Since 1982 I’ve travelled in the Sahara using motorcycles, 4x4s, regular cars, trucks, and with camels, adding up to over 50 visits. I’ve written books, presented talks, appeared on TV, organise and lead tours, shot films and offered advice and consultation to novelists, TV, world-leading brands, NGOs, nutters and scientists.
In the menu bar above you’ll find links to scores of travellers’ reports, map-, route– and country information, details about or reports on my tours, book reviews and articles on whatever deserty subject happens to interest me, be it Arawan, Burials, the 2CV survival story or the mysterious Merkala Tower. It’s a jumble of stuff dating back decades right up to the latest news. In the quiet summer of 2020 I added two new categories for old posts: Historical and Book Reviews.
The last edition of my Sahara Overland guidebook was published way back in 2005 but has been superseded by this website and my subsequent books:
Overlanders’ Handbook 2 (right) Adventure Motorcycling Handbook 8 and a full-colour edition of Morocco Overland 3 (above left).
I also republished Desert Travels (below right), a travelogue covering my early adventures in the Sahara when the desert was much more accessible, and extracted and expanded the camel section from Sahara Overland into an inexpensive Sahara Trekking ebook (right).
The Golden Age of Sahara travel
Today, following nearly two decades of kidnappings, much-increased trafficking, rebellions, revolutions as well as the spread of weaponry, independent tourism in the central Sahara has collapsed or is severely restricted. But it wasn’t always like that.
The late 1970s and 1980s were a Golden Age for desert tourism: post-colonial nations had yet to be beset by internal strife, while the popularity of the Dakar Rally as well as the emergence of desert-capable motorcycles and 4x4s, saw adventure tourism flourish in the central Sahara. My book, Desert Travels, recalls this era. Most winters the overlanders’ campsites in Djanet and Tamanrasset were packed with VWs, Land Rovers, Ladas, BMWs and XTs.
The last time I stayed at Camping Dassine in Tam it was deserted. Only the old ‘airstream’ Transsaharienne bus (left) rested where it’s been since time immemorial.
Make no mistake: the good days of roaming free around the Sahara are pretty much over. It was great while it lasted but you could say the Sahara has returned to what it always was: a lawless wilderness into which outsiders venture at their peril. Having said that, I am always conspiring of ways to get back there where Algeria and Mauritania hold the best prospects for real desert travel.
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