Hard to know where to start with all our adventures in Mauritnaia. We safely made it through into Western Sahara yesterday. The Moroccan flag fluttering in the wind was a welcome sight!

I will update as normal. so here goes! Pictures on Flickr.

Route taken – Atar to Chinguetti (via Ebnou pass), and back again! 106 miles – max temp 42c, and killer hot wind

Finally got some heavy duty sand ladders. Very nice ones and were happy we’ve finally got some for the remaining part of this journey in the sand and for future trips. Their the original steel PSP version. They weigh a ton! The Land Cruiser is very heavy so will suit that if we get stuck! Got them strapped down on the roof nicely.

The Ebnou pass, 10 miles or so from Atar opened in 1995 and cut the distance via the Amogjar pass by a third. The distance is now 81 km to Chinguetti and can be done in under 2 hours.

The route is piste, but is sealed when you start to climb over the pass.Once on top, we were on the Dahr Chinguertti escarpment. The rest of the piste, was very bumpy with many heavy corrugated stretches. Some piste flattening going on in places. The turban wearing drivers in waved us round.

We had a quick look around the old town but stopped for lunch at the auberge Caravan. After, we couldn’t find the phone anywhere and looked all over for it!

We got the owner to phone our friend in Atar, who helped us find the ladders. We weren’t sure if we should stay or head back to sort it out. We reckoned it could have fallen out when we were sorting the ladders out in Atar. Or even worse someone could have taken off with it!

As it was quite a easy journey back to Atar, so we decided to head back. We found our friend, but he got his back up when he thought we were accusing him or one of the others who was there earlier of taking it!

He calmed down , and we told him it was a good idea of us to come back in case it turned up here. Soon after a few other boys came up to us. One of them was a boy we had met in Nouakchott who wanted to act as a guide for us in Atar and the desert

They asked for my number and then called the phone. We had tried this in Chinguetii but couldn’t get  through. Out of the blue, someone answered. Couldn’t believe it, someone answered. A conversation in arabic started, and then one of them said, it was a taxi driver who does the run daily from Chinguetti to Atar.

He had found it on the piste on his way back to Atar and was nearing the centre of town

Al stopped a few times on the piste to sort the straps out that had come loose on the roof tent. The searing 40c desert wind was enough to distract him, so he must have knocked it to the ground when getting out of the Land Cruiser.

Our luck was in! Our friend (he went by the name of Tom Kurzze!) got even more shirty and said ‘You shouldn’t turn up saying that the phones was taken by someone’. He calmed down after a while and we started laughing about what had happened. He got a score out of it, when we decided to stay at his camp. It was too late to head back to Chinguetti.

Good on the eagle eye taxi driver who found it. Goes down as another near loss for the phone after the near drop down the loo on the Aswan to Waldi Halfa ferry from Egypt to Sudan! We gave the man who found it a CFA note we had in the vehicle from Mali which was no use to use now. He took it begrudgingly.

The day ended well. We took Mauritanian tea (mint tea but not as strong as they make it in Mali) with him and his friend at their camp and we chatted all evening. Al got to try on his boubou and we arranged for him to make us cous cous and camel meat for supper, Mauritanian’s staple meat.

He went off to get supplies and came back with water and dates, which he gave as a gift. the dates were made in the form of a bag with a handle. Made by threading string through them for you to pick off when hungry.

We will head back to Chinguetti. Looked amazing what we saw. Very atmospheric on the edge of the dunes.