Travelling through the desert
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Trans-Saharan travel has in recent years become increasingly famous among African youths, while it is less safe to westerners as assumed.
As a guide to the safest routes south from Europe to sub-Saharan Africa the schedules of the major commercial overland companies are a good source. But from West Africa to North Africa and link South Europe, 'connection man' is the guide but without guarantee. Recently most West African youths route their way to south Europe through Algeria, Morocco and Libya while Niger stands as the entry point that links this three countries.
These days, striking south through Algeria and Niger, once the most favoured route, is not practical on a commercial scale. The current route follows the Atlantic seaboard from Morocco through Western Sahara; Mauritania; Mali; Burkina Faso and Nigeria. To know more about Sahara desert check your map. But a brief geographic outline is that the total domain of the Sahara desert is more than 9,000,000 square kilometres (more than 3,500,000 square miles).
The limits of the Sahara desert are the Atlantic Ocean on the west, the Atlas Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea in the North, the Red Sea and Egypt in the east, and the Sudan and the valley of the Niger River in the south. In desert countries, short penetration south into Morocco, Algeria and Libya if you can manage is a safer option, with the risk increasing the closer you get to the Mali and Mauritanian frontiers. Libya is a great country for long-range overland travel. The more you get around the more you will find desert travel conditions much easier and enjoyable.
Sometimes, all these countries have advantage on each other for traveller. That is Libya can be accessed easily while Tunisia within the limits of its borders is a rewarding desert travel destinations but it does not allow for really deep penetration. If you can get down through Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, you can get down as far as Niger. This will be arguably the most rewarding trip you might have. This is if you are interested in mammoth star-scrapes, featureless desert and great dry land scenery. Niger has a reputation in desert travel as being one of the greatest Sahara destinations.
Mali is a thrilling desert travel destination, with also one of the most surprising and diverse swathes of desert landscape. Take your journey now to Senegal and that will link you with the Gambia through the River Gambia. Tourists to Africa often enjoy this, especially the Dutch who normally cruise in through Spain, to Morocco - Mauritania - Senegal and Gambia.
If you are planning a trip through the desert and you want it to be smooth, safe and enjoyable without any hassle follow these instructions:
Take extra water for your vehicle and the people travelling with you to drink. The first rule says at least 1 gallon per person and also one or more for your vehicle. Second rule, take some snacks or dried food items along. Remember it should be foods or eatery that can absorb a lot of heat because the desert is extremely hot. Do not forget to pack your blankets, towels, hat, hand gloves, foam and necessary items that can block the sun in case you have a breakdown.
If your car seat is leather, beware, especially for kids. The leather heats up extremely when the sun is directly on it. Despite its mystery, beauty and serenity, some people say the desert is still not an accommodating environment because it is a difficult terrain; the heat, the dry climate and smell from dead camels. Whatever, Sahara desert is not a place for everyone!
Author: By Yunus Saliu