The Sahara Desert meets some of the world’s most pristine coastline along the Atlantic Ocean in Mauritania. From the rocky Adrar Desert to endless deserted beaches, much of Mauritania has remained unchanged for centuries, and few other destinations offer so much space to truly get away from it all.

Mauritania’s capital and largest city is the fishing port of Nouakchott, where fishermen haul their daily catches on colourful canoes. Nouakchott is also filled with markets selling traditional souvenirs like silver jewellery and camel wool rugs, and beaches where visitors may try surf-casting. Between Nouakchott and Mauritania’s other main fishing community of Nouadhibou lies the Banc d’Arguin National Park, where birds outnumber humans by the thousands along 754kms of unspoiled coastline.

Aioun’s rock formations and the ancient caravan town of Chinguetti are just two of the unique treasures buried in the rocky sand dunes of Mauritania’s Adrar Desert. Chinguetti’s 13th century buildings and spectacular desert backdrop remain much as they were during the city’s status as the capital of the Moors.

Mauritania’s accommodation ranges from luxury hotels like Nouakchott’s Novotel and Hotel Mercure, where visitors are expected to pay European rates, to invitations to spend the night at homes of friendly locals in rural areas on foam mattresses next to animals.

Nouakchott International Airport is Mauritania’s largest and receives frequent flights from Paris, as well as from several west and north African destinations. Mauritania’s only train, known as the iron ore hopper, is considered the world’s longest at two kilometres and more than 150 cars. Visitors arriving to Mauritania from countries considered yellow fever endemic zones must provide vaccination certificates.