Journey to the Land of the Moors

Day 2. Transfer to the ancient city of Shingetti


All photos by the author

We drove four jeeps inland to the most famous city of Mauritania - Shingetti. For a long time the western part of Africa was called the Land of Shingetti. And the name Mauritania was given by the French.


800 kilometers of road, of which 500 km go on a flat, boring pancake landscape, where the eye is not really something to latch on. From time to time appear strange miserable buildings (it is difficult to call them houses), but they disappear as quickly as they appeared. Gradually, slumber envelopes the brain, and only the willpower and the memory that you are a heroic traveler, keeps you from sinking into a sweet sleep.


It is absolutely unclear how people survive here. There is no vegetation, no vegetable gardens, no water sources, no stores, no schools. There was nothing. Except for the occasional ubiquitous skinny goats and puny, timid camels. Suddenly a strange vision emerged - houses with pagoda-style roofs topped with cones. It was astonishing, for the houses looked like Buddhist structures. And then they disappeared and the endless unimpressive pancake began again.


After the dusty and noisy town of Athar, the road begins to climb sharply upward, climbing the mountains that had suddenly appeared. Brutal, gloomy, as if carved by the rough mighty hand of a giant. This road used to be very dangerous, and many people had died here. Drivers would drop off passengers who had to walk up the mountains, and they themselves would drive carefully along the precipitous road, risking their lives. They had paved it now, so we didn't have to walk. The views were bleak and stark.


A lonely house along the road.

After the town, the desert begins, but kind of unserious. It looks like there are dunes and barchans, but they are toy-like. The real desert begins further away, and these places are called "desert gates". We drove further to Shingetti through the sand with flat tires. At one point the drivers did a race, driving the cars up a high sand hill so we could see the sunset. Alas, it did not pierce. The sun quickly and as if bashfully dipped below the horizon, the sky darkened, the wind picked up, and that was the end of nature's spectacle.


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