Timbuktu? Forget it. A far more intriguing mystery lies hidden on the far side of Niger’s Ténéré Desert; here, among vast plains, abandoned villages and intriguing cave art, the mud-brick citadel of Djado rises from palm-fringed pools crammed with bright-green reeds, like some unworldly goblin’s castle. Explore the honeycomb of sand-chocked passages inside; there’s no one around. Eventually, you’ll emerge atop the crumbling ramparts and comprehend the isolation: a barren plateau to the east; infinite sand sheets unrolling westwards. When was Djado built? Why was it abandoned? The hot wind stirs the palms but keeps its secrets.
Djado is a three-day jeep drive from Agadez, the largest city in northern Niger. Consult your foreign office’s website for advice on northern Niger’s security situation.
Top image © sunsinger/Shutterstock