The Mauritania Iron Ore Train | Spring 2023

There is only one railway line in Mauritania, and it hasn’t been built for passengers, but to transport iron ore from mines deep in the Sahara Desert to the coastal city of Nouadhibou. It’s not a train journey for the faint hearted, but offers a unique experience for those who are looking for an extreme railway adventure.

The train is over 2.5 km long, carrying its 17000-tonne cargo the 704km from the mine to the port in around 19 hours. Passing through one of the most hostile environments on Earth, temperatures range from over 40C in the sun to close to freezing in the night. This journey should not be considered without close examination of the risks.

You can take the train in either direction, but most favour the route back from the mine, when the wagons are filled with iron ore. This means getting road transport out to the desert town of Atar and the railway halt at Choum.

This adventure was planned to take place in March 2020, and has been put on hold twice now for COVID-19 and security reasons.

(Image courtesy of Michał Sałaban, Wikimedia)

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