Trans Saharian overland trip from Morocco to the Gambia
One of the classic road trips on the African continent
On this Trans Saharian overland trip through the western coast of North Africa we will travel through Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal and end the expedition relaxing on the beaches of The Gambia. In Mauritania we will take the longest train in the world, in an exceptional adventure into the interior of the Sahara Desert that will take us to discover some of the most attractive places in Mauritania.
Dakhla, Western Sahara
Established by the Spanish in 1844 and formerly called Villa Cisneros, Dakhla is located just north of the Tropic of Cancer on a sand peninsula that extends 40 km from the main coast. It is a very lonely journey of 500 km from Laayoune to Dakhla (more than 1000 km from Agadir) through the infinite desert.
The iron train of Mauritania, the longest train in the world
The bay of Dakhla is a very special place of natural beauty, with its white sand dunes by the sea and its waters full of colorful kites of the kite surfers.
With almost 2.5 km of train length, the iron trains of Mauritania are among the longest in the world.
The distance goes between Zouerat, the largest city in the north of the country, known for its iron mining industry, and the port city of Nouadhibou in the west, with a total distance of 652 km.
The trip, which runs through the heart of the Sahara Desert can last up to 16 hours if the train is empty or up to 20 hours if the wagons are full.
The high daytime temperatures and the very low at nighttime complicate the trip, as does the dust produced by the more than 200 train cars, each with 84 tons of iron.
Chinguetti, one of the most attractive ancient caravan cities of the Sahara. We will visit the Le Ksar (Old City) walking through its sandy streets, we will approach to contemplate the 16th century stone mosque (there is no entrance for non-Muslims). And we can also visit one of the five interesting ancient libraries, which house ancient Islamic manuscripts.
We will make a 4x4 excursion to get to Ouadane.
Like Chinguetti, Oualata and Tichilt, Ouadane were founded in the 11th and 12th centuries, and were originally built to serve the important commercial caravan routes that began to cross the Sahara.
They include outstanding examples of settlements and were synonymous with cultural, social and economic life for many centuries. These shopping and religious centers became the home of Islamic culture.
Developed between the 12th and 16th centuries, the cities constitute a series of stages along the Tran-Saharan trade route with a well-preserved urban structure, and houses with densely populated courtyards in narrow streets around a mosque with a square minaret.
They are witnesses of a traditional lifestyle, centered on the nomadic culture of the populations of Western Sahara. Medieval cities preserve a specific protected urban morphology with narrow and winding lanes, houses built around central courtyards and an original decorative stone architecture. They also illustrate outstanding examples of the adaptation of urban life to the extreme climatic conditions of the desert, both in terms of construction methods and occupation of space and agricultural practices.
Oasis of Terjit, Mauritania
Located in the shadow of a geological fault in a deep canyon, the oasis of Terjit emerges as a paradise of vegetation in the middle of the desert, with fresh and drinkable water that emanates continuously from the rocks.
Saint Louis, Senegal
The city of Saint Louis in the north of Senegal (UNESCO) with its beautiful colorful colonial buildings, its relaxed atmosphere, a very attractive cultural offer and its magnificent natural surroundings make Saint Louis one of those places you will not want to leave.
It is the oldest city on the west African coast and was the capital of French West Africa until 1902 and the capital of Senegal and Mauritania until 1957.
You can see more about our last trans-Saharan route by clicking on the following link: