analog extreme

a travelling artists' residency

desert trek in mauritania, 1-10 january 2020

Digital detox for artists

In an age where online activities overshadow many other forms of human experience and interaction, you may have felt the need for occasional digital disconnection and for establishing a more direct, physical relationship with your environment. If travel is something else than chasing material for rapid digital interaction, will it change our experiences and our creative processes?

With this in mind, the Waaw Residency has set up the Analog Extreme programme, which is open to artists and creatives of all disciplines. Participation is limited to 10 people. The tour is arranged in collaboration with an experienced local tour operator.

A desert trek

Analog Extreme is a 10-day tour including a 6-day desert trek in the Adrar region, one of the most beautiful areas in the Sahara. The landscape is varied – in one day, you may come across dunes and rocks, flat areas and hills. At the same time, it is minimalist – you may be able to draw a view in a few single lines. It is pleasing to the eye and the mind, and walking, even if at times challenging, will soon take on a meditative dimension. The desert is empty: you may trek for a full day without seeing other people than your trekking companions. The desert is huge, and you will feel small. For spoilt Westerners, it may at times be challenging: water, other than for drinking, is limited. The desert is silent – most of the time, you will not hear a bird, not even a cricket, just the wind and your footsteps. After dark, we gather around the camp fire, massaging our sore feet, watching the moon rise and the Milky Way appearing brighter than you have ever seen it before.

See photos here and here.

There will be approx. 6 hours of walking for 5 days. The trek also includes one day when you are free to explore the area around our camp, for fully taking in the environment, and documenting it, or engaging in other creative activity, should you wish.

For the desert trek, accommodation is arranged in simple Mauritanian traditional tents for 2-5 people or individual small tents. Camels will carry tents and baggage. In addition to your English-speaking residency hosts, you will be accompanied by a French-speaking Mauritanian guide, a cook and camel drivers. In the desert, the fare is simple and mostly vegetable-based, but you will not go hungry.

Go analog

Since the fundamental idea behind the Analog Extreme tour is to deconnect, we will leave phones and laptops in the capital Nouakchott. In fact, there is no phone network available in most parts of the desert anyway! Only the guides will keep phones for urgencies. You may also consider using non-digital means of documenting what you see and hear – we will leave that decision to you.

Programme overview

1 January: Arrival in Nouakchott; overnight at hotel

2 January:  Transport by minibus or 4x4 to the Adrar region (6 hrs). Visit the old town of Chinguetti, overnight at very simple hotel

3-8 January: Desert trek: Dunes of Chinguetti - Lagueïla oasis - Lemmoïzine rock plateau - Zarga ridge and the Atig dune - Varess and Mhaïret oasis - Terjit oasis

9 January: Transport to Nouakchott; visit market, overnight at hotel.

10 January: In the morning visit art centre, meet cultural activists. Lunch and departure.


The price per person is €700. It comprises two hotel nights in Nouakchott, transport Nouakchott-Chinguetti and Terjit-Nouakchott, and the actual 6-day desert trek, which is all inclusive. You need to calculate with the cost for the international flight to Nouakchott, airport transfer (2 x €25), meals on days 1 and 10 as well as in the evening of day 9. In Nouakchott, we encourage you to share hotel rooms, but if required, single-room accommodation is available for a €35 supplement.

For reaching Nouakchott by air, please check offers by Air France, Royal Air Maroc, Tunisair, Binter and Turkish Airlines.

One option is to fly to Dakar in Senegal from where we would be happy to arrange shared transport for you via Saint-Louis. This would cost you approx. €250 return, including airport transfers and two nights (31 December and 10 January) at a B&B in Saint-Louis. If you arrive in the morning of 31 December, we will arrange transport directly to Saint-Louis. If you arrive on 30 December, we will book a hotel room for you near Dakar airport (€35 extra) and pick you up there on the 31st.

Citizens of most countries need a visa to Mauritania. A single-entry tourist visa will cost you €55 at the airport or at the Senegalese border.


Deadline and selection

We would like to have your registration by 10 September 2019. Please send us an email at info{at] with your contact information, date of birth, nationality/place of residence, profession/present occupation and a description in a few lines why you would like to join us for the Analog Extreme tour.  If you know already whether you want to fly in at Nouakchott or Dakar, please let us know. (You can leave the decision until later.)

The selection will be made by 10 September, after which we will ask for confirmation in the form of a €200 down payment and send out more detailed information.

The Analog Extreme programme is organised by Waaw, an artist residency based in Saint-Louis on the Senegalese coast, on the border between Senegal and Mauritania. The programme was first offered in early 2019. Your residency hosts Jarmo Pikkujamsa and Staffan Martikainen are also experienced tour guides, having worked for Finnish agencies in Ethiopia, Mali and Senegal. We can't wait to show you Mauritania!

A new destination

The Mauritanian desert was off the radar for tour operators for 10 years, but is since 2017 no longer classified as a ”red” zone by the French foreign ministry, and with charter flights from France, tourists are flocking to explore these unexploited areas. Security is not taken lightly in Mauritania; the eastern desert is covered by radar stations and our drive from Nouakchott to the Adrar desert region will be interrupted by at least 5 checkpoints.

Q: How physically fit will I have to be?

A: For five days during the trek, be prepared for 6 hours of walk, in sandy or moderately rocky terrain and with some steep ascents. Temperatures may vary from 0 degrees C at night to 30 degrees in the afternoon. If in doubt, please consult your doctor.