Welcome to Kiffa, a bustling town located in the far south region of Mauritania. Situated at the western end of the Aoukar sand sea of southern Mauritania, Kiffa is a unique and exciting destination for travelers seeking adventure and exploration. With a hot desert climate and rich cultural heritage, there’s no shortage of activities and experiences to discover in this enchanting corner of the world.
Kiffa has a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh). The climate is Sahelian, with April to June as the hottest months and the majority of the low annual rainfall occurring from July to September. Despite this arid climate, Kiffa has benefited from higher rainfall levels than elsewhere in the western Sahel in the past.
Population, Infrastructure, and Agriculture:
Kiffa has grown haphazardly throughout the latter half of the 20th century, and today it is home to a diverse population of Berber pastoralists who operate as sheep, goat, and camel herding nomads. Political and social life is largely dictated by hereditary family allegiances, now expressed amid a complex wider tangle of religious, regionalist, and nationalist affiliations. Agriculture in the region revolves around bush forage grazing and mixed millet-based agrarian activity, with a large produce market at Kiffa continuing to attract traders and buyers from the surrounding area. The ongoing rehabilitation and extension works on the Kiffa-Tintane road, funded by Chinese aid, are helping to support this trade by improving transportation and road access.
The south region of Kiffa was once home to one of the most notable beadmaking centers in West Africa, famous for its now-antique Kiffa beads, made exclusively by women from secret recipes involving powdered glass. Though the last of the traditionally trained bead makers died in the 1970s, historians have documented the local bead-making process, and these beautiful beads remain a testament to the region’s rich cultural heritage.
The Affolle Mountains, or Massif de l’Affolle, near Kiffa covers a region of more than 6,500 km2 (2,500 sq mi), and is populated by tiny agrarian settlements centered around a spring emerging from the foot of a high escarpment. The mountains are steep-sided massifs of dense Devonian sandstone, with relatively flat plateaus at their summits. A few kilometers to the north, surrounded by the southern tip of the Aoukar sand sea, is an outlying island mountain plateau named Rkiss. Visitors to the region can explore the stunning landscapes and unique geological features, or learn about the area’s history and traditions from the local residents.
The acclaimed West African filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako was born in Kiffa, and he returned to film the opening section of one of his films, Rostov-Luanda (1997), in the town. Fans of world cinema will appreciate the opportunity to explore Sissako’s hometown and learn more about the region’s rich artistic heritage.
Whether you’re interested in exploring the stunning landscapes, delving into the region’s cultural history, or simply soaking up the unique ambiance of this bustling African town, Kiffa has something to offer every traveler. Visit today and discover the magic of this enchanting destination for yourself!