Four days heading south, across the desert. No one in sight for hours, sleeping in the middle of nowhere. At sunset, we reach the end of the track. People arrive, set up their tents. After dinner, time to hang out together. I keep fond memories of these nights in the Sahara desert, when everybody slept and I walked away from the campsite and stayed there, in silence, enjoying the absolutely nothingness of our existence compared to the immensity that opened up in front of me, in the biggest desert in our known world.
After the road turns right, the amazing view over the bay of Dakhla opens up in front of our eyes. Arriving in Dakhla is always a special moment in our trans-saharan expeditions. Time to relax and to prepare the second half of the adventure. We only stay half day there, but the desire to stay more is strong. Dakhla is where desert dunes meet the ocean, where strong winds blow, where sand storms turn to bright sunny days. Pure contrasts. But, one more year: we’re sorry, Dakhla, we must leave. See you soon, dunes of the ocean!
Our bivouac is placed next to the big dune at the “Point Kilométrique 55” (PK55) in the main road from the border to Nouakchott, just after crossing the railway. The train can be seen twice a day: from Zerouat, in the middle of the Sahara Desert, it heads west to the port of Nouadhibou and comes back. “Le Train du désert“ can be seen from the highest point of the dune that gives us shelter every time we set up our campsite here. From the top of the dune, we can hear it coming before we can even see it. As the train starts to appear, Sun starts setting. Figure out how long this train is by the fact that, when we say goodbye to the last wagon, Sun is no longer visible in the horizon. Our firsts nights in Mauritania are always magical, in PK55.
Another day in Mauritania
Deep in the desert, a new day starts in Mauritania and it means adventure. The vast Sahara deserts turns orange. Rocky mountains are dark brown. Some of the most incredible landscapes of the Sahara desert are here, next to the ancient cities of Ouadane, Atar and Chinguetti. There’s one special place called Guelb er Richat, “The Eye of Sahara”. We used to drive to the very center, crossing its multiple rings. There’s absolutely nothing here. No sound, no people, no animals… Nothing. Crossing the Vallé Blanche, the intense red sunsets in the golden dunes of Akjout, the beach from Nouamghar to Nouakchott… It’s just another day in Mauritania.
Entering Nouackhott, the capital built in the middle of nowhere next to a dune, meant experimenting the chaos. This newborn city, built in the very middle of the country due to political correctness, was originally build with a plan. But real life always takes control. We always love arriving in Nouakchott: in some way, it’s like the end of the Saharan part of the expedition. In the south of Nouakchott starts the sahel, and everything changes fast. With its chaos, Nouakchott defines a new stage.
Senegal welcomes us with music, dances and lots of happy people constantly smiling. The vibes entering Senegal are always great, specially in Saint Louis, a former colonial city that mixes its historical legacy with the traditional african way of life. Its historical center, the iconic iron bridge, its nightlife, the port full of traditional multi-coloured fishing boats… In Sant Louis we begin to savour the end of the trans-Saharan adventure.
Getting to the Lac Rose in Dakar is a dream for many overlanders and aventure seekers, after having crossed the Sahara desert from north to south. The last kilometres, along the coastline, in the beach, are magical. The end is close, the surroundings are unique… And when we get to the finish line, the party just pops up. We’ve done it! A dream comes true.