Tinweich Camel Market
A short 20 minute drive from Nouakchott and you'll reach the largest Camel Market on the West Coast of Africa. Tinweich Camel Market is where all of the local camel traders gather twice a week. It's a busy spot with many buyers travelling the length of the country, as well as road tripping from neighbouring countries. Very amusing to watch the haggling between buyers and sellers, as well as improving your own knowledge. I had no idea so many factors were taken into consideration when assessing the value of a camel.
In the centre of Nouakchott is Khaimah Tower (also known as QNB Bank), which has a small cafe on the upper level. This is a great spot to get an overview of the city, a few local landmarks, and panoramic photos. I was pleasantly surprised by green areas within the city itself! I know many within the travel community like to head up the tallest tower in each country, so I can verify this is the best you'll get in Mauritania.
Port Des Peches
There's a daily local fish market at the port in Nouakchott, which is a great spot to go and people watch. Whether you go early morning to watch the fishermen reel in their catch, or at the end of the day when the locals are trying to grab a last minute bargain, the whole place has a real buzz about it. The port is directly on the beach, so easily reachable during your time in Nouakchott. This is a thriving industry that provides much needed income to the locals.
Terjit Desert Oasis
For a country that's is vastly desert, there are a few green tranquil spots, and Terjit is one of them. It's a 6 hour drive spanning 400km from Nouakchott, but is technically "en route" for majority of itineraries. Terjit is a Desert Oasis and a beautiful spot to camp overnight, with local campsites available. There's a sense of peace and around this place, but then there's also hiking trails through lush greenery, with panoramic views on the mountain tops, combined with great star gazing at night.
Markets of Atar
A one hour drive from Terjit will bring you to Atar. The drive is very picturesque with winding roads through the desert, but Atar itself is simply just a stop off point to re-fuel and pick up local supplies from the markets. If the iron ore train ride is on your itinerary, then this is by far the best spot for you to pick up food and blankets. Like many others, I enjoy photography, and found this to be a perfect spot to photograph the locals.
Iron Ore Train Journey
In my opinion, the true highlight of Mauritania is the Iron Ore Train Journey. This truly was the adventure of a lifetime. A 14 hour train journey across the Sahara, with nothing but vast empty desert in every direction. It's definitely not a comfortable ride, as you're essentially hitching a ride on a train with the sole purpose of transporting iron ore to the coast. The reward is a great sense of adventure, combined with a breathtaking Sahara sunrise. Number one tip... pack your ski goggles!
Choum If you're riding the iron ore train "fully loaded" then your start point will be Choum. For me, this was the most enjoyable part of the trip in terms of "local interaction". You may have a lengthy wait in Choum, as the trains don't exactly operate on time, but there's a handful of stores and waiting room areas to chill. The locals don't see too many tourists, so please spend time interacting. I purchases some footballs from a local store and organised a match, as well as following the train tracks to find some great abandoned carriages.
Casablu Hotel is a great hotel choice in the centre of Nouakchott to use as a starting point upon a likely arrival into Nouakchott Airport. The rooms are comfortable, the wifi is good, and the restaurant offers a decent standard of food in a country that isn't exactly famed for fine dining.
There's a local restaurant in Nouakchott called 'Djeinaba', which has been open for many years. It's locally run by an elderly lady who's regarded as a local celebrity based on the delicious cuisine she serves. Most locals will be able to point you in the right direction of this restaurant. Two points worth noting - The camel stew is a winner, and the restaurant closes early around 3pm.
I worked alongside Hademine at Time4Mauritania when piecing together my itinerary and can 100% recommend his services. Fast response time, organised, speaks great English, and charges a fair price. From the moment we were greeted at the airport, right the way to our departure flight, it really was a pleasure. You can reach Hademine via Whatsapp on +22 248 175553.