28-Oct-2006 -- It is a couple of minutes before 5 p.m. and we were with Guda and Sidi at the confluence 17N 8E on the outskirts of Agadez. It marks the end of a fantastic week-long round trip at the Aïr mountains and the sand dunes of the Ténéré from which we returned a couple of hours earlier. Guda was our guide and Sidi the driver of the guide vehicle. The rest of our group Herwig, Mosquito, Ludwig, and Udo preferred to go to the hotel and prepare for an early start for the trip back to Abuja.
We had left Abuja midday on 17 October and drove to Katsina where we spent the first night at Taschl's guesthouse. The wall hanger in the lounge with the motive of a wild horse is a must to see. The next day we continued to Agadez via Zinder and Tânout. In Agadez at the lodge Auberge d'Azel where we also spent the night, we met our guide Guda, the driver Sidi, and Moussa the cook.
The next morning we left for the Aïr mountains, slowly cruising through this magnificient scenery. The Aïr mountains are among the most spectacular sights in West Africa. These mountains are of dark volcanic rock capped with unusually shaped peaks. Our convoy consisted of one Toyota Land Cruiser and and three Mercedes G models. The first night we camped in a dried-out riverbed (wādiy) approximately 10 km from Tîmia.
The next morning after breakfast we visited the waterfall just a couple of kilometres before Tîmia. What a sight to see that clear, fresh water coming out of the mountain, especially in this dry and very stony area. Tîmia is a lovely green oasis. A restored fort from the French period is overlooking the wādiy and the village. Everywhere are gardens along this wādiy with oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, and even grapes can be found. There is also a lovely hotel outside the village. In the afternoon we continued our journey towards Takabar and set up camp for the night in a wādiy.
The next morning we drove through the Zagado Valley, very sandy but with beautiful white sand and with black mountains at both sides. It was here where we stopped and purchased from itinerant nomads a ram to freshen up our meat supplies. We drove more and more away from the Aïr mountains and entered the Ténéré; endless undulating sand dunes, devoid of any vegetation as far as you can see; unbelievably beautiful. We went to Issaouane which translates to "the place where the water stops"; if it rains in the Aïr mountains some of the water will run off into the desert only as far as Issaouane. An incredibly beautiful place where we set up camp on top of the dunes overlooking the oasis.
The next morning we went back in the direction of the Zagado Valley to Kogo, a crater made out of marble hills and sand dunes. From there we drove along the Taghmert Mountains, the highest point is 1637 meters, in direction of the Tamgak Mountains with peaks between 1600 and 2000 meters. We followed a wādiy in northerly direction and turned east and than drove straight towards the Adrar Chiriet. We drove around the Adrar Chiriet coming from the south side and camped in the dunes on the north side. It was there where we got the ram slaughtered and some of us enjoyed a very nice leg of lamb which was made to perfection, the leg of lamb was wrapped in aluminium foil and dug in with the charcoal in a sand pit.
The next morning some of us took a short ride on the back of a camel into the sand dunes. Our first stop this morning was at the rock engravings of Tizerzeit. After visiting the school as well, we continued and reached the village Iferouane in the afternoon. We reported at the police station, visited the museum, replenished our water supply, and left the village. We set up camp about 10 km outside Iferouane.
The next day we reached a very interesting place. It was a pan into which several rivers flow from the mountains when it eventually rains. This pan is very fertile, the grasses were half a meter high. It was amazing to see all this vegetation amongst the surrounding rocks. We camped our last night in the Aïr at a place called Goûgaram which is not far from the Agadez-Arlit road.
The next day we drove to Agadez, visited the market and the grande mosque, and had a few beers on the roof terrasse of the Hotel de Aïr before visiting the confluence 17N 8E.
Continued at 13N 8E.