The official name of Mauritania is the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, found along the Atlantic Ocean in Western Africa. Mauritania is found amongst good company, bordering Algeria and the Western Sahara.

Mauritania's capital city is Nouakchott, which just so happens to be its largest city in a country that's more than one million square kilometers. Almost all of Mauritania's 3 million citizens are Muslim, so you won't find an abundance of nightclubs and discos, but most hotel bars will serve up a few libations.

Arab Tea is the drink of choice, ususally served with mint; and camel's milk is also popular.

Here in the capital, you'll find an eclectic blend of Moroccan, Chinese, and French cuisine served mainly with lamb or goat with rice.

Interestingly enough, one of Mauritania's most stunning sites is best seen from space. The Richat Structure, or more commonly known as the Eye of the Sahara, is a 40km wide rock formation in the middle of the Desert. The eye of the Eye is actually three kilometers wide.

You can reach the Guelber Richat, another name for the Saharan Eye, from the UNESCO city of Ouadane. With a guide, of course.

Just make sure you've got your papers in order before coming to Mauritania; a passport and visa are required for citizens of the European Union, USA, and Canada.

Vaccinations are also recommended against Hepatitus A, Malaria, Typhoid, and Yellow Fever. A precaution that's a small price to pay to try sand dune skiing, marveling at centuries old cave paintings, sightseeing around a fortress that once belonged to the French Foreign Legion in the city of Chinguetti, shopping for locally made handicrafts (the Silver Market is fantastic for this), or visiting local museums. That's all in addition to swimming and surfing til your heart's content along Mauritania's 800km of beach. The beach is just the thing in Mauritania since average highs can soar to a whopping 30s-C during the summer. Not much respite in the winter when lows average 18-24C. Mauritania might be hot, and quite old considering it has a history dating back to the days before the Roman Empire, but if you're looking to backpack around a place that hasn't yet seen an influx of tourists--then you've found it.