Konyaaltı Beach at Antalya, Turkiye.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Antalya, Turkiye.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Paris, France on May 1st.

Monday, February 6, 2023

Reflecting on our Mauritania trip

Now that our Mauritania trip has come and gone, I wanted to give you some more information about it and our thoughts about doing these types of trips.

We don't often do "group" tours, preferring to organize and research and plan things on our own. But there are some countries that we want to visit that are better done with a group, being led by someone who has done it many times before.

In this case, our trip was led by Johnny Ward. He's a 40 year old Irish guy who has traveled to every country in the world, including those that aren't officially countries. He's also climbed 5 of the 7 summits (the highest peaks on each continent) and has Mt. Everest scheduled for April and May of this year.

I've followed Johnny's blog for probably ten years. 

A couple of years ago, he started doing tours to oddball places where he has connections from his travels there. Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Central African Republic, South Sudan. You get the idea.

Here's a link to past trips... https://onestep4ward.com/join-a-trip/

I had read about the adventure of riding an iron ore train through the Sahara Desert in Mauritania. But I didn't see us ever visiting a country like that on our own. And it seemed like it would be more fun to do it with a group. So when Johnny started running this trip, it piqued my interest. 

I sent him a note asking some questions in September, but the trip was already sold out. He asked if I wanted to be put on the waiting list in case anybody cancelled, and I said "sure", without making any kind of commitment. 

Well at the end of October, I received a note that two spots had opened up. At that point, we had to make a quick decision. We figured that we would be in Morocco anyhow, so it would actually be perfect timing to hop down to Mauritania from Morocco.

So we signed up!

Me, on the iron ore train in Mauritania.

But these sorts of trips aren't cheap. We learned in Tanzania with our Kilimanjaro and Meru climbing experiences that just because you are in a country that is "poor", it doesn't mean that it is cheap to do things there. (By the way, it was two years ago today that we summited Kilimanjaro!).

The base price of the trip was $2,079 USD per person. That includes all meals and accommodation for seven days.

That in itself doesn't sound bad. But of course there are two of us, so it's $4,158 USD. Then we need to pay in Canadian dollars, so now we're up to $5,575 CAD.

And of course we still needed to get there. I was a little surprised to find out that flights from Casablanca to Nouakchott are not cheap! It cost $918 CAD ($685 USD) for two round trip tickets. Now we're up to $6,500 CAD.

And, there were quite a few miscellaneous expenses related to the trip. We would need an extra four nights of accommodation at $67 a night. And a few more restaurant meals. And parking for Max at the airport. And, and, and. Soon enough, this was a $7,000 trip!

Was it worth it?

Well, the short answer is yes.

Our group after riding the train.

We had a great group of people. Of course this is strictly luck, although for this type of adventure trip you are probably only going to attract like minded people. Despite some of the hardships, we never heard a single complaint out of anybody. Guaranteed we will meet some of these people again, in fact there are some of the group in Ireland and England who we plan to get together with this summer. And some in other countries who have invited us to visit. So we enjoyed the camaraderie during the trip.

Johnny was a great leader, and we would have no hesitation to do another one of his trips. 

There's no question it's pricey. For a couple of normally frugal travelers, this type of thing is a splurge for us. But, we can afford to do this once or twice per year, so that's what we're going to do. You can expect more wacky trips like this in the future!

Cordless Hair Clipper Set. On sale, plus there is a $5 off coupon showing.

And in Canada...

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post! I always love it when bloggers reflect on whether certain decisions were good ones or not, in retrospect. I'm really glad you both think that you made the right call in deciding to embark upon this adventure, despite the cost. I am sure that being with a good group of people made a big difference, as well as having an experienced, excellent guide. While this trip wouldn't have been for me (I am too introverted for group activities like that -- and don't like being quite that uncomfortable!), I loved reading about it and seeing your photos. BTW, I sure am glad you aren't in Turkiye right now. What a tragedy!


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