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Africa > Sahel > Mali > Kidal (region) > Adrar des Ifoghas

Adrar des Ifoghas

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Travel Warning WARNING: The Adrar des Ifoghas lies in the middle of a region which has been home to bandits and, more recently, terrorists who seek shelter in the area for its remoteness. This has been true even when the greater Western Sahara region (Niger, Algria, Mali, & Mauritania) has been relatively safe. The recent civil war in Mali and the presence of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in recent years has only heightened the danger of travel to this region. For the foreseeable future, travel to this region should be avoided. More information can be found in the warningbox on the Mali page.
(Information last updated Sep 2014)
A guelta.

The Adrar des Ifoghas is a large plateau in the eastern Kidal region of Mali covering roughly 250 000 square kilometers. Adrar is the Tamasheq word for mountain while Ifoghas is the name of a Tuareg clan which lives in the region, the French so named it to differentiate from their (long-held) Adrar in Mauritania. The area is home to a surprising number of animals, including gazelles, antelopes, hyenas, jackals, snakes, & lizards. It contains some very scenic desert landscapes, including granite outcrops, eroded sandstone, gueltas (similar to an oasis, but less "green" around them), rock paintings, petrified wood, and even an ancient river valley.


  • Abeibara
  • Aguelhok
  • Essouk — called by some the "cradle of the Tuareg" this tiny town was once a prospering town along trans-Saharan trade routes from the 9th to 12th cneturies; rock painting dating to 8000 BC can be found, although little remains of its ancient past. Legend holds that Boctou, founder of Timbuktu, was born here.
  • Tessalit, [1], a town of a couple thousand Tuareg which serves as the border post for the small amount of traffic between Mali & Algeria; the town has some gypsum and ancient salt mines.
  • Tin-Essako


Rock formation.

The Adrar des Ifoghas is a remote part of the Sahara with plenty of remnants to evoke its ancient, non-desert past.

Get in/around[edit]

The only way into the region is via 4x4 (although Tessalit has a rarely used airstrip). Given the remoteness of the region, it is best to hire a guide who has an understanding of the region and knows where all the main sights are. Trips can be organized out of Kidal, you best bet to find one is inquiring at the hotels: Mount Krutel (285 00 90), Hotel Campement les Dattiers, or Chez Catharine. Two Tuareg-run travel agencies can be found in Kidal:

  • Affala Voyages Initiatives ([2], tel: 285 00 92)
  • Timitrin Tours ([3])
  • Azaouad Voyages


Rock paintings.
  • Tilemsi Valley
  • Rock paintings


  • Camel treks


Bring all the food you will need, as food cannot be purchased outside Kidal. If you stay in a settlement for a night, you may be offered (or can possibly pay for) a meal with a Tuareg family.


The Tuareg are Muslim and it would be very insulting of you to bring alcohol! Having three cups of tea with a Tuareg is a classic experience and not to be missed. As for water, bring all the water you will need! The settlements have wells and there are some large gueltas to replenish your water supply, though.

Stay safe[edit]

Do not underestimate the remoteness!!! You must have proper supplies for an extended trip into the desert, about a week is necessary to travel from Kidal and spend a few days to bring two weeks' worth of supplies in case you get lost or caught in a dust storm. Independent travel is highly discouraged and a guide and 4x4 is absolutely essential.

When camping (and sleeping) be sure your tent is entirely sealed as most animals, including venomous snakes and scorpions along with hyenas & jackals, are nocturnal. Be very careful when climbing around rocks and any place that is shady and cool, as these are the places snakes, scorpions, and other animals stay cool during the day. The sand viper buries itself entirely so that only the eyes appear above the sand, while there is a species of scorpion whose venom is more deadly than a cobra! Try to trod heavily to avoid stepping on a viper!

Go next[edit]

  • Anefis, picturesque town on the edge of the Adrar.
  • Gao, the closest thing to a city anywhere near the Adrar.
  • Kidal, the region's capital

This region travel guide to Adrar des Ifoghas is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!