Explorer Announces Expedition To Tibesti Mountains In The Sahara

800px Tibesti east of bardai

Irish explorer Jeremy Curl has announced an interesting and ambitious expedition and is asking for support on Kickstarter to make it a reality. Curl is hoping to make a journey deep into the heart of the Sahara Desert as he goes in search of a seldom contacted tribe that lives there and to document some of the oldest rock art on the planet.

Dubbed Expedition Tibesti 13, the plan is to visit a remote volcanic region located in northern Chad that is home to the Tibesti Mountains. This long chain of peaks features a series of summits that rise above 3000 meters (9842 ft) and form a bit of an oasis from the harsh desert that surrounds them. The slopes of these mountains provide a bit of a respite from the Sahara, giving the Toubou tribe, which is sometimes called the Tedu, who live there a place to graze their animals and grow some meager crops.

Because the Tibesti Range is surrounded on all sides by 1000 km (621 miles) of desert, they are seldom visited by outsiders. The Toubou have lived there for more than 2000 years and have managed to maintain their culture even in the modern age, thanks in no small part to their isolation. The mountains have served as a fortress for the tribe for centuries, helping them to maintain their way of life with little interference from the outside world. Something that is becoming increasingly unique across the globe.

Curl would like to visit the Toubou villages and document their way of life, while also photographing and cataloging the extensive rock art that exists throughout the region. Some of the art work is estimated to be more than 10,000 years old and it often depicts a world that is very different than the one that is found in the Tibesti Mountains today. The images on the caves show indigenous hunter and gatherers in their daily lives but also animals such as giraffes and elephants that simply don’t exist there now. It is a record of change in the Sahara and a portal into our past.

As mentioned, Curl has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund this adventure. He is seeking £6000 ($9350) to get his expedition off the ground and as of today he has earned roughly £930 ($1450) towards that goal. There are still 27 days to go in the campaign however, so there is a good chance that he’ll achieve the numbers he is looking for. You can find out more about Jeremy’s adventure in the video below, which includes a message from the explorer himself.

I have to admit that I have a bit of mixed feeling about using Kickstarter as a method for funding an expedition. On the one hand, Curl’s story is a compelling one and I’d love to learn more about the Toubou people, but on the other hand I’m not sure I agree with asking others to pay for your adventure. It is a slippery slope to say the least and obviously this approach circumvents the traditional sponsorship methods used in the past. In the long run, I suppose it is just another way to get an expedition off the ground and as long as the backers don’t feel cheated then it is all good. Lets hope that is the case here.

Kraig Becker