Mauritania - Money & Costs
Money & Costs in MauritaniaCurrency: Ouguiya
In the early 1990s, the ouguiya lost almost half its value against the US dollar. Despite this, Mauritania remains the most expensive country in West Africa. The bottom-end hotels are usually dirty and poorly lit, while the street food is plain and often unidentifiable. All the same, if you're stranded in Nouakchott and don't care where you sleep or what you eat, you could get by on less than US$15 a day, although there are regulations that stipulate that foreigners must spend at least US$30 a day. Hire cars are ridiculously expensive throughout West Africa, but if you insist on the convenience, you'll probably want a flash hotel room and great meals all day as well; budget on over US$200 a day. Humble comfort, nice food and taxis will set you back less than US$80 a day. There is a thriving currency black market, easy to find around the market in Nouakchott. There are also numerous bureau de change outlets offering better rates than the banks and longer opening hours. Credit cards can only be used at the big international hotels in Nouakchott, while some travellers cheques - notably American Express - are regularly refused.
Tipping is a difficult issue throughout Africa. Basically, if you look like a hitch-hiker, take buses or shared taxis and eat at African restaurants, you won't be expected to tip. If you're clean-cut, you'll look rich; 10% in restaurants, hotels and taxis is considered appropriate. The same rule applies whether you're a westerner or a wealthy African.