Early in the morning, we leave Agadez in 4WD vehicles
and take the road to Arlit. Two hours later, the convoy turns east,
crosses the Talak Plain and enters the Aïr at Goûgaram. The track
winds around rocky outcrops, skirts low hills, crosses dried-out oueds whose
tree-lined banks provide the sole respite from the sun. At the foot of Mount
Tamgak, stunningly green gardens surround the banco huts of Iférouane.
We stop there to visit to the villages metalsmiths and craftsmen.
Tezirzek Well - Izane - Illekane
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. The track zigzags through high dunes along the Tezirzek Oued.
Past Tchoum-Adegdeg Well, we follow the tree-lined Tchioulmas Oued to avoid
the uncrossable Tebet Dunes. North of Faris Well, the multicolored dunes of
Izane bar the horizon across a wide plain. Islands of white and blue marble
suddenly rise out of the sand : Illekane is in sight. Among the gold, silver
and pink dunes, delicate flowers and animal tracks hint of a secret life amazingly
well adapted to its harsh environment.
Crossing the Issaouane Oued 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
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.
Zagado Valley - Tchintoulous - Assodé
The Zagado Oued has given birth to an extraordinarily wide
valley that we explore at leisure while driving upriver among marble mountains.
Watch for gazelles in this area. Tuareg herdsmen also roam the valley where
their livestock easily finds pasture. They are the builders of Tchintoulous,
a village we encounter at the foot of Mount Aguerâguer, on the banks of
the Zilâlet. This dried-out river leads us back to Assodé.
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.
Timia - puits de Malletas
The road winds through small, chaotic valleys and
crosses numerous oueds in an arid mountain landscape before reaching a sand-filled
kori lined with gardens.
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.
Downstream from Timia, a lovely waterfall cascades through a series of basins
toward the guelta.
After an arduous journey through a series
of oueds along a mountain track, we finally reach Malletas well and sleep in
the open near Guissat oued.
Elméki - Dabaga - Azel - Agadez
In Elméki, Tuaregs still extract tin
from ancient cassiterite mines. Arid moonscapes and emerald-green oasis, volcanic
pillars and well-tended gardens, light-footed gazelles and flowering acacia
trees: on this stretch of track, surprises and contrasts abound, to the unending
delight of the traveller.
Following the Telwa oued, we go through Azel, a charming village of settled
Tuareg farmers and herdsmen, before spotting on the horizon the tower of the
PRICE for the five-days tour from Agadez for a party
2 = 1325 Euros (8.700 FF) per person
3 = 900 Euros (5.900 FF)
4 = 685 Euros (4.500 FF)
5 = 565 Euros (3.700 FF)
6 = 480 Euros (3.150 FF)
7 or more = 425 Euros (2.800 FF) per person
* two 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.
DESERT TRAVEL IS NEVER DULL. EXPECT