Why Chinguetti Should Be Your Next Adventure Destination

So, have you ever stumbled upon a secret level in a video game that just blows your mind? Well, guess what—Chinguetti is like that, but in real life. It’s this epic, ancient city in a place called Mauritania, and it’s right in the heart of the world-famous Sahara Desert. Imagine this: a city so old, it makes your history textbook look like it was written yesterday!

So why is Chinguetti so awesome? It’s not just some random place; it’s like the “Final Boss” level of travel spots! We’re talking massive sand dunes, dreamy sunsets, and buildings so ancient, they’ve got stories older than your grandparents. This isn’t just a vacation; it’s an adventure waiting to happen. Trust me, by the end of this chat, you’ll be daydreaming about hopping on the next flight to go see this hidden gem for yourself.

town in mauritania

Historical Significance

Situated right in the middle of Mauritania’s stretch of the Sahara, this city isn’t just any old spot on the map. People call it the “Seventh City of Islam,” and it’s been a big deal since around the 13th century.

But what makes it so special? Well, picture this: You’re in a city that was like the Grand Central Station for scholars and religious folks back in the day. Caravans filled with spices, fabrics, and all sorts of treasures would stop by, but that’s not all. The city was a magnet for the smartest and most devout people around. Imagine rooms filled with ancient scrolls, passionate debates on astronomy and ethics, and an atmosphere buzzing with intellectual energy. And don’t forget the stunning ancient mosque that’s still standing, where prayers have been said for centuries.

Walking through Chinguetti isn’t just a casual stroll; it’s like stepping into a time machine. You’re sharing the same space that once brimmed with some of the deepest thoughts and most profound prayers of an era long past. In short, it’s not just a trip—it’s an experience you won’t forget.

chinguetti story

How To Get To Chinguetti

Listen up: getting to Chinguetti using public transport in Mauritania is, well, a bit like playing a game on “hard mode.” Seriously, you’re gonna need patience, nerves of steel, and maybe a good playlist to keep you sane.

First off, let’s be real: public transportation here is like that one friend who’s always late to the party—you just can’t rely on it. You’ll hop on a minibus in Nouakchott, the capital, heading north to Atar. These buses don’t really believe in schedules, so you’re gonna want to ask around a day or two before to figure out when to show up at the station. Oh, and get ready for plenty of military checkpoints along the way; you’ll be handing over your info and explaining why you’re traveling so often you’ll feel like a broken record.

Read more: A Week In Mauritania Itinerary: What To See And Do

Survived that? Sweet! Once you’re in Atar, you’re almost there. From here, local pick-ups will get you to Chinguetti for around 200 MRU (about 5 EUR). But don’t kick back just yet—you’re probably gonna be waiting a while for the pick-up to leave, and yup, there’s gonna be more time spent charming military officials at checkpoints.

It’s a journey that’ll test you, no doubt. But when you finally set foot in Chinguetti, you’ll know it was worth every tricky moment. It’s like unlocking a super-secret level in the best game ever.

mauritania roads

What To Do In Chinguetti

First off, you gotta roam around the old towns of Chinguetti and Ouadane. It’s like being in a life-sized maze! The narrow alleys and crumbly buildings are straight out of a time machine. Seriously, one minute you’re in 2023, and the next, you’re chilling with the people from the Middle Ages.

But you know what’s even cooler? The libraries! Yeah, I said libraries. Don’t roll your eyes just yet. Chinguetti’s old quarter has FIVE of them, packed with some of the oldest and most awesome books you’ll ever see. We’re talking ancient Quranic texts and papers about stars, numbers, and all sorts of science stuff dating back centuries. No joke, it’s like Hogwarts for history buffs.

Alright, enough with the old stuff, let’s talk adventure. You’re right next to the biggest sandbox in the world—the Sahara Desert! Grab a seat in a 4×4 and cruise over the dunes to get to Ouadane. On the way, you might see camel caravans, meet some nomads living in the desert, and maybe even get your ride stuck in the sand! Don’t worry, though; that’s part of the fun. You’ll help dig the 4×4 out and get back on your way.

mauritania desert

Architectural Marvels

Chinguetti has got some buildings that’ll make your jaw drop. Seriously, they’ve been standing for centuries, and you’re not gonna want to miss them.

First up, the ancient mosques. These aren’t your average buildings; they’re like masterpieces made from mud and stone. People have been praying in them since, like, forever. These mosques show off what people could do with just the basics and a whole lot of creativity. The way they’re built helps keep the inside cool, which is super important when you’re living in the Sahara.

You know what’s really rad? The construction techniques they used back then are super unique to this part of the world. Instead of using big machines and stuff like we do now, they had to figure out how to build strong and lasting buildings using just what the desert gave them. So you’ll see walls made from layers of mud and straw, kind of like a nature-made lasagna. And somehow, these buildings have lasted for hundreds of years!

chinguetti mosque

Cave Paintings Of Agrour

So between Atar and Chinguetti, there are over 300 registered cave paintings. But the VIP spot you gotta check out is Agrour. This isn’t your typical ‘oh-look-another-cave’ sorta place. Agrour is the all-star of cave paintings in this area. It’s so special that they actually have guards keeping an eye on it!

According to local guides, this area was once home to nomads like 6,000 years ago. Yeah, let that sink in—6,000! These folks lived up in the rocky heights and literally drew their life on the walls: farming stuff, hunting scenes, and some things that even look like they were praying or something.

Read more: How To Get From Mauritania To Senegal Overland?

mauritania caves

Where To Sleep

Okay, so Chinguetti doesn’t have any five-star hotels with fancy pools and room service, but honestly, who needs that when you can have something way cooler? We’re talking mud-brick guesthouses that are like hundreds of years old! These places give you a real taste of what it was like to live back in the day but with the modern comforts we all love, like actual beds and stuff.

Here are the best accomodation options in Chinguetti:

  • La Gueila: First off, the place is owned by this awesome duo, Sylvette from France and Sidi from Mauritania, and they make you feel like you’re part of the fam from the moment you step in. The whole vibe is like you’re staying in a history book, but way cooler. It’s built from these rad traditional stones and there’s even a garden-patio thingy in the middle! Now, about the food—hold onto your taste buds! They serve up legit local dishes like couscous, rice, and fish, plus this to-die-for cream of dates that’ll make you forget all about chocolate mousse.
  • Auberge Zarga: Okay, first thing’s first—Auberge Zarga is basic, but in a cool, rustic kind of way. We’re talking about a spot that’s smack dab on the edge of the Sahara, so don’t expect fluffy towels and room service. What you DO get, though, is this dude named Abdul who basically knows everything there is to know about Chinguetti and is super chill to talk to. And guess what? He speaks fluent English, so no awkward charades when you’re trying to ask where the bathroom is. If you’re feeling really brave, Abdul even offers this 10-day desert adventure where you get to live like a nomad. Seriously, how rad would it be to tell your friends back home you did that?

If you’re more of the outdoorsy type, why not go full-on desert adventurer and sleep under the stars? Yeah, you can set up camp in the Sahara itself. Just imagine looking up and seeing a gazillion stars without all those city lights getting in the way.

chinguetti hotels

Where To Eat

So, here’s the deal: Chinguetti is not exactly what you’d call a “foodie paradise.” I mean, we’re talking about a small town surrounded by the Sahara Desert, so your choices might be a bit limited. But that’s cool, because what they do have is pretty authentic and super tasty.

Most hotels and guesthouses in town will whip up some local dishes for you. We’re talking couscous, rice, and maybe even some local fish if you’re down for that. You might not find a Michelin-star restaurant here, but trust me, you’ll be too busy soaking in the culture to care.

Bottom Line

So, what’s the big deal about Chinguetti? Simple. It’s a one-of-a-kind, adventure-packed place that’s just waiting for you to come explore. Sure, it might not have a theme park or a beach, but what it does have is a whole lot cooler. Imagine stepping into a real-life history book and actually being part of the story.

Let’s be real. A trip to Chinguetti is not for the faint of heart. You’ve got to be the Indiana Jones or the Lara Croft of your friend group to even consider it. But if you’re up for the challenge, it’s gonna be one of those trips you’ll talk about for, like, forever.

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