The couple who honeymooned on an African iron ore train

(CNN) — When planning a honeymoon, many couples opt for obvious destinations like Paris, the city of love, or the Maldives, with its stunning azure waters.

Few, unlike Croatian newlyweds Kristijan and Andrea Ilicic, opt for a freight train hauling wagons of dirty iron ore through the scorching deserts of Mauritania in northwest Africa.

The couple had their unusual post-wedding experience having already visited dozens of destinations around the world as travel influencers – Kristijan has logged no less than 150.

“We really saw a lot,” Kristijan told CNN via email. “This time it had to be something completely different. And we found it in…Mauritania!”

The highlight of their trip was a daring photo op atop the train laden with iron ore as it crossed the desert on its 700 kilometer (435 mile) journey from the mining town of Zouerat to the Atlantic port of Nouadhibou.

The photos were later posted to Instagram, racking up over 40,000 likes.

In it, Andrea’s dress is seen stained with iron ore transported in the open-topped wagons.

“Everything was full of ore,” Kristijan said. “Clothes, air, food, everything. It was truly a miracle that we kept the white (mostly) white wedding dress for the shoot!”

Surprise party

The huge train can be around 200 wagons long.

Antonio Filipovic/Iluminol figure

Riding the iron train through the desert has become something of a rite of passage for extreme travel influencers in recent years, appearing regularly on YouTube and other social media sites.

It’s not for the faint of heart though. The 20-hour journey involves temperatures reaching over 45 degrees Celsius during the day and below zero at night. Winds also raise iron ore dust.

Climbing aboard the 200-car train can also be fraught with difficulty.

Despite the difficulties of their honeymoon photoshoot, Kristijan says the trip to Mauritania exceeded expectations as a welcoming and “underrated” tourist destination, despite attracting few tourists.

“He really has a lot to offer,” he said.

“In one village we visited, the locals managed to surprise us with a wedding ceremony in accordance with their local traditional rituals. Andrea and I were dressed in their traditional wedding clothes, and it was an experience of dancing, drumming and singing for two hours I will never forget.

“Looks like Andrea and I got married twice!” Kristijan jokingly added.

“It really wasn’t your typical honeymoon, but it was also the trip of a lifetime!” he adds.


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