Grand tour of the Tenere desert Aïr/Ténéré Tour by arbre du Ténéré Aïr-Adrar Chiriet Trek trough Aïr by foot or camelback
Aïr/Ténéré in seven days Aïr mountains Camelback in Aïr 12/14 days River Niger in dugout canoe, Tapoa Park

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Grand Tour of The Ténéré desert- 12 to 14 days


Agadez - arbre du Ténéré

Barely 10 minutes after leaving Agadez in a 4WD, we plunge into another world: the Ténéré Desert spreads it barren wilderness before our eyes.
The Tiguidit Cliffs bear rock paintings from prehistoric cultures who vanished several thousand years ago; with the pre-islamic tombs and petrified tree trunks discovered in the same area, they powerfully evoke a very ancient past.
To avoid sinking into the soft sand, drivers let air out of the vehicles’ tires as soon as the ridges of the Ténéré Erg are in sight, long before you reach Arbre du Ténéré. The first giant dunes raise their proud profile against the sky just beyond this historic site.

Arbre du Ténéré - Bilma :

Crossing of the Ténéré and Bilma ergs

This is the winter route of the famous salt caravans going to Bilma. Meeting a train of camels plowing majestically through the soft sand is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Driving becomes more arduous for there is no road in this maze, not even the shadow of a track: as the 4WDs wind their way around the huge sand ridges, leaving faint tire marks that vanish with the first breeze, travellers feel as lost as if they were in the middle of an uncharted sea. The Fachi and Bilma Oasis provide exquisitely green havens in this boundless sea of sand.

Dirkou - Seguedine - Djado - Orida : la falaise du Kaouar

Aney, Seguedine and Chirfa palmtree plantations bloom deliciously green in the shadow of the forbidding Kaouar Cliff. From the proud fortified cities of Djado and Djaba, only ruins remain, silently guarding the memory of their unknown builders. At Orida, stone pillars eroded by blowing sand create a fantastic, almost surreal landscape.

Dissalak Cliff and Ténéré Desert

Over centuries, the merciless Saharan wind has turned Dissalak Cliff into a sculpture gallery: eagle heads, human bodies and abstract figures flower all over the eroded rock. This is where you enter the real Ténéré Desert, the Tafassâsset, a flat expanse as boundless, empty and pure as infinity. Nothing to catch the eye, not a sign of life in this kingdom of silence and stillness. To cross this utter wilderness between sky and sand is a deeply humbling experience.

Adrar Bous - Temet

The Adrar Bous area retains traces of very ancient human life. Its rich trove of Neolithic artifacts — arrow heads, grindstones, fishbones — witness to a climate and level of activity very different from what we can observe today: indeed, the Neolithic communities lived in a Ténéré dotted with lakes. To discover one of those millenia-old relics is one of the most moving experiences a traveller can have. The Temet Oued (intermittent river) meanders through steep sand dunes, some 300 meters high, at the foot of a 1,000-meter mountain, the Gréboun.

Tezirzek - Chiriet

Near Tezirzek Well, a hill covered with rock paintings evokes the rich fauna that roamed the Ténéré when the desert still bloomed. All those species have disappeared, along with the cultures whose life depended on them.
The multicolored Ifiniyane Dunes rush up against Adrar Chiriet, a dark volcanic outcrop fantastically eroded by blowing sand.

Illekane - Arakao

Nowhere in the Sahara are contrasts starker as in this area. In every direction, sand waves roll toward the horizon, sometimes crashing against islands of blue and white marble. Gold, silver and pink dunes nurture delicate flowers and capture light tracks that hint of a secret life amazingly well adapted to its harsh environment.
Arakao, a ten-kilometer-wide crater shaped like a crab claw, gathers the Ténéré sand through a large breach in its high walls, forming a gigantic sand buttress against the Takolokouzet.

Zagado valley- Assodé - Timia

The Zagado River leads us deep into the heart of the magnificent Massif de l’Aïr. Gazelles roam its tree-lined banks.
Tales of the flourishing past of'Assodé abound. The ancient capital of the Aïr is now a ghost town where only a few walls still stand, but pottery shards strewn all over the site testify to its once thriving economy. Bright green against the ochre expanse of sand, the Timia Oasis offers a striking contrast to the somber lava range that surrounds it. Kel Oui farmers still water their gardens with the wooden pulleys used by their ancestors. They raise corn, wheat, a wide variety of vegetables, even grapes. Downstream from Timia, a lovely waterfall cascades through a series of basins toward the guelta.

Elméki - Dabaga - Azel - Agadez

Arid moonscapes and emerald-green oasis, volcanic pillars and well-tended gardens, light-footed gazelles and flowering acacia trees: on this stretch of track, contrasts and surprises abound, to the unending delight of the traveller. In Elméki, Tuaregs still extract tin from ancient cassiterite mines. The road to Agadez goes through Azel, a charming village of settled Tuareg farmers and herdsmen.

PRICE per person for a party of 7 or more starting from Agadez :

- 14 days = 1100 Euros per person (7.200 FF)
- 13 days = 1030 Euros " (6.780 FF)
- 12 days = 970 Euros " (6.360 FF)

Prices include:
* 4WD vehicles and fuel
* drivers, guide and cook
* full board, cookware, tableware and one foam mattress per person
* local taxes and route approval (required for desert travel)

Prices do not include:
* drinks and personal expenses
* plane tickets and airport taxes
* food and lodging in Agadez
* travel insurance (trip cancellation, lost luggage, emergency return for health reasons)
NOTE: these prices apply to the 2002/2003 season, save for an abnormal rise in local prices.