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Mauritania: Terjit

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Terjit | Mauritania | Africa

[Visited: October 2013]

It was not that easy to find a car to Terjit. Even though the village is only some 45k from Atar, it is small, and few people need to go there. At the same time, I did not feel like spending the money on renting a vehicle. The solution was, to buy the open seats on a taxi that was going with one women who had come for some shopping. I planned to hike back to the main road, and then find transportation back to Atar from there. While sitting outside on a corner of the market, a few men tried to convince me that the distance was too far to walk, claiming it was 15k, and asking me how fast I could walk. I doubted that their distance estimate was true. When our driver steered the car onto a dusty track into the canyon, I got excited. I had passed here the day before, and the barren mountains looked beautiful. Now, the morning light was shining on the table-shaped mountains, with golden sanddunes at their feet. While the driver tried to convince me to hire him for the ride back, pointing out again that it was too far to walk, I was looking forward always more to the prospect of walking here. But first, of course, I was to visit the oasis village of Terjit itself. I looked back towards the village, with two tall walls of rock standing on both sides of the valley while the white Mercedes 190 disappeared from sight.

Picture of Terjit (Mauritania): View of the canyon of Terjit in which you can find the oasis

Turning around, I walked towards what seemed the end of the valley. I was surrounded by tall palm trees, and walked the dusty track until I was walking in the shadow of the date trees that were everywhere. I reached a point where water was dripping from the cliffs above; there were several buckets catching the water. A shallow stream flowed down towards the village here on the sand. I passed a few small shacks, and reached a small pool, in the shade of the trees, where a cold and warm stream mix together. From here, I climbed rocks through the narrow valley, until the walls opened on both sides. Here, another small pool, and no more water. I climbed the sand dune right ahead of me, until I reached the top. From here, I had views on all sides. Behind me, rocky desert plains; below me: the oasis I had just walked through. From above, I could see the tops of the date palm trees meandering their way through the narrow gorge hemmed in by two tall walls. Walking down again, I was quick to leave my stuff behind and dip into the pool I had seen before. Lying there, in the cool water, was the reward for the climbing I had done before, and the small fish playing with my feet and the sound of the water running down into the pool was soothing my soul. Also, I was mentally preparing for the long walk back to the tarmac in the heat of the day.

Picture of Terjit (Mauritania): Small pool and palm trees at the oasis of Terjit

When I walked back through the village of Terjit, it seemed totally abandoned. The small shop I had seen on the way up, was closed now, and I was happy I refilled a big bottle using the water coming down from the cliffs; I now had 3 litres. At the checkpoint, I had a little chat with the officers, who first advised me to wait for a vehicle, and when I told them I wanted to walk, gave me some encouraging words before I left Terjit behind and headed towards the valley. The road was easy enough to walk on, and the tabular mountains on both sides, some with sand blown against their flanks, were spectacular enough to provide for distraction. On the entire walk, not a single car passed me; hitching a ride would have been impossible. I made sure to drink at regular intervals; even though the heat was dry, the hot wind was quickly drenching the liquids out of my body. When I finally reached the tarmac, it had taken me less than two hours from the oasis of Terjit. A longer than expected wait ensued: the police at the checkpoint did not allow me to ask drivers headed for Atar to take me. The town was definitely too far to walk, and I was happy when a friendly driver took me after more than an hour of waiting at the crossroads.

Picture of Terjit (Mauritania): Palm trees and rocky mountains surrounding the village of Terjit
Picture of Terjit (Mauritania): Stream of water running over the sand next to the cliffs protecting the oasis of Terjit
Picture of Terjit (Mauritania): Palm tree growing against the cliff of the oasis of Terjit
Picture of Terjit (Mauritania): The small pool of Terjit in the oasis, surrounded by date palms
Picture of Terjit (Mauritania): The oasis of Terjit with palm trees
Picture of Terjit (Mauritania): Small pool in the oasis of Terjit providing for a welcome cool-off
Picture of Terjit (Mauritania): Traditional style huts in the village of Terjit
Picture of Terjit (Mauritania): The rugged landscape at the end of the oasis of Terjit, with sand dune
Picture of Terjit (Mauritania): The dusty road to Terjit
Picture of Terjit (Mauritania): Date palms with small stream at Terjit
Picture of Terjit (Mauritania): The road to Terjit
Picture of Terjit (Mauritania): Rocky mountain at the entrance of Terjit village
Picture of Terjit (Mauritania): Sand covering the flanks of tabular mountains in the valley leading to Terjit

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