Running the Sahara

How’s this for ballsy (I filed this one under “hiking”, tho that seems to be an understatement). A couple of guys decide to do their part to help the world, in this case to bring better water conditions to Africa and Africans, and look for what would seem an impossible goal. One that would capture the attention of the world, or at least of the good folks at National Geographic, who can then help them get noticed.

Well, Kevin Lin, Ray Zahab, and Charlie Engle set out late last year to run…that’s right to RUN across the entire expanse, west to east, of the Sahara Desert. Never mind that they had a big film crew with them and gobs of support, that is still a massive and jaw-dropping undertaking.

Charlie, Ray and Kevin touched the Red Sea, back in February, bringing the epic trip to an end. It lasted 111 days and took them through 6 countries: Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya, and Egypt. By their own GPS log, they covered over 4,300 miles. Yow.

Of course, all these guys are hard core mega-endurance types. Engle himself, the team leader is said to be one of the best ultra distance marathon runners in the world today, And as you might expect (and as I mentioned above) there will be a film on the effort (Narrated by Matt Damon), and the Web site had got gobs of lovely info including pictures, bios and an overview of the effort. What would Lawrence of Arabia have said?

The Lonely, Dead Tree of Ténéré

A damn interesting article popped up on today about the Lonely Tree of Ténéré — known as the most isolated tree on the planet, located in remote Niger. That is, until one day in 1973 when an allegedly drunk Libyan lost control of his truck and slammed into the tree, ripping it from the sand and subsequently changing it’s title to the tree formally known as the most isolated tree on the planet.

How’d you like to be that guy? We’ve all done some stupid things while drunk, no doubt, but this one takes the cake. I mean, what are the odds? You’re driving – in the world’s largest hot desert no less, where plant life is virtually non-existent – and you slam into the only thing with a shadow in a 400 kilometer radius. Whoops.

You can read more about the Lonely Tree of Ténéré at Or if you’re interested learning about other famous trees around the planet, this Wikipedia entry is a step in the right direction.

Africa Travel: Niger

NigerWhenever you find yourself having a hard
time finding good information on a destination not as frequented as others you can always rely on Lonely Planet and even UNESCO’s World Heritage List  to point out spots of
interest. Seems there is a World Heritage landmark in every country these days and for my short blurb on Niger that is
exactly what I’m going to direct your attention to. The W National Park of Niger is an area where savannah and forest
land meet, mix and the river at the park’s northern border form a double bend. Wildlife is scarce according to LP, but
a variety of bird life is still left to be seen. UNESCO also mentions how the site reflects the interaction between
natural resources and humans since Neolithic times. That could be pretty far-out.

If something like this
sounds right up your alley I did manage to find a tour company that specializes in trip to Niger and this area
specifically. Looks like an eight day affair around the country with days six and seven at the W. For more details click here to go to Nigercar Voyages. Also, be sure to check with the US Embassy for additional notes on the country is general.