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What to do in Mauritania

Mauritania is small and a tad less popular than its African neighbors, but this doesn’t stop it from becoming a destination to explore the great outdoors. Tourist activities in Mauritania are more on sightseeing, exploration, and filling your head with loads of historic knowledge.

Many activities can be done in only a short period of time and are quite cheap, too, so tourists can definitely make the most out of their buck. Here is a list of some of the activities that tourists shouldn’t miss on their visit to Mauritania:

Try net fishing

Mauritania was originally a fishing village – and it still is.

Although most of the traditional fishermen use nets that they make themselves, there are already large commercial fishing boats and modern fishing equipment here as well.

To really get a feel of how it is to live a fisherman’s life, try to go to the smaller Mauritanian towns and talk to the locals, or just watch them do the fishing from afar.

Depending on your courage and charm, you might also ask some of the locals to let you experience fishing the traditional way – from creating your very own nets to the actual fishing in open seas.

After fishing, you can cook your catch on an open bonfire and eat it with some of the locals.

See the dolphin tribe

The dolphin tribe in Mauritania is one of the defining points of the country. Seen between the Nouakchott and Nouadhibou, this tribe lives alongside the dolphins, and no one really knows how long they have been doing this.

Every time the tribe goes fishing, they call in the dolphins; the fishermen simply cast their nets into shallow water, and the dolphins do the rest of the work, that is, drive fish into the net.

After harvesting the fish, the fishermen share their catch with the dolphins.

Due to an influx of tourists in the country, the percentage of catch has somehow decreased. Only a few tourists are allowed to hold the nets, and making unnecessary noise and scaring the dolphins away are strictly prohibited.

Drive on the sand dunes

Since Mauritania is a desert country like most African countries, sand dune driving is one of the popular tourist activities here. Sand off-road driving is usually done by professional sand dune drivers, since this is very different from regular driving.

Only 4×4 vehicles are used during this activity, and tourists can only ride at the backseat or the passenger seat. They are not allowed to drive the vehicle unless they have the appropriate experience.

One reason for this is that it is more exciting if the professional sand dune driver is the one who navigates the sand. There are also certain techniques in traversing the steep sand dunes.

Riding 4×4 on sand dunes is like riding a roller coaster, and those with weak hearts are not advised to do this. This ride is entirely safe, though. You just have to make sure that your driver is an experienced sand dune driver.

Go sightseeing

Mauritania is not much of an urban country, so when you visit, you should kiss all those high-end malls and stores goodbye. One of the popular tourist activities here is sightseeing.

Mother Nature as well as ancient ruins will truly take up most of your time. Many of the small towns in Mauritania are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, so they are really worth visiting.

These small towns were once important trade ports, and you would still find many of the ruins that showcase their glory.

Tourists from some of the prominent cities around the world also come here to see the sand dunes, the date trees, the mountain ranges, and Mother Nature in its simplest form. Apparently, no tall buildings or bright lights make up the cityscape.

During the tours, don’t forget to bring a hat or put on sun block, since the sun can be a little harsh on your skin. Do bring bottled water with you at all times, especially when visiting the smaller towns. Remember, you won’t find any big grocery stores there.


Shopping in Mauritania means going to the local markets and seeing local handicrafts.

Treat yourselves to paintings, silver, rugs, and a selection of spices. Most of the items here are cheap, which is why you don’t have to worry about running out of money.

However, work on your haggling skills. The locals tend to stereotype tourists as being rich people, so they might give you a price higher than the usual. Don’t be afraid to shoot the prices down radically. The vendors will surely tell you if the price you’re asking for is not possible – then again, you may be pleasantly surprised!