Have you been following along with Season Seven of Itchy Boots’ moto travel adventures on her YouTube channel? If you have, then you’ll know that she took a ferry from Spain to Morocco and has been riding across northern Africa. Right now, she’s in Mauritania, and is on her way through the desert to see the Richat Structure (also called the Eye of Africa) up close and in person.
Her original plan, as she told us a couple of episodes back, was to carry all the fuel she would need on her bike, along with all the water and her normal gear. After doing all the math, she found that she would need approximately 40 liters of fuel and 20 liters of water—which is a lot of extra weight to carry. Luckily, Noraly had been talking to a very nice guy named Ahmed, whose work involves tourism in Mauritania. He’s a local who knows the area like the back of his hand, and he also has a pickup truck and was willing to help carry all that extra liquid.
So far, the pair have been crossing the desert in Mauritania for a couple of days, camping at night and then continuing the journey early in the morning, before it gets too hot. As the day gets hotter, Noraly says, the sand gets softer and more difficult to ride through (even with a significantly lightened bike, since her luggage is also in the bed of the truck with the fuel and water). Riding in the morning is better, because the sand is more compact and better able to support a bike riding through.
If there’s one thing that’s remained true throughout Noraly’s journeys thus far, it’s that making local friends is always the best idea. In this case, Noraly and Ahmed are able to communicate using a mix of English, French, and some Arabic (Noraly has picked up a little, and is learning more as she goes along), and his help has proved invaluable so far in finding the best way through the desert. Riding with a truck is an additional challenge, because she needs to go fast enough to maintain momentum to get through the sand and up inclines. The truck, by contrast, cannot (and should not) go as fast to get to the same place.
Now, there are theories that the Richat Structure is the site of the lost city of Atlantis, but Ahmed assures Noraly that it’s actually at another place not far away. That’s where a number of artifacts and tools have been found, showing that a lost human civilization once lived there. Along the way, they meet a man named Yeslem, who invites them into a hut that’s full of ancient stone cutting implements, tools for riding camels and carrying items on the journey, and more. If Noraly had been out here on her own, would this have happened? It’s not certain, but what’s clear is that talking to locals is absolutely the best way to see wherever you’re riding.
While Noraly had hoped to get to the Richat Structure today, the mountains they have to cross to get there prove to be more difficult and technical than Noraly had expected. They’re still getting up them, but it’s more difficult and time-consuming, so the Richat Structure will have to wait until tomorrow.