The Sahara is a desert as large as the United States filled with emptiness, ancient cultures, and natural wonders. America has its own recreational deserts in the west, but for Africa and Europe, the Sahara is where you go to test yourself. This book, now in its second edition, has emerged as THE source for getting into the deep Sahara and back, alive and in good spirits. It is uncommonly thorough and immensely practical. It covers the kinds of vehicles and supplies you need, runs along possible itineraries and dangers, and anticipates most of the questions you might have. No stone is left unanswered. The book is a brick — a great big fat bible stuffed with precious overland Sahara lore, hard won by hundreds of trips and mistakes of others. There are not many travel books (or destinations) quite like this one. (more…)
A final word about guides: you need them, but do not rely on them. They will tell you that lots of things are impossible. That generally means that they cannot be bothered to do them. They tend to be highly conservative people, who resent being diverted from their usual routes and routines. Do not trust their navigation. If you leave your compass and GPS at home because you are in the hands of a local, you are being very foolish. Try to use guides who have been recommended to you by previous expeditions. And (of course) on no account pay them everything up front.
An old adage advises that you should never camp in a oued because flash floods from distant rains could rip through your camp causing havoc. Some sources have even claimed that ‘more people have drowned in the Sahara than died of thirst’ – about as likely as more people dying of thirst than drowning at sea, or freezing to death in the Antarctic. In Morocco, where run-off from the Atlas can be frequent, steep and fast, this warning is valid in certain seasons but in the deep Sahara, oueds often offer some welcome tree shade or vegetated wind breaks, as well as soft sand rather than gravel. Obviously if there are dark clouds in the sky keep to the high ground wherever you are, but dangerous flash floods are only a real danger in mountain areas, and by the time they get to the plain they’re all but spent.
People get nervous about carrying a wad of money abroad but good old-fashioned cash is a readily changeable and local currency is what talks loudest in the Sahara. Unless you expect to be visiting large cities or capitals, travellers’ cheques are of little use. Despite what you’re told, the promise of speedy replacement of stolen cheques requires a phone call – itself a rather tall order in most of the Sahara. Don’t rely on cashing travellers’ cheques in the Sahara.
It may look drastic, but the only way is to drag this car down to more level ground where it can be pulled back onto its wheels. Within an hour it was running just as before.