The Sahara Desert is the largest desert in the world. It extends over 5,000 KMfrom the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea and covers more than 8 million square kilometres, an area equivalent to that of Australia and New Zealand combined! The Sahara crosses 10 African countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Mali and Mauritania, but the borders are quite vague. It would even extend beyond the Red Sea and geographers speak of a great Saharo-Arabian desert. Contrary to popular belief, the sand desert covers only 20% of the surface of the Sahara. Most travelers are familiar with images of sand deserts, but overlook those of mountains, hamadas, regs and regions covered with huge sand sheets like the Majabat al Koubra. Climate level, the maximum temperature of the Sahara is 55 ° C,
- A place steeped in history
- The population of the Sahara
- Tourism in the Sahara: a 20th century invention
- The splendor of the Algerian sunset!
- Discover Hoggar in Algeria… Its history is visible in the rocks
- The fortified villages of the M’zab valley, Algeria
A place steeped in history
The Sahara desert has not always been a place hostile to life. A few thousand years ago, the “desert” was crossed by rivers, mountains, the cave paintings discovered reveal that the fauna and flora abounded there. But now it is sand, rocks and very violent winds which reign over the Sahara. Sandstorms are common on this plateau located between 200 and 500 m altitude. But in this space that is the Sahara desert, live 2.5 million people . But who are these people of the desert?
The population of the Sahara
The Sahara desert is not completely deserted, a people lives there and that does not date from today. In the Sahara, many traces of prehistoric human activity have been discovered (tools, pottery, and cave paintings). Although global warming had begun, the Sahara was still humid around 6500 BC. AD The Sahara became arid around 3900 BC. , RESULTING in the migration of people from central North Africa to the Nile Valley, which eventually led to the emergence of the first complex and highly organized societies. The people today are mostly nomadic, about 1.5 to 2 million people, but this figure is falling, as more and more nomads are settling in the growing cities that are gaining on the desert. Three peoples currently live in the Sahara: the Moors, the Tedas and the Tuaregs. These peoples settle and cultivate very small areas where only water arrives (oases). The main resource is the date palm. The first date-producing areas in the world are the oases of Oued Rhir, in Algeria. The other crops (cereals, vegetables) are produced under the palm groves.
Of course the Sahara plays a big role in the world economy thanks to its rich mineral resources, gas, oil, uranium … etc., exploited mainly by Algeria and Libya.
In these climatic conditions, only a few animals and in particular insects manage to survive: fennec foxes, jerboas, vipers, scorpions … But we mainly see camels, used by the Tuaregs to get around . These nomads move from oasis to oasis to water their herds, often made up of sheep, goats and dromedaries .
Tourism in the Sahara: a 20th century invention
Tourism in the Sahara is recent. In 1919, only the northern limits of the Sahara had been flown over, and it was not until 1922 that the Citroën mission led by Haardt, Audoin and Dubreuil crossed the Sahara for the first time by automobile. Now many stays are offered in the Sahara: from trekking to all-terrain hikes , the tourist economy does not budge. The human aspect is also very strong, this space is breathtaking. But the climate is getting warmer and warmer and is gradually pushing humans away.
The splendor of the Algerian sunset!
In these gloomy moments, the sunsets are the witnesses of an end or a culmination, to be able to hope to enter a new dimension where everything is possible, the sunset by its color announces the tone on what awaits us , its colors vary and give rise to explosions of shades, we can see pink, yellow, orange and sometimes even red, not to mention the famous “Golden Hour” which is the apotheosis of the end of the day, letting express all its brilliance.
The sunset is beautiful everywhere in the world, but ours is special, not because Algeria is dear to our hearts, but because this magical moment lets us forget in the space of an instant our sufferings, our tragedies, our disappointments, sickness, loss, and all the ills that clutter our sorrowful and weary hearts, it is not just a classic ending, but the hope of a better tomorrow brighter than the sun.
Let’s not forget to quote its incredible beauty which is a painting in the open air, the infinite art that nature generously offers us, to remind us that not everything is completely gray, and everything is not completely pink, the life is a mixture of colors, and that sometimes the little things can brighten and color our lives.
Raise your eyes to the sky and admire the beauty of this divine moment with the eyes of a child, accompanied or not by a loved one.
Discover Hoggar in Algeria… Its history is visible in the rocks
The Hoggar Mountains are a highland region in the central Sahara in southern Algeria, along the Tropic of Cancer. The mountains cover an area of approximately 550,000 km.
This mountainous region is located about 1,500 km (930 mi) south of the capital, Algiers. The area is largely rocky desert with an average elevation of more than 900 m (3,000 ft) above sea level. The highest peak, Mount Tahat, is at 2,908 m (9,541 ft).The mountains are primarily composed of metamorphic rock approximately 2 billion years old, although there are areas where more recent volcanic activity has laid down much newer rock. Several of the more dramatic peaks, such as Ilamen, are the result of erosion wearing away extinct volcano domes, leaving behind the more resistant material that plugged the volcanic cores.
The Hoggar Mountain range typically experiences hot summers, with a cold winter climate. Temperatures fall below freezing in the winter. Rainfall is rare and sporadic year-round. However, since the climate is less extreme than in most other areas of the Sahara, the Hoggar Mountains are a major location for biodiversity, including number of relict species. The Hoggar Mountains are part of the West Saharan montane xeric woodlands ecoregion.
The Hoggar mountains are home to the Ahaggar National Park, one of the national parks of the country. The tallest peak in the Hoggar range, Mount Tahat is located in the park area, which covers approximately 450,000 square kilometres (170,000 sq mi).
Prehistoric settlement is evident from extant rock paintings dating to 6000 BC.The Hoggar Massif is the land of the Kel Ahaggar Tuareg.The tomb of Tin Hinan, the woman believed to be the matriarch of the Tuareg, is located at Abalessa, an oasis near Tamanrasset.
The hermitage of Charles de Foucauld, which continues to be inhabited by a few Catholic monks, is at the top of the Assekrem plateau in the Hoggar Mountains.
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It is one of the largest national parks and nature reserves in Algeria, located in the vast desert area in the southern part of the country. Hoggar National Park covers approximately 450,000 square kilometers and extends to the Sahara Desert, undulating sand dunes, the lush oasis of Tamanrasset, and the Hoggar Mountains.
Perhaps the most beautiful feature of the national park is the Hoggar Mountains, which are volcanic mountain formations characterized by their ancient history that appears in their rocks. These mountains take different shapes due to the erosion which makes them distinctive for their beautiful landscapes. It also includes one of the highest mountain peaks in Algeria, the summit of Taha Atakor, which reaches a height of 3,003 m.
The region is famous for its natural paths, the most famous of which is the Iskram Pass, which is considered one of the most beautiful trails in the world, where you can watch the most beautiful views of the sunrise and sunset in Algeria. Today, this area has become a protected site due to its natural and ecological importance. The national park has a unique ecosystem, rich not only with towering rocky mountains, but also with unique flora and fauna.The site contains remnants of forests indicating the presence of huge trees petrified by climatic factors, as well as the spread of more than 350 species of plants. and housing construction.
The park contains 36 species of mammals, the most famous of which is the desert tiger called “Amayas”, which depends on hunting wild deer, especially the gazelle of Dorcas. These cheetahs are a globally endangered species. There are other animals such as “goats” that look like goats, desert foxes, wild cats, golden jackals, ruble foxes, sand cats, dhammas, hounds, and others. Hoggar Park also includes many geological sites, mines, archaeological sites, and many different petroglyphs and drawings that testify to the history of the area.
Among the most prominent of them are the drawings left by the ancient man more than five thousand years ago, which depict his daily life and the nature of the region at that time.Some of these drawings indicate that the desert was made up of rivers and seas. Archaeologists have also discovered skeletal remains of fish and fishing tools dating back millions of years. The site has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its historical and heritage significance.
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The place is visited by many foreign adventurers from all over the world, to discover the secrets and treasures of the region and to enjoy the natural scenery and the calm that dominates the place. They are received by the local population (Tuareg) and tell them traditional stories about the site and the local community, especially the story of their queen “Tin Hina” who is believed to have ruled centuries ago.
According to local accounts, this queen was subjected to harassment by the ruling family at the time, so she fled with her entourage and crossed the Sahara to end up in Tamanrasset, and she chose to reside there because of the availability of life conditions. The novel tells of the Queen’s charming beauty, intelligence, strength and courage in protecting her kingdom.
The fortified villages of the M’zab valley, Algeria
A true model and source of inspiration for all urban planners today, the fortified towns of the M’zab valley are simple, functional and perfectly adapted to the environment. The M’zab Valley is a deep and narrow valley located in the heart of the Sahara, 600 km south of the city of Algiers . Along this valley and over a distance of about 10 km, there are five fortified villages dating from the 11th century! These fortified villages form a set of rare homogeneity and are still today the reflection of a sedentary civilization, bearer of an extraordinary culture, and which has even known through the centuries to preserve its cohesion and its original state. .
These villages seem to have remained intact, as if frozen in time. Designed by Mozabite Berbers, each of the five towns, Ghardaia, Beni Isquen, Melika, Bou Noura and El Atteuf , are built on a hill and surrounded by a tangle of pastel-colored houses. Houses grouped together in a concentric circle around a central mosque still built on the top of the hill.
Based in the center of towns and high up, the mosques were designed as veritable fortresses and also served as watchtowers.
As for the houses, they were designed to live in community, however, each of them respects the privacy of the family. An ingenious system in the heart of narrow streets and winding passages!
These five cities although they are built in a similar way, each of them has an identity. Ghardaïa is the main town and capital of the M’zab, El-Ateuf hosts the oldest settlement in the region and Beni Isquen remains the most enigmatic of all the towns in the valley. Considered holy, Beni Isquen has long been closed and fenced at nightfall… Although today this is no longer the case, this city remains despite everything the one with the most traditional settlement in the entire M’ region. Zab.
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The women here are very camera shy, as Jonathan Oakes explains in his travel guide to Algeria:“Here you will see that all the women follow the tradition and wear the haik, a large cloth that is wrapped around the body and face, allowing only one eye to be seen. Before marriage, young women are allowed to show their faces, but after marriage only one eye can be shown and uncovered. When you meet the gaze of one of these women, you will notice that they will close the fabric that covers their face more and leave only one small hole to see. In the past, it was customary for women to face the wall when strangers passed; although this is no longer the case, you will find that these women will always do their best to avoid your gaze and will systematically change their path, if you cross their path. These women are gloriously photogenic but taking a picture of them is strictly prohibited and will result in outrage. »
Between tradition and religion, all the fortified towns of the M’zab valley are remarkable. Despite the years and centuries that have passed, the communities have been able to preserve their original state and culture. This identity, which remained intact in the face of the outside world, enabled all of these towns to be listed as UNESCO World Heritage in 1982.