NOTES FROM THE ROAD


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Getting Some Nav Practice…


Working with maps…


21 April 2017: Back in the sand dunes of Erg Admer today. Has been a really interesting opportunity to map some routes in detail in a part of the Sahara that doesn’t have a lot of maps available. Have been making plenty of trail notes too, which we will be sharing over the next few months…



Heading Northwest…


On the road to Ihrir…


20 April 2017: On the tar road for a good part of the day today as we made our way northwest to an Oasis at Ihrir. We went from the flat desert along the edge of Erg Admer up onto the high rocky plateau beyond where the landscape changes dramatically. This journey has so far been one of constantly changing landscape and “vastness” …



The Ruined Ksars of Djanet…


Back in Djanet briefly…


19 April 2017: We looped back to the town of Djanet today to resupply and get a brief introduction to some of the town’s history. At one point the town was down in the valley but due to periodic flooding people began building the town up into the mountains where there were three Ksars (a kind of walled castle-type town center), which have long since fallen into ruin as people moved out and constructed modern homes beyond their crumbling walls. There has been some restoration of one of the Ksars and all three have a protected status …



The Crying Cow…


Beautiful engravings tell a story…


18 April 2017: The rock art we have been seeing tells the story of climate change and how this whole area of desolate desert was once full of water and bustling with human activity. The earliest engravings show elephants, rhinos and giraffes, giving a sense that the wadi In Djaren was once a flowing river creating a fertile basin full of lush green. Later works focus on scenes of hunting and cattle herding, with magnificent illustrations of cows, such as this “crying cow” which the first researcher so-named due to the apparent “teardrop” coming from its eye…



A Canyon Filling with Sand…


The on-going process of erosion…


17 April 2017: The whole area we are in is encircled with high walls of crumbling black sandstone that are slowly being buried under the blowing sand. In some areas we can see the sand piling up to the top of the walls, or even giant dunes covering the cliffs and spires with just a little bit of black rock poking out. And some of the rock art is partially buried, leading us to believe that there is probably many more engravings and paintings below the “ground” line. Currently the whole area of Tassili N’Ajjer is known to contain 15,000 examples of rock art, mostly spanning a period from 8,000BC to 2,000BC…



Big Dunes…


The dunes are getting bigger…


16 April 2017: Driving deeper into the Tadrart the dunes seem to be getting bigger. Today the desert opened up more as we left an area of tall black sandstone cliffs and entered the start of a dune field. We were moving closer to the Libyan border but have not yet reached the largest sea of dunes known as Tin Merzouga…



Desert Driving Challenges…


Unexpected vehicle issues…


15 April 2017: A few unexpected “problems” with our gas-fueled Toyota Land Cruiser came up out in the desert. The ever-present dust from fine sand seems to get into everything — including gas receptacles. Some of the gas we brought seems to be slightly contaminated causing the truck to choke up, sputter and stop, unable to restart. Luckily the local team is familiar with the problem and demonstrates the “fix” — banging gently on the fuel pump with a rock (or whatever is at hand) for a little while to loosen the sludge and get the fuel flowing again. We had to repeat the procedure a few times during the first few days of the journey, but got the truck up and running again quickly each time…


PREVIOUS NOTES FROM THE ROAD >


THIS MONTH:
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Heading into south-eastern Algeria near the borders with Libya and Niger, for a return to the Sahara with a new scouting mission. Exciting to be able to explore a different part of this vast desert and connect with the local communities in the region. From a base in Djanet, we will explore the Tadrart up to the Libyan border and then loop back to Erg Admer heading northwest to the Ihrir oasis…


COMING UP SOON:

Teaching navigational skills and talking about international overlanding at the First Annual Wheelers Overland Adventure, May 18-21 at Anthracite Offroad Adventure Area (AOAA) in eastern Pennsylvania. The four-day overland camping and wheeling event is sponsored by Quadratec and Offroad Consulting, and brings together a diverse group of overlanders for trail runs, skills instruction, and networking opportunities in a festival atmosphere with onsite camping and optional activities the whole family can enjoy…

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Trail Guiding for the 9th annual Topless for Tatas Charity Wheeling Event at Rausch Creek off-road park 11-13 August. TFT brings together off-roaders from all over to raise awareness about Breast Cancer and raise funds for the American Cancer Society. Last year’s event raised over $30,000 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation…


ABOUT TASSILI N”AJJER

Tassili n’Ajjer is a heavily eroded sandstone rock formation in the Algerian section of the Sahara Desert, situated on a vast plateau, that encompasses south-east Algeria, western Libya and northern Niger. It features over 300 rock arches, dense clusters of eroded sandstone rock pillars and steep cliffs and gorges where water pools permanently at the surface. The rock formation is an archaeological site, noted for its numerous prehistoric parietal works of rock art that date to the early Neolithic era at the end of the last glacial period during which the Sahara was an inhabitable savanna rather than the current desert. Although sources vary considerably, the earliest pieces of art are assumed to be 12,000 years old. The area was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 because it contains one of the most important groupings of prehistoric cave art in the world. More than 15,000 drawings and engravings record the climatic changes, the animal migrations and the evolution of human life on the edge of the Sahara from 6000 BC to the first centuries of the present era. The geological formations are of outstanding scenic interest, with eroded sandstones forming ‘forests of rock’ in a strange lunar landscape of great geological interest.


ABOUT DJANET

Djanet is an oasis city in Illizi Province, southeast Algeria primarily inhabited by the Kel Ajjer Tuareg people. Djanet lies in a valley carved by the wadi Oued Idjeriou through the southwest edge of the Tassili n’Ajjer mountain range. The town itself is at an altitude of 1,035 metres (3,396 ft), but the mountains to the east and north reach as high as 1,905 metres (6,250 ft). The region has been inhabited since Neolithic times, and for tens of thousands of years the area was not desert. The flora and fauna were luxuriant as is seen in the numerous rock paintings of Tassili n’Ajjer. Today Djanet has a hot desert climate, with very hot summers and mild winters. The city is extremely dry throughout the year, with an annual average rainfall of just 14.6 millimetres (0.57 in).


ABOUT TINARIWEN TOURS

Tinariwen Tours is a Djanet based group, owned by Mohamed Hassani, an experienced Tuareg guide, driver, photographer, musician and expert on all things Tenere. Tinariwen Tours operates in the southeastern region of Algeria, offering guided trips, camel treks, and all phases of expedition support including equipped 4×4 trucks, translators, guides, drivers, and support crew as needed.


THE BLUE HEART CAMPAIGN

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Team Engage supports the UN’s Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking and the Blue Heart Campaign as their platform to raise awareness about global human trafficking— an issue which disproportionately effects women. Human trafficking is modern day slavery and includes sex trafficking (forced prostitution and forced marriage), labor trafficking (domestic servitude, sweatshops and fraudulent bonded labor contracts), child soldiers and organ trafficking. According to the International Labor Organization, nearly 21 million people or 3 out of every 1,000 people worldwide are victims of human trafficking. The UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking was established in 2010 and provides direct humanitarian, legal and financial aid to human trafficking victims. They provide grants to small grassroot NGOs that directly assist victims with housing, food, legal aid, access to justice, psychosocial support, medical care and training. Click here to donate directly to the Fund…

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