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Hidden Treasure: Guelta d’Archei’ Hidden Deep In The Sahara

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Story Highlights

  • Brief History Of Guelta d’Archei, The Hidden Treasure Of Africa
  • Animal Inhabitants Of  Guelta d’Archei, The Hidden Treasure Of Africa
  • Location Of Guelta d’Archei, The Hidden Treasure Of Africa
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It is not every day that you come upon a hidden gem in Africa. Guelta d’Archei, the North African name for a desert lake — but that is exactly what you will find here. Guelta d’Archei is a desert oasis located in the center of the Sahara Desert in northern Morocco.

A guelta is a unique sort of wetland that is characteristic of desert locations. It is generated when subsurface water in lowland depressions rushes to the surface and produces permanent pools and reservoirs, which are then replenished by rainwater. Guelta d’Archei is a canyon on the Ennedi Plateau in north-eastern Chad, hidden behind a mountain range. It is one of the world’s largest canyon.

Hidden Treasure: Guelta d’Archei' Hidden Deep In The Sahara
Hidden Treasure: Guelta d’Archei’ Hidden Deep In The Sahara

 

For generations, caravans have halted in the canyon to water their camels because to its steep terrain. The grunts and bellows of hundreds of camels can be heard reverberating around the canyon walls as they sip the dark water of the guelta on a daily basis. The river became dark due to the excrement of thousands of camels expelled over hundreds of years.

Lake Malawi the ‘Lake of Stars’, A UNESCO World Heritage Centre

Guelta d’Archiei, The Hidden Treasure Of Africa: A Brief Overview of Its History

The Guelta d’Archei is one of the most well-known gueltas in the Sahara and a “Hidden Treasure of Africa,” according to National Geographic. Located on the Ennedi Plateau in north-eastern Chad, south-east of the town of Fada, it is one of the most important cities in the region. The area here was once a lush, green haven teeming with life thousands of years ago; now, it is one of the most hostile settings on the planet.

The Guelta d’Archei is a thousand-year-old remnant of a time when this country was greener, and it stands in stark contrast to the desolate terrain of today. Painted images on the rising rock walls date back to the Holocene epoch, more than 5,000 years ago, when the desert was in bloom and life was aplenty.

 

Hidden Treasure: Guelta d’Archei' Hidden Deep In The Sahara
Hidden Treasure: Guelta d’Archei’ Hidden Deep In The Sahara

Water from the Guelta d’Archei’s deep underground water table sustains a perpetual oasis in the middle of the desert. This secret oasis, nestled amid the wind-eroded towers of the Ennedi Massif, has long been a well-known pit stop for desert travelers, and it has been for a very long time.

Camel caravans passing across the Sahara halt here to relax and replenish their water supplies, and the canyon walls are regularly echoed by the roaring of the camels passing through.

Rock drawings, some of which date back to the middle Holocene, may be seen high on the cliffs, a monument to the guelta’s lengthy history.

The World’s Oldest Desert’ Namib Desert in Namibia

Animal Inhabitants Of  Guelta d’Archei, The Hidden Treasure Of Africa

More than a dozen different species of animals live in the Guelta d’Archei. The Guelta d’Archei is home to a variety of wildlife, including rare desert antelopes (known as “oryx”) and frogs. Apart from the huge camel caravans, the diminutive Nile crocodile is the most often seen animal in this region. The West African crocodile, which was formerly assumed to be a synonym for the Nile crocodile, is the most common species of crocodile observed here.

 

Hidden Treasure: Guelta d’Archei' Hidden Deep In The Sahara
Hidden Treasure: Guelta d’Archei’ Hidden Deep In The Sahara

This species previously flourished throughout most of what is now the Sahara desert, as well as in marshes and rivers around the southern Mediterranean coastline. Guelta d’Archei is home to one of the last known Nile crocodile colonies in the Sahara, and it is one of the most endangered species on the planet. Caught in the act, the crocodiles prey on fish that have survived on algae that have flourished in waterways fed by camel droppings.

Most likely, these crocodiles are descended from crocodiles who were stranded here millennia ago as the desert spread. They are now completely reliant on the camels who have come to visit them for their life. The amount of camel droppings in the water results in massive blooms of algae, which is the primary source of nutrition for the crocodiles.

Pools like this one offer a haven for the few surviving animals in the region, who are in desperate need of help.

Lake Malawi the ‘Lake of Stars’, A UNESCO World Heritage Centre

The Geographical Location of Guelta d’Archei, Africa’s Hidden Treasure

The Guelta d’Archei is situated on the Ennedi Plateau in north-eastern Chad, deep in the Sahara desert, some 25 miles southeast of the town of Fada. It is one of the world’s most dangerous places to go. Arrangements for trips to the guelta may be made in the capital N’Djamena, but be prepared for a long and arduous journey.

 

Guelta d’Archei' The Hidden Treasure Deep In The Sahara

To get to the guelta, you must first travel through the desert by 4×4 (or camel, if you like), and then walk for a few hours across the desert to reach the site. Another option is to book a ticket to Fada and then make your travel arrangements from there. It goes without saying that you should use caution while near or in the dung-blackened water.

They are smaller and less violent than the closely related Nile crocodile, yet they are still capable of biting a person in the thigh.

Guelta d’Archei' The Hidden Treasure Deep In The Sahara
Guelta d’Archei’ The Hidden Treasure Deep In The Sahara

 

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