By Talei Caucau

Source : Vincent van Zeijst

Niger, West Africa, is not a place visited by many tourists. As one of the more isolated countries
in Africa, it remains mostly untouched by globalization. However, the northern part of Niger has
long tempted adventurous travelers who are drawn to Agadez and the vast expanse of desert that
lies beyond it, which is known as The Air.

Agadez is an ancient and important market town located in the desert northeast of Niamey, the
capital of Niger. Constructed with clay and sticks, the architecture of Agadez is stunning and
otherworldly. It looks like a relic of an ancient city, but it remains a lively and bustling town. Its
mosque is said to have one of the highest mud minarets in Africa.

Agadez has a fascinating history. The city prospered because of its position as a trading hub. For
over a thousand years, caravans have been bringing salt, a very lucrative commodity in this area,
to Agadez. A century ago, it became the marketplace for everything else merchants had to sell.
The caravans merge at Agadez to sell their goods after crossing the desert.

In Agadez, caravans can gather food for themselves and their horses and camels before they
begin the next part of their journey. Their way of life is mostly unknown to the rest of the world.
The caravans do what they must to endure droughts and constant conflict in the region. They
continue to make their way through the desert and wander through the harsh lands they know so

Source: Vincent van Zeijst

In the 15th century, Agadez was the home of a Tuareg sultanate. The Tuareg are pastoralists who
inhabit North and West Africa. Niger was taken over by French colonialists in the early 1900s,
and their reign over the city was brutal until the Tuaregs, a large Berber ethnic confederation of
nomads, fought against their cruel oppressors in an act of desperation and defiance. It took four
months for the French to quell the rebellion. Even colonial powers could not easily defeat the
mighty Tuareg in the region.

In 2010, around 2 million Tuareg were estimated to be living in West Africa. Their
lifestyle is ancient and fascinating. The Tuareg in North Africa inhabit the desert regions, live in feudal
communities in tents and wield traditional weapons. It is evident that the Tuareg, noblemen, and
clergy, are deeply entrenched in their culture and live according to their own laws. They have
learned everything they know from their elders and have preserved their ancient language and

The Tuareg continue to sustain themselves with traditional knowledge that has been passed from
generation to generation. Glimpses of a beautiful and otherworldly way of life remain today in
Agadez, Niger.