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THE GREAT RAILWAY BAZAAR

Looking for an authentic West African adventure? Travelling on the Mauritania Railway, which connects the port of Nouâdhibou with the mining town of Zouérat, is a journey you’ll never forget. Words and photographs by Mykolas Juodele
A bread seller watches the train as it approaches the village of Choum.

South of the endless dunes of Western Sahara lies Mauritania — a country the size of France and Germany put together, with a population of just 4 million. Poverty, almost non-existent infrastructure and several kidnappings in recent years make this one of the least visited countries in the region.

A group of armed soldiers with dogs greet me on the border with Western Sahara and search my backpack thoroughly. I wait impatiently as a rude customs officer sitting in a stifling room full of flies takes forever to stamp the 140-euro Mauritanian visa into my passport. I am surrounded by thousands of miles of empty desert. For a moment I forget why am I here. Oh, that’s right. The train.

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About Travel Africa

Essential Luangwa - our guide to one of Zambia's finest reserves • Secret South Africa • Why self-drive in Namibia? • Ethiopia's lost treasures • Beyond the Serengeti migration • Mauritania • Become a Kalahari Bushman • Uganda's adventure capital... and much more!