Mauritanian Hospitality

Many of our friends and family had expressed concern when they heard Mauritania was to feature on part of our route. Four French tourists had been killed there in late December. This attack precipitated the cancellation of the Dakar rally. The Israeli embassy was later bombed and there were reports of another French tourist being murdered close to the border as we were in Western Sahara.

Sadly it would seem that most people have decided to heed their friends advice and skip the place entirely. Apart from other overlanders like ourselves the country is void of tourists. This is a shame as Mauritania and its people are pure gold and those skipping the country are missing out on a rare gem.

While in Mauritania we were treated with great hospitality. The guy who ran our hotel in Atar, Bouha, went to great effort to keep us topped up with tea. This is no small thing. Making tea in Mauritania is an art form and a time consuming activity to boot. Bouha also invited us to his family home and cooked us up a great cous cous. This kind of hospitality was very unexpectedly extended to us again by the Mauritanian border guards at Diama. Normally the border guards are your enemy. Hassle is quite often their specialty and they tend to dish this out in large quantities. We saw this in great effect at Rosso where we were held for two hours as the police attempted to scam us. Rosso has been rated as the worst border crossing in Africa hence our attempt to avoid it. The Diama guys however invited us in for a great meal and even gave us a room at their border post for the night.

The African surfers recently put up a post which included a Moroccan quote which translates to: “Those who do not travel do not know the good of men”. I’d never heard the quote before but its meaning I have come to know as this trip has unfolded.


  1. Hey guys

    It’s only today that I have finally gotten around to reading your stories and looking at the pictures. Pretty amazing to look at on a 22” monitor so I can only imagine how good it looks with your own
    eyes. I’ll be checking in you your guys more often from now on. Ride safely and live dangerously!
    the Dave G

  2. Can you give us an update on what the score is now on the falling-off-the-bike count?

  3. Wow, what impressing photographs! I can imagine it must be amazing to be in the middle of nowhere and then finding such a nice and beautiful little oasis… i am jealous – want to be there also 😉

    take care

  4. I don’t know how you can handle that heat with those MC dresses! Your blood must boil!

  5. Hey Matias!

    The heat isn’t too bad in our MX gear as they are fully ventilated and as long as we are moving we can stay cool, though above about 40 degrees C it still feels like riding through a wall of hot air. At this point we have to just sweat it out!

    Great that you are following the blog!

  6. Phil!

    In reply to the falling off the bike count I honestly don’t know now… I think Keith is the clear winner on both the bike drops and the bike crashes count!

    Still he isn’t really dropping it much now, on tarmac almost never and off-roading he will occasionally drop the bike by stopping in a bad spot – like half way up the side of a sand dune!

    It’s all good craic though!

  7. Ahoy there Sailors,

    Glad you handsome devils are doing so well on the road. Monsiuer Lynch, before you got your carnivorous, salivating chops into that lamb- Did you hesitate for a moment and think about it in the flush of youth and innocence, bouncing around the green grass gently, a cuddly harmless creature full of love and affection,….and wool? Before lola the lamb was brutally slaughtered to satiate your blood-thirsty hunger? No, ya didn’t. Shame on you Monsieur, gentle, veggie Keith has died, and in his place…a meat-scoffing monster. No abrakebabra for you Sir. It’s a travesty.

  8. Keith, The Duke tells me you want to make a triumphant return to Vienna, bike or no bike. Our plans are to fly to Munich from Dublin on 7th June (early flight), returning on 14th June (late flight). Accomodation is already sorted, we have a 8 bed dorm booked, only 4-5 lads coming so far. We’ll be staying in Klagenfurt for the week getting there and back by train, making a day trip to Innsbruck along the way. We have tickets to three games: Germany-Croatia, Germany-Poland, Spain-Russia. Trip looks cool. On yer bike.

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