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Guelta d’Archei: The Hidden Jewel of the Sahara

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.

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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 supplies of water, 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 provide support for the few remaining animals in the area.

Animals at the oasis in the Sahara

Group of Nile crocodile
Image by Tony Hisgett

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 represents descendants of species that were 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 then 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:

  • Make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks, as there is no food or drink 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 the most stunning and least explored places on this amusing planet. This vast and mysterious desert is full of secrets just waiting to be discovered. From its stunning sand 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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