EL BERBERA OASIS
El Berbera is an oasis situated around 130 km south of Atar, the capital of the Adrar Region deep in the Saharan Desert of Mauritania. The first hundred kilometers or so is on asphalt, which then gives way to a desert track
The Oasis of El Berbera nestles in a canyon opening to the Ouad Timinit, on the southern edge of the Adrar plateau. Not far away lies the Dhraaya Imougayene plateau. An extended palm grove stretches a few hundred meters alongside a stream which emerges from a natural spring.
COORDINATES 19°59'10" N 12°49'22" W
Arriving from the top of the plateau, a small, semi-abandoned village will appear, overlooking the edge of the canyon. There resides the guardian of the palm grove, who welcomes adventurers and guides them down to the bottom of the rift to the lush Oasis.
The guardian maintains the palm grove with care and dedication. He manages its irrigation so that this little paradise does not die, given the harsh environmental conditions.
The Oasis of El Berbera is an unusual stop and is often totally unknown to even the locals.
The trail that leads down to the oasis descends along a steep descent in the sand and then continues through the palm grove. The oasis forms its own microclimate; it is cool and sheltered from the scorching sun, silence and peace prevail.
Older images show a more barren and less luscious oasis. Given the abundance of water today, El Barbera seems engulfed in vegetation. The permanent pool of water under the spring that gushes out of the canyon disappears under the plants.
Under the rocks from which the water drips, it is possible to take a pleasant and refreshing shower surrounded by the green of the vegetation and the beauty of the palm trees.
Natural inlets have developed around the oasis rock formations, creating entire caves where shelter and shade can be found.
The scene of the oasis is incredible. It is a real paradise in the middle of the most arid and remote part of the desert.
Sitting in the shade of the palm grove one can hear the sound of flowing water, which crisscrosses the irrigation canals, and the sound of the birds which inhabit the valley.
To get back to the village faster, a sketchy path carved into the unstable rocks around the oasis winds its way to the top of the plateau- another way to enjoy the end of this little adventure and admire El Berbera from above.
Photo credits: Giulio Aprin – Luca Abbate