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Medieval desert city

Oualata is the most beautiful city in Mauritania, fulfilling the travellers need for true differences. But getting here is awkward, you either hang around for one of the sparse planes going here, or you drive through the desert. Of course, this is what makes Oualata worth visiting: When all places on earth seem to be accessible on paved roads, isolation like the one for Oualata, is rare.

When you get here, there are two things making this part of your visit to Mauritania worth the whole journey. The houses here are decorated beyond most you'll see elsewhere in the Arab world. The women give ornamentation to the walls, making use of all materials found in this region, mainly gypsum and clay. Doors in wood are highly decorated too. Unfortunately less and less people keep on living in this part of town, filling up the dull "modern" quarters.
Here, beyond everything, resides a Koranic school famous all over the Muslim world. This is due to Oualata's position as one of the most renowned centres of Islamic scholarship in this part of the Sahara region. The school has space for not more than 20 students, and the waiting lists are turning longer and longer.

Eat and Sleep
Oualata has no form of accommodation, but camping is legal, and getting an invitation from a local family is not unheard of.

Overland transportation from Nema (90 km) weekly in conjunction with the weekly flights from Nouakchott.

Going Next
80 km south: Nema
400 km northwest: Tichit
700 km northwest: Tidjikja

By Tore Kjeilen