Lucia van der Post ventures into deepest Chad on an expedition to document some of the world’s oldest rock art – encountering vast deserts, magnificent caves and poignant vestiges of forgotten eras
Deserts are special places but they are not for everybody. They are for those who love unpeopled places, whose hearts soar at the thought of lands that have been shaped only by nature and time, who don’t mind the vast distances, the privations, the daunting logistics that journeying through them entails. Deserts are for those who are touched by stark mountains, huge dunes, starlit skies and nomadic peoples, for those who feel with Saint-Exupéry: “One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing, yet through the silence something throbs and gleams…”
And for a true desert experience it’s hard to beat the Sahara. I was invited by a family friend, David Coulson, the executive chairman of TARA (Trust for African Rock Art), which had a grant from the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation to document prehistoric rock art in the Tibesti and Ennedi mountains of northern Chad.
Ennedi’s sandstone massif has provided a home for a diversity of wildlife and seen remarkable rock art through the ages.
5. Description –
The Ennedi Massif and surrounding rock art in Chad is to be found in the northeastern region of the country in the Ennedi Plateau, which is located in the Ennedi Region of the nation. The site is a giant and impressive bulwark that is located in the Sahara Desert that is surrounded by sands and has magnificent deep valleys, towers, arches and pillars that have all been formed over millennium by the forces of nature. The total site is around 35,000 square kilometers (13,513 square miles) in size.