I decided to visit Mauritania in December 2018. This is a country I wanted to go to see for a long time and it seemed that – after a period of ten years or so when it was considered too dangerous to go – Mauritania was again safe to visit.
Although not many airlines fly to Mauritania, finding the best route from my home airport Keflavík, Iceland to Nouakchott offered a great number of combinations. Only Air France flies from mainland Europe, and while it seems to be the obvious choice, the drawbacks are a red-eye return flight and an overpriced business class. Turkish also flies from Istanbul but it’s a long detour and the flight times are not very convenient. Royal Air Maroc flies daily from Casablanca with good connections for Europe, and the return flight is in the morning, not at night. Both economy and business class seem to be reasonably good, but the latter is quite expensive, although not as much as Air France. Other airlines flying to Nouakchott include Air Algérie and Tunisair but they fly only a few times a week using uncomfortable aircrafts and short red-eye return flights – not the best options for me. Mauritania Airlines flies from Casablanca – would have been interesting to try. Eventually I flew with Bintar Canarias from Las Palmas – this airline has good reviews, reasonable prices and the schedules suited me. My return flight was with Royal Air Maroc as I had to go anyway to Morocco for work right after my stay in Mauritania.
I stayed only a short time in Las Palmas having dinner with friends and sleeping at a hotel in Santa Brigida.
Las Palmas airport is really large and not crowded, although it has many flights:
There were only a few people at check-in
On my way to security
There’s also a lot of space airside
A next flight to Banjul? A very good idea!
Passport control is only a short distance before the boarding gates to destinations such as Dakar or Nouakchott
Boarding was by bus. Binter has many ATR’s in its fleet
But our flight to Nouakchott was by one of the few Bombardier CRJ100’s.
I purchased seat 18D for an additional 12 € - the legroom was really huge!
The cabin has a single-class 2+2 configuration.
We took off on time at 11.50 with beautiful views
The on-board magazine
The funny thing that this is both a short-haul flight (less than two hours) but it’s also an intercontinental flight (between Europe and Africa). By the way, do you know which one is the shortest intercontinental flight in the world? If yes, please write it as a comment.
Catering was absolutely fantastic for a less-than-two-hours flight in economy class: a sandwich, salted and sweet biscuits, salmon paté, cheese cream, coke, water and tea were offered. I don’t remember when I got anything similar in a short-haul economy flight.
We landed at 13.25 and we were at the bridge at 13.30, exactly according to schedule. Sorry, no photos of the airport.
The terminal itself is modern, large, clean, and clearly underused.
Citizens of any country can now get a visa on arrival for 55 €. There were only about eight people on the plane who needed a visa (the others were Mauritanian citizens or foreigners living in the country); we were almost the last in the queue and we had our visa about 40 minutes after landing.
Mauritania is a country which has virtually no tourists at all between 2007 and 2017 but now it seems to be safe again to visit.
Nouakchott does not have many sights but the return of the fishermen is clearly very spectacular
The main sights in the countryside. The country is huge, 1,030,000 km2, but the population is only about 3 million people, most of whom live in Nouakchott. To give you an idea about how few people live in the countryside: there’s a distance of 440 kms between Nouakchott and the town of Atar, and there’s only one small dusty village between the two. The road is however good.
The nature is beautiful: this is the real Sahara with sand dunes and many oases.
Solar panels are used a lot to produce electricity, both in the capital city and some of the remotest oasis villages with only a few houses
Our accommodation near Atar
There’s a good dirt road from Atar further to the Sahara.
Ouadane, a fascinating ruined oasis city
To go from Ouadane to Chinguetti, you need to travel literally through the sand dunes. Our driver was amazing not only for his driving skills in the desert and for his ability to find the right direction, but also for his very quiet personality.
The only small lake we found during the whole trip
Chinguetti, an absolutely amazing historical town in the Sahara.
Thank you for reading my flight report and the bonus about Mauritania. Please feel free to comment!
Gran Canaria Island - LPA
Nouakchott - NKC
Binter offers a fantastic service on economy for such a short flight.
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