Maybe not as many as sand grains in the Sahara but the reasons to visit Mauritania are numerous. They say it is exactly here, in the multi-brown expanse of golden landscapes sculpted by wind, mellow oases dotted with Moorish tents and camels languidly crossing the desert, where you can savor the classic Sahara. This somewhat mysterious and little-visited West African country has, in fact, everything one could look for on the Black Continent itinerary. Desert wilderness, dramatic scenery and a touch of culture are an integral part of the package. Mauritania boasts quite a few highlights, the Adrar Plateau being an undisputed jewel in the country's crown. Its ancient settlements of Chinguetti, the seventh holiest city of Islam, and Ouadâne, an important trading center of the Middle Ages, tell stories of days gone by and illustrate them best with ancient manuscripts to be found in the local libraries, glorious architecture and exotic settings. Visit and you'll know why their World Heritage Site status is well-earned.
Mauritania is not a comfortable destination if you think of temperature. The mercury rises up to a scorching level of more than 50 degrees here. OK in an air-conditioned holiday resort, not OK if you want to do some sights. Vast expense of the territory is not hospitable and it will very often require a 4x4 help to get around. No sweat, your effort shall be rewarded with 800-kilometer-long virginal coastline and no one to disturb the sight. The tranquility continues for miles, much of it protected by Parc National du Banc d'Arguin, a bird-watcher's paradise. But Mauritania is not solely about grandiose dunes and nature. The historical and human element are equally important here. Its social fabric, in which the Moorish Muslim ingredient intertwines with black African thread, has an intricate appeal and a promise of a vibrant experience.