Erdi – Unknown heart of Sahara in the glowing furnace of Africa

Erdi - Unknown heart of Sahara in the glowing furnace of Africa

Erdi – Unknown heart of Sahara in the glowing furnace of Africa.

Even temperature data should be approached with caution here. They say it’s 50 degrees in the shade there. The problem is that there is no shade on this rocky plateau in the heart of the Sahara, so the temperature can easily reach 70 degrees Celsius. No one knows what awaits the expedition team led by geologist Stefan Kröpelin in this incandescent furnace the size of Belgium when they set out there in October 2005.

No explorer has set foot in Erdi before. Ahead of the scientists is the greatest adventure of their lives – a journey into the Martian landscape of red sand and gravel, which even nomadic peoples did not dare to venture into and whose aerial photographs are fewer than those of the Moon. The expedition team planned 5 liters of water per person per day and 2,000 liters of diesel fuel. They travel hundreds of kilometers in jeeps, starting from N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, through dunes and dried up valleys to one of the last blank spots on the map of our planet.

Researchers determine their position using satellite navigation. Again and again, wheel failures interrupt their progress. But the effort involved in this adventure pays off a hundredfold. Kröpelin and his team discover a 100-metre-high rock wall with basin-like bulges. It was probably formed by a waterfall. They also come across sediments from lakes, stone tools and… drawings in the rock – silhouettes of crocodiles and camels are clearly visible.

For the first time, it is proven that Erdi was not always a lifeless place – thousands of years ago, in a more humid climate, people lived here. “The Sahara is a laboratory where finds are made mainly on the surface, not deep in the ground or under vegetation” – explains Kröpelin. After a few weeks, the trip to Erdi comes to an end. A caravan of jeeps leaves a place that probably still holds many secrets…

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