As has become custom on our journey through the Ennedi region, we climb a sand dune in time to watch the sky towards the east turn lighter and lighter, from deep orange to bright yellow, when the sun rises from behind mountains that for now look like black silhouettes. After breakfast, we make a short stop in a village to take more water, and then, gigantic rock formations appear at the horizon. On the sandy desert floor, which looks quite flat here, rugged and steep mountains appear. To our delight, we stop on top of a sand dune, and this is where we start walking. I get permission to climb up a rock formation on the left, which brings me to a spot from where the views over the plain are superb. Islands of rock in a sea of sand, the desolation and sheer beauty of the place are mesmerizing. A pity we did not camp here.
After climbing down, I see the rest of the group struggling up a steep sand slope between two rock formations. I get down the mountain, and work my way up the loose sand to reach the col, which then gives way to yet more spectacular vistas. A vast rock formation on the other side of the valley has a curiously shaped, curvy crested sand dune resting against its side. We now walk the sand floor of the desert, and see the enormous clusters of rock that we have seen from above before, from below. When we leave, we think that we have left behind the Ennedi, but we are in for a surprise: we get closer to more rock formations with enormous sand dunes trapped between them, and rock pillars standing in the desert like huge guardian angels. Even after all the many rock formations and desert scenery which we have seen, we are still impressed.
We make a short stopover at a rock formation with a cave, in which we see more rock paintings. After driving a little more, we reach a steep rock formation and park under a natural arch. I directly start searching for a way to get up, and finally find a spot on the back of the mountain where I scramble up to the top. But when I get closer to the top of the arch, it turns out that I cannot reach it, and I get down. I now try two other places, but the going is just too steep, without proper shoes, no ropes, no one to assist me, and the sun burning on my head, making the black stones very hot. After lunch in the shade of the arch, we walk once more through it for a more distant view of the rocks. As it turns out, when we drive further south that afternoon, the arch was our exit of the Ennedi. The rock formations disappear, and we slowly move away from the desert and its incredible beauty which we will carry with us forever.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Bichagara (Chad). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Bichagara. Read more about this site.