Bathed by the Atlantic Ocean and a few kilometers from the dunes of the Sahara, Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, has experienced a very strong expansion. Modern, this mushrooming city was built on a quasi-desert area. And even if it is not the economic capital of the country, it holds some treasures not to be missed. Here are 5 things to do in Nouakchott.
1 – The mosques of Nouakchott
Did you know that the capital of Mauritania is full of several hundred mosques? In a city that continues to grow, they flourish in all neighborhoods. Two of them stand out: the “Moroccan” and the “Saudi”. The first one, by its architecture, reminds the Koutoubia of Marrakech. The second, financed by Saudi Arabia, is more luxurious and has imposing minarets. When you visit the site, you may be struck by the contrast between this sumptuous building and the nearby kébbés (slums).
2 – The fish market of Nouakchott
Another thing to do in Nouakchott: the “fish market“. Immerse yourself in the heart of local life, by going to see the many fishermen who animate the coast. The cargoes of fish arrive, the colorful boats are lined up and the carts pulled by donkeys make the transfers. Direction the fish market! A concrete building, less attractive, where the stalls are impressive and the exchanges fuse. A unique experience.
3 – The National Museum of Nouakchott
Travelling in the past… That’s one thing to do in Nouakchott! The National Museum of Nouakchott exhibits art objects, archaeological collections and photos, revealing the way of life of the ancient populations of Mauritania. You will see ancient musical instruments, medicinal plants, traditional habitats… And good news, the museum is open 7 days a week!
4 – The Ksar, the historic district of the capital
Geographical center of Nouakchott, the Ksar has more than 60 000 inhabitants. Described as a “beautiful district”, it is famous for its old fort, its embassies and its presidential palace. The development of roads all around the Ksar makes it a place of mixing. Several languages are spoken, from Wolof to Pular and Soninke. A must-see during a stay in Nouakchott!
5 – The National Park of Arguin Bank
A few kilometers from Nouakchott, along the Atlantic coast, extends a nature reserve of 12,000 km ². It is the National Park of Arguin Bank. This wild space, formed by sand dunes and mangroves, is home to a multitude of animals. Migratory birds are numerous, as well as dolphins, whales, orcas and sea turtles. The vegetation is not to be outdone, with sublime apple trees of Sodom, fig trees and acacia trees. A jewel of West African nature, the park was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1989.