Mauritania — Visas and Vaccinations
All travelers, except those who hold West African passports, are required to obtain a visa before travel to Mauritania. Visas were once available at most border points, but this is no longer the case so you will need to obtain one from a Mauritanian embassy in your home country first. Those entering overland can get a visa from a Mauritanian embassy in a neighboring country. Passports valid for no less than six months after the expected departure date are required by all travelers.
Health and Safety
Healthcare in Mauritania is not in the best as there are limited medical facilities. The large cities like Nouakchott have decent hospitals and pharmacies, but outside of these areas quality is not guaranteed. Travelers are strongly advised to take out medical insurance prior to entering the country. It is also recommended to bring a sufficient supply of prescriptions as such medications may not be available.
Immunizations which travelers should consider getting before travel to Mauritania include hepatitis A and B, tuberculosis and typhoid diphtheria. Visitors coming from yellow fever-affected areas will be required to produce a yellow fever certificate on arrival.
The tap water in Mauritania is not safe for consumption and thus any water used for drinking, cooking and even brushing teeth should be boiled or sterilized before use. Most milk in the country has not been pasteurized and should also be boiled before drinking. Most foods are safe, but travelers should display extra caution when purchasing goods from street stalls.
Travelers should be aware that Mauritania suffers from a high threat of terrorism and that many of the attacks are targeted at tourist areas and expatriate hangouts. Certain areas in the country are considered dangerous and off-limits, including the Eastern and Northern provinces of Zemmour, Hodh el Chargui and Tiris. Stay away from the borders, especially those with Algeria and Mali which are notorious for incidents of violence and robbery.
Life in the cities is far less threatening and the rate of petty crime is low. Attacks of an ideological nature on westerners, in particular, have been on the rise however, so always travel in large groups especially after dark. Make it a point to stay on the major travel routes unless accompanied by a guide or as part of a tight caravan.