|Route de l'espoir, or "Road of
Hope", was built (by Brazilians) to connect the remote East of the
country with the coast and capital Nouakchott. It is quite a decent
road and, although cynics might call it the Route du désespoir, and say
it just drains the interior of what little resources remain, it is a
godsend for those of us who want to visit said interior without trekking
across a thousand miles of desert pistes.
It probably also helps the economy a
bit! Bizarrely, although the majority of the country has no mobile
phone coverage (which generally means no phones at all), you can make
calls from within a 20-30 miles radius of the masts which dominate towns
along the way.
You need to keep your wits about you
as the locals have no concept of road safety and herd sheep, goats, camels
and small children across it in front of any passing traffic.
Contrary to what the guide books (and
Michelin map) might tell you, fuel (diesel mostly, no unleaded petrol
ever) is available and very cheap (by EU standards) although half decent
hotels are few and far between. However, neither facility is more
than a day's driving if you stick to the main road.