ABOUT Mauritania is a land about desert and ocean. It is of course no wonder that the main attractions for most tourists are the desert in Adrar and Tagant areas (around Atar), and the ocean in Banc d'Arguin (a natural reserve with dunes ending in the sea, full of millions of birds and protected by UNESCO). Mauritania is a charming and energetic country with lots to offer visitors, including the ancient Mauritanian historical monuments, the renaissance beauty and fashion metropolis cities. The Adrar is exactly how you've always imagined the Sahara as: endless ergs (dunes) and regs (rocky desert) with tabular small mountains. Most tourists stay along the west coast of the country, although there are a few beautiful sights far into the interior (rock formations in Aioun, for example). If you decide to travel off the beaten path, leave plenty of time to get around. Mauritania is an Islamic Republic.

CLIMATE Most of Mauritania has a Saharan climate. Daytime temperatures exceed 38 degrees Celcius (100° Fahrenheit) in most areas for over 6 months of the year, however the nights are cool. The best time to visit is November-February, when temperatures are hot during the day, but cooler at night (highs around 30 degrees celcius / 85° Fahrenheit and lows around 13° degrees Celsius 55° Fahrenheit). Annual rainfall averages 66 cm (26 in) in the far south; at Nouakchott the annual average is 14 cm (5.5 in). The average maximum temperature at Nouadhibou for January is 26° C (79° F ), and for October 32° C (90° F ); average minimums are 13° C (55° F ) for January and 19° C (66° F ) for July.

BEWARE Travelers should exercise prudence and caution when traveling in Mauritania. Be particularly vigilant when traveling by road outside of populated areas, even when traveling along main routes and highways. When going out, avoid being part of large, highly visible groups of Westerners (but do not travel alone), and avoid sitting in areas that are easily visible from the street when in restaurants or cafes. You should be particularly alert when frequenting locales associated with Westerners, including cultural centers, social and recreation clubs, beach areas, and restaurants. Landmines also remain a danger along the border with the Western Sahara and travelers should cross only at designated border posts. Travelers planning overland trips from Mauritania to Morocco, Algeria, Senegal.