Leaving Agadez, we follow the Telwa oued through Azel, a
charming village of settled Tuareg farmers and herdsmen.
Arid moonscapes and emerald-green oasis, volcanic pillars and well-tended gardens,
light-footed gazelles and flowering acacia trees: on this stretch of track,
contrasts and surprises abound, to the unending delight of the traveller.
In Elméki, Tuaregs still extract tin from ancient cassiterite mines.
Timia - Assodé
Downstream from Timia, a lovely waterfall cascades through a
series of basins toward the guelta.
Bright green against the ochre expanse of sand, the Timia oasis offers a striking
contrast to the somber lava range that surrounds it. Kel Oui farmers still water
their gardens with the wooden pulleys used by their ancestors. They raise corn,
wheat, a wide variety of vegetables, even grapes.
Tales of the flourishing past of Assodé abound. The ancient capital of
the Aïr is now a ghost town where only a few walls still stand, but pottery
shards strewn all over the site testify to its once thriving economy.
Tchintoulous - Zagado valley - Kogo
The road zigzags through small, chaotic valleys, crosses
numerous oueds and follows one, the Zilâlet, to Tchintoulous, a village
nestled at the foot of the haughty Aguerâguer. Watch for gazelles in this
area. The ever-widening Zagado Valley leads us toward Kogo. Huge marble mountains
rise up along our path. At last, the Zagado Valley dissolves in the infinite
expanse of the Ténéré desert.
To reach Arakao, we must meet the challenge of giant dunes and
move away from the massive Takolokouzet before we can come back to its base
and enter the ten-kilometer wide crater shaped like a crab claw.
Arakao gathers the Ténéré sand through a
large breach in its high walls, forming a gigantic sand buttress against the
Takolokouzet. An unforgettable night under the desert stars awaits you there.
We leave Arakao through its sand barricade, then cross the Issaouane
Oued to reach Illekane and Izane
Illekane - Izane - Adrar Chiriet
In every direction, sand waves roll toward the horizon, sometimes
crashing against islands of blue and white marble. Gold, silver and pink dunes
nurture delicate flowers and capture light tracks that hint of a secret life
amazingly well adapted to its harsh environment.
The multicolored Ifiniyane Dunes rush up against Adrar Chiriet, a dark volcanic
outcrop fantastically eroded by blowing sand.
Tezirzek well- Temet dunes
Near Tezirzek Well, a hill covered with rock paintings evokes
the rich fauna that roamed the Ténéré when the desert still
bloomed. All those species have disappeared, along with the cultures whose life
depended on them.
Almost completely blocked by sand, the tricky Temet Pass leads to the highest
dunes of the Ténéré, of the whole world, perhaps: forbidding
sand walls more than 300 meters high in places. Mount Gréboun towers
another thousand meters above them.
Temet - Iférouane
After this journey to the kingdom of sand and silence,
we reenter the world of the living through Iférouane. This rather large
lowland oasis is dotted with well-tended, shadowy gardens; there, we meet traditional
metalsmiths and craftsmen.
Goûgaram - Agadez
Our path snakes through the Aïr Mountains, between
small rocky outcrops and low hills. Tree-lined oueds provide the sole respite
from the sun. At Goûgaram, we leave the mountains to enter the Talak Plain
where we find the road running from Arlit to Agadez.
PRICE for the seven-day full-board tour from Agadez for
a party of
2 = 1645 Euros (10.800 FF) per person
3 = 1190 Euros (7.800 FF) "
4 = 930 Euros (6.100 FF) "
5 = 790 Euros (5.000 FF) "
6 = 640 Euros (4.200 FF) "
7 or more = 565 Euros (3.700 FF) per person
* 4WD vehicles and fuel
* drivers, guide and cook
* full board, cookware, tableware and one foam mattress per person
* local taxes and route approval (required for desert travel)
Prices do not include:
* drinks and personal expenses
* plane tickets and airport taxes
* food and lodging in Agadez
* travel insurance (trip cancellation, lost luggage, emergency return for health
NOTE: these prices apply to the 2002/2003 season, save for an
abnormal rise in local prices.