We always knew that getting our Mauritanian visas was going to be a chore.
For starters, Rabat was out of our way. We couldn’t apply for visas when we first entered Morocco, and so we had to make the 600km trek from Agadir to Rabat to apply for the visas nearer to us entering Mauritania.
It was 48 hours which do not need repeating.
We left Agadir in the morning of 11th December, and thought it would take 2 days to reach Rabat. In fact, the toll roads (yes, we used them) were quicker than expected and we almost made it to Rabat in 1 day. We found a less than ideal spot to wild camp between the sprawling cities of Casablanca and Rabat. Next morning we awoke at 0430, set off at 0515, and reached the embassy at 0600 to join the queue. In case you thought we’d be first, we were number 26 and 27 as many people slept in their cars outside the embassy. Finally we were able to have coffee and breakfast!
After lodging the application at about 0830 (see more details in the Visa section) we had a few hours to while away until we could collect at 1530. Off to Marjane – the first supermarket we’ve used or seen in Morocco. It just felt like being in Europe – not in a good way. We have become accustomed to shopping in markets so wandering the aisles of Marjane felt odd. No longer did we feel that we were exploring a foreign land, we were merely heading down to the local to do some shopping. In any case, we stocked up.
Then, we thought we’d see a little of the city. The highlight of the day was meeting the first South African of the trip! Only took 2 months. Dan and Kumi left UK on the same day we did, but have been cycling their way towards South Africa. We had tea together before they headed off to find accommodation for the night – something we should have joined them in doing.
Parting with Dan and Kumi, we continued our tour of Rabat. With no disrespect, it wasn’t as enjoyable as wandering around the smaller towns and villages as we have done the last few weeks. It was such a sharp contrast to the Morocco we have been savouring. It was a culture shock – and not in a good way. Busy roads, noisy, semi-chaotic and it just seemed to be lacking in charm. The lack of sleep the night before didn’t help my demeanour and outlook either.
Back to the embassy to join the queue to collect our passports with freshly glued in visas. Mission accomplished, but it meant stupidly we were back on the road at 1545 and looking for somewhere to wild camp. We found a perfectly lousy spot – which we only realised in the middle of the night when we were repeatedly disturbed. Trying to wild camp near big cities is a bit of a no-no.
Up early yet again this morning and back on the road to Agadir. We’re taking the scenic route this time – it meanders all the way along the coast and is a pleasant relief after the previous 48 hours.
Tonight we found a campsite for the princely sum of 7 euros, with western style toilets, hot showers – and peace of mind.
As for wild camping? Yeah, gone off it for a bit …