The Guelta d’Archei is a hidden treasure in the Sahara due to its scenic beauty and function. Actually Guelta d’Archei is an oasis, or rather a guelta, typical of the desert region in the heart of the Sahara desert. Guelta d’Archei is located in the Ennedi Plateau, in north-eastern Chad, hidden behind a canyon. A guelta is a strange type of wetland, formed when underground water in lowland depressions spills to the surface and creates permanent pools and reservoirs.
Its waters are sheltered by the towering sandstone cliffs typical of this region. Every day, thousands of camels are herded into the knee-deep water of the guelta by passing caravans for them to drink and rest. Dung from thousands of camels excreted over hundreds of years has turned the water black. Prowling in the black waters is a lesser group of surviving Nile crocodiles, a vestige of a wetter time when this species once thrived across most of today’s Sahara desert and in swamps and rivers along South Mediterranean shores.
Guelta d’Archei signifies one of the last remaining colonies of the Nile crocodile, famous in the Sahara today. The crocodiles mainly feed on fish that endure on the algae that flourish on the waters fertilized by camel droppings. Guelta d’Archei is actually a zoological marvel because up on the cliffs are rock paintings, dating back to the middle Holocene, that stand testament to the guelta’s long age.
Guelta d’Archei is a barren place, away from beaten paths. If you want to visit the place then you require a 4×4 and at least four days’ travel from n’Djamena, the capital of Chad, and add some hours of trekking to reach the place depicted in these pictures. You will see that thousands of camels marching in and out, moaning or passing through the shallow water. You can, too, walk through the dark water, but be watchful not to step into the territory of Nile Crocodiles. Moreover, don’t forget to see its cave art before heading back to your Sahara exploration.
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