleep.
The next morning we set off from Nouadibu to Morocco. Again, the border crossing is interesting. Arrived to Agadir / Dakhla in the evening?
The last bus trip to Casablanca. In the evening we go to the city, the mosque.
We got up in the morning and head to the airport. In the morning we fly from Morocco to Treviso with AirArabia.
From the airport we took the train to Venice where we had 6 hours to wait for the train to get home. Of course we are there just in time for the carnival. We witnessed the endless contrast between the desert in Africa and the playful crowds in Venice within a couple of hours.
We made a circle around the basic sights, the square, the bridge, … In between, the masked people throwed confetti at us. We found a cheap pizzeria. Before the train arrived, we returned to the train station and sat there until it was time for our train.
In the early morning hours we arrived in Ljubljana at the railway station. And this is the end of a demanding but interesting journey.