Guelta d’Archei: The Hidden Jewel of the Sahara

Camels Walking in Guelta D'Archei, Sahara Desert

The Sahara desert is one of the most fascinating and least explored places on Earth. This vast and mysterious desert is full of secrets just waiting to be discovered. From its stunning dunes to its hidden oases, the Sahara is a must-see destination for anyone interested in adventure and mystery.

Under different circumstances, the dark waters of the Guelta d’Archei might not be so appealing. Stained by camel droppings and patrolled by crocodiles, it doesn’t look like your average swimming hole. But this ancient Guelta – the North African word for a desert pool – is not your average anything.

The History of Guelta d’Archei

Guelta d'Archei

Located a four-day journey across the Sahara from N’Djamena, in northeastern Chad, the Guelta d’Archei is a thousand-year-old reminder of greener days in the Sahara desert 5000 years ago.

The Rocks and Cave Painting at Guelta d’Archei

Caravans come at the Guelta d'Archei

The rock paintings on the looming cliff walls date back to the middle Holocene era, more than 5,000 years ago, when the area bloomed and life was abundant.

These rock and cave paintings depict scenes of everyday life, as well as hunting and gathering scenes. They are a beautiful and fascinating glimpse into the past. The artists who created these paintings were skilled in both hunting and painting, and their work is a testament to their talent.

See Related: Best Places to Travel Alone in the World

How the Guelta d’Archei survived

middle of the Sahara

The Guelta d’Archei is a permanent oasis fed by the water table deep beneath the desert floor. Tucked away among the wind-eroded towers of the Ennedi Plateau, this hidden oasis is a well-known pit stop for desert travelers, and it’s been so for a very long time.

The importance of Guelta d’Archei

camels, Guelta d'Archei

Caravans crossing the desert stop here to rest and refill their water supplies, and the canyon walls frequently echo with the bellowing of camels.

Thousands of years ago, this was a verdant landscape full of life, but today it is one of the harshest environments in the world. Pools like this one support the few remaining animals in the area.

Animals at the Oasis in the Sahara

Three Nile Crocodiles
Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0

While rare antelopes called “oryx” may visit the Guelta d’Archei occasionally, the most common animal seen here, other than the great camel caravans, is the dwarf Nile crocodile.

These desert crocodiles at Guelta d’Archei represent descendants of species trapped here a millennium ago when the desert expanded. These are some of the last remaining colonies of the Nile crocodiles.

The abundance of camel droppings at Guelta d’Archei creates large blooms of algae. Fish eat these algae, and the crocodiles feed on these fish for survival. This is one of the food chains in this oasis.

Tips on visiting Guelta d’Archei

Caravans come at the Guelta d'Archei to replenish water supplies

Exploring Guelta d’Archei is an unforgettable experience. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your visit:

  • Bring plenty of water and snacks, as no food or drink is available in the area.
  • Dress appropriately for the climate, which can be quite hot during the day and cold at night.
  • Be prepared for a challenging hike. The terrain is rugged, and there is no marked trail.
  • Don’t forget your camera! The views of the desert are truly breathtaking.
  • Finally, remember to respect the environment. Please do not litter or disturb the natural habitat in any way.

Guelta d’Archei is one of this amusing planet’s most stunning and least explored places. This vast and mysterious desert is full of secrets waiting to be discovered. From its stunning dunes to its hidden oases, the Sahara is a must-see destination for anyone.

See Related: Best Tourist Destinations in the World

Guelta d’Archei Images

canyon & camels
canyon & camels, Guelta d'Archei
camels water in canyon
Photo credit: josephescu/Flickr

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Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He's a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he'd heard.

Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he's learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.

He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time. Read more about his portfolio of work.

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