Niger is a former French colony that gained its independence in August 1960. This Saharan country-surrounded by Nigeria and Chad to the south, Mali, Burkina Faso and Benin to the west and by Algeria and Lybia to the north-is nearly 1,300,000 square kilometers in size of which more than half is desert. The population of Niger is 11.4 million people of different ethnic groups including Hausa, Tuareg, Djarma, Peul, Toubou, Guarmantché, Kanuri, Arab and Beriberi; each group has its own language but French remains the official administrative language. Niger's economy depends primarily on agriculture, livestock, tourism, and the exploitation of such natural resources as uranium, coal and pewter; oil has also been found but remains unexploited today. Like its West African neighbors Ghana, Mali and Senegal, Niger has recently made a transition to democracy which allows the people to flourish in new ways. Since this transition, tourism has begun to pick up in Niger with the help of an increasingly active tourism ministry.

Each year, Niger welcomes more than one thousand tourists coming from the four corners of the globe but the majority of whom remain European. French, German, Austrian and Italian tourists among others discover the impressive Aïr Mountains, where one finds ancient rock engravings, dinosaur remains and a range of birds, animals and rare plants. To the east of these mountains stretches the Ténéré desert-the desert of all deserts! This vast ocean of sand is traversed each year by caravans of camels and men, which the Tuareg call TAGHLAMT. These trans-Saharan caravans are often made up of more than one hundred camels that still fetch salt in the distant oasis towns of Bilma and Fachi. It is also worth mentioning here the internationally known cultural festival known as the Cure Salée (literally, salt cure), which takes place each year in September when nomadic Tuareg and Wodaabé pastoralists gather with their herds to celebrate the year's harvest. The Cure Salée is accompanied by the Wodaabé's dramatic beauty contest known as the Géréwol-two cultural events not to be missed. Nomade Sahara Expedition, with its English-speaking guides, seeks to introduce American tourists to this rich and fascinating country.

To the south, one finds what is considered the most beautiful nature reserve and game park in all of West Africa-the Parc W. With the Grand Marché in Niamey, the Niger river and its environs as well as the desert to the north, Niger offers tourists the rare experience of discovering the Sahara and West Africa all in one country. Nomade Sahara Expedition whose founder is from Ingal will do everything possible to make your travels in Niger memorable and to provide you with the comfort and security you deserve.

Sidi-Amar Taoua

For more information, please visit the sites below: