desert mountain adrar mauritania

The Sahara in Searing Summer – Mauritania

Nouakchott to Atar - 2007

Amid a blistering Saharan summer, I traveled across the Adrar Plateau of northern Mauritania.

The only transportation was hitching, or a shared taxi that squeezed in 6 or 7 passengers into an aging Mercedes Benz.

collage of desert road scenes mauritania
Early morning on the outskirts of Nouakchott.

I shot most of these images from the moving taxi (out the front window once I’d cleaned the dust from the windscreen with water and tissue).

Occasionally, we stopped at a desert road settlement.

Sometimes at police checkpoints, where they demanded my passport.

traveling the sahara in summer in Mauritania
“On the – DESERT – road.”

My destination in Adrar was the regional capital of Atar.

It was a long, hot, dusty journey; baking by 8 AM (in the late-40 celsius).

sahara desert village adrar mauritania
We stopped at this small village store for drinks on route to Atar.

One male passenger droned on the entire 6 hours—to the others in Arabic.

Amid this endless rant, all I could make out were the words: Hamas, Israel, America, Iran, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, Iraq, Salman Rushdie.

village street scenes adrar plateau mauritania
Scenes from that village stop: LEFT: boy inside store. RIGHT: in the heat outside.

This desert journey was just part of my goal – which was further north, traveling to the isolated, ancient town of Chinguetti.

The 7th holiest place in Islam.


young muslim woman portrait mauritania
Young woman who came into the store.
Police checkpoint on the Adrar Plateau in northern Mauritania.
Police checkpoint on the Adrar Plateau in northern Mauritania.
inside shared taxi to atar mauritania
MRP on route to Atar (the masked “ranter” seated behind).
sahara desert peak scorchingly scenic
The Sahara: a scorchingly scenic desert of jaw-dropping beauty.

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