Covering an area of about 9.4 million square kilometers, the Sahara desert is not only the largest desert in Africa, but also the Earth’s largest hot desert. The Sahara desert is also the second largest desert in the world after Antarctic. The name Sahara comes from the Arabic word for desert: s’ahar. This great desert covers around a third of the African continental land area, locating itself at the northern part of the African Continent.
The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, to the east, over parts of the mediterranean coasts to the north, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The south is delimited by a belt of semi-arid tropical savanna called Sahel.
Sahara desert was the world’s first gateway to Africa. This was made possible by the trans-Sahara trade. Arabs with camel caravans crossed the desert the Sahel kingdoms in search for gold, ivory, grain, salt and slaves. The trans-Saharan trade turned the scattered oasis communities into trading centers and brought the desert communities such as Tuaregs, Tubu, Moor and others into the lime light as famed potters and guides.
Although scotched and gloomy, this vast desert is worth exploring. The desert is doted with several green refreshing oases, with lush vegetation worth visiting. The sand dunes some which can reach one hundred and eighty meters in height are a great spectacle.
To access Sahara Desert, tourists have to visit individual countries within it. These countries include Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Algeria, Niger and Mali. The Sahara desert consists of a legion of mountains. The main mountain ranges are the Atlas in Morocco, Hoggar in Algeria; Aïr/Azbine in Niger; and Tibesti in Chad. All these mountain ranges vary in size with the highest peak, Emi Koussi in Chad, reaching 3415m. Some mountain peaks do have snow own regular basis in the winter. For example the Tahat summit receives snow on average every three years and the Tibesti Mountains receive snow on peaks over 2500 meters once every seven years.
The Sahara deserts also have depressions with the lowest point in the Qattara Depression in Egypt, at about 130 meters below sea level. There are several rivers running through the Sahara, of which the Nile River and the Niger River are the largest and the only permanent ones. Have fun fishing along the river or just enjoy a boat ride along the river.
The Sahara Desert has many different land forms Sand dunes are the most spectacular. A sand dune is a mountain of sand. Some dunes can be as high as 200 meters. These dunes are found in huge areas of shifting sand called ergs. Regs are another type of land form found in the desert. Regs are broad plains covered with sand and gravel. These are areas of flat, raised land that are also known as plateaus.
The major wildlife within the desert is limited to gazelles, antelopes, jackals, foxes, badgers and hyena. However there is numerous numbers of birds, about 300 different species.