Frames by Frank



Where the spectacle of the Sahara meets the strange and beautiful rocky landscapes of the Ennedi region, land of the Toubou, the “rock people”.

Did you know?

Planning the trip

A journey in the desert requires special preparation. We start with cultural preparation, to familiarize ourselves with the environment and the traditions. We then move on to psychological preparation to increase adaptability. Finally, it is very important to have adequate physical preparation to withstand continuous exposure to the natural elements and prepare the body for the effort.

Navigating the desert without GPS

When you are in the desert there are certainly no signs or directions, let alone GPS. So how do the Saharan nomadic populations find their way around? Thanks to their extraordinary photographic memory and sense of direction, nomadic peoples like the Touareg, the Toubou or the Sahamba manage to navigate any environment, including the desert, despite the absence of clear landmarks

Tea time with the nomads

What we call “afternoon tea” is one of the most important social practices of the Saharan people. A real ritual that signals the time of the day and breaks the monotony. Any time is a good time to make tea and is the first sign of hospitality towards a guest. Miraculous toner and foundation for social life, tea is a natural booster for nomads.

The richness of the Saharan landscape

Chad is a country dominated largely by the desert. The northeastern part of the Chadian Sahara is home to the Ennedi Region and its homonymous mountain range, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This peculiar and majestic system of sandstone mountains extends for about 60,000 km2 and fascinates travellers with its bizarre rock formations. The latter form a maze of canyons and gorges, interspersed with sandy plains and dunes.

One of the most beautiful places in the region is undoubtedly the gorges of Archeï: where a green seasonal river (ouadi) twists among towers of sandstone, ultimately reaching a narrow gorge where a beautiful guelta, a rainwater collection basin, houses the last specimens of the Saharan crocodile (Crocodylus suchus).

A magical place with a biblical charm.


Toubou, the rock people

In addition to a characteristic flora, completely unusual for the Sahara, and an unexpected fauna, including gazelles, hyenas and baboons, the area of the Ennedi is inhabited by the nomadic group of Toubou. 

As their name suggests – and by nature – they are the “inhabitants of the mountain”. Like the mountain, they are extremely resistant, especially when enduring their usual long daily marches, and unflappable in times of distress. 

The Toubou couple this with a complex psychology: unflappable, but also quick-tempered; loyal but vindictive; open and courageous but also devious and liars; and very attached to their nomadic lifestyle and personal freedom. 

Their freedom is very dear to them: every Toubou sees himself as his own master.

These anarchist warriors historically resisted French colonizers, and to this date, their spirit remains indomitable. The core of the Toubou society is the clan: a group of families descended from a single common ancestor, often idealised, perpetuated from father to son. 

To maintain a genetic exchange, marriages take place exclusively between different clans and involve the exchange of cattle between the groom and the bride.

A remarkably true and rough country that leaves a mark like a punch in the face: unforgettable.

~by Frank