five breathtaking natural sites in the Adrar Desert

Large open spaces, peaks with extravagant contours and horizons of endless dunes … The Mauritanian Sahara has an incredible beauty. The proof in five places.

Do you want to forget the cold and gray of winter? Good news: Sahara’s sun is waiting for you. Only 4h30 flight from Paris, the Adrar region is one of the most spectacular in the Mauritanian desert and this is the perfect time to travel there. Located northeast of the capital Nouakchott, it owes its name to the Adrar Plateau, a large sandstone massif that is the main relief in the country.

As soon as you land in Atar, you will be gripped by its steep mountains cut by deep gorges. Here the desert is anything but synonymous with monotony. Sand and stone combine to form breathtaking paintings. So head down the slopes of Adrar with our selection of emblematic sites and get ready: Mauritania will leave you amazed.

The Amogjar Pass, a movie set

The Amogjar Pass was taken by the old track leading from Atar to Chinguetti, at the top of the Adrar Plateau. Copyright Nora Schweitzer

It is no coincidence that the Amogjar Pass was chosen for the filming of the movie Fort Saganne directed by Alain Corneau in 1984 with Gérard Depardieu, Catherine Deneuve and Sophie Marceau on the bill. The course crosses a fabulous landscape of table mountains that stretch as far as the eye can see. In the distance you will see the highest peak of the Adrar, Mount Tinyagouri, which culminates at 815 meters. Along the way you can visit the remains of the fort, which is specially built for shooting purposes.

In the same area, do not miss the cave paintings of Agrour, discovered by Théodore Monod. Dated between 4,000 and 8,000 BC, they depict hunting and dancing scenes, including a magnificent, very well-preserved giraffe.

Our advice: The agrour site is monitored by a guard who will give you explanations about the paintings. Price for the visit: 100 MRU (2.5 €).

Zarga, multicolored relief

On the north side, Mount Zarga is stormed by an impressive dune. Copyright Nora Schweitzer

Imagine a mountain … that huge dunes cling to. Result: a strange massif, chaos of brown stones and blond sand colliding in the landscape. It owes its name precisely to this specificity: in Hassaniya, the language of the Moors, “zarga” means multicolored. In fact, it is a glacier moraine that is millions of years old. Dozens of kilometers long and culminating in about 700 meters, it can be explored from different sides. To the south, the site of Guelb Al-Rawi is home to beautiful cave paintings. You will see men disguised as animals to hunt, as well as party scenes.

Our advice: the northern end, called El-Atiq, lends itself well to an ascent. A long dune allows you to gently climb to the top. The ideal is to spend the night at the foot of the mountain. So you can go up until sunset or sunrise … or both if you are brave!

N’Tourvine Pass, an air of a Sahara western

The Dakhlet Bakkar area is known for its peaks sculpted by erosion. Copyright Nora Schweitzer

West of Zarga, the N’Tourvine Pass is one of the most impressive in the region. The road winds down through elegant plateaus of dark sandstone. The best time is at sunset when the rock assumes copper colors. For a moment, it feels like the American West. Just below, the site of Agrawa is an excellent place for bivuacking. The next day you can explore the N’Tezzent Gorge and then continue to Dakhlet Bakkar and its stunning tooth-shaped peaks. Here, erosion has sculpted figures beyond imagination.

Our advice: along the way you stop in the palm grove Sweiguia, where a small stream runs. The place is ideal for cooling off.

Vallée Blanche, the paradise of abundance

Vallée Blanche is home to important vegetation, especially many acacias. Copyright Nora Schweitzer

A huge boulevard of dunes surrounded by two impressive cliffs … As you cross the Vallée Blanche, you will be struck by an incredible impression of grandeur. Situated at the confluence of several rivers, this wadi is one of the largest in Adrar. During the rainy season, from June to August, the flow can be very important in case of rainfall. The name “white valley” comes from its very light sand because it is often washed away by rainwater. On both sides of the village of Toungad, the mountains of Chatou Kbir and Chatou Sghir can be climbed to enjoy breathtaking views of the valley.

Our advice: a few kilometers further on, another place offers one of the most beautiful panoramas in the region: the majestic Tifoujar Pass. It is reached by a hectic trail that climbs steeply up the mountain. Hold on tight, excitement guaranteed!

Amatlich, a sea of ​​dunes as far as the eye can see

Exploring the Amatlich dunes on foot is one of the most powerful experiences in the Adrar Desert. Copyright Nora Schweitzer

In the imagination of travelers, the Sahara is often associated with dune landscapes. If this postcard makes you dream, Amatlich will make the dream come true. This erg, which stretches for more than 400 kilometers to the gates of the capital Nouakchott, is one of the largest in Mauritania. Do not miss the site of Azoueiga, a colossal mountain of sand that rises to almost 200 meters. Take a deep breath before tackling it.

Our advice: if you have time, it is ideal to travel Amatlich at the slow pace of the camels. Several agencies can arrange camel rides for you: the animals carry your luggage and you walk next door. For two days or a week, this form of travel will immerse you in a true Sahara atmosphere.


Practical notebook

GO

If you want to plan your own itinerary, you can buy a flight from Point-Afrique, which charter a direct flight from Paris to Atar every week. Departure Saturday morning from Roissy CDG. Count around 600 € for the round trip and the 4h30 journey. The last flight of the season is scheduled for March 26th.

On site, renting a 4×4 with driver costs between 80 and 100 € / day. Add about 30 € / day for a guide’s services. You can order these services from Point-Afrique. Such. : 04 75 53 23 83.

If you prefer organized tours, you can book a 4×4 or camel hike with Point-Afrique or other agencies such as Allibert Trekking, Nomade Aventure, Huwans and Point-Voyages.

WHEN DO YOU GO?

The best period is from October to March. To avoid the heat, you should prefer the months of November to February. Temperatures are comfortable during the day (20 to 30 ° C) and nights can be cold (up to 5 ° C). A good sleeping bag is essential for camping. If you prefer to avoid freezing nights, it is best to travel in October or March. The days are warmer (25-35 ° C) and the nights are mild (around 15 ° C).

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