Monthly Archives: January 2012

Places to go I. Ennedi region, Chad

Although for me it’s a pleasure to share my adventures, I understand that the blog cannot be all about me. And as I never stop on searching for nice places to go, I thought it could be nice to talk about some spots maybe you would like to know. And the first one is a somewhere that always has been on my list.

Ennedi location in Tchad

Ennedi location

Northwest of Chad there’s a place where the sand meets the rocks, some water raise up from the underground and it all meets to build unbelievable shapes. The region is famous for its natural stone arcs, its petroglyphs and the beauty of Guelta d’Archei, one of the lasts places where Nile crocodiles can be found inside the Sahara.

Most of the people from the region are Toubou people, who speak the Saharan languages Teda and Daza. Their muslim religion guarantees to be warmly welcomed.

If the region was more accessible, for sure it would be one of the most visited places on Earth. But some circumstances make it very difficult to reach. The first one is its isolation. It takes four or five days to travel from N’Djamena, the Chad capital, to Fada, the biggest town around there. And after that, it will not be easy to get to places we want to go.

The political situation can also be a handicap.  After the 2008 conflict, there are no serious problems in the region, but things can change quickly. The southern  part of the  border with Sudan, full of Refugee Camps from the Darfur war, should be avoided, as well as the Libyan border, were land mines remain. But this is not a trouble if we don’t go there. The main problem you can find going to Ennedi from N’Djamena is to be robbed on the road, that can happen sometimes, but not very often. Believe, around the world people is kind, helpful and polite,  so don’t pay much attention to those apocalyptic internet reviews.

Five arch rock, Ennedi region, Tchad

Five arch rock, Ennedi region, Tchad

The most famous thing from the Ennedi range are the natural stone arcs. They are big, photogenic and there are a lot of them. You can check on naturalarches.org for more arches, their location and description.

Guelta Archei

Guelta d'Archei

The next thing to mention from the Ennedi is the Guelta d’Archei. Guelta is a local word for “wetland”. As in other spots around the Sahara Desert, the underground water meets a land depression and it comes to the surface, forming what we would call an oasis. The most beautiful part of the Guelta is a gorge filled with natural water where for centuries have been a place to stop for camel caravans attempting to cross the Sahara Desert.

Around the rocks of the region can also be found some petroglyphs and graveyards from the Pastoral Period (7500 – 4000 year BC) and the Dromedary (Camel) Period (0 – 1700 years AD), the first ones made when the region was a green land with rivers and animals around.

Although it can be difficult and expensive to reach, I would like to encourage you to discover the far desert sands of the Ennedi. You’ll have images, memories and experiences that hardly anyone else will have, you will find people happy to meet foreigners and ¡hey! not everyone can say they have been in the very middle of the Sahara Desert!

And to help you to decide, here it comes some photos. Have fun!

Rock in the Ennedi Desert

Rock in Ennedi

Aloba Big Arch

Grand Arche d'Aloba

Rock in Ennedi Desert

Another rock in the desert

Petroglyphs on Ennedi

On some rocks you can see old petroglyphs. Look for them!

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Categories: Africa, Chad, Places to go, Sahara, travel | Tags: , , , , , | 10 Comments

Hitting the road

I left Catalonia with many doubts, but I had a plane ticket and I had no choice. Slowly, the flippancy of the travel invaded me. The plane took me to visit my cousin in the beautiful city of Bologna and then it came the night. It was fine in the young Bolognan nights, full of spanish students. The alcohol stopped in our hands for a while, and some music passed by. I didn’t get any girl those nights. But it’s fine. After 5 days I was on a train that took me to Bentivoglio and it was the beggining of it all.

Outside Bentivoglio there’s a hidden entrance to the highway, a hole in a fence that lets you get inside. I found it, and slept on the service area near the motorway. Next morning I began to hitchhike. Italia is not a good country for hitchhike, but a crowded highway heading to populated areas is always fine. It was early morning when the first car stopped. It was a Russian man, he let me into his car and we crossed the lowlands of the Po Basin until Venice. He was a tourist guide operator and he disliked his job, all the time bringing tourists to see the same monuments and all the time making the same jokes. Yes, the first ride was a nice ride, fast, funny and long, and my spirit was growing high.

After a couple of rides, in Udine, I met Giorgio, a gravedigger who was going on holiday to Croatia, up to my way. It was the first time I was inside a hearse. “Probably, next time I won’t be able to appreciate how it is”, I thought.

Despite his work, Giorgio was a funny and cheerful man. He talked about reggae music, about some joints he used to smoke when he was in Spain, and some other things I quickly forgot. I couldn’t stop looking at the hearse. It was real and I was inside there. There were two rails and a couple of lockers to keep the coffins fixed. Some green hills scattered by the road, but the fun was not there. The car, the leather seats, the curly haired man full of happiness and his heavy guffaws inside that sad envirointment completly impressed me.

Croatia shore in Senj

Croatian shore in Senj

We crossed the border to Slovenia and then we made it to Croatia. I got down the car in Rijeka, and kindly gave thanks to Giorgio. It was a small win: it was still lunch-time and I had already covered almost 400 km.

I was walking through the town when it began to rain. That ugly rain… it followed me everyday until reach the Romanian lands. That’s why the 400km didn’t seem that much after some hours waiting for the sun, that made himself visible atop of the sky in the early evening.

The next car to give me a lift was a good one. While the father was shouting loud the names of some football players and talking by cellar phone,  his son was changing the gears. They were understanding each other perfectly: the father was taking the wheel and accelerating, and as soon as the car was starting to make sound, he pushed the clutch and the son changed the gear. It had a good result, the son enjoyed his job and the father could talk by mobile phone for a long time.

Hitchhiking to Bosnia near Prijeboj, Croatia

Mime and Alberich hitchhiking near the Bosnian border.

The shore in Croatia is a thin and steep thing, and there are not wide places to plant a tend, so I just extended my sleepnig bag between some bushes. There, looking alone at the sunset I could feel the satisfaction of the things well done. The experience of the first day just confirmed me something I already knew before: the variety of people I can meet in the cars is awesome. In the next few days followed deep christians, funny grannies with their grandsons, dirty bear hunters, bosnian muslims, old communist nostalgics, heavy metal fans and responsible people going to work. Everyone with their own history, everyone with a story to tell. And they got rougher when I got deep into Bosnia.

Categories: Bosnia, Croatia, Europe, hitchhiking, Italy, The Sun in my Forehead, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Sun in my Forehead: the route

I always had the sensation that going to the east was something special. Probably this is caused for my location: Spain is in the very West of the Eurasian continent. My first idea – cross the land from Spain to Magadan – is one of the longest straight ways that can be made without crossing any sea, and this had something that made me dream. The same piece of land should be all the same, but it is not. Everything, the landscape, the people, the nature, the food… everything changes little by little, and in the end you look backward and nothing is like it began. Being an observer of this film was my fantasy for a long time and finally I decided to do it.

Whatever it was, I decided to go straight to the East, always stepping forward with the Sun lighting upon my forehead.

Crossing the Eurasian continent

The Sun in my Forehead and other recent route

As I look back, the route is quite different as I planned before. But this is something that easily happens in long travels like this. Europe is easy to hitchhike, and arriving to Ukraine was an easy task. Then I had to cross the Black Sea by boat for made it to the crazy Caucasus lands. From there, I passed through Central Asia – probably the most interesting part of the trip – until the Chinese border, and by several means of transport I arrived to Southeast Asia. There I stayed for six months, a one-moth scape to India included. And still smarting from that Russian disappointment, I flew to the north of the country and crossed down until Ukraine.

After all, I came back home, with my backpack full of stories, tips and photographs to share with all of you.

Categories: Asia, Europe, hitchhiking, The Sun in my Forehead, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments