Travel to Nouadhibou – Mauritania’s Second City

Formerly known as Port-Étienne, Nouadhibou, is the second largest city in Mauritania and serves as the country’s commercial centre. There is little to offer for travellers, other than a place to rest, eat and stock up on supplies before the next leg of a Saharan adventure. Situated on a 40-mile peninsula or headland called Ras Nouadhibou (formerly Cap Blanc), Nouadhibou is less than a mile from the border with Western Sahara.

The major economic activity is fishing. The Atlantic waters in the region are amongst the richest fishing grounds in the world. However, the largest industry is iron ore processing which is transported by train from the interior mining towns of Zouérat and Fdérik. These freight trains can be as much as 3 km long – reputedly the longest in the world. This unique railway also carries passengers and is a real adventure for those looking for a ride.

The city itself is divided into four major areas: the city centre, including the airport, Numerowatt to the north, the main residential area, Consado to the south, a dormitory town for Port Minéralier, in the far south, from which iron ore mined in Zouerat is exported.

Attractions in Nouadhibou include Cap Blanc, the Table Remarquable, several markets, a ships’ graveyard and the chance to spot Mediterranean monk seals.

Head for the fine beach at Cap Blanc and laze in the shadow of a beached ship.

Taxis are widely available though private transport is advisable for exploration.

  • Visit Nouadhibou’s central market and barter for silver and cloth, or have some favourite clothes copied by a tailor.
  • Check out ‘Table Remarquable’ – a geological formation close to the town centre.
  • Journey to nearby Cap Blanc and witness an amazing rusting beached ship.


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