Category Archives: Tours

February 2020 Morocco – Gallery

A few photos from the one-week February 2020 tours, showing the new first-day route over the High Atlas, off-road.
Next tours in November.

 

 

Morocco 2016 bike tour gallery

Some shots from one of my 2016 one-week fly-in tours. Some pix by Eric B and Charles N.
For next year’s dates see here.

Leading us away from the usual tourist horrors, you showed me a side of Morocco and its people that I had certainly never experienced. The scenery, routes and riding were superb and for me the pace was absolutely perfect; providing both a bit of a challenge in places and a really relaxing, thought provoking experience. HH (UK)

Algeria Fly & Ride 2018 – FAQ

Start/end Algiers • €3950 + flight + visa + insurances
January 20 – February 3 2018 *
Minimum 6 – Maximum 10
About the tour • Availability

Read the Wuestenfahrer tour page – online translated

KONTAKT / TELEFON
WÜSTENFAHRER REISEN, THOMAS TROSSMANN
Diessener Straße 36 D 86935 Rott / Lech
Telefon/fax 08869 / 912622  Mobil 0151/ 58549686
eMail info@wuestenfahrer.com

What am I paying for exactly?
You are paying Wuestenfahrer for delivery and return of your motorcycle from Rott, Bavaria to Algeria and back, all food, water, fuel and accommodation in southern Algeria, guiding and vehicle support, visa invitations and travel permits.

What is not included?
Transportation of your bike and bulky gear to and from Germany from where you live, flight via Algiers to Illizi and return from there or Djanet via Algiers. Travel insurance including cancellation cover (Wuestenfahrer recommends ADAC or Europe Assistance.). Note: UK and other travel insurance may not be valid in southern Algeria due to UK FCO travel advice. Algerian motor insurance (€110).

Read the Wuestenfahrer tour page translated.

So what will the tour cost me in total?
The tour price plus flights (around £500 return) and other expenses plus getting your bike to Rott and back. So call that about £4500 at current rates.

I don’t read or speak German
Me neither, but Thomas speaks English and you can translate his webpages and brochure to get a fuller picture of what’s involved.
Fwiw, I’ve travelled in the Sahara before with German outfits and Germans, not read any T&Cs or understood what was going on, but had no regrets at all. This tour will primarily be an English-speaking group.

Is Algeria safe?
According to the advice given by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs Wuestenfahrer currently considers it safe to run tours in southeast Algeria. The UK Foreign Office (along with other overseas government agencies) may not agree.

Are motorcycles available to rent?
Yes. contact Wuestenfahrer.

What is the riding like?
The full range of sand and rock in all its combinations, with an accent on sand. See the video.

Do I need to be experienced in desert riding?
With off road riding certainly, but everyone has to start in the desert somewhere, and with vehicle support is safer than alone, as I know well. All of the riders booked so far have ridden in Algeria and the Sahara before, either alone, or on my tours. Much depends on the bike you choose to ride and your level or experience. The less experienced rider will want a lighter bike. I myself will probably ride my 250 WR.

What sort of preparation will my bike need?
You won’t need a massive tank – the truck can top you up every day. A fresh set of knobblies and chainset will do and a spare air filter is a good idea.

How many actual days riding?
I would guess 12–13 out of 15.

How far will we ride in total?
At least 1500km.

What will a typical day be like?
We have breakfast, gear up, fill up and ride off two hours after dawn, stopping here or there for photos, repairs or rests. We stop for a cold lunch then carry on as before, getting to our camp with a couple of hours daylight to spare. We’ll then repose or otherwise occupy ourselves until the evening meal is served, after which we’re again free to do as we wish.

Read the Wuestenfahrer tour page translated.

What will the weather be like?
January in southeast Algeria will be sunny and warm by day and chilly by night. Rain is unlikely and the hot windy season (as in the video, shot in March) has not have yet begun.

I’m not from the UK, or even the EU – is that a problem?
No, as long as you can get a visa and meet the other criteria. You may have to hire a bike.

How do I get my bike to Germany and back?
It’s down to you. Rott near Munich is nearly 1000km from Calais. I may van some bikes from the UK for a few others, but this is not part of the tour.

What is the support vehicle?
A MAN 9150 4WD, similar to one I once ran and with huge petrol and water tanks, a compressor and internal racking to carry all the bikes.
We will also be accompanied by the local agency escort in a pickup.

What gear do I need to bring?
You will need armoured off-road riding gear: helmet, gloves, boots, as well as a light daypack with a water bladder. A change of clothes, toiletries and the usual gadgets. Sleeping bag, bike tools, puncture repair kits and so on. I am hoping local, thorn-proof foam mattresses can be supplied. Drop the big bag with your bike in Germany, carry a smaller bag with valuables for the flight.

How do I organise the flight?
As far as I recall, internal Air Algerie from Algiers to Illizi leave in the afternoon or evening. So you will need to arrive from wherever before that time. We will all meet  at Algiers airport, if not before. Flying back from Djanet (ideally – or Illizi), the flights get in very early to Algiers, giving you all day to fly on out. When flight schedules are known, I or Thomas will advise when the internal flights come and go.

Read the Wuestenfahrer tour page translated.

What is the accommodation and food like?
There will be basic hotels or camps in Illizi and Djanet and a more modern hotel in Algiers (not included in the tour price) for those needing to spend the night there for flight connections (ideally not necessary). Elsewhere we camp in the desert where most don’t bother with a tent.
For details on the food, translate the latter pages of the Wuestenfahrer brochure. It looks pretty tasty to me.

What happens if I damage my bike or it packs up?
If your bike cannot be repaired, it will be loaded into the MAN and you’ll have to sit out the tour in the pickup. If there is room Thomas may bring a spare bike, but it will have to be rented.

Or if I hurt myself and can’t ride?
Same thing, or arrangements will be made for your hospitalisation if necessary. This is where your travel insurance will be needed. The remote nature of this tour means that getting to a hospital may take a day or two.

What happens to our tour in the event of such a delay?
It’s happened before and the entire group became involved in the recovery and accepted it as part of the experience.

Can I leave the tour at any time?
No – we must stay with our Algerian escort at all times down south.

Do I need any inoculations?
No.

Read the Wuestenfahrer tour page translated.

Will my mobile work?
In towns. Elsewhere I will have a sat phone to rent per minute. As may Thomas.

Is there lightning-fast wi-fi at the lodgings?
Dream on.

What routes from your out-of-print Sahara Overland guidebook will we follow?
It will include parts of A2 – A7, A9 and A12.

What is our route?
See the provisional map here.

Do I need a GPS and a map
No, but some like to keep track or record their location.

When will I know if the tour is confirmed?
When there are at least five confirmed bookings. Booking status here.

My question is not addressed here?
Email me or contact
THOMAS TROSSMANN
Diessener Straße 36 D 86935 Rott / Lech
Telefon/fax 08869 / 912622
Mobil 0151/ 58549686
eMail info@wuestenfahrer.com

I’m up for it. What do I do next?
Email me so I can keep tabs of interest then ask Wuestenfahrer for a booking form.

Please note the tour arrangement is entirely between you and Wuestenfahrer. You are advised to acquaint yourself with their terms and conditions, including cancellation policies. I highly recommend you download their ‘Prospekt‘ (brochure) and laboriously translate the last three pages of this document. Not all of it will make sense so clarify any queries you may have with Wuestenfahrer.

Back to Algeria 2018 page

Chad 2017 FAQ

Start/end Ndjamena • £3200 + visa + flight
Date and availability • Read the FAQs
Back to Chad front page

Last revised Feb 2016

What am I paying for exactly?
All food (including bottled water, where available), fuel and accommodation in Chad, plus foam sleeping mattresses and local guiding and support services in the 4WD and on the camel trek.

What is not included?
Return flight to Ndjamena from where you live. Visa for Chad. Souvenirs. Travel insurance. Suggested flight timings will be given in the booking form.

So what will the tour cost me in total?
The tour price of £3200 plus flights (from £500 return) and a visa (from £100).

I’m worried about attacks by Islamists. Is Chad safe?
The capital and the Lake Chad region saw Boko Haram attacks in 2015. We don’t go near the lake and we don’t hang around in Ndjamena any longer than necessary. Up north the avowed hostility of the Tubu towards jihadists makes it one of the last places in the Sahara where AQIM/Daesh will get a foothold. Note that some government travel advisory pages may not concur with this interpretation.

What are the real dangers out there?
A car accident, though Gerbert is a desert driver of many years experience, and we will be the only vehicles for miles. Then there are the usual desert camp perils of fire burns and thorns. Spraining an ankle on the trek. Headache from too much sun without headwear. In other words, nothing serious. There may be mine fields from the 1980s war with Libya, but over the years they have been clearly cleared or marked off and are well known to locals.

What will the weather be like?
huddleIn Ndjamena hot and muggy. The further north we go the more arid the climate, and as we rise into the mountains the cooler the nights. Strong winds can blow through the Borkou from the northeast, dropping the temperature. Expect the usual extremes, though without actual frost.
Ndjamena climate data
Fada (Ennedi) climate data
Bardai (Tibesti) climate data

What sort of vehicles will be used?
galaxDSC_0112Gerbert is driving up from Cameroon in an old HJ60 Toyota Land Cruiser (left) that will have done a lap of Africa. The 60 is still known across the Sahara as one of the most solid Land Cruisers. The local agency will supply something like a Toyota Galaxy (right) a more modern Land Cruiser Prado-like vehicle. We will all rotate daily so that all get a share of the least bad vehicle, or we can all sit in Gerbert’s 60.

What do I need to bring?
spbg-Chad-Mourdi-pushing-in-the-sandBring a tent inner against mozzies and a good sleeping bag. Local, thorn-proof foam mattresses will be supplied. Hiking boots for the rough walk up Emi Koussi, down into Trou and other excursions. A Camelbak-type water bladder and headtorch. Warm clothing for winter camps – expect nights in the Tibesti in January to get chilly. Day or night, headwear is a very good idea – a cheche (turban) works well. A change of clothes, camp shoes, washing items and medicaments, a day pack for the walks, a walking pole or two and anything else you might need to make your holiday as tolerable as possible. There is very little chance of rain.

What will a typical day be like?
chechainAssuming we camped out in the desert, around dawn the cook will get the fire going for breakfast. We’ll get up, eat breakfast, pack up and set off walking along the piste while the crew break camp. Soon they’ll catch up, we’ll get in the cars and drive on. We’ll find some shade or shelter for a relaxed lunch then get to our camp a couple of hours before dark, have a tea and repose or otherwise occupy ourselves until the evening meal, after which we’re again free to do as we wish.
Note that the schedule can unravel for any number of reasons (usually a glut of punctures), requiring longer unplanned days.

Do we travel every day?
No. Besides the trek up Emi Koussi, there’ll be days- or part days off exploring Archei, Ounianga and Bardai.

What about recharging my gadgets?
powermonkeyBest to either bring a bunch of batteries for cameras or rely on a USB that fits into a car’s 12-volt socket. It’s unlikely we’ll encounter much electricity in the north.

I’m not from the UK, or even the EU. Is that a problem?
No, as long as you can get the visa. Guidelines will be given on how to get a visa. There is no Chad embassy in the UK –  Paris or Bruxelles are nearest so from the UK probably best to do it with a visa agency.

Vache_qui_ritWhat is the accommodation and food like?
dahaA 3* hotel in Ndjamena, rudimentary desert or mountain huts where available, but mostly wild camping in the desert. The food I don’t know, but best to assume it may not be up to the standard of the best former tours luncharnin Algeria and Niger. Breakfast is tea or coffee and probably desert bread (right) with jam or vache. Lunch may be a salad with tea and biscuits or nuts on arrival at camp. Dinner might be soup and pasta or rice with meaty stew and dates plus tea for afters.

I am a vegetarian, is that problem?
In my experience desert cooks don’t fully get this concept and may struggle to separate meat extracts and juices from your meal.

How about alcohol?
Probably not available outside the Ndjamena hotel.

What happens if one of the cars packs up?
We try and fix it or at worst, call in a replacement.

Or if I injure myself and can’t walk
There will always be a car to sit in and you can sit out the volcano trek if you’re not up to it.

How hard is this volcano ascent?
emikDon’t know but the gradient won’t be gruelling; more likely the terrain will be. Emi Koussi (3445m) is a regular feature on Tibesti tours and so is not the challenge that the higher Kilimanjaro is.

Can I leave the tour at any time?
Not really. You’ll be listed on a special permit to travel in the far north with an agency and must stick with them.

Do I need any inoculations?
IMG_4287No. There may be mozzies in Ndjamena and some oases in the evenings. Wear full length clothing and repellent to avoid bites. Cheap self-supporting (no pegs or guys) mossie domes or inner tents will be handy here.

Is the water safe to drink?
It’s said bottled water will be widely available, even up north. We will use this where possible but the food will be cooked in well water which in my experience is fine.

What happens if I get diarrhoea?
This usually occurs in more touristy restaurants where food is not prepared freshly or re-used. These places don’t exist outside the capital, and even then it’s not usually bad enough to profoundly affect your holiday. Just keep drinking and keep a toilet roll handy. I’ll carry pharmaceutical rehydration sachets as well as Imodium-like ‘blockers’, though you may prefer your own supply.

Do I need travel insurance?
Yes. And it needs to cover you for northern Chad. It is possible that this may be hard to obtain on account of blacklisting by some government travel advisories.

Will my mobile work?
In the capital and maybe a couple of northern towns.

I demand lightning-fast wi-fi!
Beyond Ndjamena, dream on.

Do I need a GPS and a map?
Not needed but some like to keep track of their location or record the route for later review.

Is ‘sahara-overland.com’ a registered tour company?
No, it’s just the name of my website. The booking form includes a disclaimer that you’re undertaking this recce tour at your own risk.

What legal guarantee do I have that you will not just run off with my money?
None, but with my prominence on the Internet and in travel publishing this would be a dumb move and anyway, I want to enjoy organising a few more tours yet!

When will I know if the tour is confirmed?
When there are four confirmed bookings. Booking status here.

If I change my mind late in the day can I get my deposit back?
Only if someone takes your place.

My question is not addressed here?
All the info that I can think of is on these web pages, but they get updated from time to time. Please email me with any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them.

I’m up for it. What do I do next?
Email me and I’ll send you a booking form. Fill it out and send it in with arrangements for the £500 deposit. If all is in order you’ll get a confirmation email, telling you when the £2700 balance is due. Please note, I reserve the right to decline your booking and return your deposit without reason. If you cancel, your deposit can only be refunded if someone takes your place. If the tour is cancelled (most likely due to security issues) your deposit will be refunded in full.

Why is the deposit so high?
The internet makes it easy for people to buy things on a whim, thinking there’s little to lose if they change their mind. On some of my earlier tours this has resulted in a false impression of interest and late cancellations at a time when it’s too late to fill places. I now set high deposits on all my tours to discourage this (although there are always cancellations). A high deposit is an attempt to separate dilettantes from the genuinely interested with a real commitment to the tour – something which always improves the quality of the group, especially when things go wrong.

Back to Chad front page

Morocco Tours 2015 Gallery

A few shots from 2015’s one-weekers in the Moroccan High- and Anti Atlas right down to the Desert Highway. Perfect weather this time – not a cloud to be seen. First one warm, next one got a bit chillier in the High Atlas.
Planning more of the same for 2016: fly-in and rent a 250; gas, food and lodging covered. 2016 dates here or just enjoy the slide show.

Sahara Camel Trek, Immidir Plateau

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How quickly the landscape changes, even when one travels on foot.
Phillipe Diole, The Most Beautiful Desert Of All (1956) 

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In November 2007 I joined a recce organised by London-based Simoon Travel and Tanezrouft Voyages. Over 11 days we walked about 200kms from south of Arak through the northeastern Immidir to the Amguid Crater and the Bou Zerafa dunes beyond.

In January 2009 I led Simoon’s first tour with 8 clients, Photo report here. And a slide show from the 2010 tour is here

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The Immidir, aka the ‘Monts du Mouydir’ on the Mich map, left, is a region of plateaux and outcrops that straddle the Trans-Sahara Highway around the gorge of Arak.
To the south are the lovely exfoliated granite domes around Tidikmar and Moulay Hassan which we visited in 2005, and to the north and east of the TSH are a number of tilted sandstone plateaux with the typical south- or east facing escarpments and mixed up drainage of the Tassili N’Ajjer with which they might be considered geologically contiguous.

A few groups have followed part of our route through the Immidir before, and I know of a few others who’ve approached the crater from the Habedra piste by car and walked the last 10-20 kms, but no one has combined both. It was an idea I’d offered a couple of years ago with Tanezrouft and then proposed to Libya specialists Simoon. They liked it, found some people and so here we were.

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After arriving at In Salah, we drove south 300kms along the Trans Sahara Highway to this valley a few kms beyond Arak settlement. The camels and crew had been waiting a couple of days. Next morning we set off north up the Ighaghar valley in the middle left of the picture.

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The first few days with a south wind were hot and at times the terrain proved to be tougher for the camels than I expected. On Day 1 a few camels stumbled and lost their loads getting to the top of the Taflout Pass pictured above.

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By the next day we had a morning wandering through the cool box canyons and welcome gueltas or aguelmam for which the Immidir is best known. This place is just behind the Arak Gorge.

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Although there was rock art to be found, what we saw wasn’t really up to the quality and density of the eastern N’Ajjer, Akakus or the Gilf.

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Most days we came across a desert mosque or some sort, although I’ve never seen the ‘pewed’ examples we found in the Immidir. The inset shows a similar structure viewed from Google Earth at Aguelman Rahla guelta, 13kms directly north of the crater at the mouth of Oued Tafrakrek (see Google image below). Google Earth shows the permanent guelta surrounded by pre-islamic tombs (including the less common keyhole type) which suggests like many Sahara oueds, the place has long been inhabited.

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What tracks there were were old camel pistes across the hammada. Rubble like this was tough on boots and feet; most of us got blisters. Even the camels needed treating for cuts and one night the guides made them some hide socks. Some days the caravan took alternative, easier routes. Daily distances varied between 14 and 24kms. By the end we didn’t even notice a 14-km morning. The route is inaccessible to vehicles but we passed plenty of mouflon, jackal, gazelle and fennec trails and once saw camel tracks other than our own.

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This was a nice day; about 24 clicks round the back of the guelta below, over a ridge where one camel collapsed and needed unpacking and a gentle kicking. Then round to the big oued above which fed the gorge pictured below and into a series of small valleys where I found an intact pot.
Later it was fun marching on alone trying to catch up the caravan somewhere up ahead with the security of knowing the others were following. At times it took a little tracking to uncover the lead camels’ trail. Easy in sand, trickier on rock.

IM044

One lunch stop was by a deeply-carved gorge strung out with several waterholes (gueltas) and this arch.

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With no wells along the walking stage, the crew refilled from sources like this. People are put off by the colour but of course what makes you ill you can’t see, even in crystal clear water. Being early in the cool season following the summer rains, the water was probably fresh enough and if the crew could drink it so ought I. So as an experiment I drank the water as it came but didn’t get ill.
Interestingly ‘flying’ over our route on Google Earth reveals the region awash with gueltas. The gorge above (N24.317′ E 03° 58.506′) is almost one long pool and elsewhere we or the camels would not have got through some valleys and gorges without swimming.

IM22

Mohamed H of Agence Tanezrouft and Sidi Ali our cook coming through. Sidi and the crew’s work started when we stopped walking for the day and carried on until we set off before them next morning so we didn’t resent them riding. We could too and those that did remarked what a relief it was to be able to look around at the scenery instead of dodging the next rock underfoot.

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After a while it didn’t take much hesitation for us to grab a quick wash or launder at any guelta we came across, or even dive in for a swim. Like all tassilis, the Immidir has countless gueltas which make it suited to camel trekking. You can see from the ‘tide lines’ how deep this one fills after heavy rains.

IM66

Some shade always cropped up around lunchtime or ‘midi’. Usually we’d have to wait for Sidi Ali and his lunch camels to catch up. Then while we siesta’d the main caravan might pass through and keep going, usually getting to our evening camp ahead of us.

Food. Breakfast was light: coffee with hot milk and baguettes, sand bread or pancakes with jam and marg. We were sometimes given dates and a soft drink for the road. Lunch was a heap of mixed salad or veggie rice followed by mint tea and an orange while they lasted. We has more tea/coffee and biscuits soon after we stopped walking for the day. Dinner was soup and bread, a main course of cous cous/rice/pasta and stew – all variations on dried goat meat followed by an orange and mint tea. Most of us brought some sort of snacks and I brought my v-kettle (right) with drinks/soups which came in handy while waiting for the lunch camel to turn up.

Although I ate much less then I normally do, I eat too much anyway and saw the trek as a chance for a bit of a detox. I lost about half a stone but was never hungry. The daily ritual of walking, sleeping, chatting, eating and resting was very satisfying; as always the desert demonstrates how little you need to be content.

I carried about 2.5 litres of water in a Camelbak (bigger than most) and never ran out. On the earlier hotter days at about 30°C I got through 2L a day, later in the low 20s it was about a litre. About the same as summer in England.

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Come the big day the chattering subsided but we were still smiling when we got to the top of this gnaaarly climb, having unnecessarily gone up and down another ridge (see map below). With us we carried overnight gear, a bit of food and -no surprise to me having done these sort of walks before – not enough water. At the top of the climb we got our first sight of the Bou Zerafa dunefield 20 kms to the north and from this picture overlooking the camel route below the crater was only about 6km to the east.

Before we set off from Arak I didn’t have a clue which way our guide Yahia was going to reach Bou Zerafa other than north some way. A map didn’t mean much to him so there was little point asking or pointing and Tamachek names don’t always match the map’s Arabic. I presume then it was a total fluke when his route led far to the east below the Adrar Tassedit escarpment before turning north up the Oued Bou Zerafa – or Oued Tassedit as they called it. It could not have passed closer to the crater site.

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So east we went. The broken terrain reminded me of a mild version of Ginge Fullen’s attempt to climb Bittu Bitti, Libya’s highest peak (see p.377 in the book). Between us and the horizon where the crater surely lay were any number of chasms, clefts and gorges. Near this point we passed the 150-km mark which put the crater at nearly 100 miles from our departure point near Arak.

IM888

Just on sunset and having covered 7 tough kms in 3.5 hours, we sat ourselves down in the middle of the crater pan. Not sure what we’re all laughing about; we each have less than a litre of water left so tomorrow was going to be a bit of a march but our goal had been accomplished.
From the left: me, Yahia the guide, Francoise, Jon the photographer, Imogen, Amelia of Simoon, Bob, Amelia’s husband Lex who tracked the whole route on GPS and Tom.

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The crater is thought to have been formed less than 100,000 years ago and the first recorded visit was by a French geologist in 1969. For us it would have been nice to explore it in sunlight and I’d also hoped to take a hike over to the Oued Tafrakrek rim a couple of clicks to the east. But having chatted with Mohamed on the sat phone, Yahia explained to us the camels were already heading for the dunes so to intercept them we had a longer cross-country walk the next day. I went to sleep thirsty, woke up thirsty and at first light decided to drink my last cupful while others chose to save a few drops for the hike. To make the most of the cool morning we climbed out of the unlit crater at first light and set off northwest to the dunes.

IMcrmap

Here’s part of our route in red over the Adrar Tassedit plateau 8 days after leaving Arak. After lunch (009 LCH if you have bionic eyes) and repacking our gear we left the caravan trail in green, crossed a needless ridge (below the ‘A’ and then climbed back onto the plateau (‘009 DN VW’; the group shot 4 pics above) and then went up and down past ‘009 150KM’ to the crater at ‘706’. The map above is about 15 miles/25kms wide.

IMgoocrat

Although we were unsure to put our trust in Yahia as he’d never been here either, next day he led us to the dunes where our camels were waiting. Knowing water was scarce he lured us on, keeping just out of reach so there was no discussion about which way to go. As the return route and waypoints show, his Tuareg ‘GPS’ was spot on. Apart from the easily-remedied water issues our route to the crater was as good as could be expected.

In 2009 we started at dawn at ‘557’ a bit to the north of our lunch spot, above the meander of the ‘T’ on the map. We climbed up the valley side with a bit of scrambling and had a much easier 2.5hr/6km each way walk to the crater. Next day we followed the green route along the canyon to the dunes and beyond, probably 30km but no one noticed by now.

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With some (myself included) a bit more parched than others (notably the women), we finally staggered off the plateau and onto the sands some 6 hours and 16 kms from the crater – much further than we imagined and having drunk no- or just a couple of sips of water. Everyone had quietly focused on the task. Luckily it was another cool day and of course we knew the crew was out there somewhere with water.

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Once on the sands some desperados cracked and drained the last gritty dregs from their hydrators while Yahia dashed off to track down the caravan out in the sands. A few minutes later Mohamed came galloping in with some water.

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We spent the rest of the day idling about and drinking everything they brought us. That evening, while contemplating the transit of Orion and Copernicus’ theory that meteorites never strike in the same place twice, a shooting star tore in low over the Tassedit plateau above the crater. With a bright green trail breaking up behind it, somewhere out there a new sprinkling of space debris had scattered itself across the desert floor. As we discussed the startling phenomenon a sonic ‘b-boom’ rippled over the sands, suggesting a meteorite had indeed breached the atmosphere. Someone knew the speed of sound and estimating the time after the sighting, Tom worked out it had fallen about 50 miles away, well beyond the crater. With this suitably astral climax to our crater day, Copernicus was proved right – again.

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Next day we headed into the dunes for some exercise. Some took the high road…

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… some took the low. We passed Bou Zerafa well marked on the maps. It was sanded over but Yahia assured us there was water a metre below. Winding up our 10-day rocky plateau trek in the glowing orange sands of an erg was perfect – another highlight after the crater.

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Next morning the cars turned up from In Salah with fresh food and water. At this point my camera passed out but we carried on northeast alongside a dune ridge to one more camp (passing some lovely pestle-like moules to go with the countless grinders lying around). Another short morning followed to knock off ‘200kms’ according to Lex’s GPS tracking, right by an unmarked well with good water.

We drove from there northwest to Tin Habedra well (sanded in) and then directly west along the Habedra piste passing escarpments lined with tall cairns and small, palmy sources while chased by a storm front. It showered a bit that evening and most took to the tents for the first time as lightning flashes circled us along the horizon. Then at 2am a bolt exploded nearby and a heavy shower drenched the camp. The tents held off the worst of it but next morning by the time we’d got the fire lit most weren’t in the mood for the planned splash about at Tiguelmine guelta on the old Hoggar route. We headed directly back for In Salah, a great feast at Mohamed’s, a plane to Algiers and home.

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