The couple spent their honeymoon riding an iron train in Africa


(CNN) – When planning their honeymoon, many couples go to obvious destinations like Paris, the city of love, or the Maldives, with their stunning blue waters.

Few, unlike Croatian newlyweds Kristijan and Andrea Ilicic, choose a freight train carrying wagons of dirty iron ore across the hot deserts of Mauritania in northwest Africa.

The couple had an unusual post-wedding experience, having visited numerous destinations around the world as a travel agent – Kristijan has traveled to no fewer than 150.

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

The culmination of the trip was a daring photo shoot aboard a train loaded with iron ore on its 700-kilometer (435-mile) journey across the desert from the mining town of Zouérat to the Atlantic port of Nouadhibou.

The photos were later posted on Instagram, garnering over 40,000 likes.

In them, the Lady’s dress can be seen stained with the iron ore transported in the railway carriages.

“Everything was full of minerals,” said Kristijan. “The clothes, the air, the food, everything. It was truly a miracle to keep the (mostly) white wedding dress for the shoot!”

Surprise party

The huge train can reach around 200 carriages.

Antonio Filipovic/Light Digit

Riding an iron train across the desert has become a rite of passage for extreme travel operatives in recent years, appearing on YouTube and other social media.

It’s not for the faint of heart, though. The 20-hour rides involve temperatures of over 45 degrees Celsius during the day and below freezing at night. The winds also blow up iron ore dust.

Even boarding a 200-car train can be fraught with danger.

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

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

“In one village we visited, the local people managed to surprise us with a wedding ceremony according to their traditional rites. Andrea and I were dressed in our traditional wedding clothes, and it was a two-hour experience of dancing, drumming and singing. I will never forget it.

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

“It was no ordinary honeymoon, but it was also the trip of a lifetime!” adds