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North Africa Topics specific to North Africa and the Sahara down to the 17th parallel (excludes Morocco)
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Trans Sahara Routes.

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  #31  
Old 13 Aug 2016
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Out of curiosity - did the caravan routes east all go over Kufra, or is there another route east from Faya?
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  #32  
Old 13 Aug 2016
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caravans

no - there were many different pistes!
one started near the oasis of Mut and went to Uweinat and further SW - called Abu Ballas Trail (Donkey Trail)


if you google with
"commerce transsaharien"
you get quite a lot of maps
http://up.picr.de/26489840jo.jpg

Last edited by ursula; 13 Aug 2016 at 16:42.
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  #33  
Old 13 Aug 2016
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Quote:
...did the caravan routes east all go over Kufra, or is there another route east from Faya?
That really depends on the period. During Senoussi times Borkou (including Faya) was under a loose Senoussi rule, and there was no East-West trade North of the Ennedi, all routes controlled by the Senoussi in the Libyan Desert were North-South.


Of course earlier, going back to Pharaonic times as Ursula said, there were clearly some East-West routes, the Abu Balla trail was one, the Wadi Howar another.
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  #34  
Old 14 Aug 2016
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  #35  
Old 14 Aug 2016
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Wink caravans

As the eastern part of the Sahara is not well represented among the internet maps I had a look in my books


map of Michael Asher s book „Darb el arbain“ or „La piste des quarante jours“ or
"In search of the forty days road"
the donkey trail between Dongola, Wadi Milk to El Fasher is still used today





map from a book with many more maps „ Desert Road Archeology“ Heinrich Barth Institut Köln

I wonder why the french built the Fort Agoza in the Mourdi Depression at the border Chad / Sudan.
Was there an East – West passage coming from Merga /Nukheila - El Atrun - Dongola ?
On some maps there is a caravan route marked from Dongola to Bilma, passing south of Tibesti.

Arita Baaijens describes also a camel caravan route from Dongola to Bir Bidi, Oyo and Merga / Nukheila as a part of the Darb el Arbain route coming from El Fasher (2000/2002)
http://www.slideshare.net/baaijens/desert-travels-in-darfur

Last edited by ursula; 14 Aug 2016 at 16:42.
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  #36  
Old 15 Aug 2016
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Except for the border crossing shouldn't be a problem walking from Faya to El Atrun then.
And perhaps security concerns in Northern Darfur, but the real problems are further south.
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  #37  
Old 15 Aug 2016
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It is really a question of semantics here, the way I would define a "caravan route" is a regularly used trade route with well established wells and resting places, under the control of one or several political entities.


In this respect there were no real East-West routes across the Libyan Desert in medieval times, the only major routes were going South from Kufra (controlled by the Senoussi) and the Darb el Arbain controlled by the Sultans of Darfur.


There were the occasional one-off caravans which traversed little used routes (e.g. the caravan of Ali Dinar from Darfur to Kufra via Uweinat -Jebel Anwar - described by Bidi el Awad, as told to Arkell and printed in Sudan Notes and Records), but generally there was no real East-West traffic via the central Libyan Desert, except for the short-lived Farafra to Kufra camel trail through the great sand sea via Ain Dalla in Senoussi times.


Also there was some trade between the Senoussi in Kufra and the Fezzanese Oases, that went via Wau Kebir, Wau Namus and either Tazerbo or Rebiana.


Prior to that the Tibu controlled the whole area between Kufra & the Tibesti, as they were hostile to all outsiders there were no routes through this area linking North & South. Most of the 'routes' marked on old maps are the tracks of one-off travelers & explorers or just hearsay.


Of course further south there was regular trade between Bornou and Darfur, but all that happened south of the Ennedi. Similarly Darfur was linked to the Nile via several routes, as Ursula mentioned the Donkey trail from Dongola is still in use.
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  #38  
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Said donkey caravan, departing to El Fasher from Dongola (November 2015):

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  #39  
Old 15 Aug 2016
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Thanks Andrasz and Ursula for clearing that up.
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  #40  
Old 18 Aug 2016
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I wouldn't want to spend my energy on crossing borders. The following looks impressive enough to me. I don't think anybody has done it recently:
- Learn Hassaniya
- Go to Chinguetti (or further east as long as you consider it safe)
- Have someone teach you how to care about camels (I'm sure people here can help you with some contacts)
- Buy a camel or two
- Walk them to the coast
- optional: Walk them back on a different route
- Sell the camels and write a book about your experience

Crossing the desert unsupported is hard enough as it is. No need for politics.
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  #41  
Old 18 Aug 2016
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The original poster should surely do just that. And go from there.

In Africa, crossing borders have unfortunately become such a large part of the voyage, both time-wise and expense-wise, that many travelogues these days occupy themselves with this more than the actual travelling.
Same sad development is evident on this and many other forums.
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  #42  
Old 19 Aug 2016
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Great answer bayu – to the point (Ursula suggested similar 2 weeks ago).
These plucky guys did as much in 2002:
Tasting the sand - Travels with camels in Mauritania
Still possible I reckon, maybe with the requirement of nightly sat calls to police.

This very experienced guy, Regis Belleville (did Chinguetti-Timbuktu direct with a guide - 1000km between wells) set out on a solo west-east in 2005 trying to stick to the 20th parallel (Majabat, Tenere, Tibesti). He got as far as the Tenere. Planned to carry on but presumably Saharan events outran him.

Chad Ennedi would be another great location;
Sudan Nubian Desert a bit easier.

Camel crossing the Sahara – top down, left right – periodically captures people’s imagination but besides missing the point (IMO), the way things are in the Sahara today is just unnecessarily complicated and risky.

Another good read: the hubristic Geoff Moorhouse’s Fearful Void.

Last edited by Chris Scott; 21 Aug 2016 at 10:04.
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  #43  
Old 19 Aug 2016
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Like some peaple have suggested you, start by a 2 to 4 weeks desert trip in order to learn what is the Sahara and manage/ride camels.
Manage camels is not easy and will require few months of practice with a guide.
I have done few camels trips those ten last years in the deserts of algeria.
You can do for example the Tam-Djanet in one month with camels or Nouakchott-Chenguetti in Mauritania.
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  #44  
Old 19 Aug 2016
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camel caravans Sahara

BTW I proposed Atar in Mauritania and Dongola in Sudan to start because there are big
camel markets in these towns, easier to buy some good camels.

Another option is to join an existing local camel caravan, rather a tough journey !
Still on the way seen in the past in

Mauritania: N/S from Tichit/Aoukar with salt
https://www.flickr.com/photos/726643...n/photostream/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/726643...in/photostream

Mali : N/S from Taoudeni to Timbuktu with salt
Niger : E/W and W/E between Bilma and the Air mountains with salt and dates
Libya: S/N in the Erg Idrisi from Chad to Kufra with camels to slaughter
Libya: S/N near Uweinat from Sudan to Kufra do
Sudan: S/N near Dongola from Kordofan to Egypt do

Have also a look at Google Map !
20°59'42.7"N 22°43'56.3"E
and at Here Maps
21.35832,22.96397
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  #45  
Old 22 Aug 2016
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Yes it seems border crossings are going to be a main problem of this trip, whether they are closed or militarised. I'm still researching all this and getting deeper. Visas shouldn't be a problem, provided you can prove you're actually going to leave the country. The Algeria/Tunisia border is closed overland.

I have made contact with a man from a tribe in Algeria who is currently living in Australia and is offering to help where he can. I also have a contact in Mauritania who is offering to help with that leg of the trip, so the pieces are starting to fall into place, even if they are rather small pieces, but hey you gotta start somewhere.

As far as camel training goes yes I have no experience! I'm getting in touch with camel farms in Aus to train here, and when I get to Western Sahara I plan to spend a bit of time there acclimatising and training also.

I've been away for a couple of weeks (Vipassana) hence my silence on this thread, but I will be active again now once I have filtered through all the amazing information everyone is giving...
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