Mauritanian Airlines, travels to Bamako, Dakar, Abidjan, and Nouadhibou from Nouakchott International Airport (IATA: NKC). It also gets Air Algérie and Air France flights from Algiers and Paris, respectively. Tunisair, Senegul Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, and CanaryFly all have flights to Tunis, Senegal Airlines to Dakar, Turkish Airlines to Istanbul, Royal Air Maroc to Casablanca, and CanaryFly to Gran Canaria.
Western Sahara, Mali, and Senegal all have open road borders with Mauritania. These borders are accessible by private automobile or bicycle, although the first two are very hazardous.
Near Nouadhibou, the route from the Western Sahara to Morocco enters the country. The route is paved all the way to the Moroccan border station in Fort Guerguarat, where a 7-kilometer stretch of winding, rocky, but straight pistes leads to the Mauritanian border, where the tarred road resumes. Despite the ease of driving, caution should be used while leaving the well-worn pistes between the two border stations, since the region is a minefield. Once you reach the tar on the Mauritanian side, the risk remains, and the region is not considered mine-free until you cross the railway line.
The procedures for crossing the border are simple. Transit visas, which are good for three days, are no longer available at the border, but this may change in the future. At the border, there is a bureau de change, a car insurance agency, and a slew of optimistic guides for the ancient desert crossing down to the capital.
From Mali, there are several pistes that go over the Mauritanian border. These used to be the de facto route between the two nations, but a new tar road now connects Mali’s Nara and Mauritania’s Ayoun al Atrous. Mali’s border procedures are performed at different locations around Nara town (local children will lead you to the police or customs for a small present). At a series of roadblocks along the border route, Mauritanian procedures are completed.
Traveling southeast from Néma, which is at the end of a decent paved road from Nouakchott, is an alternate land route that travels straight from Mauritania to Timbuktu, Mali. This dirt road continues to Bassekounou before crossing the border into Mali at Léré, where it improves to a decent dirt road that leads to Niafunké and Timbuktu.
By bus/bush taxi
- From Morocco: Supratours operates a nightly bus from Guerguerat to the French border. For MAD150, it leaves from Dakhla’s seafront at 23:59 and arrives at the border at 05:30. From Dakhla to Nouakchott, CTM (Morocco’s national bus operator) plans to operate services. Hitchhiking with overlanders from Dakhla (most may be picked up at Camping Moussafir just north of Dakhla) or the Mauritanian embassy in Rabat, or paying for passage with Mauritanian merchants are the only ways to get there right now. These may be located north of Dakhla, near the first police checkpoint; the going cost is now 250-380Dhs (negotiable). The trip should be begun early since it takes the whole day, and the border crossing is closed overnight. Hotel Sahara can provide you cars with competent drivers (the budget one). This will set you back approximately 250 Dhs each person.
- To Morocco: From hotels in Nouadhibou, cars with drivers may be hired to cross the minefield from Mauritania to Western Sahara.
- From Senegal: Bush taxis are available from Dakar (XOF6,000) and St Louis (XOF2,000) to Rosso, where a ferry crosses the Senegal river, and additional bush taxis are available to Nouakchott (about MRO2,000). Be wary of bush taxis that offer bargains that seem to be too good to be true. They may be illegal taxis, and they could be a hazardous mode of transportation. There will very certainly be a large number of drivers in line. Find out what the going fee is by asking around. The Diama dam, approximately north of St Louis, is another crossing point from Senegal; public transportation is available on this route.
- From Mali: Every day, pickup trucks depart Kayes for Selibaby. It is also feasible to enter at Nema and at many locations along the southern border.